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WJNT Advances to U20 Pan Am Cup Semis

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | May 11, 2017, 9:22 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 11, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team moved one step closer to its goal of qualifying for the 2017 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship by defeating Uruguay 25-10, 25-19, 25-17 in the Women's U20 Pan American Cup quarterfinals on Thursday evening in San Jose, Costa Rica.

The U.S., now 3-0 in the tournament after having won both its Pool A matches, advances to Friday’s semifinals and face Cuba at 7:30 p.m. ET. The nine-team tournament, broken into three pools of three countries in the preliminary round, features teams from neighboring confederation zones NORCECA (North America, Central America and Caribbean) and South America with the top finisher from each zone earning bids to the 2017 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship.

Match Stats

According to the official stats, all 12 Americans scored at least one point with eight notching four or more points without a player with more than eight points. Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas, University of Texas) notched eight points with five kills on 10 swings and team-leading three blocks. Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina, Upward Stars) matched her total with seven kills on 13 errorless attempts and a block in starting the first two sets. Outside hitter Khalia Lanier (Scottsdale, Arizona, University of Southern California) hammered five kills on 11 errorless swings to go with one block and one ace. Middle Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas, University of Minnesota) chalked up four kills on six attacks, one block and one ace in two sets of action.

“I am really proud of this team for the way they came out and played tonight,” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We have so many talented players, and with limited practice time we have had, this gave us an opportunity to look a lot of different players and have them perform at a high level. They have had great spirits. All the players who came in did a really good job at handling the roles they and played very clean. A good win for us. Now we will get ready for a really good Cuba team who have a lot of respect for.”

Opposite Mackenzie May (Dubuque, Iowa, UCLA) pocketed three kills on six swings, one block and one ace in starting just the first set. Opposite Holly Carlton (Sterling, Virginia, University of North Carolina) tacked on five kills on eight attacks in starting just the second set and being a reserve in the other two sets. Middle Elle Sandbothe (Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Kansas State University) provided three kills on four errorless attacks, one block and one ace for five points.

“The match against Uruguay was crucial for us to stay focused,” May said. “We worked hard and now we get to take on Cuba tomorrow and work hard to get to the finals.”

Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois, University of Michigan) collected four kills in starting the first and third sets. Outside hitter Paige Hammons (Louisville, Kentucky, University of Florida) started the final two sets and scored two kills. Opposite Mikayla Shields (Orlando, Florida, University of South Carolina), who started just the third set, added a block. Setter Madison Lilley (Overland Park, Kansas, University of Kentucky) tallied a block as she started the second set and was a double-sub in the first and third. Libero Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) was credited with a kill in the official stats line.

Welsh was credited with 10 running sets on 47 total set attempts. Lilley added seven running sets on 13 attempts. Clark led the backrow with four digs and two excellent receptions on 12 errorless chances.

The Americans dominated offensively with a 39-23 advantage in kills and limited their errors to 19 for the match. The U.S. converted 51.3 percent of its attacks with a .395 hitting efficiency (39-9-76). The American defense held Uruguay to a 32.9 kill percent and .129 hitting efficiency (23-14-70). Team USA out-blocked Uruguay 9-2 and held a 5-2 margin in aces.

The U.S. trailed 4-3 in the opening set, but rattled off nine straight points to take a 13-4 advantage on Lanier’s serve en route to the 25-10 victory. In the second set, Uruguay opened up an 8-4 lead only to have the Americans take the lead at 11-10 on a 7-2 run. Team USA inched its way to a 25-19 win to go up 2-0. Unlike the first two sets, the U.S. started the third set strong and finished the match with a 25-17 victory.

The U.S. started Welsh at setter, Hall and Lanier at outside, May at opposite, Butler and Pittman at middle and Clark as the libero.

Cuba won Pool C and was the second-best pool winner of the three groups to advance directly to the semifinals.

“We have a really big match tomorrow against Cuba,” Lanier said. “They are a very athletic, physical team. It will be two physical teams, so we will see how hard we can push ourselves and we play with a team that is just as athletic and springy as us. Super excited and can’t wait to represent USA.”

U.S. Women’s Junior National Team for 2017 U20 Women’s Pan American Cup
# - Name (Position, 2017 Club/College, Height, Hometown, Region)
1 – Brionne Butler (M, University of Texas, 6-4, Kendleton, Texas, Lone Star)
2 – Tiffany Clark (L, TBA, 5-11, Naperville, Illinois, Great Lakes)
3 – Thayer Hall (OH, Upward Stars, 6-3, Moore, South Carolina, Palmetto)
4 – Paige Hammons (OH, University of Florida, 6-2, Louisville, Kentucky, Pioneer)
5 – Khalia Lanier (OH, University of Southern California, 6-2, Scottsdale, Arizona, Arizona)
6 – Madison Lilley (S, University of Kentucky, 6-0, Overland Park, Kansas, Heart of America)
7 – Mackenzie May (OH, UCLA, 6-3, Dubuque, Iowa, Iowa)
8 – Regan Pittman (M, University of Minnesota, 6-5, Spring Hill, Kansas, Heart of America)
9 – Holly Carlton (OPP, University of North Carolina, 6-7, Sterling, Virginia, Chesapeake)
10 – Elle Sandbothe (M, Kansas State University, 6-0, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Heart of America)
14 – Mikayla Shields (OPP, University of South Carolina, 6-0, Orlando, Florida, Florida)
15 – MacKenzi Welsh (S, University of Michigan, 6-1, Bolingbrook, Illinois, Great Lakes)

Head Coach: Jerritt Elliott (head coach at University of Texas)
Assistant Coach: Paula Weishoff (head coach at Concordia University Irvine)
Assistant Coach/Statistician: Kevin Inlow (graduate assistant at University of Texas)
Team Leader: Tom Pingel (USA Volleyball High Performance)

2017 U20 Women’s Pan American Cup Schedule (all times ET)

Group A
May 8: Argentina def. Dominican Republic 25-17, 25-18, 25-20
May 9: United States def. Argentina 25-23, 25-19, 15-25, 25-21
May 10: United States vs. Dominican Republic, 7:30 p.m.

Group B
May 8: Uruguay def. Costa Rica 25-21, 25-18, 22-25, 26-24
May 9: Puerto Rico def. Uruguay 25-16, 25-19, 25-14
May 10: Costa Rica vs. Puerto Rico, 9:30 p.m.

Group C
May 8: Cuba def. Chile 25-17, 25-11, 25-12
May 9: Peru def. Chile 25-23, 25-16, 25-20
May 10: Cuba def. Peru 29-27, 26-24, 18-25, 25-15

Classification for 9th Place
May 11: Costa Rica vs. Chile, 9:30 p.m.

Quarterfinals
May 11: Argentina (2A) vs. Peru (2C), 5:30 p.m.
May 11: United States (1A) def. Uruguay (2B) 25-10, 25-19, 25-17

Final Classification 7/8
May 12: best 3rd Place Pool vs. winner of lowest two 3rd Place Pool Teams, 5:30 p.m.

Semifinals
May 12: USA (1A) vs. Cuba (1C), 7:30 p.m.
May 12: Puerto Rico (1B) vs. Argentina (2A), 9:30 p.m.

Final Classification 5/6
May 13: Peru (2C) vs. Uruguay (2B), 5:30 p.m.

Medal Round Matches
May 13: Semifinal losers, 7:30 p.m. (bronze medal)
May 13: Semifinal winners, 9:30 p.m. (gold medal)