U.S. Women Fall to Cuba in Pan Am Cup

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | July 09, 2018, 11:53 p.m. (ET)

Lauren Carlini setting during the 2018 Pan American Cup
Lauren Carlini setting the U.S. Women's National Team offense against Cuba

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 9, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team lost to Cuba 18-25, 25-22, 25-23, 13-25, 15-13 on Monday during the second day of the Pan American Cup in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The match ended at 1:15 a.m. local time after starting nearly five hours late due to heavy rains in the host city that delayed the start of two matches.

The U.S., now 1-1 in Pool B, concludes the preliminary round on Tuesday against Puerto Rico at 6 p.m. ET. The quarterfinals are set for July 11 with the winners advancing to the semifinals on July 13. The medal round concludes the tournament on July 14. FloVolleyball.tv will stream all the matches and available in the United States via a subscription service.

The U.S. built an 11-5 lead in the opening set with a 6-1 run, but needed a 4-0 run to close out the set for a comfortable 25-18 victory. The Americans built a 14-8 advantage, but Cuba charged back to tie the set at 16-all. Cuba then used a five-point run to take a 23-20 advantage and went on to win 25-22. Team USA went up 4-0 to start the third set, but Cuba climbed into the lead at 14-13. Trailing 20-18, Cuba scored four straight to go on to win 25-23. Team USA bolted to a 5-1 lead in the fourth set and did not let Cuba in front as the Americans pulled away after Cuba closed to within 7-5. Cuba fell behind 6-2 in the tiebreaker, but answered to tie the set at 7-all. The Cubans scored the final four points of the match, overcoming a 13-11 deficit to win 15-13.

Related: Match Stats

Outside hitter Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin) led Team USA with 18 points on 15 kills, two blocks and an ace. Opposite Aiyana Whitney (Norwood, New Jersey) added 17 points with 13 kills, two blocks and two aces. Middle Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado) contributed 16 points with eight kills, four blocks and four aces. The trio are all Penn State products that combined for 51 points.

Outside hitter Adora Anae (Punaluu, Hawaii) pocketed 14 kills in the loss. Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas) tallied five kills, four blocks and an ace for 10 points. Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) totaled five points with two kills, two blocks and an ace. Opposite Krystal Rivers (Birmingham, Illinois) rounded out the scoring with four kills as a sub in the first and fourth sets.

Libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona) handled eight receptions with a 62 positive percent after taking over the position in the third set. Starting libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California) was credited with 14 receptions.

The U.S. converted 47 percent of its attacks into points with a .296 hitting efficiency (64-24-135) with Carlini handling the bulk of the setting chores. Meanwhile, the American defense limited the Cubans to a 35 kill percent and .185 hitting efficiency (43-20-124).

The USA held a 14-12 block advantage while Cuba had a 10-9 ace advantage including the match point. The American offense generated a 61-42 margin in kills, but Cuba took advantage of 32 U.S. errors to its own 24.

Cuba’s Regla Rainierys Gracaia Gonzalez, Diaris Perez Ramos and Sulian Caridad Matienzo Linares all had 15 points in the match.

The U.S. started Lee and Anae at outside hitter, Ogbogu and Washington at middle, Whitney at opposite, Carlini at setter and Wong-Orantes at libero. Rivers and Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colorado) were double-subs in the first and fourth sets.

The U.S. opened the match with a 3-0 lead with kills from Ogbogu and Lee around a Carlini ace. Cuba trimmed the gap to 3-2 following an ace. Washington tipped over the Cuba block to push the Americans to a 7-4 advantage. Out of the first technical timeout, Washington put up a block followed by kills from Anae and Carlini to extend the U.S. lead to 11-5 prompting a Cuba timeout after the 4-0 run. Cuba chipped two points off the deficit to 11-7. Washington picked up a kill and ace to put the Americans in front 13-7. Cuba moved to within three at 14-11 with three unanswered points. Team USA reached the second technical timeout leading 16-11 with a Whitney kill and Ogbugu block. Cuba sliced the deficit to 17-14 with consecutive points. Rivers and Lee put down kills to lift the Americans to a 20-15 advantage. Cuba downed two kills to pull within three, 20-17. Ogbogu put up a block after a Rivers kills to extend the American cushion to 23-18. Whitney gave Team USA set points at 24-18 with a kill, then Cuba committed an error to give the U.S. a 25-18 victory.

The U.S. started the second set with a 2-0 lead with kills from Ogbogu and Anae, but Cuba answered quickly to tie the set at 2-all. Lee picked up a kill and ace to place the U.S. in front 7-5. The Americans raised their lead to 10-6 with consecutive Cuba errors and a Washington ace leading into a Cuba timeout. Out of the break, Ogbogu put up a block for fourth consecutive USA point at 11-6. The Americans raised the margin to 14-8 with a Lee overpass kill, but Cuba answered with four consecutive points to cut the gap to 14-12. Cuba tied the set at 16-all with three straight points out of the second technical timeout, including two aces. Team USA created a two-point cushion at 20-18 with a Lee kill and Whitney block going into Cuba’s second timeout. Cuba went in the lead at 23-20 with five unanswered points. Anae and Lee slammed kills to close the U.S. to within one at 23-22. Cuba finished the set at 25-22 with the final two points.

The U.S. grabbed a 4-0 lead to start the third set with kills from Lee and Washington between two Cuba errors. However, Cuba scored three straight to close within one at 4-3. Washington and Lee hammered kills to build the American lead to 7-4. Cuba scored three straight out of the first technical timeout to level the score at 8-all. Anae and Whitney responded with kills to rebuild a two-point U.S. cushion at 10-8. Cuba tied the score again at 11-all, then went in front 14-13 on an American error. Anae scored a kill between two Cuba error to lift Team USA in front 18-16. Cuba scored four unanswered points to stake a 22-20 advantage. Trailing 23-21, Carlini and Washington put up consecutive blocks to end long rallies and tie the set at 23-all. However, Cuba scored the final two points for a 25-23 victory.

Whitney and Washington scored consecutive kills and Ogbogu served an ace to give the Americans a 4-1 advantage early in set four. Out of a Cuba timeout, Whitney connected for another kill at 5-1. Cuba cut the gap to 7-5 with an ace. The U.S. raised its lead 13-5 with a Carlini block, three Washington aces and Carlini overpass kill. Cuba stopped the 5-0 run with consecutive points to close to 13-7. Anae hammered a kill and Lee put up a monster block to put the U.S. in front 16-8 at the second technical timeout. Out of the break, Lee hammered a kill to extend the American advantage to 17-8. Washington put up two big blocks, Whitney served an ace and Cuba hit long to inch the Team USA lead to 22-10 on a 4-0 run. Cuba erased two off the deficit at 22-12. Washington hit through the Cuba block to give USA set points at 24-12, then U.S. won 25-13 on a Cuba service error.

Whitney slammed a kill and put up a block to give the Americans an early 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker. Whitney extended the lead to 6-2 with a kill, an ace and back-row kill as she scored five of Team USA’s six points. Cuba cut the deficit in half at 6-4. Cuba tied the set at 7-all with three unanswered points. Team USA answered with a Lee kill and Cuba error to gain a two-point cushion at 9-7. Cuba responded with two points of its own to tie the set at 9-all, then went in front 11-10. Whitney hammered back-to-back kills to reverse the lead to the Americans at 12-11, then Lee gave the U.S. a two-point separation at 13-11 with a kill. However, Cuba scored the final four points of the set to win 15-13.

U.S. Women’s National Team Pan American Cup Roster
# - Name (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 – Jordyn Poulter (S, 6-2, University of Illinois, Aurora, Colorado)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, University of Nebraska, Cypress, California)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, University of Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
8 – Krystal Rivers (OPP, 5-11, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama)
10 – Simone Lee (OH, 6-1, Penn State University, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin)
13 – Sarah Wilhite (OH, 6-2, University of Minnesota, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
14 – Adora Anae (OH, 6-1, University of Utah, Punaluu, Hawaii)
15 – Haleigh Washington (M, 6-3, Penn State University, Colorado Springs, Colorado)
18 – Aiyana Whitney (OPP, 6-4, Penn State University, Norwood, New Jersey)
20 – Amanda Benson (L, 5-7, University of Oregon, Litchfield Park, Arizona)
21 – Paige Tapp (M, 6-1, University of Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
22 – Molly McCage (M, 6-3, University of Texas, Spring, Texas)
24 – Kadie Rolfzen (OH, 6-3, University of Nebraska, Papillion, Nebraska)
25 – Chiaka Ogbogu (M, 6-2, University of Texas, Coppell, Texas)

Head Coach: Jon Newman Gonchar (associate head coach at University of Arkansas)
Assistant Coach: Alisha Glass Childress (2016 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team bronze medalist)
Assistant Coach: JJ Van Niel (associate head coach at University of Southern California)
Technical Coordinator: Natalie Morgan (assistant coach at Loyola Marymount University)
Team Manager: John Xie
Athletic Trainer: Salvador Vallejo

Pan American Cup Schedule

Pool B
July 8: USA def. Trinidad & Tobago 21-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-15
July 9: USA lost to Cuba 18-25, 25-22, 25-23, 13-25, 15-13
July 10: USA vs. Puerto Rico, 6 p.m. ET

Pan American Cup Playoff Schedule
July 11: Quarterfinals
July 13: Semifinals
July 14: Medal Round