U.S. Women Sweep Puerto Rico at Pan Am Cup

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | July 10, 2018, 9:06 p.m. (ET)

U.S. Women's National Team
U.S. Women's National Team participating at the Pan American Cup

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 10, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team commanded a 12-1 block advantage in sweeping Puerto Rico 25-22, 25-21, 25-14 on Tuesday to conclude the Pan American Cup Pool B in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

With the victory, the U.S. finished the four-team round-robin pool with a 2-1 record and in first place. The Americans advance to Wednesday’s quarterfinals against an opponent to be determined. All matches can be watched live on flovolleyball.tv. in the United States. Puerto Rico, which entered undefeated, finished the pool 2-1 and edged out Cuba (2-1) for second place based on points scored ratio (1.03 to 0.96). Both Puerto Rico and Cuba ended with the same records, same standings points (8) and same set ratio (6:5).

After the opening set traded leads, the U.S. broke a 17-all tie with a 5-1 run to propel the Americans to a 25-22 victory that included six blocks as a team. Team USA overcame a 16-15 deficit with key 3-0 run to go up 18-16, then scored the final three points of the set to win 25-21. After trailing 3-0 in the third set, the U.S. scored seven unanswered points to stake a 10-4 advantage and went on to win 25-14.

Related: Match Stats

Team USA’s outside hitting combination of Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin) and Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) led the offensive output. Lee scored a match-high 14 points with 13 kills and one block. Wilhite added seven kills, four blocks and two aces for 13 points.

Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas) contributed 10 points, including a match-high five blocks, three blocks and two aces. Middle Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado) charted five kills, two aces and a block for eight points. Opposite Aiyana Whitney (Norwood, New Jersey) totaled two kills and two aces in the victory. Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) scored a kill and block for two points. Krystal Rivers (Birmingham, Alabama) and Paige Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota) rounded out the scoring with one point apiece.

Libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona) contributed six digs and seven receptions in the victory. Lee handled 24 of the team's 47 receptions, while Wilhite added six excellent receptions on 14 errorless chances.

Carlini was credited with 13 running sets on 64 total set attempts in leading the Team USA offense to a 38.1 kill percent and .250 hitting efficiency (32-11-84). The American defense held Puerto Rico to a 32.7 kill percent and .133 hitting efficiency (32-19-98)

In addition to the 12-1 block advantage, the Americans held a 9-3 ace margin. Both teams converted 32 kills in the match.

Noami Santos and Pilar Victoria led Puerto Rico with eight points each.

The U.S. started Lee and Wilhite at outside hitter, Ogbogu and Washington at middle, Whitney at opposite, Carlini at setter and Benson at libero. Rivers came off the bench in the second set and started the third set before Whitney returned to the court at opposite. Tapp was a serving sub in the second set.

Whitney served an ace after a Lee kill to give the Americans a 2-1 lead in the opening set, but Puerto reversed the lead at 3-2. Washington and Lee followed with consecutive kills to yield a 4-3 U.S. advantage. Wilhite put up a block after a Puerto Rico service error to push the U.S. lead to 7-5. Puerto Rico scored the first three points out of the first technical timeout to regain the lead at 9-8. Washington put the U.S. in front 10-9 with a block after a Puerto Rico service error, but the lead was short-lived as Puerto Rico went back in front 12-11. The U.S. answered with a Lee kill and two Puerto Rico errors to return to the lead at 14-12. Washington added a block to the 4-0 run to prompt Puerto Rico to call timeout down 15-12. Puerto Rico scored three consecutive points out of the timeout to square the set at 15-all. Team USA built its lead to 17-15 with a Wilhite kill and Puerto Rico error, but yielded two straight points to level the set at 17-all. Lee and Whitney scored consecutive points to raise Team USA’s margin to 19-17. Ogbogu put up a block and Wilhite hit a back-row winner to extend the American lead to 21-18. Out of a Puerto Rico timeout, Lee notched another block to stretch the USA lead to 22-18. Puerto Rico saved two set points before the U.S. finished it off at 25-22 with a Lee kill.

Lee connected for consecutive kills and Whitney served an ace to give the U.S. a 3-1 advantage in the second set. Puerto Rico tied the set at 3-all with consecutive USA errors. Wilhite gave the U.S. a 5-3 edge with a kill after a Puerto Rico service error. Wilhite extended the American advantage to 7-4 with a block. Out of the first technical timeout, Puerto Rico scored three straight to level the set at 8-all and went in front 11-10 as part of a 6-2 run. The U.S. went back in front 15-13 on two Washington aces following a Puerto Rico error. Puerto Rico answered with three straight points to take a 16-15 lead into the second technical timeout. The U.S. came out of the timeout with two straight points on Puerto Rico errors followed by an Ogbogu block to go up 18-16. Tapp came off the bench and promptly served an ace off the net to inch the American lead to 21-18. Puerto Rico scored consecutive points on USA errors to close to within one, 21-20. Team USA reached set points on kills from Rivers and Wilhite at 24-21, then won the set immediately on a Washington block at 25-21.

Puerto Rico scored the first three points of the third set. Wilhite downed a kill and served consecutive aces to tie the set at 3-all. Team USA went in front 6-4 on an Ogbogu ace between two Puerto Rico errors. Wilhite connected for a back-row kill and Puerto Rico followed with an attack error to put Team USA in front 8-4 at the technical timeout. Out of the break, the U.S. scored a sixth and seventh straight points with an Ogbogu ace and a Puerto Rico error at 10-4. Puerto Rico stopped the run with three quick points to cut the deficit to 10-7. Team USA scored consecutive points on Puerto Rico errors and Wilhite hit a back-row winner to extend its margin to six, 13-7. Washington scored consecutive kills to increase the American lead to 15-8. Puerto Rico narrowed the gap to 15-10 with consecutive points. Wilhite and Lee scored consecutive kills to raise the U.S. margin to 17-10, then the Americans went up 19-11 on a Lee kill and Puerto Rico error. Out of a Puerto Rico timeout, Whitney hit off the block and Wilhite put up a block to inch the U.S. lead to 21-11. Puerto Rico scored three straight points to cut the gap to 21-14. Ogbogu scored back-to-back points and Lee hammered an overpass kill to place the Americans in front 24-14 at match point. Ogbogu closed out the set with a block at 25-14 to cap a 4-0 run to end the match.

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 def. Puerto Rico 25-22, 25-21, 25-14

Pan American Cup Playoff Schedule
July 11: USA vs. Colombia, 6 p.m. ET
July 13: Semifinals
July 14: Medal Round