WJNT Rallies Past Cuba in Five

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | June 19, 2018, 11:53 p.m. (ET)

U.S. Women's Junior National Team
U.S. Women's Junior National Team competing at the NORCECA Women's U20 Continental Championship

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 19, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team rallied to defeat a physical Cuba squad 20-25, 25-18, 25-19, 22-25, 15-11 on Tuesday on the second day of NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team, now 2-0 in the tournament, concludes Pool A against Guatemala (0-2) on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET. The match can be viewed live on FloVolleyball.tv, a subscription service. If the Americans win the match, they will advance directly to the semifinals on Friday and bypass the quarterfinal round.

The USA-Cuba match started nearly two hours late because of a rain delay caused by a leaky roof spilling water onto the play surface. Even during the match, several breaks were taken to hand-mop the floor as players continued to slide on the surface.

“This was a really good win for us to build on for the rest of the tournament,” U.S Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Keegan Cook said. “It was really tough circumstances as the match started almost two hours late because of a rain delay. team stayed with it, so I am really proud of them for doing that.”

Cuba used a 4-0 run to overcome a 14-11 deficit in the opening set, then scored the final four points for a 25-20 victory. After trailing 2-0 in the second set, the Americans rolled off six unanswered points to gain momentum and won 25-18 without Cuba mounting a serious attack the rest of the set. The U.S. led 7-1 and 14-6 in the third set, but needed to withstand a Cuba charge that closed the gap at 16-15. The Americans out-scored Cuba 9-4 the rest of the set for a 25-19 victory. The U.S. trailed 19-11 in the fourth set, but rallied to within one at 22-21 but couldn’t finish the comeback as Cuba won 25-22. The Americans trailed 9-7 in the fifth set, but used a 5-0 run to establish a 12-9 lead and won the match at 15-11.

“A really, really difficult environment and a great opponent is what USA faced tonight,” Cook said. “It took a lot of people in a variety of roles to come out with a great result. A lot of good individual performances that maybe were not in the game plan originally. Madi Kubik came in the second set and was outstanding in serve receive and serve to really stabilize us. Amelia Tuaniga came in the fourth set and helped us make a comeback in a set we actually lost, but continued to a do a really nice job in the fifth set, including a run of a really good jump serves that helped us put the match away. Mica Allison came back in the match in the fifth set and hit a good serve, and did what we needed her to do as well. Impressive on her part. Brooke Nuneviller really nice job in serve receive against a Cuba team that was hitting some tough jump spin serves that got us in trouble. A nice, consistent performance by her.”

Allison felt the team was loose heading into the fifth set, and that contributed in the win.

“I think going into it, we were confident. I know a lot of us were just saying play the game, play volleyball. I don’t think there was any pressure put on us. We just did our thing.”

Related: U.S. Women's Junior National Team Page | Match Stats

U.S. outside hitter Logan Eggleston (Franklin, Tennessee) notched a team-leading 18 points with 10 kills and eight aces. Middle Molly Phillips (Mansfield, Texas) charted seven kills and three blocks for 10 points.

“It feels good,” Phillips said on coming out with the win. “We started a little shaky and we came out in the second set kind of shaky again, but we ended strong. We started playing our kind of volleyball. Our serving was a little off at the beginning, but by the end we really got it going. I think we also shared the ball with all of our hitters, we just didn’t focus on one spot.”

Outside hitter Madi Kubik (West Des Moines, Iowa) came off the bench in and started the final four sets, proving five kills, three aces and a block. Opposite Skylar Fields (Missouri City, Texas) contributed seven kills and two blocks for nine points. Middle Madison Horin (Munster, Indiana) recorded four kills, four blocks and an ace for nine points.

Setter Mica Allison (White Heath, Illinois) tallied two kills and two aces for four points. Amelia Tuaniga (Long Beach, California), who replaced Allison in the fourth set and started the fifth, tallied two key aces in the match and provided a major spark down the stretch. Outside hitter Caitlin Baird (Indianapolis, Indiana) rounded out the scoring with a kill and block for two points in starting the opening set.

“I think both our setters are amazing,” Phillips said. “Amelia did bring a different kind of energy. She is a really good player and hustler. It was a good change.”

Libero Brooke Nuneviller (Chandler, Arizona) charted 18 digs for the U.S. and was credited with 16 positive receptions on 27 chances. Phillips and Kubik each had six digs in the victory. Kubik registered 10 excellent receptions on 18 chances, while Eggleston had 10 excellent receptions on 24 chances.

Allison was credited with 17 running sets on 66 set attempts, while Tuaniga added 13 running sets on 21 chances. The setting duo allowed the Americans to convert 34.3 percent of their attacks with a .133 hitting efficiency. Cuba converted 37.6 percent of its attacks with a .265 hitting efficiency.

The Americans held slim margins of 13-10 in blocks and 14-13 in aces to offset Cuba’s 44-36 advantage in kills. Team USA took advantage of 44 errors by Cuba and held its own miscues to 31. Cuba had 19 service errors to the Americans’ 14.

“I think one of the main things we talked about was making sure to get our serve in and letting Cuba make mistakes,” Allison said.

The U.S. started Baird and Eggleston at outside hitter, Horin and Phillips at middle, Fields at opposite and Allison at setter. Nuneviller is the American libero for the tournament.

Cuba opened the first set with a 2-0 lead following an ace. Phillips put a up a block after a Cuba service error to tie the set at 2-all. Cuba responded with three straight points, including its second ace, for a 5-2 advantage. Eggleston scored on a kill after a Cuba error to chip the deficit to 5-4. Team USA went in front 7-6 with a Fields kill and consecutive Eggleston aces. Cuba went into the first technical timeout leading 8-7. Horin put up a block and Cuba followed with back-to-back errors to reverse the lead to the Americans, 11-9. The Americans stretched the lead to 14-11 with an Eggleston kill and Cuba error. Cuba answered with four consecutive points to retake the lead at 15-14. Cuba inched its margin to two at 20-18. Cuba scored the final four points of the set for a 25-20 victory.

Cuba took the first two points of the second set. Team USA leveled the set at 2-all with consecutive Cuba errors, then went in front at 3-2 on an Eggleston ace. The Americans stretched the lead to 5-2 with a Kubik kill and Cuba error. Out of a Cuba timeout, USA scored a sixth straight point a Phillips block at 6-2. Cuba sliced its deficit in half before Horin slammed a kill to put USA up 8-5 at the technical timeout. Out of the break, Horin added a block to send the advantage to 9-5. Cuba responded with consecutive points to close to 9-7. Allison placed a block after Cuba hit into the net to shirt the American lead to 11-7. Cuba again answered with consecutive points to chip the deficit to 11-9. Eggleston pounded a kill and Horin served an ace to again put USA in front by four, 13-9. Fields and Phillips scored back-to-back kills to put the U.S. in front 16-11 at the second technical timeout. Kubik put up a block out of the timeout at 17-11 after a replay cost the Americans an ace. Team USA advanced its lead to 21-14 with a Cuba service error and Kubik ace. Cuba sliced the deficit to 22-17 with back-to-back points. The U.S. won the set 25-18 on back-to-back Cuba errors.

Eggleston served consecutive aces after a Fields kill to put the Americans up 4-1. Phillips put up a block for a fourth straight point to prompt Cuba to call timeout down 5-1. Out of the break, Eggleston served another ace and Cuba hit wide at 7-1 to cap a 6-0 run. Cuba answered with two quick points to close to 7-3. Horin and Kubik placed consecutive blocks out of the technical timeout to jump the American lead to 10-3. Cuba chipped the deficit to 11-8 on four straight points. Two consecutive Cuba errors and an Eggleston overpass kill raised the American lead to 14-8. Cuba used a 5-0 run, including two aces, to close to with 15-13. Cuba scored two points out of the second technical timeout to close to 16-15. Fields downed a kill and Cuba committed consecutive errors was in the net to build a four-point USA cushion, 19-15. Kubik capped a 5-0 run at 20-15 with a block. Cuba trimmed the deficit to 20-18 on its ninth ace of the match and a block. Kubik nailed a kill down the line and put up a block after a Cuba service error to extend the American lead to 23-18. Team USA finished the set at 25-19 on a Horin block.

Cuba went up 4-0 to start the fourth set that had three USA errors, then increased its margin to 6-1. Phillips and Horin scored consecutive blocks to shave the deficit to 6-3. Cuba extended its lead to 13-5 on five straight points. Horin and Eggleston hammered kills to trim the gap to 13-7. Cuba knocked down its 11th ace of the match for a 16-8 lead at the second technical timeout. The Americans closed to 19-15 with a Kubik kill and ace around two Cuba errors. Phillips hit a quick to narrow the deficit to 20-17. Eggleston downed a kill and Tuaniga served an ace to slice the deficit to 21-19. Fields hammered a kill and Eggleston served an ace off the net to close the gap to 22-21. Cuba ended the set with consecutive points at 25-22.

Allison served an ace after a Cuba timeout to give the Americans a 4-3 lead. Cuba answered with two aces of its own to take a 6-4 advantage. Kubik served an ace to quickly tie the set at 6-all. A U.S. attack error put Cuba in front 8-6 at the side switch. Phillips scored consecutive kills to level the set at 9-all, then Tuaniga served an ace to provide the Americans a 10-9 advantage. Eggleston hammered a kill and Cuba hit into the net for a 12-9 advantage as part of a 5-0 run. Kubik slammed a kill give USA match points at 14-11, then Fields and Horin combined for a block on the winner at 15-11.

2018 U.S. Women’s Junior National Team
# - Name (Position, Height, HS Grad Year, Hometown, Club, Region, College Commitment)
2 – Amelia Tuaniga (S, 5-9, Long Beach, 2020, California, Apex 1, Southern California, Long Beach State University)
3 – Brooke Nuneviller (L, 5-11, 2018, Chandler, Arizona, Aspire Volleyball Club, Arizona, University of Oregon)
5 – Mica Allison (S, 6-0, 2018, White Heath, Illinois, Illini Elite, Great Lakes, Auburn University)
6 – Selina Xu (S, 6-0, 2019, San Carlos, California, Vision Volleyball, Northern California, Uncommitted)
9 – Madi Kubik (OH, 6-2, 2019, West Des Moines, Iowa, Iowa Powerplex TPP, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
10 – Adeola Owokoniran (M, 6-2, 2018, Raleigh, North Carolina, Triangle VBC, Carolina, Duke University)
11 – Anita Anwusi (M, 6-3, 2019, Houston, Texas, Houston Juniors, Lone Star, Uncommitted)
12 – Caitlin Baird (OH, 6-3, 2019, Indianapolis, Indiana, Circle City Volleyball Club, Hoosier, Stanford University)
13 – Destiny Cox (OH, 6-3, 2018, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Triangle VBC, Carolina, University of North Carolina)
14 – Logan Eggleston (OH, 6-3, 2018, Franklin, Tennessee, Alliance Mizuno 18-1, Southern, University of Texas)
15 – Skylar Fields (OH, 6-2, 2019, Missouri City, Texas, Houston Juniors, Lone Star, University of Texas)
16 – Madison Horin (M, 6-3, 2019, Munster, Indiana, First Alliance, Great Lakes, University of Southern California)
17 – Molly Phillips (M, 6-4, 2019, Mansfield, Texas, Texas Image Volleyball, North Texas, University of Texas)

Head Coach: Keegan Cook (head coach at University of Washington)
Assistant Coaches: Rob Browning (head coach at Saint Mary’s College, California), Jenny Hazelwood (club director with Infinity Volleyball Academy)
Technical Coordinator: Jon Wong (assistant coach at Bradley University)
Doctor: Dr. William Feldner
Team Leader: Tayyiba Haneef-Park

2018 NORCEA Women’s U20 Continental Championship Schedule (times are listed as ET)

Group A
June 18: Cuba def. Guatemala 25-20, 25-14, 25-12
June 18: United States def. Puerto Rico 25-13, 25-9, 25-19
June 19: Puerto Rico def. Guatemala 25-16, 25-9, 24-26, 25-17
June 19: United States def. Cuba 20-25, 25-18, 25-19, 22-25, 15-11
June 20: United States vs. Guatemala, 3 p.m. ET
June 20: Puerto Rico vs. Cuba, 7 p.m. ET

Group B
June 18: Dominican Republic def. Costa Rica 25-13, 25-17, 25-18
June 18: Mexico def. Honduras 25-7, 25-19, 25-9
June 19: Dominican Republic def. Honduras 25-16, 25-12, 25-14
June 19: Mexico vs. Costa Rica, 9 p.m. ET
June 20: Costa Rica vs. Honduras, 5 p.m. ET
June 20: Dominican Republic vs. Mexico, 9 p.m. ET

Quarterfinals
June 21: Group A 2nd Place vs. Group B 3rd Place, 7 p.m. ET
June 22: Group B 2nd Place vs. Group A 3rd Place, 9 p.m. ET

Classification 5-8
June 22: Group A 4th Place vs. Quarterfinal Round Loser, 3 p.m. ET (Match 13)
June 22: Group B 4th Place vs. Quarterfinal Round Loser, 5 p.m. ET (Match 14)

Semifinals
June 22: Group A 1st Place vs. Quarterfinal Winner, 7 p.m. ET
June 22: Group B 1st Place vs. Quarterfinal Winner, 9 p.m. ET

Final Classification 7-8
June 23: Losers of Match 13 and 14, 3 p.m. ET

Final Classification 5-6
June 23: Winners of Match 13 and 14, 5 p.m. ET

Bronze Medal
June 23: Semifinal losers, 7 p.m. ET

Gold Medal
June 23: Semifinal winners, 9 p.m. ET