WJNT Downs Mexico 3-1 in NORCECA Semi

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | June 22, 2018, 11:48 p.m. (ET)

U.S. Women's Junior National Team
U.S. Women's Junior National Team celebrates its win over Mexico in the NORCECA Women's U20 Continental Championship to advance to the gold-medal match against Dominican Republic.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 22, 2018) – Skylar Fields (Missouri City, Texas) scored a team-best 21 points to lead the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team past host Mexico 25-20, 27-25, 25-27, 25-9 in the NORCECA Women’s U20 Continental Championship Friday evening in Aguascalientes, Mexico. The Americans are now one victory away from qualifying for the 2019 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship.

The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team, which won Pool B with a 3-0 record, will face defending champion Dominican Republic on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. Dominican Republic advanced to the title match by sweeping Cuba 25-17, 25-17, 25-21. The Americans have reached the gold-medal match for the 10th time in 11 editions of the biennial event. The U.S. has won the event six times, along with three silvers and a bronze.

Mexico started the first set with a 6-4, lead, but the U.S. used a 12-2 run to establish a 16-8 lead and held off a late Mexican charge to win 25-20. Mexico used the late momentum of the first set to race to a 9-1 lead, but the Americans rallied from a 21-13 deficit by scoring 14 of the last 18 points to win 27-25. The U.S. lead 9-4 in the third set, but Mexico rallied in front and led 22-18. The Americans charged back and had a match point at 25-24, but Mexico scored three straight to win 27-25 and extend the match. Team USA used a 12-0 run to break free from a slim 6-5 advantage and won the final set 25-9.

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

“In the second set, I was really impressed with the team’s resilience and ability to put a bunch of good serves in play over and over, and give us a chance to make that comeback," U.S. Women's Junior National Team Head Coach Keegan Cook said. "On losing that third set, I think every team has two identities – the team they are trying to be and the team they are trying to stop being. We didn’t follow our principles and so the game got really difficult."

Fields notched her 21 points with 15 kills on 31 attacks, four aces and two blocks. Outside hitter Logan Eggleston (Franklin, Tennessee) tallied 13 kills on 35 swings and two aces for 15 points in the victory. Outside hitter Madi Kubik (West Des Moines, Iowa) contributed five kills on 26 attacks, two blocks and an ace for eight points.

“It feels amazing to have all the energy in the gym. We had to dig deep and fight,” Fields said in regards to coming back in the set second and then winning the fourth set.

“In the fourth set, that is what we are capable of,” Cook said. “Skylar Fields was outstanding with her serve and put a lot of pressure on our opponent. Madi Kubik – a really nice job managing some tough sets. It ended up being a very clean game for us.”

Setter Mica Allison (White Heath, Illinois) pocketed four blocks and three aces for seven points in the win. Middle Molly Phillips (Mansfield, Texas) chalked up five kills and a block, while middle Madison Horin (Munster, Indiana) scored two kills, two blocks and two aces for six points.

Caitlin Baird (Indianapolis, Indiana), who was part of the double-sub with Amelia Tuaniga (Long Beach, California) in the first three sets, totaled four kills on seven attacks and two blocks in her limited action on the floor. Middle Adeola Owokoniran (Raleigh, North Carolina) tallied three kills on four swings as a sub in the final two sets. Destiny Cox (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) rounded out the scoring with a kill on her only attack as a sub in three of the four sets.

Libero Brooke Nuneviller (Chandler, Arizona) was credited with 32 digs and 11 excellent receptions on 29 chances. Kubik added 12 digs and six excellent receptions on 18 errorless chances. Eggleston had nine excellent reception on 25 chances and 11 digs.

Allison was credited with 31 running sets and Tuaniga added seven. The duo set Team USA to a 38.4 kill percent and .176 hitting efficiency (48-26-125).

The Americans serve put pressure on the Mexicans all night with a 12-3 ace advantage. The U.S. also held margins of 13-8 in blocks and 48-36 in kills. Team USA committed 34 errors in the match to Mexico’s 29. Team USA held Mexico to a 29.5 kill percent and .131 hitting efficiency.

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

According to Cook, Dominican Republic will be another tough challenge, and an opponent many on the U.S. squad has wanted to face again after a tough loss in the 2016 NORCECA Girls’ U18 Championship gold-medal match two years ago.

“Dominican Republic is an experienced team,” Cook said. “They limit their hitting errors. They put a lot of off-speed balls into play, and that is something we know we have to get better at. We are looking forward to the opportunity to play them again. I believe this group faced them two years ago (as part of the U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team) and lost in a tight match. They have been waiting awhile for this match.”

Mexico scored the first two points of the opening set, but Team USA answered with an Eggleston kill and Allison ace to tie the set at 2-all. Mexico scored back-to-back points to gain a 5-3 advantage. Team USA went in front 7-6 with a Baird block between two Mexico errors. Horin, Baird and Eggleston scored consecutive kills, Kubik served an ace to yield an 11-7 American lead prompting Mexico to call timeout. Eggleston slammed a kill off the block, Baird picked up a block and Mexico hit into the net pushing the U.S. in front 14-8. Out of Mexico’s second timeout, the Americans advanced the advantage to 16-8 with a Mexico error and Horin ace. Mexico scored three straight points to whittle the deficit to 16-11. Mexico trimmed the gap to three points at 19-16 with a 4-1 run. The Americans built a five-point cushion at 21-16 with a Mexican error and Fields ace. Horin put up a huge block and Fields hit line to give USA a 23-17 lead. Eggleston gave U.S. set points with a kill at 24-17. Mexico saved three set points before U.S. won 25-20 on an Eggleston kill.

Mexico scored the first four points of the second set, then raised its advantage to 9-1 with five unanswered points. Consecutive Mexico errors trimmed Team USA’s deficit to 11-5, but two USA errors put the Mexicans back in front 13-5. After Mexico built its lead to 15-6, the U.S. answered with three straight including an Allison ace and Phillips kill to cut the gap to 15-9. Mexico scored back-to-back points to lift its lead to 17-9. Fields hammered a kill and Eggleston served consecutive aces to slice the gap to 17-12. Mexico responded with a 4-1 run to go up 21-13. Eggleston and Fields scored back-to-back kills and Allison put up consecutive blocks to cut the deficit to 23-19. Horin served an ace to close the gap to within three at 23-20. Phillips and Fields scored back-to-back kills to close USA within two at 24-22. Fields put a block and slammed a kill to level the score at 24-all. The Americans took the lead at 26-25 with a Phillips block, then Kubik hit off the block to win 27-25.

The U.S. took a 3-1 lead early on an Eggleston kill and Fields block. The Americans raised their advantage to 7-2 on a 3-0 run capped by a Fields kill off the block. Mexico sliced two points off the deficit at 7-4. Team USA raised its margin to 9-4 with a Kubik kill and Allison block, only to have Mexico score six straight and swing the lead to its side at 10-9. The U.S. went in front 12-11 on consecutive Mexico errors. Mexico switched the lead to its side at 15-14 with a block, then inched its margin to 17-15 with another block. Mexico forced the Americans to call timeout with the score at 20-17, then increased its margin to 21-17. Team USA cut the gap in half at 22-20 with an Eggleston kill and Mexico attack error. Out of a Mexico timeout, Fields slammed a kill off the block and Allison served an ace to tie the set at 22-all. Team USA saved a set point and took a 25-24 lead with a Fields kill and Mexico attack error. However, Mexico answered with three straight points to win 27-25.

The U.S. established a 3-0 lead early in the fourth set with an Eggleston kill and two Mexico errors. A Phillips kill and Mexico error lifted Americans advantage to 5-1. Mexico cut the gap to one at 6-5 with a 3-0 run. The Americans reached the first technical timeout up 8-5 with a Fields kill and ace. Out of the break, Fields served two more aces around a Horin block to extend the American lead to 11-5. Out of a Mexico timeout, Horin scored another block and Fields served her fourth ace to raise the American margin to 13-5. Kubik scored three kills and Allison put up a block around a Mexico error capping a 12-0 run to put the U.S. in front 18-5. Kubik put up a block after a Owokoniran kill to put the USA up 23-9. Cox gave the Americans match point 24-9 with a kill and Eggleston ended the match with an ace at 25-9.

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 def. Guatemala 25-13, 25-11, 25-7
June 20: Cuba def. Puerto Rico 25-20, 26-24, 20-25, 25-12

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 def. Costa Rica 25-19, 25-9, 25-12
June 20: Costa Rica def. Honduras 25-22, 25-16, 25-22
June 20: Dominican Republic def. Mexico 26-24, 19-25, 25-22, 25-20

Quarterfinals
June 21: Cuba (2B) def. Costa Rica (3A) 25-22, 25-20, 25-21
June 21: Mexico (2A) def. Puerto Rico (3B) 25-16, 25-21, 25-21

Classification 5-8
June 22: Costa Rica (3A) def. Guatemala (4B) 25-13, 25-13, 25-6
June 22: Puerto Rico (3B) def. Honduras (4A) 25-16, 25-18, 16-25, 25-13

Semifinals
June 22: Dominican Republic (1A) def. Cuba (2B) 25-17, 25-17, 25-21
June 22: USA (1B) def. Mexico (2A) 25-20, 27-25, 25-27, 25-9

Final Classification 7-8
June 23: Honduras vs. Guatemala, 3 p.m. ET

Final Classification 5-6
June 23: Costa Rica vs. Puerto Rico, 5 p.m. ET

Bronze Medal
June 23: Mexico vs. Cuba, 7 p.m. ET

Gold Medal
June 23: USA vs. Dominican Republic, 9 p.m. ET