U.S. Girls' Youth Team Loses Battle to Italy

By Kelli LeGrande | Aug. 16, 2015, 8:45 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 16, 2015)—The U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team lost the battle against Italy 25-18, 25-20, 25-16 in the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship Final on Sunday in Lima, Peru.

"We have to give credit to Italy for a well played game," U.S. Women's Junior National Team Head Coach Jim Stone, said. "We also made many mistakes, but tried to play to the best of our abilities. Now we have to keep working."

Team USA made its second-straight gold medal match appearance after the 2013 GYNT earned the first medal of any U.S. FIVB age group at World Championship after defeating China.

Outside hitter Khalia Lanier (Scottsdale, Ariz.) led the offensive front for Team USA with a team-high nine points via five kills on 22 swings, three blocks and once ace.

Setter Madison Lilley (Overland Park, Kan.), middle blocker Ronika Stone (San Jose, Calif.), and outside hitter Lexi Sun (Encinitas, Calif.) each pocketed six points. Lilley had four kills on 5 attempts and two aces, Stone added six kills, while Sun contributed three kills and three blocks.

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Opposite and U.S. Girls' Youth National Team Captain Kathryn Plummer was awarded as the Best Opposite for the tournament. Plummer hammered out 14 points via two kills, two blocks and once ace in tonights match. 

Middle blocker Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kan.) contributed four points via four kills. Middle blockers Brionne Butler (East Bernard, Texas) and Stephanie Samedy(Clermont, Fla.) rounded out the scoring for the U.S. with one point each.

Libero Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Ill.) handled a team-high six digs with 12 excellent receptions on 31 total attempts. Lanier and Plummer each had five digs and four and one excellent receptions, respectively. Morgan Hentz(Lakeside Park, Ky.), setter Sydney Hilley (Brooklyn Park, Min.), Lilley and Sun each added at least one dig.

The U.S. converted 28.4 percent of its attacks with a .137 (25-13-88) hitting efficiency. Lilley totaled five running sets on 52 attempts. The Italians held a 41-25 kill margin, but the U.S. defense commanded a 9-4 block advantage. Italy had a 42.3 kill percent and .247 (41-17-97) hitting efficiency. The Americans capitalized on 16 Italian errors, but also surrendered 17 points in its own errors.

Italy did a good job of serving aggressively to cause the U.S. to scramble almost the entire match. USA found it hard to find rhythm and defend against the quick offense of Italy.

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The Italians did a really great job of spreading the USA block and executing on those attacks. Italy hit high on the block and Team USA was not able to stop the attacks from coming. The U.S. GYNT struggled in passing and could not create any kind of offense to combat the Italian attack.

"Congratulations to the Italian team," said Plummer. "They are a very strong group of players. Also, thanks to my team because I know they all battled until the end and all of them did their best."

In the first set, Italy took control early on, but a block by Pittman put the U.S. back within two points of the Italians, 19-17. Italy came back with two aces and ended the set 25-20 on two kills by The Most Valuable Player of the tournament, Paola Egonu. 

For set two, each team went point for point and were all tied at 9-9 in the middle of the set. At the second technical timeout, the Italian team lead 16-13 and then proceeded to widen the gap. The U.S. got within two points late in the set, 19-17, but Italy came back with two aces on a 6-2 run and took the set, 25-18. 

Italy's defense in the third set picked up every American ball hit over the net, causing many problems for Team USA. Late in the set, the U.S. went on a 4-0 run at 24-16, forcing Italy to take a timeout. After the timeout, Italy closed the match and took set three, 25-16. 

2015 U.S. Girls' Youth National Team
Name (Position, Height, Hometown, Club, Region)
1 - Brionne Butler (MB, 6-3, East Bernard, Texas, Texstar, Lone Star Region)
2 - Tiffany Clark (L, 5-11, Naperville, Ill., Sports Performance, Great Lakes Region)
3 - Paige Hammons (OH, 6-2, Louisville, Ky., Kentucky Indiana Volleyball Association, Pioneer Region)
6 - Morgan Hentz (L, 5-9, Lakeside Park, Ky., Northern Kentucky Volleyball Club, Pioneer Region)
7 - Sydney Hilley (S, 5-11, Brooklyn Park, Minn., Minnesota Select, North Country Region)
8 - Khalia Lanier (OH, 6-2, Scottsdale, Ariz., AZ Storm, Arizona Region)
9 - Madison Lilley (S, 5-11, Overland Park, Kan., KC Power, Heart of America Region)
12 - Regan Pittman (MB, 6-4, Spring Hill, Kan., KC Power, Heart of America Region)
13 - Stephanie Samedy (MB, 6-2, Clermont, Fla., Top Select Volleyball Academy, Florida Region)
14 - Kathryn Plummer (Opp/S, 6-6, Aliso Viejo, Calif., Tstreet Volleyball Club, Southern California Region)
19 - Ronika Stone (MB, 6-2, San Jose, Calif., Vision Volleyball Club, Northern California Region)
20 - Lexi Sun (OH, 6-3, Encinitas, Calif., Coast VBC, Southern California Region)

Head Coach: Jim Stone
Assistant Coaches: Lindsey Devine, Michelle Chatman
Technical Coordinator: Jared Hazel
Team Leader: Erin Leaser

FIVB Volleyball Girls' U18 World Championship Schedule—Lima, Peru
Aug. 8: USA def Dominican Republic 25-15, 25-17, 25-17
Aug. 9: USA def Argentina 25-20, 25-19, 25-23
Aug. 10: Russia def USA 23-25, 25-20, 19-25, 25-23, 15-10
Aug. 11: USA def Belgium 25-17, 25-23, 25-19
Aug 13: USA def Brazil 25-19, 21-25, 25-20, 25-15
Aug. 14: USA def Germany 25-19, 25-11, 25-20 (Quarterfinals)
Aug. 15: USA def China 25-18, 25-13, 27-29, 25-18 (Semifinals)
Aug. 16: Italy def USA 25-20, 25-18, 25-16 (Finals)