U.S. Girls' Youth Finish 2nd in Worlds Pool Play

By Kelli LeGrande | Aug. 11, 2015, 3:23 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 11, 2015) - The U.S. Girls' Youth National Team swept Belgium 25-17, 25-23, 25-19 to finish second in Pool C of the FIVB Volleyball Girls' U18 World Championship on Tuesday in Lima, Peru. 

"All people think is that the score shows the performance of a team, but it is not true," U.S. Girls' Youth National Team Head Coach Jim Stone said. "In this match, each point was fought for. I am happy with the results and the performance of my team so far in this championship." 

Team USA finished pool play 3-1 and 10 points, with its only setback being a five-set loss to European Champions, Russia (4-0, 11 points). Team USA has qualified for the Eight Finals Round involving the top 16 teams in the tournament with the playoffs beginning Aug. 13. The eight winners will advance to the quarterfinal round in the gold-medal bracket, while the lowers fall into the 9-16 Classification bracket. The U.S. will play Turkey, Pool D’s third-place team, at 5 p.m. ET on Aug. 13.

The U.S. had a balanced offense as outside hitter Lexi Sun (Encinitas, Calif.) hammered out a match-high 16 points via 13 kills on 22 attacks, one block and two aces. Opposite Kathryn Plummer (Aliso, Viego, Calif.) added 14 points via 9 kills on 15 swings, two blocks and three aces. 

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Outside hitter Khalia Lanier (Scottsdale, Ariz.) pocketed 10 points via eight kills on 20 attacks and two blocks. Middle blocker Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kan.) contributed five points through three kills on six swings and two blocks. Setter Sydney Hilley (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) and middle blocker Ronika Stone (San Jose, Calif.) rounded out the scoring with four points each. Lilley had one kill, one block and two aces, while Stone had four kills. 

Libero Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Ill.) handled seven digs and one excellent reception on 20 chances. Lanier added five digs and a team-high six excellent receptions on 20 chances. 

The U.S. converted 38 percent of its attacks with a .290 hitting efficiency (38-9-100). Madison Lilley (Overland Park, Kan.) totaled eight running sets on 53 set attempts, while Hilley chipped in four running sets on 25 set attempts. The Americans held a 38-31 margin in kills and an 7-5. Team USA's defense held Belgium to a 27.7 kill percent and .133 (31-16-112) hitting efficiency. The U.S. also took advantage of 22 Belgian errors during the match. 

"We knew that this match would be difficult because Belgium is a strong team," Plummer said. "We played with all our effort this match and fortunately we showed what we trained." 

The battle started from the moment the first serve was as the U.S. and Belgium both fought to hold onto a lead. After trading points back and forth, Sun hammered out the go-ahead kill and on the next play stuffed a Belgian attack that keeps the American lead. The plays gave Team USA the momentum to finish the first set on a 12-4 run to win, 25-17. 

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Plummer carried the team through set two with six points, including set point as she crushed a Belgian attack. Each team battled for every point as the set score stayed close throughout. Team USA had to call a timeout late in the match as it was down by one, 20-19. After Belgium went up 22-20, the U.S. went on a 5-1 run with consecutive kills from Pittman and Plummer and sealed its victory with an ace at 25-23.

In the third set, Belgium was trying to get at least one set win under its belt and led 10-7 early in the frame. But the Sun and Plummer duo dominated the net and controlled the rest of the match as the Americans went on an 11-3 run to take an 18-13 advantage. Team USA committed a few errors, but it wasn't enough for Belgium to overcome the U.S., the Americans closed 25-19.

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 14-16: Depends on pool play

Pool C Standings (W-L, Points)
1 - Russia (4-0, 11 points)
2 - USA (3-1, 10 points)
3 - Belgium (2-2, 6 points)
4 - Argentina (1-3, 3 points)
5 - Dominican Republic (0-4, 0 points)