GYNT Aims to Earn 2017 FIVB Bid at NORCECA

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Aug. 31, 2016, 4:56 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 31, 2016) – The U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team (GYNT) will compete in the biennial NORCECA Women’s U18 Continental Championship being held Sept. 2-7 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with two spots into the 2017 FIVB Women’s U18 World Championship at stake.

The GYNT is placed in Pool B with Barbados, Dominican Republic and Guatemala. Pool A has Costa Rica, French St. Martin, Mexico and host Puerto Rico. All matches will be played at the Pedrin Zorrilla Stadium.

Team USA opens the tournament against Guatemala on Sept. 2 at 4 p.m. ET, followed by Barbados on Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. ET and Dominican Republic on Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. ET.

Related: GYNT Program Info | NORCECA U18 Championship Website

The top team in each pool advances directly to the semifinals on Sept. 6, while the second- and third-place teams play crossover quarterfinals on Sept. 5. The tournament concludes on Sept. 7 with the final classification matches, including the medal round matches. The top two teams will advance to next year’s age-group FIVB World Championship.

“Our goal at this U-18 NORCECA Championship is to qualify for the 2017 FIVB World Championship,” U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team Head Coach Erin Virtue said. “To do so, we must finish in the top two in this tournament. Our team understands that to put ourselves in the best position to advance in this tournament, we must focus only on the match directly in front of us. One day at a time; each opponent will receive our greatest respect.”

The Americans have won seven of the nine NORCECA Women’s U18 Continental Championships contested since the inaugural event in 1998. Dominican Republic is the defending champion of the event, which ended a run of six straight titles for the U.S.

The GYNT roster includes six pin hitters (outside hitters/opposites), three middles, two setters and one libero. The pin hitters are Logan Eggleston (Franklin, Tennessee, Alliance VBC), Skylar Fields (Missouri City, Texas, Houston Juniors), Mia Grunze (Waterford, Wisconsin, Milwaukee Sting), Allison Martinez (Montebello, California, San Gabriel Elite), Brooklyn Schirmer (Long Beach, California, Mizuno Long Beach VBC) and Haley Warner (Fayetteville, Arkansas, Ozark Juniors).

The middles are Sophia Dorsch-Summers (Beaverton, Oregon, Athena Volleyball Academy), Serena Gray (San Gabriel, California, San Gabriel Elite VBC) and Kendall Kipp (Newport Beach, California, Momentous VBC). The setters are Erin O’Leary (Novi, Michigan, Legacy VBC) and Ella Powell (Fayetteville, Arkansas, Ozark Juniors), while the libero is Brooke Nuneviller (Chandler, Arizona, Aspire VBC).

The 12-player GYNT roster was picked from a training camp among the entire U.S. Girls’ Youth National Training Team in July. The dozen players then competed as a team during the 2016 USA Volleyball High Performance Championships July 19-23 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The GYNT competed in the international Women’s U20 Division and finished fifth in competing against teams with players two years older in age.

“This year's Youth National Team had the unique opportunity to compete at the USA Volleyball High Performance Championships in the U-20 International Division,” Virtue said. “The experience and challenge of playing against older competition was fantastic for our young group. The composure of our team throughout HPCs was definitely impressive, as the internal focus was all about learning and growing as a team. This composure will be important to carry with us in Puerto Rico as we compete in our team's first NORCECA Championship.”

All 12 GYNT members are competing in their first-ever NORCECA or FIVB international event. Last year they were in USA Volleyball’s Girls’ Select age group.

Team USA has had recent success in the U18 age group. Along with its dominance at the NORCECA level, the GYNT has won silver at the two most recent FIVB Women’s U18 World Championships held in 2013 and 2015.

2016 U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team
Name (Position, Hometown, Height, HS Grad Year, Volleyball Club, Region)
4 - Sophia Dorsch-Summers (M, Beaverton, Oregon, 6-3, 2019, Athena Volleyball Academy, Columbia Empire)
5 - Logan Eggleston (OH, Franklin, Tennessee, 6-2, 2019, Alliance VBC, Southern)
6 - Skylar Fields (OH, Missouri City, Texas, 6-2, 2019, Houston Juniors, Lone Star)
7 - Serena Gray (M, San Gabriel, California, 6-3, 2018, San Gabriel Elite VBC, Southern California)
8 - Mia Grunze (OH, Waterford, Wisconsin, 6-2, 2018, Milwaukee Sting, Badger)
10 - Kendall Kipp (M, Newport Beach, California, 6-4, 2019, Momentous VBC, Southern California)
12 - Allison Martinez (OH, Montebello, California, 6-0, 2018, San Gabriel Elite, Southern California)
13 - Brooke Nuneviller (L, Chandler, Arizona, 5-10, 2018, Aspire VBC, Arizona)
14 - Erin O'Leary (S, Novi, Michigan, 5-10, 2018, Legacy VBC, Lakeshore)
17 - Ella Powell (S, Fayetteville, Arkansas, 6-0, 2018, Ozark Juniors, Delta)
20 - Brooklyn Schirmer (OH, Long Beach, California, 6-1, 2018, Mizuno Long Beach VBC, Southern California)
23 - Haley Warner (OH, Fayetteville, Arkansas, 6-1, 2018, Ozark Juniors, Delta)

Head Coach: Erin Virtue
Assistant Coaches: Stacy Sykora, Kayla Cole
Technical Coordinator: Nicki Holmes
Physiotherapist: Molly Mattea
Team Leader: Denise Sheldon

2016 NORCECA Women’s U18 Continental Championship Schedule (all times ET)

Pool A
Sept. 2: Mexico vs. Costa Rica, 2 p.m.
Sept. 2: Puerto Rico vs. French St. Martin, 8 p.m.
Sept. 3: French St. Martin vs. Mexico, 4 p.m.
Sept. 3: Puerto Rico vs. Costa Rica, 8 p.m.
Sept. 4: Costa Rica vs. French St. Martin, 2 p.m.
Sept. 4: Puerto Rico vs. Mexico, 8 p.m.

Pool B
Sept. 2: USA vs. Guatemala, 4 p.m.
Sept. 2: Dominican Republic vs. Barbados, 6 p.m.
Sept. 3: USA vs. Barbados, 2 p.m.
Sept. 3: Dominican Republic vs. Guatemala, 6 p.m.
Sept. 4: Barbados vs. Guatemala, 4 p.m.
Sept. 4: USA vs. Dominican Republic, 6 p.m.

Quarterfinals
Sept. 5: 2B vs. 3A, 6 p.m.
Sept. 5: 2A vs. 3B, 8 p.m.

Classification 5-8
Sept. 6: 4B vs. Quarterfinal Loser TBA, 2 p.m.
Sept. 6: 4A vs. Quarterfinal Loser TBA, 4 p.m.

Semifinals
Sept. 6: 1B vs. Quarterfinal Winner TBA, 6 p.m.
Sept. 6: 1A vs. Quarterfinal Winner TBA, 8 p.m.

Final Classification Matches
Sept. 7: Classification 5-8 Losers, 2 p.m. (7th Place)
Sept. 7: Classification 5-8 Winners, 4 p.m. (5th Place)
Sept. 7: Semifinal Losers, 6 p.m. (Bronze Medal)
Sept. 7: Semifinal Winners, 8 p.m. (Gold Medal)