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July 14, 2018: GOLDEN AGAIN! U.S. Women Rally Past Dominican Republic

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 14, 2018) – A young U.S. Women’s National Team – with seven players making their international tournament debuts and no player with more than two years National Team experience – showed its resilience Saturday night in rallying from a two-set deficit to defeat Dominican Republic 24-26, 21-25, 25-21, 25-19, 15-8 in the Pan American Cup gold-medal match.

U.S. Women celebrate gold in Pan Am CupTeam USA has now won the Pan Am Cup six times in 17 editions – including five of the past seven years (2003, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018). Dominican Republic was attempting to win its fifth Pan Am Cup title, but will settle for its ninth silver medal in the tournament. Dominican Republic has reached the podium in 16 of the 17 Pan Am Cups. Canada defeated Brazil in straight sets to capture the bronze medal.

Team USA charged back from an 11-7 deficit in the opening set to take a 19-18 advantage, but Dominican Republic used a 4-0 run to take a 23-20 lead. The Americans saved three set points to tie the set at 24-all, but Dominican Republic regrouped to win 26-24. The U.S. trailed 9-4 in the second set, but charged back to tie the set at 12-all. However, Dominican Republic used a key 6-2 run to gain a 20-16 advantage and went on to win 25-21.

Despite the two-set deficit, the Americans battled back and did not allow their inexperience show against a veteran Dominican Republic team. Team USA broke a 14-all tie in the third set with a 7-2 run to take 21-16 advantage and went on to win 25-21. Trailing 3-2 early in the fourth set, Team USA used a 12-3 run to build a 14-5 advantage and went on to win 25-19. In the tiebreaker, the U.S. scored six of seven points to produce a 6-2 advantage and never looked back in winning 15-8.

"It took us two sets to adjust our game," said Jon Newman-Gonchar, who is serving as the U.S. head coach at the Pan Am Cup. "Once we slowed down their two strong attackers, we applied U.S. pressure and finished the job. I am very proud of successfully defending the crown."

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

Team USA opposite Aiyana Whitney (Norwood, New Jersey) scored a match-high 27 points with 23 kills on 41 attacks, two blocks and two aces. Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas), selected Best Blocker of the Pan Am Cup, contributed 21 points with 14 kills on 24 swings and match-high seven blocks.

Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) pocketed 15 points with 12 kills on 28 attacks, two blocks and an ace. Middle Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado) charted 14 points with eight kills on 14 errorless attacks, five blocks and an ace. Outside hitter Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin) tacked on seven points with six kills on 21 attacks and a block. Outside hitter Adora Anae (Punaluu, Hawaii), a sub in the first set and starter in the second set, rounded out the American scoring with two kills.

Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois), credited with 14 running sets on 115 total set attempts, led the American offense to a 46.4 kill percent and .314 hitting efficiency (65-21-140). After the match, she was named the Most Valuable Player and Best Setter of the Pan Am Cup. Team USA limited Dominican Republic to a 37.0 kill percent and .188 hitting efficiency (51-25-138).

"Once again I am very proud of my team and how we battled against the home-court advantage," Carlini said. "It was not an easy task. We battled point by point and with the game we improved our passing and got better playing cleaner volleyball."

American libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona) was credited with nine digs and 10 excellent receptions on 30 chances. Wilhite handled 25 receptions with seven being excellent. Lee also had seven excellent receptions and three digs.

The U.S. held advantages of 17-10 in blocks and 65-51 in kills. Dominican Republic’s serve netted a 10-4 advantage. Team USA held a 23-20 lead in digs.

Team USA has now won gold in both its tournaments entered in 2018. The Americans won the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League title, which also was a five-set victory in the gold-medal match against Turkey. However, the U.S. roster at the Pan Am Cup was much different with only one player who was on the Volleyball Nations League Final Six roster.

Dominican Republic was led by Brayelin Martinez’s 21 points.

For the complete story, click here.

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