USA Volleyball U20 Team at the World Championships

We will have continuing recaps from USA Volleyball, Stats, photos and more from the U20 World Championships in Mexico. 

JUNE 23 (Classification Match vs. Bulgaria) | Stats

BY BILL KAUFFMAN (BILL.KAUFFMAN@USAV.ORG) | JULY 23, 2017 
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 23, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team ended the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship in seventh place after rallying past Bulgaria 25-16, 19-25, 19-25, 25-16, 15-9 on Sunday afternoon in Cordoba, Mexico.

The contest was a rematch of the final Top 8 round-robin pool match on July 20 in which the U.S. lead 2-1 before Bulgaria came back to win in five sets. With the victory, the U.S. snapped a four-match losing streak.

“What an exciting match to finish the World Championships!” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Laurie Corbelli said. “Bulgaria relies heavily on its pin hitters and we were able to slow them down with an exceptional defensive effort. Our block was at its best today and our floor defense and serve receive both got better and better as the match went on. The team is thrilled to finish seventh in the world and we appreciate the support from all of the USA Volleyball fans!”

Middle Ronika Stone (San Jose, California) led the Americans with 20 points via 14 kills on 22 attacks, four aces and two blocks. Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas) added 13 points with 11 kills on 13 swings and two blocks. The middle combination combined for hitting 25-for-35 on the day.

Opposite Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas) contributed nine points with six blocks and three kills. Outside hitter Paige Hammons (Louisville, Kentucky) pocketed six kills on 13 attacks in starting the final three sets after subbing in the second set. Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois) chipped in four kills on five swings, one block and one ace in starting the final three sets and subbing in the second set.

Outside hitter Leah Edmond (Lexington, Kentucky), who was not available for yesterday’s match, contributed six kills on 21 attacks in the first three sets. Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina) charted three kills, one block and one ace for five points. Setter Norene Iosia (Torrance, California) rounded out the scoring with four aces and a kill.

Libero Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) was credited with 14 digs and five excellent receptions on 15 chances. Hammons added six excellent receptions on 22 chances.

“We stayed focused and smooth out at the end of the match,” Clark said. “It’s great to end the tournament with a win.”
Welsh turned in 20 running sets on 47 set attempts while Iosia had 11 running sets on 37 chances. The setting combination led the U.S. to a 46.2 kill percent and .308 hitting efficiency (48-16-104). The American defense limited Bulgaria to a .113 hitting efficiency (41-28-115) with a 35.7 kill percent.

The U.S. net defense consistently stopped the Bulgaria offense during the match as the Americans held a 12-4 block advantage and had a 48-41 kill margin. Bulgaria managed a 13-10 ace advantage. Both teams had 33 errors for the five sets.

The Americans started Butler and Stone at middle, Hall and Edmond at outside hitter, Pittman at opposite and Iosia at setter. Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) started at libero. Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia) was a sub in all five sets.

After both teams struggled early in the first set with serve-receive, the Americans reached the first technical timeout leading 8-5. The U.S. went on a 9-2 run to establish a 17-7, 10-point cushion. Bulgaria cut its deficit to 18-13. The Americans answered by scoring seven of the last 10 points for a 25-16 victory. Stone scored 10 points in the opening set as the U.S. held a 5-0 advantage in blocks.

Bulgaria nabbed an 8-3 lead at the first technical timeout in the second set. After trailing 9-3, the U.S. closed the gap to 15-13. However, Bulgaria quickly upped its lead to 21-16.

The U.S. overcame an early 7-5 deficit in the third set by scoring three straight to take an 8-7 lead into the first technical timeout. Bulgaria reversed the lead at the second technical timeout out as it led 16-14. The European side increased its margin to 22-17 and closed the set at 25-19.

The U.S. broke a 3-all tie in the fourth set and grabbed an 8-5 lead heading into the first technical timeout. Team USA increased its advantage to 11-6. The Americans charged forward to a 16-8 lead at the second technical timeout. Team USA ended the set at 25-16 to send the match to a deciding fifth set.

After trailing 2-1 in the fifth set, Iosia had a six-point service run to put the Americans in front 7-2. The U.S. jumped the lead to 11-4 and went on to win 15-9.

JUNE 22 (5-8 Classification match vs. Poland)
BY BILL KAUFFMAN (BILL.KAUFFMAN@USAV.ORG) | JULY 22, 2017, 3:52 P.M. (ET)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 22, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team lost to Poland 25-14, 25-16, 20-25, 25-20 on Saturday afternoon in the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship classification 5-8 match held in Cordoba, Mexico.

The U.S. concludes the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET in the seventh-place match against the loser of the other classification 5-8 match played today.

Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina) led the American offense with 12 kills on 29 attacks, two blocks and two aces for 16 points. Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas) chipped in 11 points with seven kills on 11 swings, two blocks and two aces. Opposite Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas) pocketed 11 points with eight kills on 21 swings and three blocks.

Middle Ronika Stone (San Jose, California) charted six kills on 11 swings in playing the first two sets. Middle Rachael Kramer (Phoenix, Arizona), who started the last two sets in place of Stone, totaled three kills on nine attacks and a block for four points. Outside hitter Paige Hammons (Louisville, Kentucky) totaled three kills, while setter Norene Iosia (Torrance, California) rounded out the scoring with three blocks as she started the fourth set after being a sub in the first three sets.

Poland’s serve kept the Americans out of system, mostly in the first two sets as it had 11 of its 15 aces. The U.S. had four aces for the match. Poland’s offense held a 48-39 margin in kills, while the U.S. held an 11-10 block advantage.

The Americans started Butler and Stone at middle, Hall and Hammons at outside hitter, Pittman at opposite and MacKenzie Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois) at setter. Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) started at libero. Gabby Curry (Buford, Geogia) was a sub in all four sets. Leah Edmond (Lexington, Kentucky) and Holly Carlton (Sterling, Virginia), two of the team’s top offensive weapons during the tournament, were not available to play in the match.

In the opening set, Poland forged in front 14-11 on a 3-0 run and reached the second technical timeout up 16-12. Poland advanced its advantage to 21-12 at the Americans’ second timeout. The U.S. saved two set points before Poland closed the set at 25-14.

Poland held an 8-6 margin at the first technical timeout of the second set, then scored four aces to extend the margin to 14-6 out of the break. Poland built its margin to 16-9 at the second technical timeout. The Americans used a 4-0 run, including an ace by Hall, to narrow the gap to 20-15. Poland won the second set 25-16.

The U.S. took a 2-0 lead to open the third set after a Butler ace and the Americans stretched the lead to 4-1. The Americans reached the first technical timeout with an 8-6 lead and extended the advantage to 12-8. After Poland cut into the lead at 19-17, the U.S. increased its advantage back to four points at 22-18. The Americans capped the set at 25-20.

Poland scored back-to-back points to grab an 8-5 margin at the fourth set’s first technical timeout. Poland ran off three straight to raise its advantage to 18-13. The Americans narrowed the gap to 20-18. Poland scored three of the next four points to take a 23-19 lead into Team USA’s final timeout. Poland ended the match by scoring two of the final three points for a 25-20 victory.

JUNE 20 (POOL F TOP-EIGHT VS BULGARIA)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 20, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team lost to Bulgaria 16-25, 26-24, 19-25, 25-23, 15-12 to conclude the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship Top 8 Pool F pool play on Thursday afternoon in Cordoba, Mexico.

As the fourth-place team in Pool F, U.S. (2-4 overall, 0-3 in Pool F) will now move into the classification 5-8 match on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET against an opponent to be determined. The Americans will conclude the tournament on Sunday playing either for fifth place or seventh place depending on the outcome of Saturday.

Outside hitter Leah Edmond (Lexington, Kentucky) led the Americans with 17 points with 14 kills on 30 swings and three blocks. Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas) chipped in 14 points with seven kills on 14 swings, five blocks and two aces. Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina) provided 13 kills and a block for 14 points. 

Opposite Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas) contributed six kills, three blocks and two aces for 11 points. Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois) chalked up three kills, two aces and two blocks for seven points. Setter Norene Iosia (Torrance, California) added two blocks, one ace and one kill for four points. Rachael Kramer (Phoenix, Arizona) rounded out the scoring with a block.

Reagan Pittman started as a right side after losing Holly Carlton to an ankle injury versus Japan and had a great match," U.S. Women's Junior National Team Head Coach Laurie Corbelli said. "Unfortunately, Bulgaria found several successful shots against us that we could not defend and their serving got tougher as the match went on. It was not exceptionally pretty on our side and we are hopeful that we got that out of our system. It’s a big weekend ahead for us as we finish up with 2 very powerful opponents.

The U.S. held a commanding 19-10 advantage in blocks to offset’s Bulgaria’s slim 10-8 edge in aces. Bulgaria also held a 60-50 margin in kills, but committed 31 errors in the match to the Americans’ 21.

The Americans started Butler and Stone at middle, Hall and Edmond at outside hitter, Pittman at opposite and Welsh at setter. Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia) started at libero. Iosia was a sub in the third and fourth sets and started the fifth set. Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) was a sub in the final four sets. Both Rachael Kramer (Phoenix, Arizona) and Paige Hammons (Louisville, Kentucky) were subs in the first set.

Both the U.S. and Bulgaria entered the match with 0-2 records in Pool F and without an opportunity to move on to the semifinal round.

The U.S. took a 6-3 lead in the opening set and increased the advantage to 13-5 with six unanswered points. The Americans reached the second technical timeout leading 16-7 and eased into a 25-16 victory.

The U.S. came out of the break on a 7-1 run in the second set to establish a 12-9 advantage. Bulgaria charged back to take an 18-15 lead on a 6-1 run. The U.S. closed to within one at 20-19, but Bulgaria answered with a 4-1 run to reach set points at 24-20. The Americans saved all four set points to level the score at 24-all, but the Bulgarians won 26-24 on its fifth set point.

The third set remained close early on as Bulgaria took an 8-7 lead into the first technical timeout. The U.S. used a 5-1 run to take a 14-11 advantage and went into the second technical timeout up 16-12. Bulgaria charged back to level the score at 17-all, but the U.S. sided out and Iosia served an ace to lift the Americans in front 19-17. The Americans ended the set on a 5-0 run for a 25-19 victory.

Bulgaria held a slim 8-7 advantage at the first technical timeout of the fourth set. The U.S. returned to the lead at 12-11 and increased its margin to 16-13 at the second technical timeout. After trailing 17-13, Bulgaria closed to within one at 19-18. The Americans responded to with three of the next four points to stake a 22-19 advantage. However, Bulgaria scored the next three points to square the set at 22-all. Bulgaria went on to win the set 25-23.

The U.S. bolted to a 4-1 lead in the fifth set and reached the side switch up 8-3. Bulgaria closed to within two points at 10-8 and took the lead back at 11-10. Bulgaria reached set points at 14-11 and won the match 15-12.

JUNE 19 (POOL F TOP-EIGHT VS JAPAN)
By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | July 19, 2017

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 19, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team lost to Japan 25-18, 25-22, 25-17 in its FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship Top 8 Pool F pool play match on Wednesday afternoon in Cordoba, Mexico.

The U.S. (2-3 overall, 0-2 in Pool F) challenges Bulgaria on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET to conclude its four-team Pool F gold-bracket round robin match. Bulgaria is 2-2 overall and 0-1 in Pool F prior to its match this afternoon against China. The top two teams from Pool F advance to the semifinals to meet the top two teams from Pool E.

Japan, now 5-0 in the tournament and 2-0 in Pool F, has now qualified for the semifinals of the World Championship after its straight set victories over the Americans and Bulgaria on Tuesday.

Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas) led the U.S. in scoring with 16 points via 14 kills on 22 swings and two blocks. Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina) added six kills and three aces for nine points. Middle Ronika Stone (San Jose, California) contributed five kills on 12 attacks and four blocks for nine points. Outside hitter Leah Edmond (Lexington, Kentucky) had a matching nine points with eight kills on 19 swings and a block.

Opposite Holly Carlton (Sterling, Virginia) tallied three kills and setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois) had two kills and a block. Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas), who subbed into the lineup at opposite for an injured Carlton, rounded out the scoring with a kill.

Errors were a major difference in the match as Team USA committed 21 to Japan’s seven for the entire match. The Americans held an 8-2 margin in blocks, while Japan’s serve netted a 6-3 advantage in aces. Japan also had a 46-39 edge in kill.

The Americans started Butler and Stone at middle, Hall and Edmond at outside hitter, Carlton at opposite and Welsh at setter. Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia) started at libero. Tiffany Clark (Napeville, Illinois) was a sub in all three sets, while Paige Hammons (Louisville, Kentucky) was a sub in the first two sets. Norene Iosia (Torrance, California) and Rachael Kramer (Phoenix, Arizona) were subs in the third set.

The U.S. built a 3-point, 8-5, cushion at the first technical timeout of the opening set as Edmond pounded two early kills and put up a block. However, Japan charged back to take the at 10-9 lead on a 5-1 run. Japan reached the second technical timeout with a 16-13 advantage. Japan stretched its margin to 21-16 and went on to win 25-18. The U.S. was hurt by 11 errors in the set to Japan’s four.

The Americans surged to a 3-0 lead to start the second set with two aces from Hall and a Welsh block, but Japan came back to take the lead at 5-4 on a 5-1 run. The U.S. pulled into an 8-7 lead at the first technical timeout with consecutive points. The Americans gained two-point edge at 13-11, but was short-lived as Japan landed in a tie at 13-all. Japan went in front briefly at 15-14 as Team USA scored three consecutive points to take a 17-15 lead. Japan squared the set at 18-all and went in front 21-19 on a 6-2 run. Japan scored the final two points of the set for a 25-22 victory.

Japan rolled to a 4-1 lead in the third set and went into the first technical timeout up 8-5. By the second technical timeout, the Japanese increased their margin to 16-11. Japan cruised into the match victory with a 25-17 third set victory.

JUNE 18 (POOL F TOP-EIGHT VS CHINA) | STATS

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 18, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team, leading China 13-11 in the fifth set, could not finish out the match in falling 23-25, 30-28, 25-16, 10-25, 15-13 to start the top eight gold bracket of the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship on Tuesday afternoon in Cordoba, Mexico.

The U.S. (2-2 overall, 0-1 in Pool F) will face Japan on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET in its second Pool F gold-bracket round-robin match, followed by Bulgaria at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday. The top two teams from Pool F advance to the semifinals to meet the top two teams from Pool E.

Obviously we are disappointed that things did not go our way in the last few points, but overall, what an incredible match by Team USA," U.S. Women's Junior National Team Head Coach Laurie Corbelli said. "Our passing got better and better as the match went on, and offensively we were very hard to stop. The Chinese team has the fastest offense that we have seen so far in this tournament, and I thought our blockers adjusted extremely well to the quick pace. Team USA is improving each match and we are excited to face Japan tomorrow afternoon and hopefully getting one step closer to our goal of competing in the medal round. 

China had finished first in the first round Pool B with a 2-1 record, while the Americans finished second in Pool C with a 2-1 record. Japan (3-0), winners of Pool D, and Bulgaria (2-1), second-place in Pool A, meet later today.
Opposite Holly Carlton (Sterling, Virginia) led the U.S. with 21 points via 13 kills on 34 swings, five blocks and three aces in a well-rounded performance. Outside Leah Edmond (Lexington, Kentucky) totaled 17 points with 13 kills on 22 swings, three blocks and an ace. Middle Ronika Stone (San Jose, California) chipped in 16 points with 10 kills on 18 swings, five blocks and one ace. Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas) contributed 10 kills on 18 swings, two blocks and an ace for 13 points.

Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina) tallied five kills and two blocks in starting the first three sets. Outside hitter Paige Hammons (Louisville, Kentucky), who started the final two sets and was a sub in the first three, provided two aces and a block for three points. Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois) scored three points with two kills and an ace. Rachael Kramer (Phoenix, Arizona) rounded out the scoring with one block as a sub in the third set.

"It was a disappointing loss," Welsh said. "I am proud of how we fought until the last point. I think we have proven that we belong in the Top 8. Now we begin preparation for our match tomorrow against Japan."

Welsh was credited with a team-best 20 digs and 32 running sets on 102 total attempts from her setter position. Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia) added 17 digs and seven excellent receptions on 21 chances.

While the U.S. held a sizeable advantage at the net with a 19-7 block margin, the Americans’ breakdown in reception allowed China to have a 13-9 advantage in aces and keep the U.S. out of system in key stretches of the match. China held a slim 56-53 edge in kills. The U.S. converted 40.8 percent of its attacks into points with a .200 hitting efficiency. In contrast, China hit .212 with a 35.9 kill percent.

The Americans started Butler and Stone at middle, Hall and Edmond at outside hitter, Carlton at opposite and Welsh at setter. Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia) started at libero. Norene Iosia (Torrance, California) was a sub in all but the third set.

The U.S. fell behind 11-6 in the opening set, but rushed back to within one at 11-10 with a stifling block causing China problems. The Americans went in front 13-12. At the second technical timeout, the U.S. increased its advantage to three points at 16-13. The U.S. extended its advantage to 20-15, but the Chinese closed the gap to 23-21. China narrowed the gap to 24-23 before the Americans finished the set at 25-23. Team USA finished the set with a 7-0 block advantage.

Team USA reached the first technical timeout of the second set with a two-point, 8-6, cushion. By the second technical timeout, the Americans extended their lead to 16-11. China charged back to take a 20-17 advantage on a 9-1 spurt. Team USA answered with a 5-1 run to regain the lead at 22-21. However, China responded by reaching set point first at 24-23. The U.S. saved set point and earned its first set point opportunity at 25-24. China saved four set points and used a 3-0 run to earn the second set victory at 30-28.

China inched its way to an 8-5 advantage at the first technical timeout of the third set and increased the margin to 14-9. After the U.S. cut the deficit to 16-13, China rolled off three unanswered points to stake a 19-13 advantage and went on to win 25-16.

Team USA jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the fourth set, though China rattled off four straight to tie the set at 5-all. The U.S. put together a run of its own to claim a 10-5 lead on five straight points. Team USA continued to put pressure on China to extend the match to five sets by gaining a 16-7 margin at the second technical timeout. The Americans did not let up in closing out the set 25-10.

The fifth set was a battle of momentum in which China held the last swing. The U.S. jumped to a 3-1 advantage in the tiebreaker, but China quickly squared the set at 3-all. Team USA regained a two-point cushion at 7-5. China charged back into the lead with three straight taking an 8-7 lead at the side switch. The Americans scored the first two points after the teams traded sides to regain the lead at 9-8. The pendulum swing back to China as it scored three straight to take an 11-9 advantage. China could not keep the momentum as Team USA scored four straight taking a 13-11 advantage. China stopped the bleeding and scored four straight to win the match 15-13.

JUNE 17 (POOL PLAY VS SERBIA) | STATS
By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | July 16, 2017

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 16, 2017) – With a top eight gold bracket spot on the line in the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship, the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team rallied from two sets down to defeat Serbia 22-25, 10-25, 26-24, 25-23, 17-15 on Sunday to conclude the first round Pool C of the at Boca del Rio, Mexico.

The U.S. (2-1) fought back into the match despite trailing in double digits the first two sets and winning the final three sets in tight fashion. The Americans will now have a bye day on Monday before playing its first gold bracket match on Tuesday against an opponent to be determined in Cordoba, Mexico.

The gold bracket is divided into two groups of four teams playing a round robin format with matches July 18-20. The top two teams in each pool then advances to the semifinals on July 22 with the final classification matches on July 23.

The Americans had balanced scoring with four players in double figures. Ronika Stone (San Jose, California) scored 15 points with 10 kills on 23 attacks, three aces and two blocks. Leah Edmond (Lexington, Kentucky) contributed 15 points, all on kills coming via 39 wings. Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas) provided nine kills on 16 attacks and three blocks for 12 points. Holly Carlton (Sterling, Virginia) pocketed eight kills on 30 attacks and two blocks for 10 points.

Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois), who started the final three sets to spark the U.S. offense, turned in six kills on eight attempts with an ace for seven points. Paige Hammons (Louisville, Kentucky), who started just the second set and was a sub in the other four sets, also was a spark with five points including three key aces. Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina) added four points with three kills and a block. Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas) contributed two kills on six swings in starting just the second set. Setter Norene Iosia (Torrance, California) rounded out the scoring with an ace as she started the first two sets and was a sub in the final three sets.

Serbia held advantages kills (60-55), blocks (13-8) and aces (10-8) for which most of the differences came in the opening two sets. Both teams committed 29 errors in the match.

Serbia lost despite the massive offensive performance by Katarina Lazovic, who scored a match-high 32 points.

The Americans started Butler and Stone at middle, Hall and Edmond at outside hitter, Carlton at opposite and Iosia at setter. Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia) was making her first start at libero following an injury to Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) in the final two points of Saturday’s sweep of Cuba.

In the opening set, Serbia gained a double-digit lead that the Americans closed to within three at 19-16. After Serbia increased its margin to 21-16, the U.S. scored five of the next six points to move to within one at 22-21. However, Serbia responded by taking three of the final four points to win 25-22.
Serbia raced to a 10-4 advantage in the second set and advanced to margin to 15-6. Serbia built a lead as much as 15 points and went on to win 25-10.

The U.S. opened the third set with a 3-0 advantage and pushed ahead to 7-3. Serbia closed the gap to one at 13-12. The U.S. went into the second technical timeout leading 16-14, but Serbia leveled the score at 16-all with the first two points out of the break and then took its first lead of the set at 18-17. Serbia extended its advantage to 21-18, but the Americans fought back to tie the set at 21-all with three straight points. The U.S. regained the lead back at 23-22 as part of a 5-1 scoring spurt. Team USA won the set 26-24 on its second set point opportunity.

Serbia started the fourth set with a 3-0 lead and went into the first technical timeout with a commanding 8-2 advantage. Team USA battled back to within 9-7 on a 5-1 spurt. The U.S. scored consecutive points to narrow the gap to a single point at 13-12, then went into the lead at 16-15 on a 6-2 spurt as Hammons keyed the run with two aces. Serbia came out of the technical timeout with the next three points for an 18-16 lead. The Americans responded by with five unanswered points to grab a 22-19 advantage. Serbia stopped the run with two points of its own to move to within one at 22-21, but the Americans scored back-to-back points to reach set points at 24-21. The U.S. closed out the set at 25-23 after Serbia saved two set points.

The Americans earned the first two points of the tiebreaker, but Serbia scored three straight to take a 5-3 advantage. Team USA answered with four consecutive points to stake a two-point cushion at 7-5. After the side switch, Serbia scored two straight to even the set at 8-all. The U.S. scored consecutive points to earn match points at 14-12, but Serbia saved both match points to level the contest at 14-all. However, the U.S. won the match on its fourth set point opportunity at 17-15.

JUNE 16 (POOL PLAY VS CUBA) | STATS

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 15, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team, with a 12-4 ace advantage, defeated NORCECA rival Cuba 31-29, 25-20, 25-23 on Saturday during the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship at Boca del Rio, Mexico.

The U.S. (1-1) will take on Serbia (1-1) on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET to conclude Pool C. Serbia edged Cuba in five sets on Friday to open the Women’s U20 World Championship. The winner will advance to the top eight gold bracket of the World Championship that begins on Tuesday, while the loser moves on the classification 9-16 round.

“We are so excited not only about our win over Cuba tonight, but more importantly our great turnaround from yesterday!” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Laurie Corbelli said. “The team really prepared well and executed the game plan beautifully. Leah Edmond and Bri Butler both had a fantastic match at the net and Norene Iosia set a consistent, calm match which reflected in the team during stressful moments. Our serving was the best it’s been and our serve receive was sharp and purposeful. We are ready and eager to go up against Serbia tomorrow night. Go USA!”

Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas) scored 12 points with seven kills on 11 swings, three aces and two blocks. Outside hitter Leah Edmond (Lexington, Kentucky) had a matching 12 points with 11 kills on 33 attacks and a block.

“I thought Cuba was a very, very good team who have been together for a long time where we haven’t been together,” Butler said. “So I think we have been working pretty well and I can’t wait how the tournament continues.”

Ronika Stone (San Jose, California), who started one set at opposite and one at middle, contributed six kills on 11 attacks with an ace for seven points. Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina) pocketed seven points with five kills on 18 swings, one block and one ace. Setter Norene Iosia (Torrance, California) provided four aces, two kills on five attempts and a block for seven points.

“I think it was a hard fought match,” Stone said. “We had to come back strong from yesterday’s match. So we came out more focused this match and it was a really big team effort. Cuba is a great team to play against, they have some big hitters. I am proud of us come together and fight hard to win this game. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s match against Serbia and taking it home.”

Opposite Holly Carlton (Sterling, Virginia) tacked on three kills, one block and one ace for five points. Middle Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas) turned in three points with two aces and one block.

Hall was credited with 22 excellent passes on 28 attempts, while libero Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) chipped in 10 excellent receptions on 15 errorless attempts and team-leading 14 digs. Iosia added 12 digs in the victory.

Iosia set the Americans to a 34.7 kill percent and .194 hitting efficiency (34-15-98) as she was credited with 24 running sets on 70 total attempts. The U.S. limited Cuba to a .167 hitting efficiency (38-22-96) and 39.6 kill percent. The Americans held a slim 7-5 block advantage to go with its dominance at the service line. Cuba managed a 38-34 lead in kills.

Cuba was led by Heidy Casanova Alvarez’s match-leading 23 points. No other Cuban scored more than five points in the loss.

The Americans started Butler and Pittman at middle, Hall and Edmond at outside hitter, Carlton at opposite and Iosia at setter. Clark was the libero for the match. Stone started the second set in place of Carlton, who moved into the starting rotation in the third set at opposite and Stone started the third at middle in place of Pittman. Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia) was a sub in all three sets, while Paige Hammons (Louisville, Kentucky) was a sub in the second set.

JUNE 15 (POOL PLAY VS BRAZIL) | STATS

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 14, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team struggled early but forced Brazil to work for hard for each point down the stretch as the South Americans won 25-10, 25-12, 24-26, 25-22 on Friday on the opening day of the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship at Boca del Rio, Mexico.

The U.S. will take on Cuba (0-1) on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET as part of Pool C’s second day. Cuba lost its opener in five sets to Serbia on Friday. The FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship is a 16-team event with four pools of four teams playing a round-robin format in the first round. The top two teams in each pool advance to the gold bracket, while the bottom two teams in each pool will battle for positions 9-16.

“After a rough start dealing with nerves, the team fought through and cleaned up their passing and serving to allow us to compete at the net,” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Laurie Corbelli said. “Our group is encouraged and excited to learn from our mistakes and move forward into our next match against Cuba.”

Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas) scored a team-best 12 points with nine kills on 12 attacks, two blocks and an ace. Outside hitter Leah Edmond (Lexington, Kentucky) added 11 points with nine kills on 22 swings, one block and one ace. Holly Carlton (Sterling, Virginia) chipped in nine points with eight kills on 22 attacks and a block.

Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina) and middle Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas) each scored six kills in the match. Setter Norene Iosia (Torrance, California), who sparked the U.S. offense coming off the bench to start the third and fourth sets, totaled three aces on a team-best 12 serves and two blocks for five points. Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois), who started the first two sets, pocketed one kill and one block for two points. Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia), a reserve in the second and third sets, scored two aces to round out the scoring.

“I thought we started off slow and Brazil took advantage of that,” Pittman said. “As the match went on, we kept our fight going and we made what we could out of it. I thought we fought really hard. We are looking forward to getting back on the floor tomorrow night (against Cuba).”

Libero Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) was credited with 13 digs and 14 excellent receptions on 28 attempts, while Hall added nine digs and 17 excellent receptions on 25 chances.

Iosia was credited with 20 running sets on 43 chances and Welsh added 16 excellent receptions on 38 set attempts. As a team, the U.S. converted 36.8 percent of its attacks with a .142 hitting efficiency. In contrast, Brazil had a .323 hitting efficiency with a 44.4 kill percent. The major difference in the match were the number of errors the U.S. committed – 39 to Brazil’s 17. The Americans held a 7-5 margin in aces, while Brazil held a 11-7 advantage in blocks and 44-39 margin in kills.

The Americans started Butler and Pittman at middle, Hall and Edmond at outside hitter, Ronika Stone (San Jose, California) at opposite and Welsh at setter. Clark was the libero for the match. Carlton subbed into the match in the first set and started the final three sets in place of Stone. Paige Hammons (Louisville, Kentucky) started the second set in place of Edmond and was a sub in the first and third sets.

Brazil started the first set with a 14-0 lead and cruised into the opening set victory at 25-10. Brazil eased into the second technical timeout of the second set leading 16-9, then powered into the set win at 25-12.

The U.S. took its first lead of the match with a 5-4 advantage early in the third set. Brazil scored three straight to take a 13-9 lead. The U.S. cut into 17-11 deficit with three unanswered points to prompt Brazil to call timeout with its lead at 17-14. The Americans tied the set at 21-all with an ace by Curry, then went into the lead at 22-21 on a 5-0 run. Brazil answered with consecutive points to regain the lead at 23-22 and prompting USA’s second timeout. The U.S. grabbed set point with a Pittman kill and Brazil error. The Americans won the set 26-24 with a Pittman block and Brazil error.

Brazil raced to an 8-3 lead at the fourth set’s opening technical timeout. Team USA rolled off six unanswered points to take a 13-12 lead on Iosia’s serve. After Brazil took a 20-18 lead, Edmond hammered a kill and put up a block to lock the score at 20-all prompting the South Americans to call timeout. Iosia served her third ace of the set to lift the Americans in front 21-20. Brazil answered with three straight to push in front 23-21 and ended the set with a 25-22 victory.