Skinner Leads Team USA to Semifinals
University of Kentucky head volleyball coach Craig Skinner led the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team to a 3-1 win over Canada (25-20, 24-26, 25-13, 25-15) Tuesday evening at the NORCECA Continental Women’s Junior Championship (U-20) held at Monterrey, Mexico.
The U.S. victory clinched a spot in the tournament semifinals on Aug. 4 by winning Pool B with a 3-0 record. Team USA will await its semifinal opponent based on quarterfinal results on Aug. 3.
“I was pleased with the way the team fought back in the second game after being down 17-11 to tie the game at 24,” Team USA Head Coach Craig Skinner said. “Unfortunately, we were unable to close out the set, but it did give us good momentum going into the rest of the match. The win was truly a team effort - many players contributed. Canada is easily the best blocking team we've faced in the tournament.”
Alexandra Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) netted a match-high 15 points to lead Team USA. She tallied 10 kills, four blocks and an ace. Rachel Holloway (Franklin, Tenn.) contributed 12 points in the victory with five kills, six aces and a block. Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) added 11 points on 10 kills and an ace. Juliann Faucett (San Diego) charted nine points for Team USA on six kills, two aces and a block. Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) entered the match in the middle of set three and started set four en route to notching five points, including four-for-four on attacks. Libero Stevi Robinson (Bakersfield, Calif.) recorded 88 percent perfect serve receptions on 16 attempts.
Canada was led by Sarah Morrisette’s 14 points on seven kills, four aces and three blocks. Monica Chernichan added 12 points in the loss.
The U.S. defense held Canada to a four percent attack percent. Team USA held a 12-9 ace advantage. The U.S. extended set two to 26-24 before losing the stanza despite hitting negative seven percent. Team USA hit 19 percent in set one, 26 percent in set three and 23 percent in set four. The U.S. serve receive was a bright spot as the team passed 78 percent perfect for the match on 67 attempts paced by Hodges and Robinson. Hodges produced a 91 percent perfect passing mark on 11 service receptions attempts.
On her birthday, Geena Urango came off the bench for the U.S. in set two and sparked the team to a near come-back victory after trailing by six points. She tallied five kills on 12 attacks in three sets of action without a set start.
In other matches today, Dominican Republic won the first two sets against host Mexico before holding on for a 25-23, 25-20, 22-25, 21-25, 15-9 victory to win Pool A. Puerto Rico swept Costa Rica to claim the second spot in Pool B. Cuba swept Trinidad and Tobago for its only Pool A victory in the tournament.
The winner of both Pool A and Pool B receives an automatic spot into the tournament semifinals on Aug. 4. The second and third-place teams in each pool compete in cross-pool quarterfinal action on Aug. 3. Quarterfinal matches are Mexico versus Canada and Puerto Rico versus Cuba.