COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 12, 2017) – The U.S. Collegiate National Team-Europe (CNT-Europe) won all three of its pool play matches in the 13th Annual European Global Challenge taking place in Pula, Croatia. The squad has advanced to the quarterfinals that will take place on Thursday.

“I have been incredibly impressed by the team’s ability to adapt so quickly – adapting to new teammates, new coaches, travel, international play,” CNT-Europe head coach Molly Alvey said. “We have an elite group of players that have immediately embraced the experience, and in turn are competing very well together on the court. They have found success early and will only continue to get better as we head into tournament play.”

The quarterfinals are at 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. ET with the semifinals taking place later on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. ET on simultaneous courts. The championship match is slated for July 14 at 1 p.m. ET.

CNT-Europe vs. Israel U23 
In the opening pool play match, CNT-Europe defeated Israel U23 25-17, 29-27, 25-6 on July 11. Opposite Taylor Mims (Washington State University, Billings, Montana) scored a match-high 15 points with 10 kills on 18 swings, four blocks and an ace. Outside hitter Jaali Winters (Creighton University, Ankeny, Iowa) added 13 points on 11 kills via 21 swings, one block and one ace. Middle Claire Kiefer-Wright (University of Michigan, South Pasadena, California) totaled seven kills on 11 swings, two aces and a block.

CNT-Europe out-blocked Israel U23 15-2 and held a 7-1 ace advantage, including three from outside hitter Courtney Schwan (University of Washington, Auburn, Washington). Setter Kristen Gengenbacher (University of San Diego, Quincy, Illinois) set the team to a 52 kill percent and .391 hitting efficiency.

Schwan was credited with a 56 positive reception percent on a team-best 18 chances, while Winters was 62 percent positive on 13 chances. Libero Jesse Earl (Auburn University, Indianapolis, Indiana) handled 10 receptions with a 70 positive percent without an error.

CNT-Europe vs. Czech Republic U23
CNT-Europe swept Czech Republic U23 with scores 25-17, 25-18, 25-18 in the second pool play match on July 11 as the Americans had nine players reach the scoring column.

Middle Jenna Rosenthal (Marquette University, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin) tallied a match-best 11 points with nine kills on 15 swings and two aces. Outside hitter Symone Abbott (Northwestern University, Northville, Michigan) totaled nine kills on 15 swings and a block in starting just the last two sets. Setter Taira Robins-Hardy (BYU, Waimanalo, Hawaii) added seven points with two kills, two blocks and three aces. Carlyle Nusbaum (Lipscomb University, Overland Park, Kansas) pocketed five kills, one ace and one kill.

CNT-Europe out-blocked Czech Republic U23 12-3, including a team-leading four blocks from Kiefer-Wright. The U.S. managed a 9-4 margin in aces. The Americans, with Robins-Hardy setting, convert 46 percent of its attacks with a .247 hitting efficiency.

CNT-Europe vs. BIP Midwest U22 
CNT-Europe defeated Bring It Promotions U22, a squad of collegiate players in the United States, 25-22, 25-14, 19-25 on Thursday morning. All Global Challenge matches went three sets in pool play, regardless if a team won the first two sets to win the match.

Kiefer-Wright scored nine kills on 12 attacks with a match-high four blocks for 13 points in pacing CNT-Europe in the match. Winters followed with a 10-point performance with eight kills on 17 swings, one block and one ace. Mims contributed seven points with six kills and a block. Schwan provided five kills and a block for six points and was 43 percent positive on her 14 receptions.

Gengenbacher, who had four aces and a kill for five points, set the squad to a 40 kill percent and .247 hitting efficiency. CNT-Europe held a 10-7 advantage in blocks, but BIP Midwest U22 edged the victors in aces 7-5.

The CNT-Europe squad is one of three teams within the U.S. Collegiate National Team programs, and the last to hold its training and competition phase. Athletes, all with at least one year of collegiate eligibility remaining, were selected through the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts held March 3-5 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Name (Position, School, Height, College Eligibility Remaining, Hometown)
Symone Abbott (OH, Northwestern University, 6-1, 1, Northville, Michigan)
Corissa Crocker (M, University of Michigan, 6-3, 3, Brighton, Michigan)
Jesse Earl (L, Auburn University, 5-8, 1, Indianapolis, Indiana)
Kristen Gengenbacher (S, University of San Diego, 5-9, 1, Quincy, Illinois)
Claire Kiefer-Wright (M, University of Michigan, 6-1, 1, South Pasadena, California)
Taylor Mims (OPP, Washington State University, 6-3, 2, Billings, Montana)
Carlyle Nusbaum (OH, Lipscomb University, 5-10, 2, Overland Park, Kansas)
Kelsie Payne (OPP, University of Kansas, 6-3, 1, Austin, Texas)
Taira Robins-Hardy (S, Brigham Young University, 6-2, 1, Waimanalo, Hawaii)
Jenna Rosenthal (M, Marquette University, 6-6, 2, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin)
Courtney Schwan (OH, University of Washington, 6-1, 1, Auburn, Washington)
Jaali Winters (OH, Creighton University, 6-2, 2, Ankeny, Iowa)

Head Coach: Molly Alvey (head coach at University of Cincinnati)
Assistant Coach: Nicki Holmes (assistant coach at North Carolina State University)