COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 13, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team, with its spot into the 2017 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship already secured, defeated Argentina 27-25, 25-22, 25-22 in the Women’s U20 Pan American Cup Saturday evening in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Both the Americans and Argentineans earned berths to the 2017 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship as the top finishers from NORCECA (USA earns berth) and South America (Argentina earns berth) confederations. The U.S. went undefeated in the tournament with a 5-0 record, while Argentina’s two losses came at the hands of the Americans. Both teams advanced to the playoffs through the three-team Pool A, where Team USA defeated Argentina and Dominican Republic, which qualified for the World Championship event taking place July 14-23 in Mexico.

The Women’s U20 Pan Am Cup is a biennial event in its fourth edition. Team USA did not compete in the first three editions as the team had already secured qualification into the corresponding year’s age-group World Championship. Argentina also captured silver in the 2015 edition, its only other podium finish in the event.

“Big congratulations to Argentina,” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Jerritt Elliott said in regards to the USA’s opponent. “I thought they were very, very disciplined and had a great coaching staff and game plan against us. They knew our tendencies and played very, very well. We made some errors early on, but the way this team just kind of stayed steady says a lot about this group. We could have emotionally erupted and gave away some games, but we didn’t do that.”

Outside hitter Khalia Lanier (Scottsdale, Arizona, University of Southern California) scored a match-high 16 points on 11 kills on 31 attacks, team-leading four blocks and an ace. She tallied seven of her points in the third set. Middle Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas, University of Minnesota) chalked up 12 points with nine kills on 11 attacks and three blocks. Opposite Mackenzie May (Dubuque, Iowa, UCLA) contributed nine kills on 32 swings, one block and one ace for 11 points.

Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina, Upward Stars), the most valuable player of the tournament, pocketed six kills on 25 attacks and a block for seven points. Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois, University of Michigan) recorded three blocks, one ace and one kill. Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas, University of Texas) chipped in four kills on five errorless attacks and a block for five points. Middle Elle Sandbothe (Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Kansas State University) rounded out the scoring with a kill in a reserve role.

Libero Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) was credited with four excellent receptions on 10 errorless chances, while Lanier added five excellent receptions on 31 chances.

Welsh turned in 10 running sets on 73 total set attempts leading the U.S. to a 36.3 kill percent and .212 hitting efficiency (41-17-113). In contrast, the American defense held Argentina to a 35.2 kill percent and .167 hitting efficiency (38-20-108).

The U.S. held a 13-6 block advantage to help offset 23 errors in the match, 12 of which came in the opening set. The American offense also managed a 41-38 edge in kills. Team USA held a slim 3-2 edge in aces.

The U.S. started Welsh at setter, Hall and Lanier at outside, May at opposite, Butler and Pittman at middle and Clark as the libero. Madison Lilley (Overland Park, Kansas, University of Kentucky) and Mikayla Shields (Orlando, Florida, University of South Carolina) were used as double subs in the second and third sets, while Sandbothe was a sub in the first and third sets.

In an opening set filled with both teams siding out at a high rate, the U.S. broke a 7-all tie with three unanswered points to nab a 10-7 advantage. The teams traded points until Argentina rattled off five straight to take an 18-16 advantage. The U.S. tied the score at 20-all, then earned its first set point chance at 25-24. The Americans captured the first set 27-25 on its second chance. The U.S. held a 6-2 block advantage in the set and overcame 12 errors.

Argentina opened up a 12-9 lead in the second set, which the USA cut to one at 13-12. The Americans pulled into a tie at 19-all, then took a 23-21 advantage as part of a 3-0 run. Team USA finished the second with consecutive points at 25-22.

The U.S. scored five unanswered points to stake a 10-6 advantage in the third set. Argentina charged back to within one at 11-10 on a 4-1 run. The Americans regained a four-point cushion at 15-11 on a 4-1 run of its own. Argentina tallied three straight points whittle the gap down to 16-15. Back-to-back Argentina errors and a Welsh ace lifted the U.S. in front 19-15. Out of a timeout, Argentina answered with three consecutive points to shave the deficit to 19-18. Team USA ended the match with consecutive blocks from Pittman and Hall at 25-22.

U.S. Women’s Junior National Team for 2017 U20 Women’s Pan American Cup
# – Name (Position, 2017 Club/College, Height, Hometown, Region)
1 – Brionne Butler (M, University of Texas, 6-4, Kendleton, Texas, Lone Star)
2 – Tiffany Clark (L, TBA, 5-11, Naperville, Illinois, Great Lakes)
3 – Thayer Hall (OH, Upward Stars, 6-3, Moore, South Carolina, Palmetto)
4 – Paige Hammons (OH, University of Florida, 6-2, Louisville, Kentucky, Pioneer)
5 – Khalia Lanier (OH, University of Southern California, 6-2, Scottsdale, Arizona, Arizona)
6 – Madison Lilley (S, University of Kentucky, 6-0, Overland Park, Kansas, Heart of America)
7 – Mackenzie May (OH, UCLA, 6-3, Dubuque, Iowa, Iowa)
8 – Regan Pittman (M, University of Minnesota, 6-5, Spring Hill, Kansas, Heart of America)
9 – Holly Carlton (OPP, University of North Carolina, 6-7, Sterling, Virginia, Chesapeake)
10 – Elle Sandbothe (M, Kansas State University, 6-0, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Heart of America)
14 – Mikayla Shields (OPP, University of South Carolina, 6-0, Orlando, Florida, Florida)
15 – MacKenzi Welsh (S, University of Michigan, 6-1, Bolingbrook, Illinois, Great Lakes)

Head Coach: Jerritt Elliott (head coach at University of Texas)
Assistant Coach: Paula Weishoff (head coach at Concordia University Irvine)
Assistant Coach/Statistician: Kevin Inlow (graduate assistant at University of Texas)
Team Leader: Tom Pingel (USA Volleyball High Performance)

2017 U20 Women’s Pan American Cup Results

Group A
May 8: Argentina def. Dominican Republic 25-17, 25-18, 25-20
May 9: United States def. Argentina 25-23, 25-19, 15-25, 25-21
May 10: United States vs. Dominican Republic, 7:30 p.m.

Group B
May 8: Uruguay def. Costa Rica 25-21, 25-18, 22-25, 26-24
May 9: Puerto Rico def. Uruguay 25-16, 25-19, 25-14
May 10: Costa Rica vs. Puerto Rico, 9:30 p.m.

Group C
May 8: Cuba def. Chile 25-17, 25-11, 25-12
May 9: Peru def. Chile 25-23, 25-16, 25-20
May 10: Cuba def. Peru 29-27, 26-24, 18-25, 25-15

Classification for 9th Place
May 11: Chile def. Costa Rica 25-15, 25-8, 25-19

May 11: Argentina (2A) vs. Peru (2C), 5:30 p.m.
May 11: United States (1A) def. Uruguay (2B) 25-10, 25-19, 25-17

Final Classification 7/8
May 12: Dominican Republic (3A) def. Chile (3C) 25-19, 25-17, 25-12

May 12: USA (1A) def. Cuba (1C) 25-17, 25-23, 30-32, 25-20
May 12: Argentina (2A) def. Puerto Rico (1B) 25-21, 25-11, 25-9

Final Classification 5/6
May 13: Peru (2C) def. Uruguay (2B) 25-14, 25-22, 25-10

Medal Round Matches
May 13: Cuba (1C) def. Puerto Rico (1B) 25-18, 25-21, 25-20 (bronze medal)
May 13: USA (1A) def. Argentina (2A) 27-25, 25-22, 25-22 (gold medal)