COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (July 5, 2016) – Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma) scored a tournament single-match record 11 aces to lead the U.S. Women’s National Team to a 25-16, 25-10, 25-18 victory over Costa Rica on Wednesday during the fourth day of Pan American Cup pool play in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The U.S. improves to 4-0 in Pool B and concludes pool play on Thursday against Argentina (3-1) at 6 p.m. ET. The winner of the group advances directly to the semifinals that are on Saturday.
Hancock now has 31 aces in 14 sets played in the first four matches of the Pan American Cup. She broke the previous single match tournament record previous held by American Nicole Branagh during the inaugural Pan Am Cup in 2002. nine of her 11 points via aces. Her nine aces tie the tournament record set by American Nicole Branagh during the inaugural Pan Am Cup held in 2002. Hancock had nine aces in a five-set win over Cuba on Wednesday, as well as eight aces in the opener against Peru and three against Trinidad & Tobago.
The U.S. had everyone contribute during the match as all 11 non-liberos scored at least one point. Along with Hancock’s match-high 11 aces, middle Kelsie Payne (Austin, Texas) tallied five kills on six attacks, three aces and a block for nine points. Outside hitter Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Arizona) scored six kills on 15 attacks and an ace for seven points. Middle Carly Wopat (Santa Barbara, California) chipped in seven points with five kills on five errorless attacks, one block and one ace in starting the first two sets.
Outside hitters Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio), Taylor Simpson (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and Brittany Howard (Los Altos, California) all scored three points in the victory. Opposite Alex Holston (Olney, Maryland) added three points, while opposite Nikki Taylor (Honolulu, Hawaii) contributed two points off the bench. Setter Lauren Carlini (West Aurora, Illinois) tallied one kill as a sub in all three sets and middle Rhamat Alhassan (Glenarden, Maryland) rounded out the scoring with a block in starting the third set.
Libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California) was credited with a team-best three digs and three excellent receptions. Kingdon totaled five excellent receptions on eight chances.
The U.S. converted 43.5 percent of its attacks into points with a .319 hitting efficiency (30-8-69) as Hancock had 10 running sets on 32 set attempts and Carlini added three running sets on 15 set attempts.
Team USA held a 17-1 advantage in aces, as well as a 3-2 margin in blocks. The American offense produced a 30-18 margin in kills. The American defense limited Costa Rica to a 24.0 kill percent and .093 hitting efficiency (18-11-75).
With the FIVB World Grand Prix running concurrently with the Pan Am Cup, Team USA is using a roster of athletes either still in college or just recently graduated. For many of the players the Pan Am Cup is their first international competition including the junior and youth ranks.
The U.S. has won the Pan American Cup three of the past four years and four total times since the inaugural event in 2002.