COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 8, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked No. 2 in the world, topped Trinidad & Tobago 25-8, 25-7, 25-7 on Tuesday to begin the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The U.S. continues Pool B action on Wednesday against Mexico before concluding the preliminary phase against Dominican Republic on Thursday. Both matches are at 6 p.m. ET. The winner of the four-team pool advances directly to the semifinals on Saturday, while the second- and- third-place teams of both Pools A and B compete in crossover quarterfinals on Friday. The medal-round matches are scheduled for Sunday.
All U.S. matches at the NORCECA Championship will be streamed on FloVolleyball.tv.
Team USA had balanced scoring in the one-sided match. Middles Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota) and Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota), both alums of University of Minnesota, combined for 21 points and were 15-of-15 hitting collectively. Tapp was a perfect 9-of-9 attacking with two aces for 11 points, while Dixon was 6-of-6 on attacking, two blocks and two aces for 10 points. Opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) pocketed eight kills on 12 attacks, one ace and one block for 10 points.
“It was a lot of fun,” Tapp said. “It was our first match after World Cup. We haven’t been playing together as much as we took some time off, so it was fun to get back together, play and have a little fun.”
Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois) turned in seven kills on 12 swings and one ace for eight points. Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) tacked on four aces, two kills and two blocks for eight points. Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) totaled six kills on eight swings and one ace for seven points.
Libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California) had six digs and was 50 percent positive on four receptions. Hill was unofficially credited with a 60 positive reception on five chances and had four digs. Bartsch-Hackley handled a team-high eight receptions to go with three digs. Carlini had a team-high seven digs from her setter position.
Carlini set Team USA to a 72 kill percent and .623 hitting efficiency (38-5-53) on the unofficial stat sheet. The Americans held Trinidad & Tobago to a 16 kill percent and negative .105 hitting efficiency (9-15-57).
Team USA out-served Trinidad & Tobago 11-0 in aces and enjoyed a 5-1 margin in blocks. The Americans held a 38-9 advantage in kills.
Hannah Tapp and Tori Dixon combined for 21 points and 15-of-15 hitting to lead the U.S. Women to a 25-8, 25-7, 25-7…
“Of course, we want to respect every opponent,” Tapp said. “We definitely wanted to work on some things that we struggled on at World Cup. We were practicing different serves, mixing up depths and zones. We wanted to fine tune some of those things so we can get better at it throughout the competition and play our best volleyball.”
After coming of the FIVB World Cup with a 10-1 record and silver medal following qualification to the 2020 Olympics back in August, Tapp said the NORCECA Championship provides a great opportunity for the team to learn and grow without Olympic qualification hanging over them.
“It is less about that we have already qualified for the Olympics,” Tapp said on how the team played relaxed. “It is more about we want to make sure that we put ourselves in the position to be our best when our best is needed. We wanted to be relaxed and not tense, but we also want to make sure we get the job done and execute. We still want to play at a high level even if it seems we are relaxed.”
The U.S. started Bartsch-Hackley and Hill at outside hitter, Dixon and Tapp at middle, Lowe at opposite, Carlini at setter and Wong-Orantes at libero.
Team USA built on an early 4-3 lead in the opening set with a 5-0 run including two kills from Tapp and a Dixon ace to extend the margin to 9-3. The Americans increased their margin to 24-7 with an 11-0 run that including two kills each from Dixon and Bartsch-Hackley and two Carlini aces. The Americans ended the set at 25-8 on a Dixon kill.
After Trinidad & Tobago scored the first point of the second set, Team USA went on a 7-1 run with two Hill kills while Dixon scored a kill and ace for a 7-2 advantage. Tapp scored two aces in a 5-0 run to put the Americans up 20-5. Team USA finished set at 25-7 in scoring the final three points.
The U.S. raced to a 5-0 lead in the third set including an ace by Carlini and two points by Dixon. The U.S. lead expanded to 9-3 with Dixon scoring a kill and ace. The Americans reached a 22-5 advantage as Tapp scored four points in an 11-0 run on Hill’s service run. Team USA ended the match at 25-7 on a Dixon kill and Carlini ace.