SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (June 13, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s National Team opened its 2020 Olympic quadrennial by defeating Canada 25-21, 25-22, 27-25, 25-11 (bonus fourth set) in a friendly exhibition Tuesday evening at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California. Both teams used the match for final preparations for the upcoming Pan American Cup taking place June 17-25 in Peru.
“There are some real positives,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said after the match. “We had a good, long six weeks training block before this and we did some nice things. With the stress of competition and a live crowd – some of our habits are harder to stay with, and so some of our habits broke down too. That is a great learning opportunity. But we had some positives in every phase of the game. Our passers were passing at a much higher level than they have in the last few weeks. So the work they have putting is really good. We didn’t serve in as much as we need to. We would like to serve in nine out of every 10 at least – 90 percent. We were really below that (82 percent). But the serves that went in caused some real problems for Canada.”
American outside hitter Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) and middle Amber Rolfzen (Papillion, Nebraska) paced Team USA with nine points each, both starting the third and fourth sets as each of the 14 players started in two sets each. Courtney provided eight kills on 16 attacks with a block while providing a 60 positive reception percent on 10 chances. Rolfzen chipped in seven kills on 11 swings and two aces. Outside hitter Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Arizona), who also started the third and fourth sets, tallied eight kills on 12 swings in the victory.
Both outside hitter Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Illinois) and opposite Liz McMahon (Liberty Township, Ohio) scored seven kills on 17 attacks in starting roles. Starting setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma) served out three aces on 14 serves and added two blocks and one kill. Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota), who started at middle, pocketed three kills on seven attacks and two blocks for five points. Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) held a matching five points – all on kills – in starting the final two sets.
Middle Rhamat Alhassan (Glenarden, Maryland) charted two blocks and two kills for four points in starting the first two sets. Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) tacked on two aces and a block for three points in coming off the bench. Paige Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota) added two kills and a block for three points in starting the last two sets at middle. Outside hitter Sonja Newcombe (Lake Arrowhead, California) rounded out the scoring with an ace and block for two points.
Libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California) handled 16 receptions with a 62 positive percent in starting the first two sets while libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona) chipped in a 50 positive reception percent on eight chances.
The setting combination of Hancock and Carlini led Team USA to a 41 kill percent and .246 hitting efficiency (50-20-122) for the match. The Americans out-blocked the Canadians 10-8 and held an 8-0 ace advantage. The U.S. defense limited Canada to a 35 kill percent and .165 hitting efficiency (38-20-109). Both teams committed a high rate of service errors with Canada having 20 and Team USA with 18. As a squad, the Americans had a 52 positive reception percent to Canada’s 35 positive percent.
“I think it is cool, just because we got to play our friendly neighbors to the north and just to preparing for a big tournament with Pan Am Cup,” Carlini said following the match. “Suiting up and for the first time in the number 7 (her jersey) in a long time and for the USA – I just get chills thinking about it. I am excited to be on this team and show everyone what I can do.”
The U.S. had seven players – Benson, Drews, McMahon, Rolfzen, the Tapp twins, Wong-Orantes – making their international debuts with the senior national team. Only one player – Bartsch – has played in an FIVB senior level event for Team USA.
The Pan Am Cup is in its 16th year as teams from NORCECA (North America, Central America and Caribbean) and South America confederations compete for the title. The Americans have won the event three of the past five years with mainly a younger roster to gain international experience. The 12-team Pan American Cup has two six-team preliminary round pools that will play a full round-round schedule.
Team USA is part of Group A with matches against Venezuela on June 17, Colombia on June 18, Puerto Rico on June 19, Mexico on June 20 and Argentina on June 21. Group B includes Canada, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Peru and Trinidad & Tobago. After an off day on June 22, the quarterfinal round will take the second- and third-place teams from both groups and play crossover matches to determine which two teams will advance to the June 24 semifinals to join the respective pool winners. The tournament concludes on June 25 with the medal-round matches and other classification matches.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for June 13 vs Canada
# – Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 – Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Penn State, Edmond, Oklahoma)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-1, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
9 – Madi Kingdon (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-3, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Maryville, Illinois)
17 – Megan Courtney (OH, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
18 – Sonja Newcombe (OH, 6-1, Oregon, Lake Arrowhead, California)
19 – Hannah Tapp (M, 6-2, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
20 – Amanda Benson (L, 5-7, Oregon, Litchfield Park, Arizona)
21 – Paige Tapp (M, 6-1, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
23 – Liz McMahon (OPP, 6-6, Illinois, Liberty Township, Ohio)
26 – Amber Rolfzen (M, 6-3, Nebraska, Papillion, Nebraska)
27 – Rhamat Alhassan (M, 6-4, Florida, Glenarden, Maryland)
Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Tama Miyashiro, Erin Virtue, Jon Newman-Gonchar
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans