COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 13, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team advanced to the Pan American Cup gold-medal match by defeating Canada 25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 25-19 in the semifinals on Friday in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The U.S. will go for gold on Saturday night at 6 p.m. ET against host Dominican Republic, which swept Brazil in the second semifinal. The match can be viewed live on Team USA has won the Pan Am Cup five times in the first 16 editions – including four of the past six years (2012, 2013, 2015, 2017). Dominican Republic has won the event in 2014 and 2016 as part of its four total titles. The Pan Am Cup gold-medal match will feature USA versus Dominican Republic for the fifth time in six years.

The U.S. bolted to a 12-7 advantage in the opening set, then continued the charge to a 25-18 victory that included eight blocks. Team USA opened the second set with a 4-0, but Canada charged back to take a 10-9 advantage. The Americans used four unanswered points to take a 16-13 advantage and built the lead to 19-15, but Canada rallied again to take the lead at 23-22 and went on to win 25-23. The U.S overcame a 12-9 deficit in the third set to take a 19-16 advantage, but Canada stormed back into the lead at 22-21 with four straight points. However, Team USA scored four of the five final points of the set to win 25-23. The Americans rushed out to a 16-8 advantage in the fourth set and won the set 25-19.

“We salute an amazing team of Canada,” said Jon Newman-Gonchar, who is serving as head coach for the U.S. Women at the Pan Am Cup. “We knew it was going to be a challenging match. We prepared for them but they still found solutions. We came here for a purpose and tomorrow we are going for it.”

Team USA used a balanced scoring attack against Canada, which relied heavily on two players for its point production. Middle Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado) collected 13 points with nine kills on 20 attacks, three blocks and an ace. Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) contributed 13 kills on 37 attacks. Outside hitter Adora Anae (Punaluu, Hawaii) pocketed seven kills on 28 swings to go with four blocks and two aces.

Opposite Aiyana Whitney (Norwood, New Jersey) tallied 10 points with five kills, three blocks and two aces. Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas), who started the first three sets, put up a match-high seven blocks to go with two kills. Setter Lauren Carlini added two kills on six attacks and three blocks. Middle Molly McCage (Spring, Texas) rounded out the scoring with a block.

Libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona) was credited with eight digs and three excellent receptions. Anae and Wilhite had 10 excellent receptions on 27 apiece. Anae added seven digs.

Carlini was credited with 13 running sets on 97 total set attempts in leading the U.S. to a 30.5 kill percent and .172 hitting efficiency (39-17-128). The American defense held Canada to a 32.6 kill percent and .101 hitting efficiency (45-31-138).

“Canada is an amazing team,” said Carlini, who is serving as team captain of the U.S. squad at the Pan Am Cup. “They forced us to adjust and our team responded as we came back after the second set.”

Team USA dominated the net with a 21-9 block advantage as five Americans had at least three blocks in the match. Canada held a 7-5 margin in aces, along with a 45-39 advantage in kills. However, the Americans benefited from 33 Canadian errors and held their own mistakes to 24 for the match.

Canada was led in scoring by Kiera Van Ryk’s 18 points followed by Alexa Gray’s 16.

“It is disappointing to lose,” Canadian captain Megan Cyr said. “(The USA) put a lot of pressure and were aggressive. The United States sided out well and blocked a lot of balls.”

The U.S. started Anae and Wilhite at outside hitter, Ogbogu and Washington at middle, Whitney at opposite, Carlini at setter and Benson at libero. McCage started the fourth set after being a sub in the third. Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California) started the third set at libero, but Benson came back into the match late the third set and started the fourth. Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colorado) was a serving sub in the fourth set.

Canada gained an early 3-1 lead in the opening set, but the U.S. quickly tied the set at 3-all with a Wilhite kill after a Canada service error. Washington put up a block to provide the U.S. a 5-4 advantage. Washington scored two kills and block, then Canada hit long as Team USA went up 10-6 on a 4-0 run on Wilhite’s serve. Washington put up a block and Wilhite hit a back-row kill to prompt Canada to call timeout trailing 12-7. Out of the block, Ogbogu added two blocks to extend the Team USA lead to 14-7. Canada ran off four straight points to cut the deficit to 14-11. Ogbogu put up a block to place the Americans in front 16-11 at the second technical timeout. Whitney added a block out of the break to raise the lead to 17-12. Anae served an ace. Canada committed an error and Ogbogu put up a block to inch the American lead to 21-12. Canada closed to 23-17 on a 4-1 scoring run. The U.S. closed out the set at 25-18 on a Canada service error.

The U.S. went in front 4-0 to open the second set with kills by Whitney and Anae and two blocks by Ogbogu. Canada leveled the set at 7-all with a 7-2 run. Canada went in front 10-9 on a U.S. attack error. Wilhite slammed two kills and Anae hit a back-row kill as the Americans went into the second technical timeout up 16-13 on a 4-0 run. Canada scored two points out of the break to close to within one, 16-15. Wilhite downed a kill and Anae put up a block prompting Canada to call timeout trailing 18-15. The U.S. scored a third straight point at 19-15 on a Canada attack error. Anae put up a block to extend the American lead to 21-16. Canada answered with four consecutive points to close to 21-20, then took the lead back at 23-22. Canada won the set 25-23 on a service ace.

Canada jumped to a 2-0 lead in the third set, but Wilhite tied it with a kill at 2-all after a Canada service error. Team USA went in front 5-4 with a Washington block and Canada attack error. Ogbogu put up a block after a Canada service error to place the Americans in front 8-6 at the technical timeout. Canada with on a 7-1 run to stake an 12-9 advantage. Anae served an ace after a Canada service error to close the American deficit to 12-11. The U.S. tied the set at 14-all with a Washington kill and Canada red card, then went into the second technical timeout up 16-15 on a Washington block after a Canada service error. Anae added to the lead at 17-15 with a kill off the block. Team USA raised the advantage to 19-16 with a Washington kill and Canada attack error. Canada sliced the gap to 19-18 following a U.S. attack error. The Americans answered with an Ogbogu kill and Canada error to go up 21-18. Canada responded with four consecutive points to take the lead back at 22-21. The U.S. answered with kill from Whitney and Wilhite to the reverse the lead to Team USA, 23-22. Canada then hit long to give Team USA a two-point cushion at 24-22. The Americans ended the set at 25-23 on a Wilhite kill.

The U.S. took a 4-2 lead in the fourth set with two Whitney aces after a Wilhite kill ending a long rally. Canada came back to take the lead at 5-4 with three unanswered points. Washington hammered an overpass kill around four Canada errors to put the Americans back in front at 9-5 on a 5-0 run on Wilhite’s serve. Team USA raised its advantage to 11-6 with a Washington kill and Anae block. Out of a Canada timeout, Carlini put up a block, Canada hit long and Washington served an ace to extend the margin to 14-6. Canada sliced two points off the deficit at 14-8. Team USA went into the second technical timeout up 16-8 after an Anae kill and Whitney block. Canada scored four consecutive points to chip away the gap to 16-12. Anae downed a kill and McCage blocked Canada, forcing it into a timeout trailing 18-12. Team USA jumped the lead to 20-13 with a Wilhite kill and Canada error. Canada closed to 21-17. Washington scored a kill and block to raise the American advantage to 23-17. Washington gave Team USA match points at 24-18 with a kill. McCage ended the match with a cross-court winner at 25-19.

U.S. Women’s National Team Pan American Cup Roster
# – Name (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 – Jordyn Poulter (S, 6-2, University of Illinois, Aurora, Colorado)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, University of Nebraska, Cypress, California)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, University of Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
8 – Krystal Rivers (OPP, 5-11, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama)
10 – Simone Lee (OH, 6-1, Penn State University, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin)
13 – Sarah Wilhite (OH, 6-2, University of Minnesota, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
14 – Adora Anae (OH, 6-1, University of Utah, Punaluu, Hawaii)
15 – Haleigh Washington (M, 6-3, Penn State University, Colorado Springs, Colorado)
18 – Aiyana Whitney (OPP, 6-4, Penn State University, Norwood, New Jersey)
20 – Amanda Benson (L, 5-7, University of Oregon, Litchfield Park, Arizona)
21 – Paige Tapp (M, 6-1, University of Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
22 – Molly McCage (M, 6-3, University of Texas, Spring, Texas)
24 – Kadie Rolfzen (OH, 6-3, University of Nebraska, Papillion, Nebraska)
25 – Chiaka Ogbogu (M, 6-2, University of Texas, Coppell, Texas)

Head Coach: Jon Newman Gonchar (associate head coach at University of Arkansas)
Assistant Coach: Alisha Glass Childress (2016 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team bronze medalist)
Assistant Coach: JJ Van Niel (associate head coach at University of Southern California)
Technical Coordinator: Natalie Morgan (assistant coach at Loyola Marymount University)
Team Manager: John Xie
Athletic Trainer: Salvador Vallejo

Pan American Cup Schedule

Pool B
July 8: USA def. Trinidad & Tobago 21-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-15
July 9: USA lost to Cuba 18-25, 25-22, 25-23, 13-25, 15-13
July 10: USA def. Puerto Rico 25-22, 25-21, 25-14

Pan American Cup Playoff Schedule
July 11: USA def. Colombia 25-12, 25-17, 25-17 (Quarterfinals)
July 13: USA def. 25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 25-19 (semifinals)
July 14: USA vs. Brazil/Dominican Republic semi winner (gold-medal match)