COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 7, 2019) – A youthful U.S. Women’s National Team nearly came back from a two-set deficit to an experienced Argentina squad before falling 25-17, 25-17, 20-25, 18-25, 15-10 on Wednesday to open the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
The U.S. returns to action on Thursday against Puerto Rico (0-1) at 3 p.m. ET before closing out pool play on Friday against Brazil at 1 p.m. ET.
Outside hitter Madi Kingdon Rishel (Phoenix, Arizona) led the Americans with 15 kills on 38 attacks and three blocks for 18 points. Opposite Krystal Rivers (Birmingham, Alabama), who subbed into the match in the third set and started the final two sets, added 13 kills on 24 attacks and two blocks for 15 points. Middle Rhamat Alhassan (Glenarden, Maryland) chalked up eight kills, four blocks and one ace for 13 points.
Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota), who started the final three sets at outside hitter, provided eight kills and two blocks for 10 points. Middle Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota) contributed five kills and two blocks for seven points. Opposite Danielle Cuttino (Indianapolis, Indiana) pocketed four kills and a block in starting just the third set. Kathryn Plummer (Aliso Viejo, California) totaled two kills and a block for three points in starting the first two sets at opposite. Outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen (Papillion, Nebraska) rounded out the scoring with a kill.
U.S. libero Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia) totaled a team-high 14 digs and had 12 receptions in the match. Kingdon Rishel was credited with a 42.4 reception efficiency on 15 chances. Setter Madison Lilley (Overland Park, Kansas) tallied 11 running sets on 46 total set attempts and six digs. Samantha Seliger-Swenson (Minnetonka, Minnesota) came off the bench to provide eight running sets on 76 chances.
Team USA out-blocked Argentina 15-12 and held a 56-51 margin in kills. The U.S. converted 35.2 percent of its attacks into points compared to Argentina’s 33.1 kill percent. However, Argentina built its early two-set advantage in the serve-receive game that netted a 7-1 ace advantage. Argentina also took advantage of 33 USA miscues to its own 22.
“I think our team played well at the end,” said Kingdon-Rishel, who is serving as captain of the U.S. Pan Am Games team. “We started a little bit slow, but we figured it out towards the last couple of sets. I’m proud of the way we fought. We made a lot of mistakes against a really good Argentina.”
USA defeated Argentina in the recent Tokyo Women’s Volleyball Qualification Tournament in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana, to clinch its spot into the 2020 Olympic Games. However, the Americans has employed an entirely different 12-player roster at the Pan American Games in contrast to Argentina using all 12 players who also played in the Olympic qualifier.
After trailing 17-14 in the third set, Team USA caught fire with a 6-0 run to stake a 20-17 advantage en route to winning 25-20. The Americans cruised to the 25-18 victory in the fourth set. However, Argentina raced to a 7-2 advantage in the tiebreaker and held off Team USA, which had seven errors in the fifth set to Argentina’s one.
“Obviously it was a very good game,” said Rob Browning, who is serving as head coach the USA team at the Pan Am Games. “Unlike Argentina, we started off bad. We recovered with some changes. In the end of the fifth set we had some errors, while Argentina didn’t. I am proud of my player for recovering from 0-2 and they finished well.”
The U.S. started Kingdon Rishel and Rolfzen at outside hitter, Alhassan and Tapp at middle, Plummer at opposite, Lilley (Overland Park, Kansas) and Curry at libero.