COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 24, 2019) – The U.S. Women held off a challenge from the Dominican Republic and won the NORCECA Champions Cup with a 25-19, 25-17, 25-27, 25-22 victory on Saturday at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The U.S. finished the tournament 3-0 while Dominican Republic concluded the four-team round-robin event 2-1 and in second place.

Opposite Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin) led Team USA with 20 points on match highs of 14 kills on 27 swings and five blocks to go with one ace. She was selected as the tournament’s Best Spiker at the end of the night. Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota), named the most valuable player of the tournament, scored 14 points on nine kills, four blocks and one ace. Middle Rhamat Alhassan (Glenarden, Maryland) had 13 points on seven kills, three blocks and three aces. She was honored with both Best Blocker and Best Server for the tournament.

Outside hitter Jones-Perry (West Jordan, Utah) contributed 11 kills on 26 attacks and two aces. Middle Jenna Rosenthal (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin) scored 12 points with nine kills on 17 attacks and three blocks. Setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson (Minnetonka, Minnesota) and Oluoma Okaro (Lakewood, California) each had one point.

American libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona) charted 11 digs and had nine excellent receptions. Jones-Perry pocketed 22 excellent receptions on 42 chances and nine digs. Wilhite Parsons was credited with seven excellent receptions on 16 errorless chances and six digs. Seliger-Swenson had eight digs in the victory.

Seliger-Swenson set Team USA to a 43.0 kill percent and .306 hitting efficiency (52-15-121). The American defense limited Dominican Republic to a 34.6 kill percent and .125 hitting efficiency (47-30-136).

Tayyiba Haneef-Park, who was serving as U.S. head coach for the first time and went undefeated, knew her young team could not let up against their opponent.

“This whole tournament, Dominican Republic has been known for playing on their emotions, and just when you think that you’ve counted them out, they spring back,” Haneef-Park said. “They have a diverse roster and they’re able to put in a lot of key people to change the game, and they did that against us. We kind of lost our rhythm [in the third and fourth sets], serve and pass, but as soon as we found it again, we were able to inch our way back.”

Seliger-Swenson said Dominican Republic presented a big challenge in what amounted to the championship match as both teams entered with 2-0 records.

“They fought hard,” U.S. setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson (Minnetonka, Minnesota) said of Dominican Republic. “In the end, we just fought harder. I’m really proud of the way that we battled. It wasn’t easy by any means. We just tried to stay composed and be USA good, and I think we did that.”

The United States led in attacks (52-47), blocks (15-7) and aces (7-2).

While Haneef-Park was making her debut as a head coach, she gave praise to the U.S. national team system.

“This win has less to do with the coaching and more to do about the team and what Karch (Kiraly) has put together … a testament to what he’s doing in the gym,” she said. “However, for me, it’s emotional … you don’t see too many benches that have women as head coach and assistant coach, and African-American women at that. It’s kind of a historical moment for (assistant coach) Michelle (Chatman) and me. It’s an honor to be here and to come out with a win.”

Yonkaira Pena Isabel led Dominican Republic with 16 points on 11 attacks, three blocks and two aces.

Dominican coach Marcos Kwiek said, “(In the third set) we did start playing more aggressively. We played at a higher level, and that was the difference. (In the fourth), we were neck and neck until the very end. There were just a couple tiny mistakes, and this game is unforgiving.”

U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team Roster for NORCECA Champions Cup

# – Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)

3 – Rhamat Alhassan (M, 6-4, Glenarden, Maryland, University of Florida)

7 – Ashley Evans (S, 6-1, Liberty Township, Ohio, Purdue University)

8 – Paige Tapp (M, 6-1, Stewartville, Minnesota, University of Minnesota)

13 – Sarah Wilhite Parsons (OH, 6-2, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, University of Minnesota)

14 – Samantha Seliger-Swenson (S, 5-11, Minnetonka, Minnesota, University of Minnesota)

15 – Roni Jones-Perry (OH, 6-0, West Jordan, Utah, BYU)

20 – Amanda Benson (L, 5-7, Litchfield Park, Arizona, University of Oregon)

21 – Simone Lee (OH, 6-1, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, Penn State)

22 – Kadie Rolfzen (OH, 6-3, Papillion, Nebraska, University of Nebraska)

24 – Jenna Rosenthal (M, 6-6, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Marquette University)

25 – Oluoma Okaro (OPP, 6-1, Lakewood, California, Arizona State University)

Head Coach: Tayyiba Haneef-Park

Assistant Coach: Michelle Chatman, Brandon Directo

Statistician: Mike Gee

Team Manager: Jordan Kelly

Team Guide: Gabi Garbato

Physiotherapist: Melanie Luck

Women’s NORCECA Champions Cup Results

Aug. 22: Dominican Republic def. Puerto Rico, 17-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-27, 15-13

Aug. 22: USA def. Canada, 18-25, 25-14, 25-23, 25-20

Aug. 23: Dominican Republic def. Canada, 24-26, 25-23, 25-13, 25-20

Aug. 23: USA def. Puerto Rico 25-19, 25-16, 25-22

Aug. 24: Canada def. Puerto Rico, 22-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-21

Aug. 24: USA def. Dominican Republic, 25-19, 25-17, 25-27, 25-22