FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (July 26, 2016) – The U.S. began its defense of the NORCECA U20 Continental Championship title with an emphatic 25-2, 25-4, 25-5 victory against French St. Martin on Tuesday at NOVA Southeastern University.

Lexi Sun (Encinitas, California) and Taryn Knuth (Johnston, Iowa) led the U.S. with 10 points each in a match that saw long service runs by Stephanie Samedy (Clermont, Florida) and Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina).

“I’ve never had a run like that,” Samedy said. “Usually I’m not as consistent, but I just was focusing on what I needed to do, making sure I read the signals from (assistant coach) Genny Volpe and gave it the best ball I could.”

Hosted by the U.S. for the first time, the NORCECA U20 Continental Championship features eight teams: Mexico, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, French St. Martin, Cuba and the United States. The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team won the championship in 2014, automatically qualifying for the 2015 FIVB World Championship.

The U.S. used a strong service game to control the match, recording 16 aces while not allowing any. In Set 1, Samedy tallied a 12-point run, only ending her run when Head Coach Laurie Corbelli substituted the opposite out for setter Sydney Hilley (Brooklyn Park, Minnesota), who finished the set with an ace.

In Set 2, Hall stepped up, frustrating French St. Martin’s serve receive with a 12-point run of her own.

“One of the things I really love about this team is they have a lot of gumption and are willing to take a chance at the service line,” Corbelli said. “They’re strong and have really good skills.”

Corbelli also credited French St. Martin on its scrappy play as the match went on, keeping the U.S. defense on its toes and forcing American attackers to choose their shots wisely.

Mackenzie May (Dubuque, Iowa) added nine points with five kills, three aces and a block, while Hall rounded out the leading scorers with eight points (five aces, two kills and one block).

“It was a joy to play a group that’s learning to play the game and is very young, but you can tell has been taught well,” she added.

The U.S. faces Puerto Rico at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, a team it defeated last week during the >2016 USA Volleyball High Performance Championships, also in Fort Lauderdale.

U.S. Starters vs. French St. Martin
Outside hitters: Paige Hammons, Lexi Sun
Middle blockers: Brionne Butler, Taryn Knuth
Opposite: Stephanie Samedy
Setter: Madison Lilley
Libero: Hailey Harward

U.S. Statistics vs. French St. Martin
Kills: Sun 9, Knuth 9, Hammons 5, Mackenzie May 5, Butler 3, Hall 2, Lilley 1
Blocks: Hall 1, Knuth 1, Lilley 1, May 1, Sun 1, Samedy 1
Aces: Samedy 5, Hall 5, Sydney Lilley 3, May 3

2016 U.S. Women’s Junior National Team 
No. Name (Position, Hometown, Height, High School Grad Year, Cub, Region)
1. Brionne Butler (MB, East Bernard, Texas, 6-3, 2017, Houston Juniors, Lone Star)
2. Jamye Cox (L, Oregon, Ohio, 5-3, 2017, Michigan Elite, Lakeshore)
3. Paige Hammons (OH, Louisville, Kentucky, 6-2, 2017, KIVA, Pioneer)
5. Thayer Hall (OH, Moore, South Carolina, 6-3, 2018, Upward Stars Upstate, Southern)
6. Hailey Harward (L, Phoenix, Arizona, 5-9, 2016, Aspire 18 Rox, Arizona)
7. Sydney Hilley (S, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, 5-11, 2017, Minnesota Select, North Country)
8. Taryn Knuth (MB, Johnston, Iowa, 6-3, 2017, Iowa Power, Iowa)
9. Madison Lilley (S, Overland Park, Kansas, 6-0, 2017, KC Power, Heart of America)
10. Mackenzie May (OH, Dubuque, Iowa, 6-3, 2017, Adrenaline Volleyball Academy, Iowa)
12. Lauren Sanders (MB, Snohomish, Washington, 6-5, 2017, WVBA 18 Mizuno, Puget Sound)
13. Stephanie Samedy (OH, Clermont, Florida, 6-2, 2017, Top Select Volleyball Academy, Florida)
20. Lexi Sun (OH, Encinitas, California, 6-3, 2017, Coast VBC, Southern California)

Head Coach: Laurie Corbelli
Assistant Coaches: Brian Wright and Genny Volpe
Technical Coordinator: Jesse Tupac
Team Leader: Lizzy Briones

NORCECA U20 Continental Championships Schedule (All times listed in eastern standard time)
Tuesday, July 26:

Cuba def. Haiti, 25-8, 25-9, 25-14
Dominican Republic def. Costa Rica, 25-7, 25-6, 25-3
Puerto Rico def. Mexico, 25-23, 23-25, 25-20, 19-25, 15-7
United States def. French St. Martin, 25-2, 25-4, 25-5

Wednesday, July 27:
French St. Martin vs. Mexico, 1 p.m.
Haiti vs. Dominican Republic, 3 p.m.
Costa Rica vs. Cuba, 5 p.m.
United States vs. Puerto Rico, 7 p.m.

Thursday, July 28:
Haiti vs. Costa Rica, 1 p.m.
Puerto Rico vs. French St. Martin, 3 p.m.
Cuba vs. Dominican Republic, 5 p.m.
United States vs. Mexico, 7 p.m.

Friday, July 29:
2nd Pool A vs. 3rd Pool B, 5 p.m.
2nd Pool B vs. 3rd Pool A, 7 p.m.

Saturday, July 30:
1st Pool A vs. Winner of Quarterfinal 1, 5 p.m.
1st Pool B vs. Winner of Quarterfinal 2, 7 p.m.

Sunday, July 31: 
Bronze medal match, 5 p.m. 
Gold medal match, 7 p.m.