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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 23, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team ended the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship in seventh place after rallying past Bulgaria 25-16, 19-25, 19-25, 25-16, 15-9 on Sunday afternoon in Cordoba, Mexico.

The contest was a rematch of the final Top 8 round-robin pool match on July 20 in which the U.S. lead 2-1 before Bulgaria came back to win in five sets. With the victory, the U.S. snapped a four-match losing streak.

“What an exciting match to finish the World Championships!” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Laurie Corbelli said. “Bulgaria relies heavily on its pin hitters and we were able to slow them down with an exceptional defensive effort. Our block was at its best today and our floor defense and serve receive both got better and better as the match went on. The team is thrilled to finish seventh in the world and we appreciate the support from all of the USA Volleyball fans!”

Related: Official Match Stats

Middle Ronika Stone (San Jose, California) led the Americans with 20 points via 14 kills on 22 attacks, four aces and two blocks. Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas) added 13 points with 11 kills on 13 swings and two blocks. The middle combination combined for hitting 25-for-35 on the day.

Opposite Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas) contributed nine points with six blocks and three kills. Outside hitter Paige Hammons (Louisville, Kentucky) pocketed six kills on 13 attacks in starting the final three sets after subbing in the second set. Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois) chipped in four kills on five swings, one block and one ace in starting the final three sets and subbing in the second set.

Outside hitter Leah Edmond (Lexington, Kentucky), who was not available for yesterday’s match, contributed six kills on 21 attacks in the first three sets. Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina) charted three kills, one block and one ace for five points. Setter Norene Iosia (Torrance, California) rounded out the scoring with four aces and a kill.

Libero Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) was credited with 14 digs and five excellent receptions on 15 chances. Hammons added six excellent receptions on 22 chances.

“We stayed focused and smooth out at the end of the match,” Clark said. “It’s great to end the tournament with a win.”

Welsh turned in 20 running sets on 47 set attempts while Iosia had 11 running sets on 37 chances. The setting combination led the U.S. to a 46.2 kill percent and .308 hitting efficiency (48-16-104). The American defense limited Bulgaria to a .113 hitting efficiency (41-28-115) with a 35.7 kill percent.

The U.S. net defense consistently stopped the Bulgaria offense during the match as the Americans held a 12-4 block advantage and had a 48-41 kill margin. Bulgaria managed a 13-10 ace advantage. Both teams had 33 errors for the five sets.

The Americans started Butler and Stone at middle, Hall and Edmond at outside hitter, Pittman at opposite and Iosia at setter. Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) started at libero. Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia) was a sub in all five sets.

After both teams struggled early in the first set with serve-receive, the Americans reached the first technical timeout leading 8-5. The U.S. went on a 9-2 run to establish a 17-7, 10-point cushion. Bulgaria cut its deficit to 18-13. The Americans answered by scoring seven of the last 10 points for a 25-16 victory. Stone scored 10 points in the opening set as the U.S. held a 5-0 advantage in blocks.

Bulgaria nabbed an 8-3 lead at the first technical timeout in the second set. After trailing 9-3, the U.S. closed the gap to 15-13. However, Bulgaria quickly upped its lead to 21-16.

The U.S. overcame an early 7-5 deficit in the third set by scoring three straight to take an 8-7 lead into the first technical timeout. Bulgaria reversed the lead at the second technical timeout out as it led 16-14. The European side increased its margin to 22-17 and closed the set at 25-19.

The U.S. broke a 3-all tie in the fourth set and grabbed an 8-5 lead heading into the first technical timeout. Team USA increased its advantage to 11-6. The Americans charged forward to a 16-8 lead at the second technical timeout. Team USA ended the set at 25-16 to send the match to a deciding fifth set.

After trailing 2-1 in the fifth set, Iosia had a six-point service run to put the Americans in front 7-2. The U.S. jumped the lead to 11-4 and went on to win 15-9.

U.S. Women’s Junior National Team
# – Name (Position, 2017 Club/College, Height, Hometown, Region)
1 – Brionne Butler (M, University of Texas, 6-4, Kendleton, Texas, Lone Star)
2 – Tiffany Clark (L, University of Wisconsin, 5-11, Naperville, Illinois, Great Lakes)
3 – Thayer Hall (OH, Upward Stars, 6-3, Moore, South Carolina, Palmetto)
4 – Paige Hammons (OH, University of Florida, 6-2, Louisville, Kentucky, Pioneer)
5 – Regan Pittman (M, University of Minnesota, 6-5, Spring Hill, Kansas, Heart of America)
6 – Holly Carlton (OPP, University of North Carolina, 6-7, Sterling, Virginia, Chesapeake)
8 – Ronika Stone (OPP, University of Oregon, 6-2, San Jose, California, Northern California)
11 – Norene Iosia (S, University of Hawaii, 5-11, Torrance, California, Southern California)
12 – MacKenzi Welsh (S, University of Michigan, 6-1, Bolingbrook, Illinois, Great Lakes)
14 – Gabby Curry (L, University of Kentucky, 5-9, Buford, Georgia, Southern)
15 – Rachael Kramer (M, University of Florida, 6-8, Phoenix, Arizona, Arizona)
17 – Leah Edmond (OH, University of Kentucky, 6-2, Lexington, Kentucky, Pioneer)

Head Coach: Laurie Corbelli (head coach at Texas A&M University)
Assistant Coach: Blake Rawlins (head trainer at Top Select Volleyball Academy)
Assistant Coach: Jay Van Vark (assistant coach at Grand Canyon University)
Team Leader: Tom Pingel (USA Volleyball High Performance)
Athletic Trainer: Ronni Beatty-Kollasch (University of Minnesota)

2017 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship

Pool C at Boca del Rio, Mexico
July 14: USA lost to Brazil 25-10, 25-12, 24-26, 25-22
July 15: USA def. Cuba 31-29, 25-19, 25-23
July 16: USA def. Serbia 22-25, 10-25, 26-24, 25-23, 17-15

Pool F (Top 8 Gold Bracket) at Cordoba, Mexico
July 18: USA lost to China 23-25, 30-28, 25-15, 10-25, 15-13
July 19: USA lost to Japan, 2 p.m. ET 25-18, 25-22, 25-17
July 20: USA lost Bulgaria 16-25, 26-24, 19-25, 25-23, 15-12

Classification 5-8 Match at Cordoba, Mexico
June 22: USA lost to Poland 25-14, 25-16, 20-25, 25-20

7th-Place Classification Match at Cordoba, Mexico
June 23: USA vs. Bulgaria