Eight players made their U.S. Women’s National Team debuts Thursday during a 3-2 (21-25, 28-26, 25-19, 21-25, 15-9) loss to Puerto Rico at the NORCECA Continental Championship.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (August 27) – For the second day in a row, the U.S. Women’s National Team went to five sets on Friday at the NORCECA Continental Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico. This time, it prevailed, defeating Canada 3-2 (25-17, 15-25, 19-25, 25-15, 15-8).
“This was a team effort for sure,” U.S. Head Coach Joe Trinsey said. “We’ve had some moments of greatness so far, but we need to find that consistency.”
With the win, the U.S. evened its record at 1-1. The Americans have completed group play and remain eligible for the Group A title and a bye to August 30’s semifinal round.
They will learn their fate when Canada and Puerto Rico play Saturday, August 28. The U.S. would need a five-set win from Canada for a chance at the group title, leaving all three teams equal at five points apiece in the standings. That deadlock would be decided by the teams’ point ratios; USA has a ratio of 1.015, trailing Puerto Rico’s 1.057 and ahead of Canada’s 0.909.
If they finish second or third in the group, the U.S. Women will play in the quarterfinals on Sunday, August 29.
The U.S. saw a balanced scoring effort Friday as three players reached double-digits and nine different players scored at least twice. Outside hitter Kara Bajema once again led the team with 14 points, half of which came in the first set. Outside hitter Lindsay Stalzer and opposite Danielle Cuttino each added 12, and middle blocker Cori Crocker tallied nine.
Both teams scored 46 points from the attack, but the U.S. held a 12-7 advantage in blocks. Defensively, the U.S. led with 61 percent of their receptions being positive and 33% excellent compared to 48 and 25, respectively, for Canada.
Bajema powered the U.S. early, scoring five of the squad’s first seven points en route to a 7-1 lead. The U.S. kept the pressure up, maintaining a margin of five points and taking the first set 25-17.
Canada countered with wins in the next two sets to take a 1-2 match lead. The U.S. rebounded in the fourth, taking a lead early and holding for a 25-15 set win thanks to an attack percentage of 65%.
In the fifth set tiebreak, they won the first three points and kept the momentum. USA ended on a 6-2 scoring run as Stalzer landed the final kill.
“[Setter] Ashley Evans and [opposite] Roni Jones-Perry came in and gave us a huge boost in the fourth,” Trinsey said. “Kara was unstoppable to start the match but lost her rhythm. Micaya White did a nice job stepping in, and then Kara came back to help finish it out.”
Saturday’s Puerto Rico/Canada match and the rest of the 2021 NORCECA Continental Championships will be streamed live online.