NOCERA, Italy (July 11, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Team (WCNT – WUG) wrapped up their involvement at the 2019 World University Games in strong fashion Thursday, downing Switzerland 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-9) at PalaCoscioni In Nocera, Italy.
“I’m really pleased with the last impression this team gave in the tournament,” said Keegan Cook, WCNT – WUG head coach. “It would have been easy to be upset about a tough pool and not play tough, but that was one of our cleanest matches that we’ve played, especially that third set. Every player contributed, every player scored, and there were lots of big moments throughout the match.”
Switzerland held a slight advantage through much of the first set, but a four-point U.S. run broke an 18-18 deadlock and gave the Americans the permanent lead. In the second, they opened with a 3-0 run and never trailed in the frame. Switzerland did manage to tie it at 7-7 and pull within one at 11-10, but another four-point swing gave the U.S. a five-point advantage, one that would last throughout the set.
USA Team completely dominated the third, however. They scored the first six points of the frame and responded to the first Swiss point by taking the next 11 points for a 17-1 lead, locking in the three-set victory and ninth place in the tournament.
“This game, we really played well as a team,” said Kylie DeBerg, an outside hitter at Missouri. “We didn’t let any balls hit the ground, and we really were scrappy and communicated a lot to each other, which we struggled with sometimes in previous games. This game, we all wanted to win and all wanted to end on a good note. The last set was really good. We started off strong and didn’t let up until the set was over.”
WCNT – WUG dominated the attack game Thursday. They scored 41 points on 78 swings, good for a .526 scoring percentage, and saw nine different players tally at least two kills. Outside hitter Kara Bajema led the way with 10 kills in just 13 attempts for an efficiency mark of .692, and DeBerg was even more efficient, tallying her five kills in six tries. Audriana Fitzmorris and Stephanie Samedy also landed at least five kills against the Swiss.
From the service line, the U.S. was just as sharp. They dished out 11 aces, five of them coming from DeBerg. Setter Diana Brown of Illinois posted two service aces, and Samedy, Avie Niece, Madeline Gates and Tori Dilfer tallied one each.
With the win, the U.S. wrapped up the 2019 Summer Universiade with a 4-2 record and in ninth place, having won the tournament’s consolation bracket. They started the tournament in Group D with Italy, Japan, and Switzerland. Italy will play for the gold medal Friday, July 12, and Japan goes for bronze that same day. As such, Group D will finish with the highest average placement among the four groups.
“As always in these events, the USA gets better as the tournament goes on, and this was the case this summer,” said WCNT – WUG assistant coach Beth Launiere. “We were able to come together as a team and figure out each other and each other’s sets. Our passing got much better as the tournament went on, and we really came together and played good volleyball by the end.”
With the end of the tournament, WCNT – WUG will soon return to the United States, but not before the Summer Universiade’s closing ceremony on Sunday, July 14. That will take place in Naples, Italy, the official host city for the Games.
“I thought [the World University Games] was a great experience,” said Bajema, looking back on the past week. “One of the big takeaways I got from this tournament was watching all the different countries’ styles of play. I think it’s very unique to see how people play according to personnel. This will be a great experience for all these girls because it’s a good opportunity to play with girls you’re unfamiliar with and learn from different coaches and be able to adapt in all sorts of different environments.”
This is the third consecutive Universiade that the U.S. has competed in the 9/10 match. They also placed ninth in 2015 at Gwangju, South Korea but finished 10th two years ago in Taipei.
2019 Women’s Collegiate National Team – World University Games Roster
Name (Position, School, Height, College Eligibility Remaining, Hometown, Youth Club)
- Kara Bajema (OH, Washington, 6-2, 1, Lynden, Washington, Washington Volleyball Academy)
- Lauren Barnes (L, Wisconsin, 5-6, 2, Naperville, Illinois, 1st Alliance Volleyball Club)
- Diana Brown (S, Illinois, 6-0, 4, Columbus, Ohio, Mintonette Sports)
- Kylie DeBerg (OH, Missouri, 6-4, 2, Hudson, Iowa, Club Iowa)
- Kennedy Eschenberg (MB, BYU, 6-5, 2, Bountiful, Utah, Club V)
- Tori Dilfer (S, Louisville, 5-10, 2, San Jose, California, Encore)
- Audriana Fitzmorris (OPP, Stanford, 6-6, 1, Overland Park, Kansas, Invasion)
- Madeleine Gates (MB, Stanford, 6-3, 1, San Diego, California, Coast Volleyball)
- Meghan McClure (OH, Stanford, 6-0, 2, Rancho Santa Margarita, California, Laguna Beach VBC)
- Avie Niece (MB, Washington, 6-0, 1, Bellevue, Washington, Sudden Impact VBC)
- Adanna Rollins (OH, Minnesota, 6-0, 3, Carrollton, Texas, Texas Advantage)
- Stephanie Samedy (OPP, Minnesota, 6-2, 2, Clermont, Florida, Top Select Volleyball Academy)
- Head Coach: Keegan Cook (University of Washington)
- Assistant Coach: Beth Launiere (University of Utah)