COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 8, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team rallied to defeat Puerto Rico 25-19, 19-25, 21-25, 25-16, 15-9 on Thursday to improve to 1-1 in the Pan American Games pool play in Lima, Peru.
The U.S. concludes pool play on Friday against Brazil at 2 p.m. ET with the winner heading to the semifinals. Both USA and Brazil are 1-1 with wins over Puerto Rico and losses to Argentina. The Americans have played two five-set matches in their Pan American Games contests.
Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) scored a Team USA-high 16 points with 12 kills, three aces and a block. Middle Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota) chalked up 13 points with seven kills, a match-high five blocks and an ace. Opposite Danielle Cuttino (Indianapolis, Indiana) added 10 kills and three blocks for 13 points.
“Above all there were a lot of highs and lows,” Wilhite Parsons said. “At moments, Puerto Rico played really strong and as did we. It was back and forth, momentum was shifting a lot. At the end we were in momentum but overall Puerto Rico challenged us in a lot of ways.”
Outside hitter Madi Kingdon Rishel (Phoenix, Arizona) contributed 11 points with nine kills, one block and one ace. Middle Rhamat Alhassan (Glenarden, Maryland) pocketed six kills and three blocks for nine points. Setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson (Minnetonka, Minnesota) charted two kills and two aces for four points. Kathryn Plummer (Aliso Viejo, California), the opposite in the double sub with setter Madison Lilley (Overland Park, Kansas), rounded out the scoring with three blocks and a kill for four points.
The U.S. converted 34.1 percent of its attacks with a .239 hitting efficiency (47-14-138). Seliger-Swenson was credited with 24 running sets on 87 total set attempts while Lilley had five running sets on 20 total set attempts in her limited role as the double-sub setter. The Americans limited Puerto Rico to a 37.3 kill percent and .166 hitting efficiency in part to 35 attack errors (63-35-169).
“Another good match, Puerto Rico played fantastic,” said Rob Browning, head coach of the U.S. team competing in the Pan Am Games. “It was very similar to yesterday, just with a different start and different finish. Yesterday we finished poorly, played well in the middle and today we started and finished well. I was happy how our team hung in there. We were really down in the second set, but our team regrouped and turned things around, to their credit, played really sharp and executed well in the fifth set.”
Team USA libero Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia) turned in 16 digs and 12 excellent receptions with a 28.6 reception efficiency. Wilhite Parsons added 11 digs and nine excellent receptions on 29 attempts. Kingdon Rishel totaled 10 excellent receptions while Cuttino had eight digs.
Although Puerto Rico held a huge 63-47 advantage in kills, the Americans were dominant at the net with a 16-7 block advantage. Further, Team USA benefited from 35 Puerto Rico errors while committing just 18 of its own. The Americans also held a slim 7-6 edge in aces.
The U.S. started Kingdon Rishel and Wilhite Parsons at outside hitter, Alhassan and Tapp at middle, Cuttino at opposite, Seliger-Swenson at setter and Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia) at libero. Kadie Rolfzen (Papillion, Nebraska) was a sub in the final four sets.
The U.S. led 7-4 early in the opening set before Puerto Rico scored four straight points to go into the technical timeout leading 8-7. Team USA used a 4-0 run to take a 14-11 advantage with an Alhassan kill and block around a Puerto Rico attack error and Cuttino kill. The American margin jumped to 24-17 with a Kingdon Rishel kill, Seliger-Swenson ace and two Puerto Rico errors. After Puerto Rico saved two set points, Puerto Rico committed a back-row attack error to give the U.S. victory at 25-19.
Puerto Rico opened the second set with a 5-0 advantage and pushed its margin to 7-1 with its third ace of the set. The Puerto Rico spread moved to 11 at 14-3 with six unanswered points. Team USA broke the run with a Cuttino block and Tapp block at 14-5. Trailing 21-8, Team USA scored seven straight points to close to 21-15, but Puerto Rico’s huge early advantage was enough for a 25-19 victory.
Puerto Rico built a 4-0 lead early in the third set but it was short-lived. Cuttino and Kingdon Rishel scored consecutive kills and Seliger-Swenson served an ace to cut the gap to 4-3. Team USA went into the lead at 6-5 with an Alhassan block, Cuttino kill and Puerto Rico error. Puerto Rico took the lead back at 11-10 and scored three straight points to build a 15-12 margin. Puerto Rico pushed the advantage to 18-13. The Americans reduced the deficit to 18-16 with a Wilhite Parsons kill, Tapp block and Puerto Rico error. Puerto Rico answered with back-to-back points as the U.S. went into a timeout trailing 20-16. Out of the break, Puerto Rico served an error and Wilhite Parsons served an ace to close to 20-18. Puerto Rico closed out the set at 25-21.
The U.S. started the fourth set with a Wilhite Parson ace, Kingdon Rishel kill and Puerto Rico attack error. Team USA extended the margin to 8-2 on a Kingdon Rishel kill, Puerto Rico error and two Tapp blocks heading into the technical timeout. The Americans inched the lead to 10-3 with a Puerto Rico service error and Cuttino block. Puerto Rico cut the gap to 16-12 with a 4-1 scoring run, then moved to within three at 18-15. Team USA stopped the run and went up by eight at 23-15 with a Cuttino kill, two Puerto Rico errors and two Plummer blocks to cap a 5-0 run. The U.S. finished the set at 25-16 with a Puerto Rico service error and Wilhite Parsons ace.
Team USA bolted to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker with two Puerto Rico errors and a Tapp ace. The Americans extended the lead to 9-5 with a Tapp kill and Puerto Rico back-row attack error. Alhassan pounded a kill, Wilhite Parsons and Plummer followed with block to extend the USA lead to 13-8. Team USA completed the comeback at 15-9 with a Puerto Rico service error.