U.S. Women’s Junior National Team participating in 2017 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship in Mexico

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 14, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team struggled early but forced Brazil to work for hard for each point down the stretch as the South Americans won 25-10, 25-12, 24-26, 25-22 on Friday on the opening day of the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship at Boca del Rio, Mexico.

The U.S. will take on Cuba (0-1) on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET as part of Pool C’s second day. Cuba lost its opener in five sets to Serbia on Friday. The FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship is a 16-team event with four pools of four teams playing a round-robin format in the first round. The top two teams in each pool advance to the gold bracket, while the bottom two teams in each pool will battle for positions 9-16.

“After a rough start dealing with nerves, the team fought through and cleaned up their passing and serving to allow us to compete at the net,” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Laurie Corbelli said. “Our group is encouraged and excited to learn from our mistakes and move forward into our next match against Cuba.”

Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas) scored a team-best 12 points with nine kills on 12 attacks, two blocks and an ace. Outside hitter Leah Edmond (Lexington, Kentucky) added 11 points with nine kills on 22 swings, one block and one ace. Holly Carlton (Sterling, Virginia) chipped in nine points with eight kills on 22 attacks and a block.

Related: Official Stats

Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina) and middle Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas) each scored six kills in the match. Setter Norene Iosia (Torrance, California), who sparked the U.S. offense coming off the bench to start the third and fourth sets, totaled three aces on a team-best 12 serves and two blocks for five points. Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois), who started the first two sets, pocketed one kill and one block for two points. Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia), a reserve in the second and third sets, scored two aces to round out the scoring.

“I thought we started off slow and Brazil took advantage of that,” Pittman said. “As the match went on, we kept our fight going and we made what we could out of it. I thought we fought really hard. We are looking forward to getting back on the floor tomorrow night (against Cuba).”

Libero Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) was credited with 13 digs and 14 excellent receptions on 28 attempts, while Hall added nine digs and 17 excellent receptions on 25 chances.

Iosia was credited with 20 running sets on 43 chances and Welsh added 16 excellent receptions on 38 set attempts. As a team, the U.S. converted 36.8 percent of its attacks with a .142 hitting efficiency. In contrast, Brazil had a .323 hitting efficiency with a 44.4 kill percent. The major difference in the match were the number of errors the U.S. committed – 39 to Brazil’s 17. The Americans held a 7-5 margin in aces, while Brazil held a 11-7 advantage in blocks and 44-39 margin in kills.

The Americans started Butler and Pittman at middle, Hall and Edmond at outside hitter, Ronika Stone (San Jose, California) at opposite and Welsh at setter. Clark was the libero for the match. Carlton subbed into the match in the first set and started the final three sets in place of Stone. Paige Hammons (Louisville, Kentucky) started the second set in place of Edmond and was a sub in the first and third sets.

Brazil started the first set with a 14-0 lead and cruised into the opening set victory at 25-10. Brazil eased into the second technical timeout of the second set leading 16-9, then powered into the set win at 25-12.

The U.S. took its first lead of the match with a 5-4 advantage early in the third set. Brazil scored three straight to take a 13-9 lead. The U.S. cut into 17-11 deficit with three unanswered points to prompt Brazil to call timeout with its lead at 17-14. The Americans tied the set at 21-all with an ace by Curry, then went into the lead at 22-21 on a 5-0 run. Brazil answered with consecutive points to regain the lead at 23-22 and prompting USA’s second timeout. The U.S. grabbed set point with a Pittman kill and Brazil error. The Americans won the set 26-24 with a Pittman block and Brazil error.

Brazil raced to an 8-3 lead at the fourth set’s opening technical timeout. Team USA rolled off six unanswered points to take a 13-12 lead on Iosia’s serve. After Brazil took a 20-18 lead, Edmond hammered a kill and put up a block to lock the score at 20-all prompting the South Americans to call timeout. Iosia served her third ace of the set to lift the Americans in front 21-20. Brazil answered with three straight to push in front 23-21 and ended the set with a 25-22 victory.

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 vs. Cuba, 9 p.m. ET
July 16: USA vs. Serbia, 7 p.m. ET