AGUACALIENTES, Mexico (July 13, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team (WJNT) picked up a much-needed victory Saturday night, downing host country Mexico 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-21) in a Pool A match at the 2019 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship in Aguascalientes. 

“We needed to win today, it was a must-win,” said WJNT head coach Jerritt Elliott. “We have to manage our game. We got a little high and low tonight, but the team fought together and made some good adjustments to our block. I like it.”

WJNT used late runs to win all three sets. In the first, they strung together seven consecutive points for a 23-16 lead, eventually winning the frame 25-17. In the second, a 6-2 run gave the U.S. a buffer that allowed them to hold off a late Mexico rally, and they won six of the final seven points in the third to complete the sweep. 

The U.S. attack dominated Saturday night, landing 46 kills on 78 attempts, a .590 scoring percentage. They posted 20 more kills than Mexico, and most of that difference came from outside hitter Jenna Wenaas, who scored 18 points on just 29 swings. Opposite Kendall Kipp also reached double-figures with 12 points, nine in the attack and three from blocks, while four other U.S. players – Logan Eggleston (five kills, one block, one ace), Heather Gneiting (three kills, three aces, one block), Molly Phillips (five kills, one ace) and Anna Dixon (five kills) – notched at least five points. Setter Mia Tuaniga wrapped up the U.S. scoring with three points: two blocks and a kill.

Kipp’s three blocks led the team in the category, while middle Heather Gneiting scored three points from the service line.

The match was delayed by nearly three hours after heavy rains in the Aguascalientes area halted play during the preceding match, Brazil versus Japan. Once that contest resumed – it was stopped late in the first set – the U.S. and Mexico had to wait for Japan to close out their three-set win before either squad could take the court. 

With the win, the U.S. advances to 1-1 at the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship. They’re second in Pool A. Italy is first with a 2-0 record, and Mexico falls to third. The hosts are 1-1 as well, but their win came in four sets while the U.S. only needed three Saturday night. Cuba is fourth at 0-2. 

The U.S. will wrap up the first round of pool play Sunday, July 14, with a 1:30 p.m. Eastern contest against Cuba. 

“Tomorrow’s a must-win as well, against a very physical team,” said Elliot. “[Cuba brings] a lot of physicality and amazing athletes. We’re excited to play Cuba; they’re always a fun team to play because they’re some of the best athletes in the world.”

2019 Women’s Junior National Team Roster

Name (Position, Height, HS Grad Year, Club/Region, College, Hometown)
3 – Brooke Nuneviller (L, 5-11, 2018, Aspire VBC/Arizona, Oregon, Chandler, Ariz.)
4 – Mia Tuaniga (S, 5-9, 2020, Apex1/Southern Cal, Long Beach State, Long Beach, Calif.)
5 – Azhani Tealer (OPP, 5-10, 2019, Texas Image/North Texas, Kentucky, Grand Prairie, Texas)
6 – Logan Eggleston (OH, 6-1, 2018, Alliance/Southern, Texas, Brentwood, Tenn.)
7 – Jenna Wenaas (OH, 6-1, 2020, TAV/North Texas, Minnesota, Frisco, Texas)
9 – Skylar Fields (OPP, 6-2, 2019, Houston Juniors/Lone Star, Texas, Missouri City, Texas)
11 – Molly Phillips (M, 6-2, 2019, Texas Image/North Texas, Texas, Mansfield, Texas)
13 – Ella May Powell (S, 6-2, 2018, Ozark Juniors/Delta, Washington, Fayetteville, Ark.)
15 – Katie Clark (M, 6-3, 2018, TAV/North Texas, TCU, Arlington, Texas)
17 – Anna Dixon (OH, 6-3, 2019, KC Power/Heart of America, Kansas State, Louisburg, Kan.)
19 – Kendall Kipp (OPP, 6-6, 2019, Laguna Beach VBC/Southern Cal, Stanford, Newport Beach, Calif.)
20 – Heather Gneiting (M, 6-6, 2018, Club V/Intermountain, BYU, Provo, Utah)

Head Coach: Jerritt Elliott (University of Texas)
Assistant Coaches: Paula Weishoff (Concordia Irvine) and Jenny Hazelwood (Infinity Volleyball Club)
Technical Coordinator: Jon Wong (Bradley University)
Head of Delegation: Coley Pawlikowski