COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 9, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team used a balanced offense to defeat Argentina 25-23, 25-19, 15-25, 25-21 in its U20 Women’s Pan American Cup opening pool play match Tuesday evening in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Outside hitter Khalia Lanier (Scottsdale, Arizona, University of Southern California) notched a Team USA-best 16 points with 13 kills on 40 swings, two aces and a block. Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina, Upward Stars), the only American on the 12-player roster who will still be in high school this fall, added 10 kills on 29 attacks, one block and one ace for 12 points. Middle Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas, University of Minnesota) chalked up 10 kills on 17 swings and two blocks for 12 points.

“I was very pleased with our team’s performance tonight for how little time we had together,” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Jerritt Elliott said. “ I thought our girls did a really nice job of trying to find some continuity and staying stable and executing at a high level over a period of time. We had a little bit of an emotional letdown in set three, but I thought overall the way we performed and our energy and fight in representing the United States was very strong.”

The nine-team tournament, broken into three pools of three countries in the preliminary round, features teams from neighboring confederation zones NORCECA (North America, Central America and Caribbean) and South America with the top finisher from each zone earning bids to the World Championship.

Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas, University of Texas) charted 10 points with eight kills on 17 attacks and two blocks. Opposite Mackenzie May (Dubuque, Iowa, UCLA) contributed six kills, one block and one ace for eight points. Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois, University of Michigan) pocketed seven points with three kills on six errorless attacks, two blocks and two aces. Rounding out the U.S. scoring were Elle Sandbothe (Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Kansas State University) with an ace and Mikayla Shields (Orlando, Florida, University of South Carolina) with a kill as both were in reserve roles.

Libero Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) was credited with eight digs and 10 excellent receptions on 25 errorless attempts. Welsh provided 16 running sets on 110 total set attempts as Team USA converted 38.1 percent of its attacks with a .239 hitting efficiency. Hall added six excellent receptions and five digs.

Team USA out-blocked Argentina 9-7 and held a 7-2 advantage in aces. The Americans’ offense netted a 51-41 margin in kills. The U.S. committed 38 errors in the match, compared to Argentina’s 23.

The U.S. started Welsh at setter, Hall and Lanier at outside, May at opposite, Butler and Pittman at middle and Clark as the libero.

The U.S. concludes Pool A on Wednesday as it challenges Dominican Republic (0-1) at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Americans can win Pool A with a victory over Dominican, though they may need to play in Thursday’s quarterfinal round as only the top two pool winners of the three groups advance directly to the semifinals on Friday. Dominican Republic has already qualified for the 2017 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship, but lost its U20 Women’s Pan Am Cup opening match to Argentina on Monday.

U.S. Women’s Junior National Team for 2017 U20 Women’s Pan American Cup
# – 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, TBA, 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 – Khalia Lanier (OH, University of Southern California, 6-2, Scottsdale, Arizona, Arizona)
6 – Madison Lilley (S, University of Kentucky, 6-0, Overland Park, Kansas, Heart of America)
7 – Mackenzie May (OH, UCLA, 6-3, Dubuque, Iowa, Iowa)
8 – Regan Pittman (M, University of Minnesota, 6-5, Spring Hill, Kansas, Heart of America)
9 – Holly Carlton (OPP, University of North Carolina, 6-7, Sterling, Virginia, Chesapeake)
10 – Elle Sandbothe (M, Kansas State University, 6-0, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Heart of America)
14 – Mikayla Shields (OPP, University of South Carolina, 6-0, Orlando, Florida, Florida)
15 – MacKenzi Welsh (S, University of Michigan, 6-1, Bolingbrook, Illinois, Great Lakes)

Head Coach: Jerritt Elliott (head coach at University of Texas)
Assistant Coach: Paula Weishoff (head coach at Concordia University Irvine)
Assistant Coach/Statistician: Kevin Inlow (graduate assistant at University of Texas)
Team Leader: Tom Pingel (USA Volleyball High Performance)

2017 U20 Women’s Pan American Cup Schedule (all times ET)

Group A
May 8: Argentina def. Dominican Republic 25-17, 25-18, 25-20
May 9: United States def. Argentina 25-23, 25-19, 15-25, 25-21
May 10: United States vs. Dominican Republic, 7:30 p.m.

Group B
May 8: Uruguay def. Costa Rica 25-21, 25-18, 22-25, 26-24
May 9: Puerto Rico def. Uruguay 25-16, 25-19, 25-14
May 10: Costa Rica vs. Puerto Rico, 9:30 p.m.

Group C
May 8: Cuba def. Chile 25-17, 25-11, 25-12
May 9: Peru def. Chile 25-23, 25-16, 25-20
May 10: Peru vs. Cuba, 5:30 p.m.

Classification for 9th Place
May 11: Lowest two 3rd Place Pool Teams, 5:30 p.m.

May 11: best 2nd Place Pool vs. second best 2nd Place Pool or third-best 2nd Place Pool, 7:30 p.m.
May 11: third-best 1st Place Pool vs. second best 2nd Place Pool or third-best 2nd Place Pool, 9:30 p.m.

Final Classification 7/8
May 12: best 3rd Place Pool vs. winner of lowest two 3rd Place Pool Teams, 5:30 p.m.

May 12: second-best 1st Place Pool vs. Quarterfinal winner (TBA), 7:30 p.m.
May 12: best 1st Place Pool vs. Quarterfinal winner (TBA), 9:30 p.m.

Final Classification 5/6
May 13: Quarterfinal losers, 5:30 p.m.

Medal Round Matches
May 13: Semifinal losers, 7:30 p.m. (bronze medal)
May 13: Semifinal winners, 9:30 p.m. (gold medal)