COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 16, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team lost to Japan 25-18, 25-15, 25-20 on Tuesday evening in Aguascalientes, Mexico, during the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship Second Round (Top 8) Pool F.
Team USA, now 2-2 overall, will challenge Poland on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET in its second Pool F Second Round match. Japan improves 4-0 in the tournament and has yet to lose a set. The top two teams in the four-team Pool F advance to the semifinals on July 20.
“Our young American players have never seen an offense like Japan’s,” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Jerritt Elliott said. “I thought Japan’s serving was relentless and put a lot of pressure on us and got us a little bit anxiety to force plays so we made a lot of errors. We didn’t do a very good job of blocking in terms of alignments and giving our ourselves opportunities. Against a team like Japan you have to be low error and execute at a high level, pass the ball and take advantage of their size. We didn’t do that.”
Outside hitter Logan Eggleston (Brentwood, Tennessee) led the U.S. with 11 points, all on kills from 25 attacks. Opposite Kendall Kipp (Newport Beach, California), who entered as a sub in the second set and started the third set, added four kills on six attacks and a block.
Outside hitter Jenna Wenaas (Frisco, Texas), opposite Skylar Fields (Missouri City, Texas), middle Molly Phillips (Mansfield, Texas) and middle Heather Gneiting (Provo, Utah) all scored four points in the loss. Azhani Tealer (Grand Prairie, Texas) added two points, while setters Ella Powell (Fayetteville, Arkansas) and Mia Tuaniga (Long Beach, California) chipped in an ace each. Outside hitter Anna Dixon (Louisburg, Kansas) rounded out the scoring with a kill.
“Japan is a different team than we have ever played,” Gneiting said. “I think we had to problem solve, and we problem solved a little too late. We have to do it faster and move on to the next ball.”
The U.S. converted 38 percent of its attacks on the evening while Japan clicked at a 47 kill percent and .267 hitting efficiency.
Unofficially, Eggleston had 39 of Team USA’s 70 receptions with a 64 positive percent. Japan served away from libero Brooke Nuneviller (Chandler, Arizona), who had a total of six receptions and a 67 positive percent and three digs. Wenaas was 55 percent positive on 20 chances and added a team-high four digs.
Japan’s serving caused the American reception issues all night beyond just the 10-5 advantage in aces. Team USA was unable to get in system on a consistent basis to open up all their hitters. Japan also held a 4-2 margin in blocks and a 40-30 advantage in kills.
The U.S. started Tuaniga at setter, Eggleston and Wenaas at outside, Fields at opposite, Phillips and Gneitling at middle and Nuneviller at libero.
Japan opened the first set with a 10-6 lead. After the U.S. closed the gap to 10-9, Japan scored five unanswered to points to stake a 15-9 advantage and extended the margin to 22-13. The Americans sliced the deficit to 22-17, but Japan closed out the set at 25-18.
Japan started the second set with a 5-1 advantage, but the U.S. closed to 10-8 on a Tuaniga ace capping a 3-0 run. Consecutive Japan aces shifted the margin to 14-9 and they cruised to the 25-15 victory.
Team USA started the third set with a 6-3 advantage then stretched the gap to 12-7 on a 3-0 run. Japan took a 20-17 advantage on seven unanswered points. Japan finished set with a 25-20 victory.
“I was really proud of our team how they fought back,” Elliott said. “They didn’t throw in the towel and they tried to win. To me it is a great experience. The good news is Japan will not be on bracket anymore and we control our own destiny. So there is a lot of positives. We come to this event to teach our young players.”
2019 U.S. 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