COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 8, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team begins its quest today to earn a coveted berth into the 2017 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship through the Women’s U20 Pan American Cup being contested in San Jose, Costa Rica May 8-13.

The nine-team tournament 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.

“We are looking forward to the challenge of competing in this quality event and looking forward to the opportunity to qualify for the World championship,” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Jerritt Elliott said prior to the start of the event.

Team USA is in the three-team preliminary round Group A with pool play matches against Argentina on May 9 at 9:30 p.m. ET and Dominican Republic on May 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Pool B includes Costa, Puerto Rico and Uruguay. Pool C has Chile, Cuba and Peru.

The quarterfinals will take place on May 11 with the third-best pool winner and the three second-place finishers. The semifinals will be on May 12 with the quarterfinal winners advancing to meet the two teams with the best record in pool play. The medal round is scheduled for May 13.

“It’s a big tournament for us,” Elliott said in an interview with NORCECA. “We have to get organized and see if we can get out of pool play. We got a very tough pool with Argentina and Dominican Republic. We welcome the opportunity and put our best foot forward.”

Dominican Republic has already qualified for the 2017 FIVB Women’s World Championship by winning the NORCECA Women’s U20 Continental Championship last summer in Florida. Argentina is among the favorites to earn South America’s bid into the World Championship through this week’s tournament in Costa Rica.

“This is a new generation of players from the one who won the (2015) FIVB World Championship,” Dominican Republic Head Coach Wagner Pacheco said. “We are already qualified to worlds, but our responsibility here remains the same, our goal is to win. This tournament is a good chance to measure our game level because one of my players is coming out of injury, one is injured and we lost our opposite player. The preliminary round will be very hard as we are in the same pool with United States and Argentina. Both are looking to qualify to Worlds and for me they are among the favorites to win the Pan Am Cup.”

Along with having a tough pool assignment, the U.S. will be dealing with gelling as a team with only two practices together as a full unit whereas the other countries have trained together for a while. As a positive, the Americans have a bye on the opening day of the tournament today and will get a chance to scout their Pool A opponents who face each other at 7:30 p.m. ET today.

The U.S. roster includes middles Brionne Butler (University of Texas, Kendleton, Texas), Regan Pittman (University of Minnesota, Spring Hill, Kansas) and Elle Sandbothe (Kansas State University, Lee’s Summit, Missouri). The outside hitters will be Thayer Hall (Upward Stars Volleyball Club, Moore, South Carolina), Paige Hammons (University of Florida, Louisville, Kentucky), Khalia Lanier (University of Southern California, Scottsdale, Arizona) and Mackenzie May (UCLA, Dubuque, Iowa).

The opposites are Holly Carlton (University of North Carolina, Sterling, Virginia) and Mikayla Shields (University of South Carolina, Orlando, Florida). The two setters are Madison Lilley (University of Kentucky, Overland Park, Kansas) and MacKenzi Welsh (University of Michigan, Bolingbrook, Illinois). The libero will be Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois).

The 2017 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship that takes place July 14-23 in Boca del Rio and Cordoba, Mexico. The top team from NORCECA and the top team from the South American Confederation will earn spots into the biennial world championship.

Butler, Hammons, Hall, Lilley and May all competed in the 2016 NORCECA Women’s U20 Continental Championship and helped Team USA win the silver medal. Dominican Republic won the NORCECA event and qualified for the 2017 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship.

Should the U.S. qualify for the FIVB World Championship, USA Volleyball will hold training camp July 2-12 to identify the 12-player team that will compete at the world championship. Players on the WJNT-U20PAC squad will have a guaranteed spot in the training camp alongside others identified through the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryout and USA Volleyball High Performance tryouts this spring. The final roster for the world championship roster will come from the July training camp.

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 vs. Dominican Republic, 7:30 p.m.
May 9: United States vs. Argentina, 9:30 p.m.
May 10: United States vs. Dominican Republic, 7:30 p.m.

Group B
May 8: Costa Rica vs. Uruguay, 9:30 p.m.
May 9: Uruguay vs. Puerto Rico, 5:30 p.m.
May 10: Costa Rica vs. Puerto Rico, 9:30 p.m.

Group C
May 8: Cuba vs. Chile, 5:30 p.m.
May 9: Chile vs. Peru, 7:30 p.m.
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)