COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 20, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team lost to Bulgaria 16-25, 26-24, 19-25, 25-23, 15-12 to conclude the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship Top 8 Pool F pool play on Thursday afternoon in Cordoba, Mexico.

As the fourth-place team in Pool F, U.S. (2-4 overall, 0-3 in Pool F) will now move into the classification 5-8 match on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET against an opponent to be determined. The Americans will conclude the tournament on Sunday playing either for fifth place or seventh place depending on the outcome of Saturday.

Outside hitter Leah Edmond (Lexington, Kentucky) led the Americans with 17 points with 14 kills on 30 swings and three blocks. Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas) chipped in 14 points with seven kills on 14 swings, five blocks and two aces. Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina) provided 13 kills and a block for 14 points. Opposite Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas) contributed six kills, three blocks and two aces for 11 points. Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois) chalked up three kills, two aces and two blocks for seven points. Setter Norene Iosia (Torrance, California) added two blocks, one ace and one kill for four points. Rachael Kramer (Phoenix, Arizona) rounded out the scoring with a block.

Reagan Pittman started as a right side after losing Holly Carlton to an ankle injury versus Japan and had a great match,” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Laurie Corbelli said. “Unfortunately, Bulgaria found several successful shots against us that we could not defend and their serving got tougher as the match went on. It was not exceptionally pretty on our side and we are hopeful that we got that out of our system. It’s a big weekend ahead for us as we finish up with 2 very powerful opponents.

Libero Gabby Curry (Buford, Georgia) was credited with nine excellent receptions on 31 chances, while Hall added nine excellent receptions on 30 chances. Welsh turned in eight digs and 20 running sets on 69 total set attempts as the U.S. converted 39.4 percent of its attacks into points with a .276 hitting efficiency (50-15-127). In contrast, Bulgaria was limited to a 35.7 kill percent and a .161 hitting efficiency (60-33-168).

The U.S. held a commanding 19-10 advantage in blocks to offset’s Bulgaria’s slim 10-8 edge in aces. Bulgaria also held a 60-50 margin in kills, but committed 31 errors in the match to the Americans’ 21.

The Americans started Butler and Stone at middle, Hall and Edmond at outside hitter, Pittman at opposite and Welsh at setter. Curry started at libero. Iosia was a sub in the third and fourth sets and started the fifth set. Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) was a sub in the final four sets. Both Rachael Kramer (Phoenix, Arizona) and Paige Hammons (Louisville, Kentucky) were subs in the first set.

Both the U.S. and Bulgaria entered the match with 0-2 records in Pool F and without an opportunity to move on to the semifinal round.

The U.S. took a 6-3 lead in the opening set and increased the advantage to 13-5 with six unanswered points. The Americans reached the second technical timeout leading 16-7 and eased into a 25-16 victory.

The U.S. came out of the break on a 7-1 run in the second set to establish a 12-9 advantage. Bulgaria charged back to take an 18-15 lead on a 6-1 run. The U.S. closed to within one at 20-19, but Bulgaria answered with a 4-1 run to reach set points at 24-20. The Americans saved all four set points to level the score at 24-all, but the Bulgarians won 26-24 on its fifth set point.

The third set remained close early on as Bulgaria took an 8-7 lead into the first technical timeout. The U.S. used a 5-1 run to take a 14-11 advantage and went into the second technical timeout up 16-12. Bulgaria charged back to level the score at 17-all, but the U.S. sided out and Iosia served an ace to lift the Americans in front 19-17. The Americans ended the set on a 5-0 run for a 25-19 victory.

Bulgaria held a slim 8-7 advantage at the first technical timeout of the fourth set. The U.S. returned to the lead at 12-11 and increased its margin to 16-13 at the second technical timeout. After trailing 17-13, Bulgaria closed to within one at 19-18. The Americans responded to with three of the next four points to stake a 22-19 advantage. However, Bulgaria scored the next three points to square the set at 22-all. Bulgaria went on to win the set 25-23.

The U.S. bolted to a 4-1 lead in the fifth set and reached the side switch up 8-3. Bulgaria closed to within two points at 10-8 and took the lead back at 11-10. Bulgaria reached set points at 14-11 and won the match 15-12.

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 def. Cuba 31-29, 25-19, 25-23
July 16: USA def. Serbia 22-25, 10-25, 26-24, 25-23, 17-15

Pool F (Top 8 Gold Bracket) at Cordoba, Mexico
July 18: USA lost to China 23-25, 30-28, 25-15, 10-25, 15-13
July 19: USA lost to Japan, 2 p.m. ET 25-18, 25-22, 25-17
July 20: USA lost Bulgaria 16-25, 26-24, 19-25, 25-23, 15-12

Classification 5-8 Match at Cordoba, Mexico
June 22: USA vs. TBA

Final Classification Match at Cordoba, Mexico
June 23: USA vs. TBA