Congratulations to KC Power Madison Lilley (P18) and Regan Pittman (alumni) on a tremendous tournament in Costa Rica with the USA Volleyball Women's Junior National Team! Power Proud!
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 13, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team, with its spot into the 2017 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship already secured, defeated Argentina 27-25, 25-22, 25-22 in the Women’s U20 Pan American Cup Saturday evening in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Both the Americans and Argentineans earned berths to the 2017 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship as the top finishers from NORCECA (USA earns berth) and South America (Argentina earns berth) confederations. The U.S. went undefeated in the tournament with a 5-0 record, while Argentina's two losses came at the hands of the Americans. Both teams advanced to the playoffs through the three-team Pool A, where Team USA defeated Argentina and Dominican Republic, which qualified for the World Championship event taking place July 14-23 in Mexico.
The Women’s U20 Pan Am Cup is a biennial event in its fourth edition. Team USA did not compete in the first three editions as the team had already secured qualification into the corresponding year’s age-group World Championship. Argentina also captured silver in the 2015 edition, its only other podium finish in the event.
“Big congratulations to Argentina,” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Jerritt Elliott said in regards to the USA’s opponent. “I thought they were very, very disciplined and had a great coaching staff and game plan against us. They knew our tendencies and played very, very well. We made some errors early on, but the way this team just kind of stayed steady says a lot about this group. We could have emotionally erupted and gave away some games, but we didn’t do that.”
Outside hitter Khalia Lanier (Scottsdale, Arizona, University of Southern California) scored a match-high 16 points on 11 kills on 31 attacks, team-leading four blocks and an ace. She tallied seven of her points in the third set. Middle Regan Pittman (Spring Hill, Kansas, University of Minnesota) chalked up 12 points with nine kills on 11 attacks and three blocks. Opposite Mackenzie May (Dubuque, Iowa, UCLA) contributed nine kills on 32 swings, one block and one ace for 11 points.
Outside hitter Thayer Hall (Moore, South Carolina, Upward Stars), the most valuable player of the tournament, pocketed six kills on 25 attacks and a block for seven points. Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Bolingbrook, Illinois, University of Michigan) recorded three blocks, one ace and one kill. Middle Brionne Butler (Kendleton, Texas, University of Texas) chipped in four kills on five errorless attacks and a block for five points. Middle Elle Sandbothe (Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Kansas State University) rounded out the scoring with a kill in a reserve role.
Libero Tiffany Clark (Naperville, Illinois) was credited with four excellent receptions on 10 errorless chances, while Lanier added five excellent receptions on 31 chances.
Welsh turned in 10 running sets on 73 total set attempts leading the U.S. to a 36.3 kill percent and .212 hitting efficiency (41-17-113). In contrast, the American defense held Argentina to a 35.2 kill percent and .167 hitting efficiency (38-20-108).
The U.S. held a 13-6 block advantage to help offset 23 errors in the match, 12 of which came in the opening set. The American offense also managed a 41-38 edge in kills. Team USA held a slim 3-2 edge in aces.
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. Madison Lilley (Overland Park, Kansas, University of Kentucky) and Mikayla Shields (Orlando, Florida, University of South Carolina) were used as double subs in the second and third sets, while Sandbothe was a sub in the first and third sets.
In an opening set filled with both teams siding out at a high rate, the U.S. broke a 7-all tie with three unanswered points to nab a 10-7 advantage. The teams traded points until Argentina rattled off five straight to take an 18-16 advantage. The U.S. tied the score at 20-all, then earned its first set point chance at 25-24. The Americans captured the first set 27-25 on its second chance. The U.S. held a 6-2 block advantage in the set and overcame 12 errors.
Argentina opened up a 12-9 lead in the second set, which the USA cut to one at 13-12. The Americans pulled into a tie at 19-all, then took a 23-21 advantage as part of a 3-0 run. Team USA finished the second with consecutive points at 25-22.
The U.S. scored five unanswered points to stake a 10-6 advantage in the third set. Argentina charged back to within one at 11-10 on a 4-1 run. The Americans regained a four-point cushion at 15-11 on a 4-1 run of its own. Argentina tallied three straight points whittle the gap down to 16-15. Back-to-back Argentina errors and a Welsh ace lifted the U.S. in front 19-15. Out of a timeout, Argentina answered with three consecutive points to shave the deficit to 19-18. Team USA ended the match with consecutive blocks from Pittman and Hall at 25-22.
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)
Prepvolleyball.com has announced their 2017 Defensive Dandies and have recognized P17 Taylor Kuper on their 2nd Team.
We call Part I our “Dandy Lions.” The players on this list are all-around high school or club talents who project as back row animals at the collegiate level. Basically, if they can dig it up at an elite level but played all the way around for high school and/or club, they’re on this list (provided a coach nominated them, of course).
The Dandy Lions list is presented in six teams of 13 (because kids like to be on a team) with everyone else receiving Honorable Mention recognition.
Taylor Kuper, Jr., Olathe Northwest (Olathe, Kansas) – A Second-Team All-State hitter for the Kansas 6A champion Ravens in 2016, Kuper amassed 235 kills, 231 digs and 59 aces in 2016 while also receiving 400 serves. Undersized to be a hitter at the next level, Kuper has committed to playing defense at Illinois. The Fighting Illini likely will utilize her the way her KC Power club team does: as a high-energy defender who scores points with a wicked jump serve and can terminate with her vicious back row attacks.
Naomi Hickman walked back to the service line and prepared for delivery.
With her fingertips, she held the ability to end the USAV 18 Open championship match on her own accord and secure the gold medal for her KC Power 18-1 teammates.
How many times did she dream of this moment in recent years?
“Umm, that’s not really my mindset,” Hickman said, “but just practicing serving a lot to get better.”
There was not a better moment or time, nor a bigger stage for Hickman to unleash the best serve of her life so far.
Speaking of life, her hard float took on one of its own. Whistling through the air and arching away from the defender, the serve wasn’t all that far from appearing like it was heading out of bounds.
It might have been why the TAV 18 Black passer was just a bit late to get there, realizing the serve was diving down near the sideline of the imaginary 12-foot line and not out, but it was too late. The ball bounced off the diving passer’s hands and toward the referee’s scorer’s table and out of play.
“That’s ‘Nay,’” said KC Power setter Madison Lilley. “She kind of pulls things out like that. She’s such a dynamic player, but she’s such a middle you wouldn’t think it at all.”
That was it.
Just like that, one life-remembering ace made KC Power’s gold-medal march official after outlasting TAV in three, 25-23, 22-25, 16-14, ending three years of heartbreak and heartache experienced in its quest of medaling at Junior Nationals and ending TAV’s chance of a third consecutive top-podium finish in the process.
Three Things From the 18 Open Final
We’ll have much more from 18 Open, for now though we break down the three-set thriller between KC Power and TAV.
1. No better storyline possible. Alright, if an unheralded club made a run to the gold medal, that would have been special too. In terms of a two-sided coin though, it’s hard to imagine a better one playing out than the meeting between TAV and KC Power. TAV moved up to PVB’s No. 1 team in the nation in our February National Rankings ahead of the Triple Crown Sports Pre-Season NIT in Salt Lake City. This was the two-time defending age group champion, having captured gold medals in both 16 and 17 Open the past two years.
However, a variety of reasons led to TAV underperforming and was part of an up-and-down season that left Coach John Sample knowing he had the best team with one of the biggest ifs … if they played like it. He for one was not always sure what he was going to get. For example, earlier this month at the JVA World Challenge in Louisville, TAV beat then-No. 1 Munciana 18 Samurai in three in the opening round of gold bracket play. Yet, TAV was taken apart handily by K2 18 Adidas in the next round in a total juxtaposition.
Anything of the sort over the weekend in Dallas was going to make for a miserable time. And it started off just like that as TAV was upset by Tstreet in straight sets.
“That first match we were not mentally ready to play,” Sample said. “As soon as that was over and we started the second one, the girls started saying they needed to play like we’ve been practicing. Everyone jumped on it and everyone was participating the whole time. It was a total team effort.”
During the rematch against Tstreet in the semifinals, the bench players let each other know to celebrate loud on crucial points, to get behind the girls on the court. And it paid off by getting a shot at KC Power in the final and the chance to bring home a third consecutive gold trophy.
For KC Power, we already highlighted what it meant for them to be in the final after missing out on medaling three straight times.
“It’s unbelievable,” KC Power coach Mike Dauernheim said. “These girls have experienced losing in the first round and for them to get over the hump and push all the way through for the win in the final match is crazy. It’s a testament to how good they are. They stuck with each other. They had some dark moments, but stuck with each other. It was great. We got key plays when we needed them. We got blocks when we needed to. We got kills when we needed to. We got digs when we needed to.”
And of course, aces when they needed to.
2. Streaks and runs. They dominated the final match, as both sides kept going back-and-forth and the lead kept changing hands throughout the contest. It made for an intense atmosphere, as you could never get a handle on who could maintain their flow.
“Yeah, yeah, there were a bunch of momentum shifts,” Lilley said. “Going into the third, we knew they had the momentum from the second set. We went up 4-1 and then we were down two, then up two, then it was tied at 14. We just kept playing hard to try and get through it.”
KC Power fell behind 9-6 in the final set.
Trailed 10-9. Was tied at 10. Trailed 11-10. Led 12-11 and 13-12 and 14-13, but was tied at 12, 13 and 14 all.
The second set had its streaks. KC Power was in front 13-12, trailed 16-15, led 17-16, trailed 20-17 and was tied at 20. TAV used a 4-0 run to go up 24-20.
KC Power held a 14-11 margin in Game 1, then trailed 17-14 and was tied at 18 before leading 21-18. Power gave up a 3-0 spurt and it was 21 all.
It was hard to figure out who was in control.
“It was a great match,” Sample said. “The sets couldn’t have been any closer. Anybody could’ve won. We made a couple of errors toward the end. Their middles were tough for us to stop. It was a really competitive match. The weekend was phenomenal. It hurts to get second but we have to remember it’s a great weekend for all the kids.”
3. The details. You know the backdrop and that the match was streaky, here’s the nitty-gritty of how it played out.
— Set 1
Lilley’s dump stakes KC Power to a 14-11 cushion. A pair of Payton Schwantz winners, a Kylee McLaughlin ace and a Madison Goings kill put the lead in TAV’s hands at 17-14. Megan Kuper struck twice from the service line, Megan Cooney once from the left and Virginia Berg and Hickman combined on a block to bring KC Power back and lead 21-18.
Allison White’s ace pulled TAV even at 21, but Callie Schwarzenbach connected out of the middle and Power was in front 23-22. After a missed serve, the teams were locked at 23.
Schwarzenbach’s slide brought up set point at 24-23. That’s when Berg’s ace sealed the set for Power.
— Set 2
It was going similar to Game 1, with KC Power losing the lead midway through and trailing 16-15 after consecutive kills by Goings and Schwantz. Cooney’ right-side tip shot capped a 3-0 run that pulled Power even at 20. But TAV answered with a 4-0 spurt that featured Paige Anderson putting down an overpass and Samantha Sanders scoring on a tip for a 24-20 advantage. Kills from Hickman and Berg closed the gap to 24-22, but Sanders’ big smack down sealed it for TAV on the next play.
— Set 3
Schwantz went off the block for the first point of the set, but Power scored the next four, with Kuper producing a kill in that time. Sample called timeout and it was a good one. TAV won five straight out of the break, as White and Goings scored. Goings went off the block from the right side followed by Sanders going down the line from the left side and TAV held an 8-5 margin at the side switch. Hickman and Goings traded kills and it was 9-6. Schwarzenbach’s quick off the block and Cooney’s ace helped make up a 3-0 run and tie the score at 9. The next four points were great volleyball, all first-ball side outs as Sanders and Scwantz scored for TAV and Berg and Schwarzenbach for Power. The side out streak broke when Kuper tooled a double-block for a 12-11 Power lead. Lilley banged home an overpass for 13-12, but Schwantz answered for 13 all. Cooney connected cross court after a short rally and Power held match point at 14-13. Sanders wasted no time, scoring on the first ball for 14 all. Hickman answered right back with a first-ball side out for 15-14 and then headed to the service line.
We know how that turned out.
“Obviously, there was a lot of pressure but I was confident going back,” Hickman said. “Maybe I wasn’t trying to be quite as aggressive as that, but I definitely wanted a good serve to put pressure on them. I think it’s incredible. For this team to get fifth three times, this definitely makes up for it.”
Congratulations to Megan Cooney and Megan Kuper on being selected to the 2017 USA Volleyball Juniors National All Tournament Team and a special congratulations to Madison Lillley on being selected as the 2017 MVP. Power Proud!!!