U.S. Junior National Team Wins Gold At U20 Pan American Cup

U.S. Junior National Team Wins Gold At U20 Pan American Cup
The U.S. women's junior national team stormed through the U20 Pan American Cup in Costa Rica, winning the gold medal on Saturday and securing a spot in the FIVB Women's U20 World Championships in July.

Team USA defeated Argentina and the Dominican Republic in pool play, faced Uruguay in the quarterfinals, and took down Cuba in the semifinals. The championship match was a rematch with Argentina, but much like the pool-play meeting, the U.S. women swept their South American opponent.

As the highest-finishing South American team, silver medalist Argentina also secured a spot in the U20 World Championships.

USC sophomore Khalia Lanier put on a show in the gold-medal match, tallying 11 kills, four blocks, and an ace, but it was 2018 Florida commit Thayer Hall who earned the tournament Most Valuable Player award. Setter MacKenzi Welsh (Michigan), middles Brionne Butler (Texas) and Regan Pittman (Minnesota), opposite Mackenzie May (UCLA), and libero Tiffany Clark completed the starting lineup. Setter Madison Lilley (Kentucky) and opposite Mikayla Shields (South Carolina) came in as a double sub in the gold medal match, while Elle Sandbothe (Kansas State) came in off the bench as well.

Junior national team head coach Jerritt Elliott congratulated Argentina after the match. "I thought [Argentina was] very, very disciplined and had a great coaching staff and game plan against us," Elliott said. "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."
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