The U.S. women’s national team had to settle for silver in the final tournament of the 2019 international season as the Domincian Republic beat USA in the gold-medal match of the NORCECA Continental Championship (25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 20-25, 15-9).
It was the USA’s first loss of the tournament, which included a pool-play sweep of the Dominican Republic. In fact, until the final, the U.S. women didn’t drop a set during the competition in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In the gold-medal match, USA head coach Karch Kiraly started Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Kim Hill on the outside, Tori Dixon and Hannah Tapp in the middle, Karsta Lowe at opposite, Jordyn Poulter setting, and Justine Wong-Orantes in the libero jersey. However, after the Dominican Republic won the first set and was leading in the second, Kiraly replaced Tapp with Haleigh Washington, Hill with Kelsey Robinson, and Lowe with Annie Drews. The three substitutes then started the final three sets.
Bartsch-Hackley finished with a match-high 26 points, per the NORCECA official stats, while the Dominican Republic’s Braylein Martinez had 24 points and was named tournament MVP.
“It has been a rough year for us, many events, lots of work, lots of suffering and finishing this way is the icing on top, I am very proud of my team,” Dominican Republic captain Prisilla Rivera said. “We could have finished 3-0 but United States is one of the best teams in the world and wasn’t going to give up easily. Our best skill was team effort; we had a moment of distraction when they started to pressure with serves”.
“Today we faced an elite team, it wasn’t easy. We lack money, we lack structure, among other things, but we have big hearts,” Dominican Republic head coach Marcos Kwiekadded. “My players battled a lot and it was a spectacular way to close the year; they worked a lot, it was a difficult year and we are happy that none of the players were injured, it’s a blessing.”
The USA defeated Canada in straight sets in the semifinals, utilizing the same starting lineup as in the final. Kiraly fielded slightly different lineups throughout pool play, however, with Lauren Carlini setting against Dominican Republic and Trinidad & Tobago and sharing time with Poulter versus Mexico. Jordan Larson, Megan Courtney, and Chiaka Ogbogu also only saw the court against Mexico.
Washington scored an impressive 10 kills on 10 swings in the Mexico match. Against Trinidad & Tobago, middles Tapp and Dixon did the same, combining for 15 kills on 15 attempts.
The members of the USA women’s national team will now disperse and go overseas to their various professional team. For more on where you can catch your favorite players during the pro season, check out this article, and click here to watch replays of every match from the NORCECA Continental Championship.
Complete NORCECA Continental Champs Results:
Oct. 8: USA def. Trinidad & Tobago 25-8, 25-7, 25-7
Oct. 9: USA def. Mexico 25-8, 25-15, 25-14
Oct. 10: USA def. Dominican Republic 27-25, 25-17, 25-14
Oct. 11: Canada def. Mexico 25-20, 29-31, 25-17, 25-20
Oct. 11: Dominican Republic def. Cuba 25-18, 25-11, 25-20
Oct. 12: USA def. Canada 25-17, 25-16, 25-18
Oct. 12: Dominican Republic def. Puerto Rico 19-25, 25-14, 26-24, 21-25, 15-8
Medal Round Matches
Oct. 13: Canada def. Puerto Rico 26-24, 25-13, 25-20 (Bronze Medal Match)
Oct. 13: Dominican Republic def. USA 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 20-25, 15-9 (Gold-Medal Match)