WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Canada, August 5, 2004 - Quicker than you can say "NORCECA Continental Junior Women’s Volleyball Championships," the USA women’s junior national team has advanced to the tournament semifinals.
Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) scored a match-high 21 points to lead four players in double figures as the United States wrapped up pool play with a 3-1 win over Puerto Rico Thursday afternoon.
Larson had 18 kills, two service aces and one block in the 25-22, 21-25, 25-12, 25-20 victory as Team USA (2-0) secured the No. 1 seed in Pool A and an automatic trip to Saturday’s semifinals.
"Winning our pool was extremely important, and we did that today," said Team USA Shelton Collier. "We are making progress every day, and we are looking forward to the semifinals."
USA team captain Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) scored 14 points, Alexis Crimes (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) added 11 points and Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) chipped in with 10 points just one night after the Americans swept the Dominican Republic in their opening match.
Harmotto is playing in place of Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.), who was injured during a blocking drill on Tuesday and is doubtful to return for the remainder of the tournament.
"We are beginning to play a lot better at times, and our team chemistry is awesome," said Crimes, the tournament’s top blocker after just two matches. “We feel we have a great chance at a gold medal here.”
Diane Copenhagen (Saratoga, Calif.) added seven points and Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) scored six points for the United States, which won the gold medal at this event in 1998 and settled for silver medals in 2000 and 2002.
"We are very happy with our performances; we have worked very hard for this," added McGinnis. "“We played well tonight; a lot of players were outstanding."
The United States will now await the winner of a Friday quarterfinal match between the Dominican Republic and Canada. Cuba clinched the top spot in Pool B and will play the winner of a quarterfinal match between Mexico and Puerto Rico.
The winner of the tournament earns an automatic bid to the 2005 FIVB Women’s Junior World Championships (dates and site to be determined).