Defending champion Brazil downs U.S. Junior Women's Volleyball team, 3-0
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- An overpowering 3-0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-15) Brazilian victory ended gold-medal hopes for the U.S. Women's Junior National Team at the FIVB Women's Junior World Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
In the other semifinal, Japan fell to China, 0-3 (21-25, 15-25, 15-25). The U.S. Junior Women will face Japan in the bronze-medal match at 2 p.m. (3 a.m. EST) on July 27. China, which Team USA topped 3-1 in pool play, gets the opportunity to unseat the Brazilian dynasty in a 4 p.m. battle for the 2007 Junior World Championship crown.
Against Brazil, Head Coach Andy Banachowski started the match with setters/opposites Taylor Carico (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.), outside hitters Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Kimmee Roleder (Pasadena, Calif.), middle blockers Zoe Garrett (Laguna Beach, Calif.) and Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.), and libero Tara Mueller (Scottsdale, Ariz.).
Trailing 13-22 in the first set, the Americans struggled to defend Brazil's offense as it punctured the deep court for a 25-14 win. The U.S. Junior Women were in the hunt for the second set at the halfway point, with Brazil holding a small 18-15 lead. From there, Team USA scored one point for every two Brazilian points, ending the set at 25-19. Team USA found itself down two sets and one loss away from wishing Brazil good luck in the finals. Banachowski made some lineup changes in the third set, replacing Gibbemeyer with Jennifer Doris (Houston, Texas) and adding Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) to the mix in place of Roleder.
Despite the personnel adjustment, Brazil ran with the momentum, jumping to a 12-6 lead and building up to a 25-15 ticket to the match everyone has been waiting for.
"I think we played well," Klineman said. "I'm not that disappointed because everyone did their best. We have to regroup to play our best against Japan tomorrow."
Murphy led the United States with 11 points in the match, including nine kills, one block and one ace. Klineman followed close behind with nine points coming from eight kills and an ace. With three total blocks as a team, the U.S. Junior Women lost the battle at the net as Brazil's 13 blocks shut down the Americans' greatest offensive strength.
Brazil, the defending world champion, is looking for its fourth consecutive title while the United States is making its own history as the highest-finishing Women's Junior National Team in USA Volleyball High Performance history. Earning a spot on the World Championship podium would be an unprecedented feat for any U.S. youth or junior team.