Incoming Stanford freshmen help USA volleyball juniors to a gold medal


When Rachel Williams and twins Sam and Carly Wopat arrive at Stanford this fall to join the Stanford women's volleyball team, all three will bring with them some impressive summer credentials.

All three helped the U.S. Women's Junior National Team capture a gold medal by defeating the Dominican Republic, 25-22, 25-20, 25-20, on Saturday evening at the NORCECA Women's Junior (U-20) Continental Championship held in Tijuana, Mexico.

This is Team USA's fourth consecutive gold medal at the biennial NORCECA Women's Junior Continental Championship, while the Dominican Republic has been the runnerup in each of the four events. The U.S. team, with five members from the 2008 NORCECA Girls' Youth National defending champions, qualified for the 2011 FIVB World Championship (U-20) in Peru along with the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

"I'm very proud of the team," said U.S. head coach Rob Browning, who also is the head coach at St. Mary's in Moraga. "This was a very gratifying win against a very strong opponent. Our girls stayed very steady no matter the circumstances."

In Game 1, the U.S. did not lead until 14-13 and was in control at 22-15 lead, but the Dominican Republic battled back to make U.S.'s victory a less comfortable win, 25-22.

In Game 2, the USA started the set off a little stronger. Team USA took a lead at 7-6, though Dominican Republic continued to put up a challenge. However, the U.S maintained a lead for the rest of the set, resulting in a 25-20 victory.

In Game 3, the Americans were behind most of the way. Trailing 19-16, Team USA won nine of the final 10 points to win the set and match at 25-20.

Kelly Reeves contributed 15 points on 14 kills and an ace, for Team USA. Jane Croson scored eight kills. Stephanie Holthus added seven tallies on six kills and a block. Carly Wopat and Haleigh Hampton each scored six points apiece. Wopat racked up her points with three kills, two blocks and an ace.

"We battled so hard for every point," said Wopat, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter from Goleta. "This was truly a team win."

Team USA out-served its opponents with a 6-1 ratio. The U.S. team tied Dominican Republic with a 9-9 block ratio and gained a 12-point differential on opponent errors (27-15).

Browning started Wopat, the team captain, with Sam Wopat coming off the bench in Games 2 and 3.

-- Palo Alto Online Sports/USA Volleyball

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