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Team USA recaptures the gold at Pan American Cup

 

The U.S. women's national volleyball team, with a balanced offensive attack, captured its fourth Pan American Cup title by defeating Dominican Republic, 25-20, 25-20, 25-15, in a battle of undefeated teams Sunday during the gold-medal match in Lima, Peru.

Stanford grad Alix Klineman pocketed eight points with six kills on 13 attacks, one ace and one block in the American victory.

Cardinal grad Kristin (Richards) Hildebrand contributed six kills on 16 attacks and a block for seven points.

"We are very happy with this victory as it is so important for our country," said Hildebrand, who is serving as captain for Team USA. "I feel very proud with the results of our work."

Last year Dominican Republic defeated the U.S. in the title match to end the Americans' run of two consecutive titles won in 2012 and 2013.

The two teams have played in each of the last three Pan Am Cup gold-medal matches.

The U.S. also won the Pan Am Cup title in 2003. The Americans are now tied with Cuba with the most Pan Am Cup titles with four.

Middle blocker Lauren Paolini led Team USA in scoring with 11 kills via 17 attacks and two blocks for 13 points.

Outside hitter Krista Vansant, named the tournament's most valuable player, notched eight kills on 29 swings and three blocks for 11 points.

Middle blocker Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles) tacked on 10 points via six kills on nine swings, three blocks and an ace.

"We knew that if we could put our plan in practice the victory was possible," said David Hunt, who served as coach for Team USA at the Pan Am Cup. "I didn't expect to do it in three sets since the Dominican Republic is such good team, but I was confident about the ability of my team, especially with the reception, a key against their strong services."

Team USA, which lost just one set in seven matches at the Pan American Cup, out-blocked Dominican Republic 11-5 and held a 4-2 service ace advantage to overcome 21 errors on the evening.

The American enjoyed a 43-27 margin in kills which resulted in a 43.9 kill percent for Team USA and a .327 hitting efficiency (43-11-98). The U.S. limited Dominican Republic to a 26.5 kill percent and .059 hitting efficiency (27-21-102).

Michelle Bartsch, a sub in all three sets, tallied four kills on nine swings in the win.

Setter Carli Lloyd, named the Best Setter of the Pan Am Cup, totaled two kills and a block for three points. Lloyd had 23 running sets on 57 total set attempts.

Natalie Hagglund contributed seven digs from her libero position, matching Hildebrand's dig total.

Jenna Hagglund, a sub in all three sets as part of a double-sub, added an ace in each of the second and third sets for two points along with eight running sets.

Team USA begins the FIVB World Grand Prix on July 3 with three consecutive preliminary round weekends of three matches each.

Men's volleyball

There was no slowing down Iran's fast offense on Sunday as the U.S. men's national volleyball team lost its second straight FIVB World League match, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19, at Azadi Stadium.

The United States, the defending World League champion, fell to 6-2 in Pool B while Iran improved to 4-4. The U.S. and Poland are now tied atop Pool B, but the U.S. is still in first place due to its 17-16 point advantage.

The U.S. heads to Kaliningrad, Russia for World League matches on June 26 and 28. Russia is 0-8 in World League

The U.S. had fewer mistakes on Sunday than on Friday. But Iran's high-speed offense was almost perfect with pinpoint receptions that allowed setter Saeid Marouf to make quick sets that his hitters put down with great accuracy.

"The first night, I thought the environment in this gym with these fans affected the way we play the game," U.S. coach John Speraw said. "Tonight, Iran affected the way we play the game. We were beaten by a better volleyball team; by a significant margin. They outplayed us in every facet of the gameā€¦ There is only one thing we can do and that is learn from this volleyball match and hope that we can improve."

Iran had 42 kills and a hitting efficiency of .507. The U.S. Men had 35 kills and a hitting efficiency of .250. Iran led in blocks (8-3) and aces (3-2).

"It felt like the first night we beat ourselves by making a lot of mistakes," U.S. captain David Lee said. "When they have the ball in perfect reception to a good setter, it's a hard offense to stop."

Speraw made several substitutions, bringing in Taylor Sander in the first set for Matt Anderson. In the third set, Lee started in place of David Smith.

Thomas Jaeschke also took over for Aaron Russell. Stanford grad Kawika Shoji replaced setter Micah Christenson and Anderson replaced Murphy Troy at opposite.

Cardinal grad Erik Shoji, the starting libero, recorded a tam-high three digs.

— USA volleyball

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