A mix of college players and just recently graduated athletes representing the U.S. women's national team lost to Olympic Games-bound Puerto Rico 25-20, 21-25, 25-17, 25-20 in the Pan American Cup semifinals on Saturday in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The U.S., 5-1 overall in the Pan American Cup, plays for the bronze medal on Sunday against Cuba.
Middle Rhamat Alhassan led the U.S. in scoring with 12 points including six kills, a team-best five blocks and an ace.
Outside hitter Megan Courtney contributed 11 points with nine kills and two blocks. Outside hitter Madi Kingdon tallied nine kills and a block for 10 points, while Stanford grad Carly Wopat recorded six kills and four blocks for 10 points.
Team USA held advantages of 49-46 in kills and 12-11 in blocks, but Puerto Rico serves caused problems for the American passing, resulting in a 9-3 ace advantage. The U.S. also committed 30 errors in the match to the Puerto Ricans' 18.
Stanford sophomore Jordan Ewert recorded 10 points on nine kills and a block and the United States U21 team beat Canada, 25-9, 26-24, 25-21, in the semifinals of the U21 Continental Championships in Quebec, Canada on Saturday.
The Americans meet Cuba in the championship final on Sunday.
Dylan Missry led all scorers with 11 points, all on kills. Kyle Ensing added 10 points on eight kills, a block and an ace.
On Saturday from the Gstaad Major, the FIVB announced the pools for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Olympic gold medalist Dain Blanton (2000 Sydney Games) explained the process and how the Americans size up.
"It's a fair system that's been thought out well," Blanton said. "Both genders are so deep, it's exciting to watch. I was watching and you get your nerves going, you're finally going to know who is in your pool and you can start to scout them. It's an interesting time. They know their path in order to get to the podium. It's all about playing your best. The fact that the top two teams out of each pool make it out and then in addition, the top two third-place teams and the other four third-place teams playing it off; I think that's the coolest format ever. I'd rather play it off than be eliminated by a point ratio."
April Ross and Stanford grad Kerri Walsh Jennings are seeded third overall and placed at the top of Pool C. They will play: Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland; Fan Wang and Yuan Yue of China and Mariafe Artacho and Nicole Laird of Australia.
"Kerri and April are playing so well. They have Forrer and Depre in their pool and China is a team that is a wild card. You never know what is going to happen because they don't play in all the events," Blanton said. "They show up a little differently prepared than you thought they were a month or so ago. China is a tough one and Kerri will tell you that because she's faced them so many times. I think they'll handle the pool and win the pool. They're in a good position."