U.S. Girls' Youth Team Faces Daunting NORCECA Pool

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The U.S. Girls' Youth National Volleyball Team has dominated the NORCECA Girls' Youth (U-18) Continental Championship since 1998 of the biennial event, but it understands 2010 will be no walk in the park to win its sixth title in seven tries as it competes in the event in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

The U.S. has won each of the last four NORCECA Girls' Youth Continental Championships, in addition to the first-ever in 1998. Other than the United States, only Puerto Rico has stood on the podium with the gold medal around its necks in the age division for girls under age 18 -- that being in 2000 when it topped the Americans in the title match.

Team USA is grouped in Pool C with Dominican Republic and Canada. Other groups include Pool A with Mexico, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica. Pool B includes host Guatemala, Puerto Rico and El Salvador. NORCECA Sports Events Department will publish the preliminary round calendar early this week. The preliminary round pools are scheduled for April 27-29, with the quarterfinal round set for April 30. Semifinals will take place on May 1, followed by the medal round/classification matches on May 2.

Chloe Reinig passes during a training sesson on Jan. 1 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
U.S. Girls' Youth National Team Head Coach Jim Stone (Columbus, Ohio) identified his 12-player roster at a seven-day tryout held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, which concluded on Jan. 1. The selected outside hitters/opposites are Jordan Burgess (Tampa, Fla.), Mimi Eugene (Houston), Brittany Howard (Los Altos, Calif.), Angela Lowak (New Braunfels, Texas) and Andie Malloy (Allen, Texas). The middle blockers chosen for the team are Molly McCage (Spring, Texas), Chloe Reinig (Detroit, Mich.) and Shelby Sullivan (Richardson, Texas). The setters are Madison Bugg (Apex, N.C.), Allison Palmer (Laguna Beach, Calif.) and Lauren Sieckmann (Omaha, Neb.). Haley Pouliezos (Imperial, Mo.) was tabbed to the roster as the libero. Due to the versatility of the team's talent, some of the players may train and compete at multiple positions.

"This is going to be a nice challenge for this group," Stone said. "There will be one day of training, then competition will begin. They will need to get up to speed quickly. Obviously, with this type of limited training, most of the focus will be on our side of the net. Our offense will be very basic. The challenge will be how quickly can we learn to block and defend at the necessary level to be successful. This is a great collection of talent and I am sure they will represent the USA very well."

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