United States Wins NORCECA Gold


OMAHA, Nebraska, September 21, 2013 – The United States captured the 2013 Visit Omaha NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship gold medal by defeating Dominican Republic (25-19, 26-24, 21-25, 25-19) on Saturday evening at Ralston Arena.


By winning the title, the U.S. earned NORCECA’s automatic berth into the FIVB Grand Champions Cup held Nov. 12-17 in Nagoya and Tokyo, Japan. The Americans defended its title in the biennial championship and now have won the tournament seven times (1981, 1983, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2011, 2013). Team USA has won five of the last seven editions and reached the podium in 21 of the 23 editions since the tournament began in 1969.


Kelly Murphy sparked the United States with 18 points and three other teammates reached double-figure scoring. Lauren Paolini added 11 points, while Jordan Larson-Burbach totaled 15 points and Kristin Hildebrand contributed 11 points. Dominican Republic was led by Bethania de La Cruz with a match-high 23 points and Gina Mambru chipped in 15 points.


The United States held advantages of 5-2 in aces and 12-7 in blocks. Dominican Republic produced a 59-50 margin in kills, but committed 29 errors in the match.


Dominican Republic finished with the silver medal for the second straight edition after falling to the United States in the 2011 gold-medal match. Dominican Republic was aiming for its second tournament title, winning the event for the first time in 2009 after taking bronze five of the previous six events.


Earlier this year the United States defeated Dominican Republic in straight sets in the Pan American Cup gold-medal match.


U.S. Coach Karch Kiraly: “(In the fourth set) we were struggling a little and needed a little bit of energy. We brought Christa Harmotto in off the bench. The first thing she did is get us a put-away and then she had a huge block and all of a sudden we were back in it. We were going after points again instead of waiting for those points to happen on their own. Kristin Hildebrand had a great serving streak. She was applying lots of pressure at the service line just the way we want her to. Jordan took some huge swings down the stretch. I’m proud of this group. Every one of these athletes made a meaningful, significant and critical contribution this week.”


U.S. Captain Kristin Hildebrand: “We practice every day serving tough serves on the court. (During the fourth set serving run) I was just doing the same thing I always do when I go back to the end line.  I was surrounded by a great group of girls that were doing a great job with blocking defense and allowed me to keep serving. The Dominican is a great team. They have a lot of talented girls. Great jumpers and a libero that digs a lot of balls.”


Dominican Republic Captain Bethania de La Cruz: “The United States is a great team and they made adjustments that we were not able to match. On the third set we were able to follow our plan of attack to the fullest. But we weren’t able to carry that over to the fourth set.”


Dominican Republic Coach Marcos Kwiek: “We came out here and played our hearts out against a strong USA team. We are a young team and we were glad to be in the final. Overall, we will take it as a learning experience to be able to compete next time.”


Earlier in the day Puerto Rico claimed the bronze medal by defeating Canada 25-23, 25-16, 25-16.


Photos of the match can be found at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qvegk3gl56cviih/qLAEmTHa_O.