Volleyball: Eaglecrest grad Poulter, U.S. WJNT claim gold medal at European Global Challenge

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If Jordyn Poulter goes on to win a gold medal in Olympic volleyball someday, it won’t be the first time she’s had precious metal around her neck.

The recent Eaglecrest High School graduate and standout setter in the USA Volleyball system completed another successful trip abroad Wednesday, as she and the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team won gold at the end of the European Global Challenge in Pula, Croatia.

The U.S. Women's Junior National Team won the European Global Challenge volleyball tournament with a five-set victory over Italy on July 15, 2015, in Pula, Croatia. (Photo via USA Volleyball)
The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team — including Eaglecrest High School graduate Jordyn Poulter — won the European Global Challenge volleyball tournament with a five-set victory over Italy on July 15, 2015, in Pula, Croatia. (Photo via USA Volleyball)

Poulter racked up five points for the U.S. team in a five-set championship match victory over an Italian Junior National Team that had won the previous three meetings between the teams in the past two weeks. The Americans rallied from a set down to post a 25-21, 23-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-12 victory.

“Winning the championship was incredible,” Poulter told the Sentinel in a message. “A five-setter ending 15-12, it really doesn’t get much better than that. Going into the match we were prepared to battle until the final whistle blew, and we did just that.

“It was actually a bittersweet moment because we beat the team that we had lost to three times in the past week and a half, but that was also the last time that group of us would every play together.”

In a press release from USA Volleyball, U.S. WJNT head coach Tom Hogan — who also coaches at the University of Denver — added: “Tonight’s championship win was a complete team effort. The team played aggressive, smart and with passion.

“Being down in the fifth set and then battling back exemplified the American fighting spirit, and I am extremely proud to be a part of this staff and team.”

With the gold hanging around her neck, Poulter now has garnered four medals in international play in the past four summers. She won gold at the same European Challenge Tournament in Croatia in 2012, then brought back a silver from the FIVB U-18 Girls’ World Youth Championship from Thailand in 2013 and also earned gold in the U20 NORCECA Continental Championship Tournament in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

The WJNT played in the Global Challenge in place of the 2015 FIVB Women’s Junior World Championship, which was moved from July to early September when players such as Poulter — a University of Illinois signee — and others would be playing for their college programs.

Italy got the better of the WJNT in pool play by a 19-25, 20-25, 27-25 count on July 13, but the tables turned three days later as the U.S. finished 6-1 at the tournament. The Americans won their pool on July 14.

Prior to playing in the tournament, the WJNT practiced and played in training matches in Trieste, Italy and Maribor, Slovenia.

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

USA’s GLOBAL CHALLENGE VOLLEYBALL RESULTS

July 13-16 in Pula, Croatia

July 13: USA def. Hungarian JNT 25-20, 25-22, 25-12; Italy WJNT def. USA 25-19, 25-20, 25-27

July 14: USA def. Falconara Juniors 25-14, 25-11, 25-18; USA def. Slovenia JNT 3-0

July 15: USA def. BIP Southeastern 3-0; Semifinals – USA def. Mountain West All-Stars 3-0

July 16: USA def. Italy WJNT 25-21, 23-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-12