The U21 United States National Team—featuring a pair of Huskers—captured the gold medal at the Pan American Cup in La Paz, Mexico, over the weekend, defeating Argentina in the championship on Sunday night.
GOLD!! 🥇 The U.S. Women's U21 Team 🇺🇸 wins the Pan American Cup with a 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-22, 25-14) victory over Argentina 🇦🇷 on Sunday!
Merritt Beason finishes with 17 points for the U.S. and Bekka Allick adds 14.
So proud of this team and all of its hard work! pic.twitter.com/55HkgXJoXF
— USA Volleyball (@usavolleyball) June 13, 2022
Nebraska sophomore Lexi Rodriguez and freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick both started every match as the Americans went 5-0, dropping just two sets along the way.
The United States and Argentina qualified for the 2023 FIVB U21 World Championship by advancing to the final. The 2021 title is USA’s second at the Pan American Cup; 2017 was the first.
USA opened pool play on Tuesday with a dominant sweep over Costa Rica, winning 25-8, 25-4, 25-8. Allick terminated all four of her swings and added two blocks for six points while Rodriguez totaled a match-high 18 digs.
The United States followed that sweep with another against Canada on Wednesday, 25-17, 25-19, 25-22. Allick had three points with two kills and an ace while Rodriguez finished with a team-high 11 digs.
USA finished pool play 3-0 with a 3-1 win against Argentina on Thursday, advancing directly to the semifinals. USA won 25-16, 25-21, 22-25 and 27-25. Allick did a little of everything with five blocks, three digs, two kills and an ace while Rodriguez again led everyone in digs with 19.
After taking a day off, the U.S. made short work of Chile in the semifinals on Saturday, winning 25-11, 25-13, 25-9. Allick was quiet with just four digs and one block, but Rodriguez contributed 11 digs.
The rematch with Argentina followed a similar script to the first meeting with USA winning 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-22, 25-14), though Argentina appeared to have the upper hand midway through the match. After splitting the first two sets, the Argentines raced out to a 5-0 lead and maintained its advantage for much of the set. However, with the United States trailing 19-18, Allick came up big with two kills and a block, allowing Team USA to pull ahead 21-19. The Americans finished it off from there then cruised through the fourth to win the tournament.
“Going into the third set after losing the second, our minds were set on working hard, focus on the controllable and loving hard on each other because we are all such competitive, independent strong women that uplift one another,” said Allick in USA Volleyball’s release. “When I’m given the opportunity, I always take advantage, everyone gets their moments, I’m on a great team.”
The two Huskers saved their best for the biggest match as Allick put up 12 kills on .688 hitting, five digs and two blocks while Rodriguez titled 24 digs.
Throughout the tournament, team captain Rodriguez recorded 83 digs, averaging 4.88 per set. Allick totaled 20 kills and 10 blocks.
Papillion-La Vista graduate and Creighton sophomore Norah Sis also started every match for Team USA. She totaled 30 kills including a high of 13 on .333 hitting in the first match against Argentina.
Opposite hitter Merritt Beason, a sophomore at Florida, earned tournament MVP honors while outside hitter and Purdue commit Chloe Chicoine earned the Best Spiker award.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.