PVL's Iowa Ice Heads to World Club Championship

By Darci Miller | Oct. 07, 2013, 5:20 p.m. (ET)
 Iowa Ice
 Team Iowa Ice at the 2013 PVL Championship.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 7, 2013) – The United States will be represented by Team Iowa Ice of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) at the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship, which is being held Oct. 9-13 in Zurich, Switzerland.

Iowa Ice is led by head coach Janelle Hester (Davenport, Iowa), former SEC All-Conference player at the University of Tennessee and current head coach of the QC Elite Volleyball Club in Davenport. Joining the staff as assistant coach is Danielle Zimmerman, who helped Minnesota State University to two NCAA Division II tournament berths and is head coach of high school and club volleyball teams. Both Hester and Zimmerman previously played for Iowa Ice.

The 12-player roster includes outside hitters Carly Jenson (Omaha, Neb.), Justine Landi (Coral Springs, Fla.), Angela Bys (Marion, Iowa) and Justine Young (Sacramento, Calif.), middle blockers Natalie Mullikin-Smith (Lebanon, Ind.), Brittany Brimmage (East St. Louis, Ill.) and Laurel Abrahamson (Bloomington, Minn.), setters Amanda Craig (West Des Moines, Iowa) and Kaylee Manns (Topeka, Kan.), defensive specialist Caitlin Mahoney (Omaha, Neb.) and libero Devon Jensen (Underwood, Iowa).

“We’re ready to go,” Hester said. “The one thing we talked about at practice is to pay attention to the details, focusing on our strengths and  our talents, what each player brings to the team.”

Team Iowa Ice is one of the 15 teams which competed in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) in 2013, a grassroots professional volleyball league that began in 2012. Sanctioned by USA Volleyball, the PVL is made up of teams from among the 40 regional volleyball associations across the U.S. Iowa Ice won the 2013 PVL Championship to qualify for the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship, defeating Team Florida Wave in the final. Schipper, Landi and Brimmage were selected to the all-tournament team. In 2012, Iowa Ice reached the championship match but lost to Hoosier Exterminators. For more information about the PVL, click here.

In Zurich, Iowa Ice will be facing off against teams that have trained together for significantly longer than the American squad has. But coaches and players alike think the team will thrive under the pressure.

“A huge advantage for us after winning the [PVL Championship] tournament in Kentucky is we’ve kind of been there, done that,” Hester said. “We bring players from all over Iowa and outside of Iowa, pull the chemistry in quickly and win a championship. It’s just the connection that they have from playing together and their college experience.”

The team arrived in Zurich fully prepared, having done some scouting of its opponents. Team captain Megan Schipper says Iowa Ice is a bit smaller than the other teams but has the advantage of a scrappy, quick defense.

“I love being the underdog; that’s all right by us,” Schipper said. “It’s going to be a great competition.”

Pool play for the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship will be held Oct. 9-11, followed by playoff rounds on Oct. 12-13. Iowa Ice opens play in Pool B on Oct. 9 against Unilever Volei of Brazil at 5:30 p.m. local time, followed by Vakifbank Istanbul of Turkey on Oct. 10 at 5:30 p.m. local time.

The third-place team in each pool will be eliminated and classified with a fifth-place finish. In the semifinal round, the team ranked first in Pool A will play against the team ranked second in Pool B, and the team ranked first in Pool B will play the team ranked second in Pool A. The losers of the semifinal matches will play for the bronze medal, while the winners of the semifinal matches will battle for the gold medal.

The U.S. is one of six countries represented by a club in this tournament. The group includes one club from each confederation, including a club from the host country. Pool A consists of Guangdong Evergrande of China, Kenya Prisons of Kenya and Volero Zurich of Switzerland.

For more information about the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship, click here.

Team Iowa Ice Roster

# - Name (Position, Hometown, School)
1 – Carly Jenson (OH, Omaha, Neb., Iowa State University)
2 – Justine Landi (OH, Coral Springs, Fla., Louisville University)
3 – Amanda Craig (S, West Des Moines, Iowa, Iowa State University)
4 – Natalie Mullikin-Smith (MB, Lebanon, Ind., Wake Forest University)
5 – Kaylee Manns (S, Topeka, Kan., Iowa State University)
6 – Brittany Brimmage (MB, East St. Louis, Ill., University of Missouri)
7 – Caitlin Mahoney (DS, Omaha, Neb., Iowa State University)
9 – Devon Jensen (L, Underwood, Iowa, Grand View University)
13 – Angela Bys (OH, Marion, Iowa, Drake University)
15 – Megan Schipper (OH, Aplington, Iowa, University of Iowa)
17 – Justine Young (OH, Sacramento, Calif., Kennesaw State University)
18 – Laurel Abrahamson (MB, Bloomington, Minn., University of San Diego)

Head Coach: Janelle Hester
Assistant Coach: Danielle Zimmerman
General Manager: Lynne Updegraff
Head of Delegation: Heath Hoke

2013 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship Schedule (local time)

Pool A
Oct. 9 – Guangdong Evergrande (CHN) vs. Kenya Prisons (KEN) – 8:30 p.m. (Match 2)
Oct. 10 – Volero Zurich (SUI) vs. Guangdong Evergrande (CHN) – 8:30 p.m.  (Match 4)
Oct. 11 – Volero Zurich (SUI) vs. Kenya Prisons (KEN) – 5:30 p.m. (Match 5)

Pool B
Oct. 9 – Unilever Volei (BRA) vs. Iowa Ice (USA) – 5:30 p.m. (Match 1)
Oct. 10 – VakifBank Istanbul (TUR) vs. Iowa Ice (USA) – 5:30 p.m. (Match 3)
Oct. 11 – Unilever Volei (BRA) vs. VakifBank Istanbul (TUR) – 8:30 p.m. (Match 6)

Oct. 12 – B1 vs. A2 – 3:00 p.m. (Match 7)
Oct. 12 – A1 vs. B2 – 6:00 p.m. (Match 8)

Oct. 13 – Bronze medal – L7 vs. L8 – 2:00 p.m. (Match 9)
Oct. 13 – Gold medal – W7 vs. W8 – 5:00 p.m. (Match 10)