Women's Update: European Champions League semis with American Flavor

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | April 17, 2017, 6:14 p.m. (ET)


Nicole Fawcett provides a kill for Imoco Volley in its Italian Serie A1 quarterfinal win over Il Bisonte Firenze. Fawcett and teammate Kelsey Robinson will compete in the European Champions League semis on April 22 along with Americans Jordan Larson and Rachael Adams for Eczacibasi and Kim Hill for VakifBank.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (April 17, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s National Team will have five athletes competing in the prestigious European Champions League semifinals on April 22. Get all the latest news from the U.S. Women’s National Team in this week’s Weekly Update, including how retired U.S. Women setter Courtney Thompson finished at the Boston Marathon.

COURTNEY THOMPSON RUNS BOSTON MARATHON: Two-time Olympic volleyball medalist Courtney Thompson (Kent, Washington, Twitter, Instagram) completed the 2017 Boston Marathon on April 17 in a time of 3:40.54, her first-ever marathon and less than eight months after retiring from the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team. Thompson, who earned silver at the 2012 Olympic Games and bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games, placed 2,046 in her age group and 9,840 overall. She held a comfortable pace between 8:04 to 8:16 per mile through the first 25 kilometers of the race, but the later stages of the road race pushed her pace to just over nine minutes per mile and an overall 8:26 per mile average for the entire 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon. Heading into the Boston Marathon, Thompson’s goal was to finish in 3:29 after receiving a sponsor exemption. In an interview with the Tacoma News Tribune before the Boston Marathon, Thompson joked, “The longest we would ever run for volleyball was like 30 seconds. We weren’t supposed to be long distance because we would start developing slow-twitch muscles.” As part of her preparations for the Boston Marathon, Thompson’s training plan was to run plenty of hills and build up her endurance with her longest run being 16 miles. According to the same article, she had always planned on running distance races after retirement and has the ultimate goal of competing in an Ironman triathlon and a 100-mile ultramarathon someday. For the complete story in the Tacoma News Tribune, click here.

WATCH AMERICANS IN EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: The CEV European Champions League semifinals has two matches being streamed live with Americans representing three of the four teams. Both matches can be watched live on laola1.tv.

U.S. WOMEN’S COLLEGIATE NATIONAL TEAM-EUROPE TOUR ROSTER NAMED: USA Volleyball is proud to announce its U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Team Europe Tour (CNT-Europe) roster comprised of current collegiate players who will train and compete in Europe from July 5-16. Middles selected to the elite CNT-Europe squad are Corissa Crocker (University of Michigan, Brighton, Michigan), Claire Kiefer-Wright (University of Michigan, South Pasadena, California) and Jenna Rosenthal (Marquette University, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin). The outside hitters name to the roster are Courtney Schwan (University of Washington, Auburn, Washington), Carlyle Nusbaum (Lipscomb University, Overland Park, Kansas) and Jaali Winters (Creighton University, Ankeny, Iowa). The two opposites selected to the CNT-Europe Tour are Kelsie Payne (University of Kansas, Austin, Texas) and Taylor Mims (Washington State University, Billings, Montana). The setters are Kristen Gengenbacher (University of San Diego, Quincy, Illinois) and Taira Robins-Hardy (Brigham Young University, Waimanalo, Hawaii). The libero will be Jesse Earl (Auburn University, Indianapolis, Indiana). The CNT-Europe squad, one of three teams within the U.S. Collegiate National Team program, will compete in the 13th Annual European Global Challenge July 11-14 in Pula, Croatia, after training and friendly matches in Europe. Prior to the Global Challenge, the CNT-Europe squad will tentatively train in Maribor, Slovenia, with friendly matches versus various National Teams. For the complete story, click here.

ROBINSON, FAWCETT WITH ITALY’S CONEGLIANO: Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois, Twitter, Instagram), a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, and opposite Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio, Instagram) are playing in the Italian Serie A1 after transferring midseason from teams China and Turkey, respectively. Conegliano, which ended the Italian regular season with a 10-point lead in the standings, evened its best-of-three quarterfinal series with ninth-seed Il Bisonte Firenze by rallying for a 20-25, 27-25, 25-18, 25-16 victory in the second match to force a tiebreaking match on April 18. Robinson contributed 11 points with 11 kills on 25 attacks. She added an 80 positive reception percent after handling 46 of the team’s 78 receptions. Fawcett pocketed 14 points with 14 kills on 33 swings and was named the match’s most valuable player. After the third match of quarterfinal series, Conegliano will host the European Champions League semifinals and finals on April 22-23. Conegliano will face Russia’s Dinamo Moscow in the semifinals and will face either VakifBank or Eczacibasi in the third-place or gold-medal match on April 23.

LLOYD, GIBBEMEYER WITH ITALY’S CASALMAGGIORE: Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California, Instagram), a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist setter for Team USA, and middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram) have returned to Italy to compete for Pomi Casalmaggiore in the Italian Serie A1 league and the CEV Cup. In the Italian League, second-seed Casalmaggiore holds a 1-0 advantage in its best-of-three series versus seventh-seed Unet Yamamay Busto Arsizio. Casalmaggiore will host the second match of the quarterfinal round on April 19. If necessary, the tiebreaking third match is scheduled for April 20.

AKINRADEWO WITH SWITZERLAND’S VOLERO ZURICH: Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida, Twitter, Instagram), the Best Blocker in the 2016 Olympic Games after leading the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team to a bronze medal, is playing for Volero Zurich in the Swiss League and in the European Champions League. Volero, which went undefeated in the Swiss League regular season, opened the Swiss League playoff finals with a 25-17, 25-16, 20-25, 25-22 victory over second-seed Sm’Aesch Pfeffingen I on April 17. The series continues with matches scheduled for April 19, April 26, April 28 and April 30.

LARSON, ADAMS WITH TURKEY’S ECZACIBASI: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Twitter, Instagram) and middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio, Twitter, Instagram), both members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team that won bronze in Rio, are playing for Eczacibasi of the Turkish League and as part of the European Champions League this winter. In the Turkish League playoffs, Eczacibasi lost to Fenerbahce 20-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-22 in the second home-and-home match of the semifinals that forced a golden set to determine which team advanced to the finals. Fenerbahce used the momentum from the three previous sets to win the golden set 16-14. Larson tallied 11 kills on 25 swings and three blocks for 14 points. She added a 50 percent positive reception on 22 chances. Adams notched 10 points with four kills, five blocks and an ace while starting the first two sets and being a sub in the golden set. Eczacibasi will now face top-seed VakifBank, which was upset in the semifinals by Galatasaray, in the third-place round with matches on April 28 and April 30. In the European Champions League, Eczacibasi will meet Turkish rival VakifBank in the semifinals on April 22 and will move into the gold- or bronze-medal match on April 23 against either Italy’s Imoco Volley Conegliano or Russia’s Dinamo Moscow.

HILL WITH TURKEY’S VAKIFBANK: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon, Instagram) a bronze medalist on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, returns this winter to play for Turkey’s VakifBank and in the European Champions League. In the Turkish League, top-seeded VakifBank defeated Galatasaray 20-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-10 on April 12 in the home-and-home semifinal playoff round. However, Galatasaray secured its spot in the finals after winning the first two sets on April 12 due to sweeping VakifBank on April 9. Hill, who started the first two sets, scored seven kills on 17 attacks and handled 15 receptions with a 40 positive percent. VakifBank will now play Eczacibasi in the third-place round with matches on April 28 and April 30. In the European Champions League, VakifBank will meet Turkish rival Eczacibasi in the semifinals on April 22 and will move into the gold- or bronze-medal match on April 23 against either Italy’s Imoco Volley Conegliano or Russia’s Dinamo Moscow.

HANCOCK WITH POLAND’S IMPEL WROCLAW: Setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma, Twitter, Instagram), who played for the U.S. Women during the 2016 Pan American Cup and set the tournament record for aces in a match and tournament, is playing for Poland’s Impel Wroclaw in the Orlen Liga. Wroclaw, seeded second in the playoffs, lost to third-seeded Grot Budowlani Lodz 25-22, 9-25, 18-25, 25-22, 15-10 on April 10 in the second match of semifinal round playoffs. Hancock set the team to a 39 kill percent and added 14 points with seven kills on 10 attacks, five aces and two blocks. American teammate Megan Courtney chipped in nine points with six kills and three blocks. In the round for third place, Wroclaw lost the opener to Developres SkyRes Rzeszow 25-15, 23-25, 25-21, 14-25, 16-14 on April 13. Hancock set the team to a 37 kill percent and scored 11 points with five kills on eight swings, five aces and a block. Courtney scored one point in starting just the first set. The home-and-home series concludes on April 19 at Wroclaw, which needs either a 3-0 or 3-1 victory to win the round outright.

U.S. WOMEN TO HOST CANADA IN FRIENDLY MATCH: The U.S. Women’s National Team will host the Canadian Women’s National Team in a friendly match on June 13 at JSerra High School in San Juan Capistrano, California. The match will start at 7 p.m. PT and tickets will be available for purchase at the door one hour prior to the match. The USA-Canada match will represent the first contest against an international opponent for Team USA since it won bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games. Both the USA and Canada will travel later in the week to Peru for the XVI Pan American Cup that is from June 16-25.

RED-BLUE SCRIMMAGE SCHEDULE: The U.S. Women’s National Team will officially begin its summer training block on May 1, and already have several Red-Blue intrasquad matches lined up for fans in Southern California to watch the team get ready for summer competitions. In addition, fans are welcome to attend training sessions at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim. The U.S. Women typically train Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. PT.

  • May 12: at Murrieta Mesa High School (Murrieta, California), 7 p.m. PT
  • May 19: at TBA in Southern California, 7 p.m. PT
  • May 26: at Santiago Canyon College (Orange, California), 6 p.m. PT (doubleheader with U.S. Men’s National Team)
  • June 2: at Kennedy High School (La Palma, California), 7 p.m. PT