Women's Indoor Volleyball Preview

The U.S. Women’s National Indoor Volleyball Team is ranked No. 2 in the world behind China, the reigning Olympic Games champion.

Team USA recently won the 2019 Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) Volleyball Nations League title for the second year in a row. The VNL is the top annual women’s international volleyball tournament. The Americans earned silver at the FIVB World Cup – one of six podium finishes in 2019.

The current roster has a core of six Olympians, including three outside hitters, Jordan Larson, Kim Hill and Kelsey Robinson, two middles in Foluke Akinradewo and Rachael Adams, and opposite Karsta Lowe. The roster also features experience and depth at nearly every position. Jordyn Poulter, Lauren Carlini and Micha Hancock have won major international tournaments for Team USA. At the opposite position, Annie Drews had a breakout campaign in 2019 as she was named most valuable player of the 2019 VNL, Best Opposite of the FIVB World Cup and USA Volleyball’s Female Indoor Player of the Year. Middle Tori Dixon was an alternate on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team.

With the professional club season extending well into May 2019, head coach Karch Kiraly and his staff tested out several new players at the 2019 VNL and have placed younger players into larger roles than they held in previous years. What resulted was eight players making their FIVB-level debuts, including middles Chiaka Ogbogu, Haleigh Washington and Dana Rettke, opposite Jordan Thompson, setter Jordyn Poulter, outside hitter Mikaela Foecke and libero Mary Lake. Each were members of the U.S. team that won a 2019 VNL gold medal. Ogbogu, Poulter and Washington were all part of the silver-winning world cup team while Lake, Rettke and Thompson all went back to their collegiate teams.

The U.S. will have one major competition prior to the Tokyo Games as the Americans seek a third consecutive gold at the VNL.

Updated on July 19, 2020. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

The USA is the only country to win an Olympic medal in each of the last three Olympic Games – yet the team has never won an Olympic gold medal. The squad hopes to change that in 2020.

Head Coach Karch Kiraly is the only athlete to win Olympic gold medals in both indoor (1984, 1988) and beach volleyball (1996). After serving as an assistant coach with the U.S. women from 2009 to 2012, Kiraly accepted the head coaching job for the U.S. women’s national team in September 2012. After leading Team USA to its first-ever FIVB world championship in 2014, he became just the fourth volleyball player to win a world championship gold medal as both a player and coach.

Young players have had a significant impact on the U.S. Women’s National Indoor Volleyball Team in 2019. A total of eight players made their FIVB-level debuts this season and made an immediate impact in the 2019 VNL gold medal. Among the newcomers are three players who had remaining collegiate eligibility at the time, including Jordan Thompson (University of Cincinnati), Dana Rettke (University of Wisconsin) and Mary Lake (Brigham Young University). Both Thompson and Lake have since exhausted their collegiate eligibility, while Rettke will be a senior at Wisconsin this fall. Prior to the 2019 season, the U.S. women had not used a collegiate-eligible player in a FIVB-level event since 2008.

Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

Gunderson is a two-time Olympian who earned a silver medal in 2012 and a bronze in 2016. She has been one of the top middle blockers in the world since becoming a full-time member of Team USA in 2009. Gunderson was named to the Olympic Games Rio 2016 Dream Team after registering 0.56 blocks per set and scoring 104 points. After being named USA Volleyball’s Co-Female Player of the Year in 2018, she missed the entire 2019 international season as she gave birth to her son Olukayode Gunderson on Thanksgiving Day.

Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska)

Larson is a two-time Olympian (silver in 2012, bronze in 2016) and a member of the U.S. national team since 2009, including helping the Americans win their first-ever world championship title in 2014. She was selected most valuable player of the 2015 FIVB Club World Championships and led her then-club Eczacibasi of Turkey to the prestigious European Champions League title the same year. Larson is nicknamed the “Gov” or “Governor” for her popularity in Nebraska where she grew up in a town of under 1,000 and later went on to star at the University of Nebraska.

Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California/Bartlett, Illinois)

Robinson, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, is a versatile athlete who has played multiple positions for Team USA. Typically an outside hitter for the U.S., she switched to libero for the 2018 season and helped the Americans win the annual VNL title. At the end of 2018, Robinson was named USA Volleyball’s Co-Female Indoor Player of the Year. Robinson moved back to her familiar outside hitter position for the 2019 season to help the U.S. win another gold medal in the VNL. Adding to her versatility, Robinson has created a very popular a YouTube channel and website giving fans an inside look into being a professional athlete. Both sites are run by herself and her fiancé Robert Cook.

The U.S. Women qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in their first opportunity by winning the Tokyo Women’s Volleyball Qualification Tournament Pool C with victories over Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Argentina on Aug. 2-4, 2019, in Bossier City, Louisiana. The winners of the six qualification tournaments joined the five continental winners contested in early January 2020 and host Japan to complete the 12-team Olympic field.
The coaching staff will recommend the final roster and replacement players to the USA Volleyball selection review committee from the members of the available player pool. The recommendations will be based upon the selection criteria, including cumulative statistical, videotape, written and observational evaluations of the U.S. men’s and women’s national volleyball team coaching staff.

· June 1-3, 2021: The U.S. Women will host Belgium, Japan and Turkey in an FIVB Volleyball Nations League preliminary round tournament. Japan and Turkey are both Olympic qualifiers.

· The 2021 Volleyball Nations League tournament consists of five weekends of preliminary matches followed by a final round. The top 16 men’s teams in the world generally participate.

· July 2, 2021: U.S. Olympic Team selected