U.S. Women's Update: Giving Back to Area

By Bill Kauffman | May 06, 2014, 9:07 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 6, 2014) – For the second consecutive season, the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team is giving back to its ‘home’ community of Anaheim, Calif., which serves as the official host city for both the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams.

Last summer, Team USA assisted in the creation of the Starlings Anaheim Volleyball Club, which is part of the nationwide Starlings Volleyball Clubs USA providing equal opportunity for girls from diverse, lower socioeconomic environments to train and compete in the sport of volleyball. U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly and his players regularly provide the coaching for the 70-plus young athletes within the Anaheim Union School District. The practices, held on Mondays and Fridays, are free for Orange County girls aged 12-14 of all skill levels. Many of the same techniques Team USA learns are passed on down to the young players.

“All these girls are so eager to learn, and I wish there was actually a program for that for me when I started playing volleyball,” said 2012 Olympic Games silver medalist Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) in a KCAL-TV interview. “I played basketball most of my life, and there wasn’t anything like this. And I think if there had been, I would have gone into volleyball even sooner.”

The Starlings Anaheim program would not be possible without the assistance of the City of the Anaheim for its tremendous support along the way, the American Sports Centers in providing court space and Southern California Volleyball Association Commissioner for covering the insurance costs for the program. With the team training in a hotbed of volleyball, Kiraly and the team felt it was a great way to expose the sport to young girls who may otherwise not had a chance to play. At the same time, Team USA was able to give back to its community.

“These are absolutely girls who would have not been exposed to the sport, and over the whole history of the Starlings program, probably 3,000 girls got a chance to play this game, that I, that we, love so much,” Kiraly told KCAL-TV.

Starlings, which was founded by former U.S. Men’s National Team member Byron Shewman in 1995, has a club in over 50 cities and Native American reservations across the U.S. allowing upwards of 2,500 girls to participate annually. The guiding concept has been to provide an opportunity for girls ages 10-18 to participate regardless of their socioeconomic background. Club dues, if any, are a fraction of most junior club costs and no girl is turned away because of inability to pay. Starlings also conducts its own national championship for its clubs in San Diego in June.

To watch the full KCAL-TV video spotlight on the Starlings Anaheim program and the help Team USA provides in coaching the club, click here.

SUMMER TRAINING BLOCK OFFICIALLY BEGINS: The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team opened its first day of the summer training block on May 5 at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim, Calif. – the official host city for both the U.S. Women’s Men’s National Teams. A total of 30 athletes were in training, including 12 players who will represent Team USA at the FIVB World Championship NORCECA qualification tournament set for May 15-18 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Below is a positional breakdown of athletes who have arrived in Anaheim to train:

  • Outside Hitters: Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah); Hayley Hodson (Newport Beach, Calif.); Regan Hood (Dallas, Texas); Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.); Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif.); Kat Luft (Thousand Oaks, Calif.); Kelly Reeves (San Diego); Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill.); Maddie Martin (Tampa, Fla.)
  • Middle Blockers: Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.); Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn.); Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.); Christa Harmotto (Hopewell Township, Pa.); Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles); Alexis Olgard (Spokane, Wash.); Katie Slay (Raleigh, N.C.); Carly Wopat (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
  • Opposites: Alaina Bergsma (Chandler, Ariz.); Juliann Faucette (San Diego, Calif.); Kylin Munoz (Monroe, Wash.); Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.); Bailey Webster (Baltimore, Md.)
  • Setters: Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.); Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, Calif.); Lauren Plum (Poway, Calif.)
  • Liberos: Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa); Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.); Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, Calif.); Kristen Hahn (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Later this week middle blockers Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich.), outside hitters Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.) and Sonja Newcombe (Lake Arrowhead, Calif.), and setter Jenna Hagglund (West Chester, Ohio) will arrive in Anaheim to begin training. Additional athletes will commence training later this month following completion of their overseas professional club commitments or college academics.

SHARON PETERSON – 50 YEARS OF OLYMPIC VOLLEYBALL SPOTLIGHT: Sharon Peterson was a key member on the first two U.S. Olympic Games rosters at the 1964 Tokyo Games and the 1968 Mexico City Games. She and her 1964 Olympic Games teammates will be honored May 21 during USA Volleyball’s Boyce Banquet in Phoenix as part of the 50 Years of Olympic Volleyball celebration. Volleyball made its debut at the 1964 Olympics and was the first Olympics featuring a women’s team sport. In addition to being a two-time Olympian, Peterson represented helped the U.S. captured the silver medal at the 1967 FIVB World Championship and gold medal at the 1967 Pan American Games. Overall, she made seven tournament rosters representing the U.S. in international competitions. Peterson, a 1999 All-Time Great Player selection, was a two-time USA Volleyball All-American and was Player of the Year in 1969. Peterson transitioned to coach following her playing career, which included a 511-251 record at University of Hawaii-Hilo. The five-time NAIA National Coach of the Year led the Vulcans to seven national championships and three national runner-up finishes before retiring in 2002. For details on how to purchase Boyce Banquet tickets, click here.

SCHEDULE SET FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIER: The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team will host the 2014 FIVB World Championship NORCECA third round qualification tournament at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs May 15-18. Team USA opens pool play on May 15 against Guatemala, followed by Panama on May 16 and Honduras on May 17. All three pool matches are scheduled for 3 p.m. MT. The medal round matches take place on May 18 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. MT. The tournament winner earns a berth into the 2014 FIVB World Championship that takes place Sept. 23 to Oct. 12 in Italy. All matches will be video streamed live. In addition, the U.S. Men will concurrently host its qualification tournament in Colorado Springs May 15-18. Daily passes for both the men’s and women’s tournaments are $10, while event passes for all four days is $30. To order tickets, click here. The Colorado Springs Sports Corp will serve as the local organizer.

LARSON-BURBACH WITH DINAMO KAZAN IN RUSSIA: Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.), an outside hitter with the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, is competing once again for Dinamo Kazan in the Russia Super League. Kazan, the top seed in the Russia Super League playoffs, ended its best-of-five semifinal round with a series sweep following a 25-13, 25-21, 25-19 victory over Dinamo Krasnodar on May 1. Larson-Burbach collected 16 points in the series clincher, which included 11 kills on 26 attacks and five of her team’s nine blocks. She added an 84 positive reception percent (55 excellent percent) on 31 of her team’s 53 service receptions. Kazan’s final-round opponent is third-seed Dinamo Moscow, which had a mild upset by sweeping second-seed Omichka in the semifinals. The championship match takes place May 15. However, Kazan will compete in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship May 7-11 in Zurich, Switzerland, prior to the Russia Super League final round. Kazan faces Japan’s Hisamitsu Springs on May 8 and Brazil’s Molico/Osasco on May 9 in Pool B. The Club World Championship semifinals are set for May 10, followed by the medal-round matches on May 10. Larson-Burbach demonstrated the art of attacking a video presentation while with her Kazan squad. To watch the nearly six-minute video, click here.

FAWCETT WITH PONCE IN PUERTO RICO: Opposite Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio), who was part of two gold medal-winning U.S. teams this past summer, transferred to Ponce of the Puerto Rico Super League after the completion of her Korea Volleyball League season. Ponce split the first two matches of the Puerto Rico Super League best-of-seven final round last week against Caguas. In the opening match, visiting Caguas captured a 25-22, 25-14, 17-25, 25-16 victory on May 1. Fawcett charted a match-high 21 points in the loss, while American teammate Airal Salvo chipped in 13 points and 14 digs. Caguas was led by American Falyn Fonoimoana’s 18 points. Ponce evened the series with a 17-25, 25-23, 25-16, 25-22 road victory on May 4. Fawcett pocketed 17 kills, two blocks and three aces for a team-high 22 points. Salvo tacked on 18 points and 10 digs in the victory. Fonoimoana scored a match-high 28 points for Caguas in the loss. The series continues on May 6 at Ponce, followed by match four at Caguas on May 8 and match five at Ponce on May 10. If necessary matches six and seven will be on May 13 and May 15 at Caguas and Ponce, respectively.

HAGGLUND WITH VILSBIBURG IN GERMANY: Setter Jenna Hagglund (West Chester, Ohio) is playing for Rote Raben Vilsbiburg in the German league this winter. In addition, Americans Dominique Lamb, Michelle Bartsch and Norisha Campbell are competing on the squad. Vilsbiburg, the third seed in the playoffs, lost to Dresden 25-18, 23-25, 22-25, 25-18, 15-9 in the second match of the best-of-five German League championship round on April 29. Bartsch collected 17 kills on 41 attacks to go with two aces and two blocks for a match-high 21 points. She added a 62 positive reception percent on 21 chances. Lamb added six kills on 16 attacks and two blocks for eight points. Hagglund was a sub in the fourth set, while Campbell was a sub in the final two sets resulting in two kills and a block. Dresden closed out the series with a 31-29, 22-25, 25-22, 25-16 victory on May 3. Hagglund returned to the starting lineup to set Vilsbiburg to a 36 kill percent. Lamb paced the offense with 15 kills on 24 errorless attacks, one block and one ace for 17 points. Bartsch tallied 10 kills, two aces and two blocks for 14 points.

ALISHA GLASS WITH FENERBAHCE IN TURKEY: Setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) is competing this winter with Fenerbahce in Turkey. VakifBank defeated Fenerbahce twice to open the Turkish League Final Round. Trailing VakifBank 2-0 in the Turkish League best-of-five championship round finals, Fenerbahce staved off elimination by winning match three 25-22, 17-25, 25-19, 25-21 on April 30. Glass set squad to a 33 kill percent while adding three individual kills on six attacks and two blocks for five points. However, VakifBank ended the series on May 3 with a 25-23, 25-22, 24-26, 25-20 victory to win the Turkish League championship. Glass set Fenerbahce t a 40 kill percent and .246 hitting efficiency (49-19-122) in the loss. She added four individual kills on five errorless attacks and a block for five points.