U.S. Women's Update: Making the Most of Chances

Nov. 04, 2014, 1:29 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Nov. 4, 2014) – This week’s U.S. Women’s National Team Update focuses on recent happenings as the team members compete overseas in their club season, how to follow the athletes through social media (click here), how perseverance enabled Kim Hill to shoot to the elite levels of volleyball in just two years and the words head coach Karch Kiraly used to help Team USA overcome adversity to win the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014.

SPOTLIGHT ON KIM HILL: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.) has climbed into the elite echelon of volleyball players in the world in her two seasons with the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team, but it came from humbler beginnings than some may have expected.

Without top-level experience in the USA Volleyball High Performance pipeline, Hill made the most of her chances to get her foot into the door two years ago. During the 2013 U.S. Women's National Team Open tryout with 240 athletes, she caught the attention of U.S. Women's Head Coach Karch Kiraly and was asked to join the team in May. That same year, she started all 14 matches of the FIVB World Grand Prix and finished 2013 with a 2.16 scoring average and 1.20 digs per set.

But her rookie season was just the tip of the ice berg as she was learning the international scene following a very productive four-year career at Pepperdine University in which she became the first player to earn AVCA All-America First-Team in both indoor and sand volleyball. In high school, she also starred on the basketball court earning the Oregon 2A most valuable player of the year award twice.

In 2014, Hill started 24 of 41 matches and averaged 2.99 points and 1.24 digs per set while converting 38.4 percent of her attacks into points. It all came together during the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship Italy 2014 as she scored 20 points in the gold-medal match leading Team USA to a four-set win over China. For her efforts, Hill was named the most valuable player of the World Championship, joining a legacy of names such as Lang Ping of China, Regla Torres of Cuba, Irina Parkhamchuk of Soviet Union and Ekaterina Gamova of Russia as past MVPs of the FIVB's signature event.

Yet, few would have predicted her quick rise to such lofty heights in two years. Even earlier this summer, Team USA was not being mentioned among the favorites to win the World Championship after missing out on the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round in August.

Kiraly and his staff channeled that disappointment to get better in key areas leading into the World Championship. The U.S. started the World Championship with an opening set loss to NORCECA rival Mexico, then bounced back to win seven straight matches. The streak was halted by Brazil in the second round finale that meant little in regards to advancement. Then USA lost a tight three-set match to host Italy in a packed house in Milan.

Similar to when it did not avance to the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round, Team USA used that adversity to its advantage. "I think key moments for us were when we were down in a set or even lost a set during a particular match and found a way to bounce back and win," Hill said. "It not only empowered us to believe we could fight back, but it showed other teams that we would never give up."

After the losses to Brazil and Italy, the message again was simple. "Karch told us after the match that it was important for us to move on and focus on the next task at hand and that’s what we did and I think it proved how mentally tough we were," Hill said.

As for the future, Hill says the team is not resting on the laurels of this gold medal. "While we’re thrilled with this victory and so incredibly proud of it, there’s still work to be done for USA volleyball!"

While we have learned a lot about Hill on the court in her two years with the U.S. Women's National Team, you can learn more things about her in this "Off-the-Court with Kim Hill" interview and through her online bio.

LINDSEY BERG VIDEO INTERVIEW: Lindsey Berg (Honolulu), a three-time Olympian, discusses her college recruiting process, playing in college at University of Minnesota, trying out for the U.S. Women's National Team, competing in three Olympic Games, overcoming odds as a small setter and not fitting the typical mold of a setter and what she is now doing after volleyball in this 22-minute video interview by Eddie Mata. Watch the interview by clicking here.

UPDATED TRANSFER LIST FOR U.S. PLAYERS COMPETING OVERSEAS: USA Volleyball has processed 268 international transfer certificates, including 174 females, allowing United States citizens to compete in foreign professional volleyball leagues for the 2014-2015 season, as of Oct. 31. Additional transfers are expected to be processed over the course of the winter club season. On the women's side, 34 transfers have been processed for athletes to play in France, while Germany has been involved in 30 transfers and Switzerland 17 transfers. USA Volleyball has also processed 12 transfers for players competing in Sweden. As of Oct. 31, USA Volley has processed transfers for female athletes to 26 different countries. The International Transfer Certificate (ITC) is a mandatory requirement of the FIVB for athletes to transfer from one National Federation (country) to another National Federation (country) to play in professional leagues. All National Federations are required to follow this established procedure. For details, refer to the FIVB Sports Regulations (2013) Section 45.3. For the listing of athletes and which clubs they are competing for this winter, click here.

HILL, KLINEMAN WITH NOVARA: Kim Hill (Portland, Ore., Twitter, Instagram), the most valuable player of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014, and Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif., Twitter, Instagram) are playing for Igor Gorgonzola Novara of the Italian Serie A1 this winter. In the season opener, Novara overcame a slow start to defeat Pomi Casalmaggiore 19-25, 25-21, 27-25, 25-23 on Nov. 2. Klineman contributed 17 points with 14 kills on 41 attacks with just two errors to go with three blocks. Hill tacked on 13 points, all coming via the attack on 37 swings. She added a 72 positive reception percent on 29 chances as Hill and Klineman combined for 49 of the team’s 79 total reception chances. Novara hosts Il Bisonte Firenze (0-1) on Nov. 9 in the second round. Novara starts CEV Cup competition with a 16th Final Round home-and-home series against Russia’s Dinamo Krasnodar on Nov. 12.

GLASS, ADAMS WITH CONEGLIANO: Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich., Twitter, Instagram), the best setter of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014, and Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio, Twitter, Instagram) are playing for Imoco Volley Conegliano of the Italian Serie A1 this winter. Conegliano opened the regular season with a 25-23, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23 victory over Il Bisonte Firenze on the road on Nov. 2. Adams totaled 12 points with nine kills on 16 attacks and three blocks. Glass set Conegliano to a 39 kill percent and added two blocks and an individual kill in the victory. Conegliano will attempt to stay undefeated as it takes on Unendo Yamamay Busto Arsizio (1-0, 2 points) on Nov. 9. Conegliano will compete in the CEV Cup, starting with a home-and-home 16th Final Round series with Khimik Yuzhny on Nov. 11.

GIBBEMEYER WITH CASALMAGGIORE: Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn., Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Pomi Casalmaggiore of the Italian Serie A1 in 2014-15. Casalmaggiore opened the regular season with a 25-19 set win over Igor Gorgonzola Novara, but couldn’t maintain the momentum in a four set loss (19-25, 25-21, 27-25, 25-23) on Nov. 2. Gibbemeyer charted four points in the setback with three kills and a block. Casalmaggiore looks to get in the win column on Nov. 9 against Foppapedretti Bergamo (1-0).

LARSON-BURBACH WITH ECZACIBASI: Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb., Twitter, Instagram), a 2012 U.S. Olympian and starting outside hitters, is playing for Eczacibasi Vitra of the Turkish League this winter. Eczacibasi claimed an important early season victory over VakifBank, 20-25, 28-26, 18-25, 25-11, 15-7 on Nov. 1. Larson-Burbach pocketed a team-high 21 points with 19 kills on a team-leading 52 attacks. She added an ace and block in the win. She added a 56 positive reception percent on 16 chances. Through the first two matches of the season, Larson-Burbach is the leading scorer in the league with 44 points. Eczacibasi faces Ilbank on Nov. 5 in its next league match. Eczacibasi opens CEV Champions League on Nov. 12 against Russia’s Omichka Omsk in Pool D action.

HILDEBRAND WITH FENERBAHCE: Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah, Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Fenerbahce of the Turkish League this winter. Fenerbahce improved to 2-0 on the young season with a 25-19, 27-25, 25-13 victory over Galatasaray on Nov. 1. Hildebrand pocketed five points in her starting role with four kills and an ace. She added a team-leading 18 receptions with a 50 positive percent. Fenerbahce takes on Ilbank on Nov. 5 in its next Turkish League challenge, followed by Bursa B. Sehir on Nov. 8. Fenerbahce will start CEV Champions League action on Nov. 13 against Romania’s Stiinta Bacau as part of Pool B’s first round.

NEWCOMBE WITH IDMAN OCAGI: Sonja Newcombe (Lake Arrowhead, Calif., Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Trabzon Idman Ocagi of the Turkish League this winter. In the season opener on Oct. 29, Newcombe scored 16 points in helping Idman Ocagi to a 26-24, 25-21, 25-27, 19-25, 15-10 victory over Ilbank on Oct. 29. Newcombe secured 11 kills, three blocks and two aces in the victory while adding a 65 positive reception percent on 20 chances. Idman Ocagi took a 25-13, 17-25, 25-18, 25-23 victory over Yesilyurt on Nov. 1. Newcombe contribured 17 points in the victory with 16 kills on 31 attacks and a block. She added an 84 positive reception percent (68 excellent percent) on 19 chances. Idman Ocagi returns to action on Nov. 4 versus Fenerbahce, followed by a Nov. 8 contest against Besiktas.

HOOD WITH ILBANK: Regan Hood (Dallas, Texas, Instagram) is playing for Ilbank of the Turkish League in 2014-15. In its regular season opener on Oct. 29, Ilbank fell behind 2-0 in sets and could not fully recover in a 26-24, 25-21, 25-27, 19-25, 15-10 loss. Hood scored a team-high 19 points with 13 kills on 45 attacks, three aces on 18 serves and three blocks. She added an 81 positive reception with 21 reception chances. Ilbank takes on VakifBank on Nov. 8 in the fourth round as its third round match against Bursa B. Sehir is not until Nov. 19.

AKINRADEWO, DIXON WITH RABITA BAKU: Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla., Twitter, Instagram), a 2012 U.S. Olympic Games starter at middle blocker, and Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn., Twitter, Instagram) are competing for Rabita Baku in the Azerbaijan Super League and the CEV Champions League this club season. In the Azerbaijan Super League opener, Rabita defeated Azerreyl 25-20, 25-22, 25-22 on Nov. 1 as Akinradewo and Dixon combined for 18 points in the middle. Akinradewo tallied nine kills on 17 attack with just one error to go with two blocks. Dixon, who only was a sub in the third set, notched seven points with three kills on five errorless attacks, three blocks and an ace to help Rabita rally from an early third-set deficit. In CEV Champions League action, Rabita Baku takes on Poland’s Chemik Police on Nov. 12 to start Pool A.

LLOYD WITH LOKOMOTIV BAKU: Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, Calif.) is setting for Lokomotiv Baku this winter in the Azerbaijan Super League. As Lokomotiv’s starting setter, Lloyd scored 10 points in leading her team to a 24-26, 25-22, 22-25, 28-26, 15-11 victory over Azeryol Baku on Nov. 2. She tallied seven kills on 10 attacks and three blocks. Lloyd set Lokomotiv to a 43 kill percent and .312 hitting efficiency. Lokomotiv takes on Azerrail Baku on Nov. 7 in the second round of the league. Away from the Azerbaijan League, Lokomotiv Baku is taking part in the CEV Cup and will face Germany’s Rote Raben Vilsbiburg in the 16th Final Round home-and-home series starting Nov. 12.

FAWCETT WITH KOREA EXPRESSWAY: Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio, Instagram) is playing in the Korea V-League with Korea Expressway this winter. To date, she has played in two matches this season. On Oct. 28, she scored 28 points (23 kills, 5 blocks) in a three-set loss to Hungkuk Life Pink Spiders. In a season-opening five-set win over KGC Ginseng, Fawcett scored 42 points including 40 kills on 89 attacks. Korea Expressway’s next match is on Nov. 5 against GS Caltex.

FAUCETTE WITH RC CANNES: U.S. Women’s National Team opposite Juliann Faucette (San Diego, Calif., Twitter, Instagram) is playing with RC Cannes in France this winter, along with four-time U.S. Olympian Logan Tom and Carly Wopat. RC Cannes swept Le Cannet 25-17, 25-15, 25-23 on Oct. 31 to stay undefeated. Faucette scored a match-high 23 points with 22 kills on 36 attacks and a block. Tom scored three points and was 62 positive and excellent percent in reception. RC Cannes starts CEV Champions League action on Nov. 12 versus Italy’s Nordmeccanica Piacenza in Pool E play. To read more on Faucette, click here to read University of Texas’ “Catching up With Juliann Faucette” article.

DAVIS, LICTHMAN WITH Le CANNET: Two-time U.S. Olympic libero Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif., Twitter, Instagram) and outside hitter Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif., Twitter) are competing for Le Cannet in the French LAF this winter. Le Cannet lost to league powerhouse RC Cannes 25-17, 25-15, 25-23 on Oct. 31 to have its record evened at 1-1. Lichtman scored six points with four kills on 20 attacks and two blocks. Davis handled 23 of the team’s 66 reception attempts with a 48 positive percent. Le Cannet will also be participating in the CEV Cup later this year.

KREKLOW, JACKSON WITH DRESDNER: Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn., Twitter, Instagram), who was in her first year with the U.S. National Team this past summer, and Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles, Twitter, Instagram) are playing for Dresdner SC of the German Bundesliga. Dresdner improved to 3-0 in the Bundesliga following a 25-15, 25-23, 25-21 victory over Rote Raben Vilsbiburg on Nov. 1. Jackson converted eight of her 12 attacks into points without an error to go with an ace for nine points. Kreklow did not play. Dresdner will seek a fourth straight victory in its next league match on Nov. 9 against Munster. Dresdner is part of CEV Champions League Pool C and opens the first round against Russia’s Dinamo Moscow on Nov. 12.

THOMPSON, NATALIE HAGGLUND WITH VOLERO ZURICH: Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash., Twitter, Instagram) and Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, Calif., Twitter, Instagram) are playing for Volero Zurich of the Swiss League this winter. Volero won the 8th Bruna Forte Trophy by defeating Italy’s Unendo Yamamay Busto Arsizio 25-17, 20-25, 25-23, 25-10 on Oct. 30. To watch match highlights, click here. In its return to the Swiss League, Volero blanked previously unbeaten VC Kanti Schaffhausen 25-21, 25-23, 25-20 on Nov. 1 to improve to 4-0 on the young season. The squad will next take on 10th-place Volley Toggenburg I on Nov. 8. Volero will open the CEV Champions League against Poland’s Impel Wroclaw on Nov. 13 in Pool D.

MURPHY WITH AGEO MEDICS: Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill., Twitter, Instagram) is competing in Japan this winter for Ageo Medics in the V-League’s top division. Ageo Medics begin the regular season on Nov. 16 against Toyota Auto Body.

PAOLINI WITH HITACHI: Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich., Instagram) is playing for Hitachi in the Japan V-League this winter. Hitachi opens its top-division schedule on Nov. 16 against NEC.

ROBINSON WITH BAIC MOTORS BEIJING: Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill., Twitter, Instagram) is competing for BAIC Motors Beijing in the Chinese League. Her team trained last week in Japan and scrimmaged against Ageo Medics of the Japan V-League prior to the regular season starting the second week of November.