Women's Update: Busy Season on Tap

By Bill Kauffman | March 16, 2015, 3:53 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 16, 2015) – The No. 1 U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team has a busy 2015 season that includes a four-match series with No. 3 China in the USA Volleyball Cup and hosting the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals in Omaha before culminating with the first 2016 Olympic Games qualification tournament – the FIVB World Cup in Japan. However, before the players return back to California to start training in Anaheim on May 4, the international club season is providing some thrilling moments as many Team USA players are in the heat of the playoffs.

QUICK HITS:

  • The U.S. Women will host the six-team 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix Finals being held July 22-26 in Omaha, Neb. Team USA will be joined by the top five teams from the three weekends of preliminary action providing the best volleyball in the world a month before the first 2016 Olympic Games qualification event – the 2015 FIVB World Cup in Japan. Buy your tickets now with all-session tickets ranging in price from $75 to $150 plus service fees. Each all-session ticket gets you in the door to watch all 15 matches over the five days. Click here to reserve your tickets.
  • Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.) and her Turkish club Eczacibasi has advanced to the CEV Champions League semifinals on April 4.
  • Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) and Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn.) led Rabita Baku to the CEV Cup semifinals. Their team from Azerbaijan will face Russia’s Dinamo Krasnodar in the home-and-home semifinal series that starts March 24.

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. In the CEV Champions League, Eczacibasi lost the return match in the Playoff 6 (quarterfinals) home-and-home series with Switzerland’s Volero Zurich 25-23, 24-26, 29-27, 25-19 to force a golden set to determine which team would advance to the semifinals. Eczacibasi fell behind 5-1 early in the golden set, but charged back to win 15-12 and earn a spot into the CEV Champions league semifinals. Larson-Burbach scored 16 points with 14 kills on 39 attacks and two blocks. She added a 61 positive reception percent on 23 chances in the victory. Eczacibasi will now challenge Turkish rival VakifBank on April 4 in the semifinals with the winner moving on to the final to play the winner of Italy’s Unendo Yamamay Busto Arsizio and Polish host Chemik Police. In the Turkish League, Eczacibasi turned back Idman Ocagi 25-23, 18-25, 25-23, 25-17 on March 15. Larson-Burbach sat out the match. Eczacibasi, in third place and two points behind second-place Fenerbahce, challenges fifth-place Bursa B. Sehir on March 22.

HILDEBRAND WITH FENERBAHCE: Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah, Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Fenerbahce of the Turkish League this winter. In the CEV Champions League, Fenerbahce defeated Turkish rival VakifBank 25-20, 25-20, 21-25, 15-25, 15-12 on March 12 in the second match of the Playoff 6 (quarterfinal round). However, Fenerbahce was unable to force a golden set for right to advance to the semifinals as VakifBank won the first match in four sets. Hildebrand did not play in the match. In the Turkish League, Fenerbahce claimed a 29-27, 25-21, 25-16 victory over Besiktas on March 15. Hildebrand started the match and scored two kills and a block for three points. Fenerbahce, in second place and three points behind league-leader VakifBank, meets ninth-place Canakkale on March 22.

HOOD WITH ILBANK: Regan Hood (Dallas, Texas, Instagram) is playing for Ilbank of the Turkish League in 2014-15. Ilbank edged Sariyer 17-25, 25-22, 26-24, 17-25, 15-9 on March 15 in Turkish League action. Hood charted 19 points with 16 kills on 43 attacks and three blocks. She contributed a 51 positive reception percent on a team-best 37 receptions. Ilbank, now in 10th place and three points out of ninth-place, plays fourth-place Galatasaray on March 20.

NEWCOMBE WITH IDMAN OCAGI: Sonja Newcombe (Lake Arrowhead, Calif., Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Trabzon Idman Ocagi of the Turkish League this winter. Idman Ocagi was handed a 25-23, 18-25, 25-23, 25-17 loss by third-place Eczacibasi on March 15. Newcombe contributed seven points with four kills, two blocks and an ace. She tallied an 80 positive reception percent on a team-leading 35 chances. Idman Ocagi, now in seventh place, looks to avoid a three-match losing streak on March 22 as it faces league-leader VakifBank.

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. In the CEV Cup, Rabita completed its CEV Cup Challenge Round home-and-home series with Beziers following a 25-16, 25-22, 25-17 victory in Baku on March 12. Akinradewo provided a match-high 13 points with 10 kills on 13 swings, two aces and a block in the victory. Dixon, who started the first two sets, collected six kills on eight swings, two blocks and an ace for nine points. The two American middle blockers combined for 16 kills on 21 attacks with just three hitting errors. Rabita Baku now advances to the CEV Cup semifinal round to face Russia’s Dinamo Krasnodar in a home-and-home series with dates to be announced. In the Azerbaijan Super League, Rabita Baku maintained its league-leadership by defeating Azeryol 25-23, 25-13, 25-23. Akinradewo notched eight points, while Dixon followed with six points. Rabita now has a seven-point lead over second-place Lokomotiv.

LLOYD WITH LOKOMOTIV BAKU: Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, Calif., Instagram) is setting for Lokomotiv Baku this winter in the Azerbaijan Super League. Lokomotiv dropped a March 11 contest to Azeryol 25-22, 25-12, 25-19. Lloyd set the squad to a 35 kill percent while putting up three blocks and an ace for four individual points. Lokomotiv bounced back to defeat Azerreyl 20-25, 26-24, 25-10, 25-22 on March 16. For a photo gallery of the match, click here. Lokomotiv moved back into second place and is seven points behind league-leader Rabita Baku.

Get your Tickets: FIVB World Grand Prix Finals (July 22-26 in Omaha)

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. Italian Serie A leader Novara snagged a 25-22, 20-25, 30-28, 25-22 victory over Foppapedretti Bergamo on March 14. Hill slammed 14 kills on 32 attacks to go with an ace for 15 points. She chipped in an 83 positive reception percent on a team-leading 30 reception chances. Klineman added nine kills and a 62 positive reception percent on 26 chances. Novara (18-2, 52 points), now with a seven-point leader over Modena (14-6, 45 points), takes on fifth-place Imoco Volley Conegliano (12-8, 35 points) on March 22 for a match that can be seen on Rai Sport 1 in Italy. In the CEV Challenge Cup, Novara lost to Germany’s Schweriner SC 23-25, 15-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-11 on March 10 in the 4th Final Round to fall out of the playoffs. Klineman scored 14 points in the match with 10 kills on 44 swings, two blocks and two aces. Hill did not make the trip.

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 suffered a 27-25, 25-17, 25-20 setback to second-place LIU JO Modena on March 15. Glass set Conegliano to a 37 kill percent while adding an ace and a kill for two points. Adams notched 11 points with 10 kills on 17 swings and a block. Conegliano (12-8, 35 points), which fell one spot to fifth place, returns to action on March 22 against league-leader Igor Gorgonzola Novara (18-2, 52 points).

GIBBEMEYER WITH CASALMAGGIORE: Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn., Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Pomi Casalmaggiore of the Italian Serie A1 in 2014-15. Casalmaggiore handed Savino Del Bene Scandicci a 25-14, 25-27, 25-18, 25-22 loss on March 15. Gibbemeyer totaled eight kills on 13 errorless attacks and a match-high six blocks for 14 points in the victory. Casalmaggiore (15-5, 44 points), which now trails Liu Jo Modena by just one point for second place, returns to action on March 21 against fourth-place Nordmeccanica Rebecchi Piacenza (12-8, 35 points).

U.S. Women hosting China in USA Volleyball Cup June 5-12

ROBINSON WITH PONCE IN PUERTO RICO: Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill., Twitter, Instagram), who played for BIAC Motors in the short-season Chinese professional league to start the 2014-15 season, has transferred to Ponce in the Puerto Rico Super League. Robinson notched a match-leading 24 points to help Ponce to a 25-20, 26-24, 15-25, 29-27 victory over Catano on March 12. She tallied 17 kills, four blocks and three aces in the victory, along with three digs and 11 receptions. On the opposite side of the net, American Kristy Jaeckel tallied 22 points and setter Caitlyn Donahue had 17 assists and 17 digs. Ponce dropped a hard-fought 25-15, 32-30, 18-25, 22-25, 18-16 match to Mayaguez on March 14. Robinson managed a match-high 33 points with 30 kills and three blocks to go with 22 digs and 26 receptions. On the other side of the net, American Micha Hancock began her Puerto Rico Super League career with 13 points via nine kills, three aces and a block to go with 17 assists and 18 digs. Kim Willoughby, a 2008 U.S. Olympic Games silver medalist, collected a team-leading 23 points.

PAOLINI WITH HITACHI: Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich., Instagram) is playing for Hitachi in the Japan V-League this winter. Hitachi prevailed over Okayama (0-4) 25-23, 32-30, 19-25, 25-19 on March 14 in the V-League playoffs. Paolini converted 25 kills on 42 attacks with just one error to go with seven blocks for 32 points. Hitachi, now 2-1 in the playoffs, meets Toray (1-3) on March 21 undefeated Hisamitsu Springs (3-0) on March 22.

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 lost to NEC (3-1) 18-25, 36-34, 25-19, 25-20 on March 14 in the V-League playoffs. Murphy was credited with 22 kills on 62 attacks in the loss. Ageo had its second setback of the weekend in a 25-15, 25-18, 22-25, 25-21 loss to undefeated Hisamitsu Springs (3-0) on March 15. Murphy pocketed 16 kills on 40 swings and one ace for 17 points. Ageo, now 2-2 in the playoffs, meets Okayama on March 22.

JACKSON, KREKLOW WITH DRESDNER: Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles, Twitter, Instagram) and Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn., Twitter, Instagram) are playing for Dresdner SC of the German Bundesliga. In the German Bundesliga best-of-three quarterfinals, top-seed Dresdner (21-1) held off Rote Raben Vilsbilburg 25-10, 21-25, 25-14, 25-15 on March 14. Jackson had eight kills on nine errorless attacks to go with three blocks and an ace for 12 points. Kreklow set the squad to a 49 kill percent and .361 hitting efficiency while chipping in an ace. American teammate Michelle Bartsch collected a match-high 25 points with 19 kills on 38 swings and just one error to go with four aces and a block. Dresdner can close out the series on March 18. If necessary, the rubber match will take place on March 21.

MIYASHIRO WITH ALLIANZ MTV STUTTGART: Tama Miyashiro (Kaneohe, Hawaii, Twitter), a 2012 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, joined Allianz MTV Stuttgart of the German Bundesliga in mid-November. Stuttgart, the number-two seed in the Bundesliga playoffs, defeated seventh-seeded Munster 25-23, 25-14, 18-25, 25-17 on March 14. Miyashiro handled eight reception attempts in the victory as the libero. American teammates Nichole Lindow and Katherine Harms added 16 and 13 points, respectively, in the victory. Stuttgart will try to end the series on March 18, and if necessary, the tiebreaking match will be March 25 to decide who advances to the semifinals.

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 dominated Mulhouse 25-19, 25-19, 25-10 on March 14 to continue its stranglehold on the top spot in the league. Faucette pocketed a match-high 14 points with 11 kills on 30 attacks and three blocks. Tom contributed 11 points with six kill son 18 attacks, three aces and two blocks. She chipped in a 46 positive reception percent on 13 chances. Wopat added 10 points via six kills on nine swings, two aces and two blocks. RC Cannes (19-1, 58 points), which remains in first-place with a 13-point lead over second-place Le Cannet, challenges ninth-place Vannes (6-14, 17 points) on March 28. RC Cannes challenges Le Cannet in the French Cup finals on March 21.

DAVIS, LICHTMAN 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 (16-3, 45 points), with a two-point lead over third-place SF Paris St. Cloud, returns to action on March 16 against fifth-place Nantes (12-7, 37 points) followed by a March 28 contest against Beziers. Le Cannet will meet RC Cannes in the French Cup finals on March 21.

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. In the CEV Champions League, Volero defeated Eczacibasi 25-23, 24-26, 29-27, 25-19 on March 12 in the second match of the Playoff 6 quarterfinal round home-and-home series to force a golden set. However, the visiting Turkish squad came back from a 5-1 deficit in the golden set to claim a 15-12 victory to advance to the CEV Champions League semifinals. Thompson set the team to a 36 kill percent during the victory and added two kills on four errorless attacks with one ace for three individual points. Hagglund was a sub in the second and third sets. “This is sports,” Thompson said. “Eczacibasi made the important points and we did not. That’s it.” In the Swiss playoffs, Volero rallied to defeat Hotel Cristal VFM 21-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-18 on March 14. On the follow day Volero handled Sagres NUC I 25-22, 25-20, 25-21. Volero, now 6-0 in the six-team, double-round robin playoffs, meets fourth-place Sm’Aesch Pfeffingen I (3-5) on March 18 followed by a March 21 contest against second-place Volley Koniz (6-1).

FAWCETT WITH KOREA EXPRESSWAY: Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio, Instagram) is playing in the Korea V-League with Korea Expressway this winter. By entering the playoffs as the top seed, Korea Expressway will be idle until March 27 when it begins its championship series against the playoff winner between the second- and third-place team.

JENNA HAGGLUND WITH IMPEL WROCLAW: U.S. setter Jenna Hagglund (West Chester, Ohio, Twitter, Instagram) signed with Impel Wroclaw of Poland’s Orlen Liga late in 2014 and has started to competition. Impel Wroclaw lost to Chemik 25-15, 25-16, 25-20 in the Polish Cup semifinals on March 14 as Hagglund was a sub in the match. Impel Wroclaw finished the regular season in fourth place with a 16-6 record and will play fifth-seed BKS Aluprof Bielsko-Biala in the league’s quarterfinal round starting on March 21.