Women's Update: Own March Madness

By Bill Kauffman | March 23, 2015, 1:15 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 23, 2015) – While March Madness has infected legions of college basketball followers, members of the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team have their own March Madness competing for playoff spots in overseas professional leagues.

QUICK HITS:

  • Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.) is the latest athlete to take part in the Jamming in 5 Questions by JamtheGym.com. In the interview, Larson-Burbach discusses which of her all-around skills she likes best, how her nicknamed “Governor” came about, and her journey from small-town (Hooper has population 830) to National Team. To read the article, click here.
  • Team USA officially begins its summer training block on May 4 at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim, the official host city of the U.S. Women's and Men's National Teams. However, athletes may start to arrive back in Anaheim to begin training sooner depending on their commitments to overseas professional leagues being completed.

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

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 defeated RC Cannes 25-21, 25-22, 19-25, 25-12 on March 21 to capture the French Cup title. For a photo gallery of the match, click here. RC Cannes has dominated the French League, having won the last 12 French Cup titles and 18 of the last 19 editions. Davis said, “I am so excited for our win last night in the French Cup Final. Most of all, I am really happy for my French teammates - they have all grown up with RC Cannes being the best team in France and admiring their players, and now they know that they are as good and that if you believe, anything is possible. I am proud of my team, and the work we have done, and the way we are learning to fight for each other!” Through 20 rounds of the French League regular season, RC Cannes (19-1) was the league leader with a 12-points lead over second-place Le Cannet (16-4). Le Cannet looks to continue its winning ways as it resumes the regular season on March 28 against fourth-place Beziers (13-7, 40 points).

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 lost to Le Cannet 25-21, 25-22, 19-25, 25-12 on March 21 in the French Cup title match. RC Cannes had won the event in 18 of the last 19 editions. RC Cannes (19-1), which enjoys a 12-point lead over second-place Le Cannet in the regular season, challenges ninth-place Vannes (6-14, 17 points) on March 28 in the 21st round of the regular season.

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 Turkish League, Eczacibasi swept Bursa B. Sehir 25-16, 25-19, 25-17 on March 20 to close out the regular season on a winning note. Larson-Burbach contributed 10 points with eight kills on 24 attacks, one ace and one block. She also handled 28 of the team’s 48 service receptions with just one error. While Eczacibasi finished with an identical 20-2 record as VakifBank and Fenerbahce, it concluded the regular season in the third place with 57 points – five points behind top-seed VakifBank. In the CEV Champions League, Eczacibasi will challenge Turkish rival VakifBank on April 4 in the semifinals with the winner moving on to the April 5 final to play the winner of Italy’s Unendo Yamamay Busto Arsizio and Polish host Chemik Police.

HILDEBRAND WITH FENERBAHCE: Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah, Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Fenerbahce of the Turkish League this winter. After failing to advance to the CEV Champions League semifinal round, Fenerbahce came back to defeat Bursa Sehir 25-9, 25-8, 25-13 in the Turkish Cup quarterfinal round on March 18. Hildebrand did not play in the match. In its return to Turkish League action, Fenerbahce earned a 25-19, 25-20, 25-20 victory over Canakkale on March 22. Hildebrand did not play in the match. Fenerbahce, which finished the regular season with an identical 20-2 record as did VakifBank and Eczacibasi, heads into the playoffs as the second seed as it trailed VakifBank by three standings points.

HOOD WITH ILBANK: Regan Hood (Dallas, Texas, Instagram) is playing for Ilbank of the Turkish League in 2014-15. Ilbank concluded the Turkish League regular season with an 18-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-21 loss to Galatasaray on March 20. Hood scored a team-leading 21 points with 16 kills on 27 attacks, three blocks and two aces. She also was credited with a 54 positive reception percent on handling 46 of her team’s 80 receptions. For the regular season, Hood was the fifth leading scorer in the league with 339 points and a 3.94 scoring average. Ilbank concluded the regular season outside of the playoffs and in 10th place with a 6-16 record and 21 points.

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 lost to regular season champion VakifBank 25-18, 25-18, 25-17 on March 22 to close out the 22-week regular season. Newcombe provided 10 kills on 22 attacks and an ace in the loss. She added 13 reception chances with just one error in the match. Despite the loss, Idman Ocagi (10-12, 29 points) had already sewn up the final playoff berth and enters as the eighth seed.

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 Azerbaijan Super League, Rabita Baku toped Telekom 25-13, 25-18, 25-12 on March 20. As a result, Rabita now maintains a seven-point lead over second-place Lokomotiv in the league standings. In the CEV Cup, Rabita has advanced to the CEV Cup semifinal round to face Russia’s Dinamo Krasnodar in a home-and-home series with matches on March 24 and March 28.

LLOYD WITH LOKOMOTIV BAKU: Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, Calif., Instagram) is setting for Lokomotiv Baku this winter in the Azerbaijan Super League. Lokomotiv defeated Telekom 25-21, 25-13, 25-22 on March 19. Lloyd set her squad to a stellar 47 kill percent while adding three aces and an individual kill. For a photo gallery of the match, click here. Second-place Lokomotiv trails Rabita Baku by seven points in the league standings.

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. Novara was edged by Imoco Volley Conegliano 21-25, 27-25, 25-23, 21-25, 20-18 on March 22. Hill totaled 19 points with 15 kills on 45 swings, two blocks and two aces. She added an eye-opening 94 positive reception percent (70 percent excellent) on 33 of the team’s 85 reception chances. Klineman added 18 points with 13 kills on 38 attacks, three blocks and two aces. She was credited with a 54 positive reception percent on 13 chances. Despite the loss, Novara (18-3, 53 points) remains in first place with an eight-point cushion over second-place LIU JO Modena (14-7, 45 points). Novara (18-3, 45 points) concludes the regular season against 11th-place Volley 2002 Forli (1-20, 5 points) on March 28.

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 upset league-leader Igor Gorgonzola Novara 21-25, 27-25, 25-23, 21-25, 20-18 on March 22. Adams tallied 20 points with 13 kills on 26 attacks, a team-leading five blocks and both the team’s aces in the victory. Glass set her team to a 36 kill percent for the match while adding a block and individual kill in the victory. Conegliano (13-8, 37 points), which fell into a tie for fifth place with the victory, returns to action on March 29 against fourth-place Nordmeccanica Rebecchi Piacenza (13-8, 38 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 dropped a 25-21, 23-25, 25-15, 25-19 match to fourth-place Nordmeccanica Rebecchi Piacenza on March 21. Gibbemeyer pocketed 15 points in the setback with 14 kills on 24 attacks and a block. Third-place Casalmaggiore (15-6, 44 points) has an important match on March 28 against second-place LIU JO Modena (14-7, 45 points) to close out the regular season. With a 3-0 or 3-1 win, Casalmaggiore would move into the second seed heading into the playoffs.

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 contributed 17 points in helping Ponce score a 16-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-18 come-from-behind victory over third-place Caguas on March 19. She tallied 15 kills, one block and one ace in the victory to go with 15 receptions and nine digs. Ponce continued its winning ways with a 25-20, 25-21, 28-26 victory over Juncos on March 21. Robinson led the way with 29 points in the loss via 27 kills and two aces, with both service winners coming the closing points of the third set. She chipped in 10 receptions and nine digs. For a photo gallery of the match, click here. Ponce is currently in fourth place with an 11-9 record, but tied with Juncos in terms of points with 36. Ponce looks to avoid a losing streak as it plays sixth-place Carolina on March 26, followed by a March 28 contest against seventh-place Naranjito.

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 defeated Rote Raben Vilsbiburg 25-18, 17-25, 22-25, 25-23, 15-11 on March 18 to wrap up the series with a 2-0 victory. Kreklow set the team to a 42 kill percent while adding two blocks, one kill and an ace. American teammate Michelle Bartsch scored a match-high 28 points with 25 kills on 47 attacks, two blocks and an ace. Jackson did not play in the match. Dresdner now awaits its semifinal opponent to be determined from other quarterfinal round matches.

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, was upset by seventh-seed USC Munster 28-26, 14-25, 25-17, 25-22 on March 22 as the best-of-three series evened up at one match apiece. Miyashiro was credited with seven reception chances in the match. Stuttgart will look to close out the series with the tiebreaking match on March 25 in Stuttgart. The winner advances to the best-of-three semifinal round.

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 dropped a 25-16, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24 match to Okayama on March 22 in the V-League playoffs. Murphy contributed 17 kills on 48 attacks without an error to go with one block for 18 points. Ageo finished the Playoff 6 round in third place with a 2-3 record and eight points. Ageo will meet second-place NEC Red Rockets on March 28 with the winner advancing to the championship match on April 4 against Playoff 6 winner Hisamitsu Springs.

PAOLINI WITH HITACHI: Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich., Instagram) is playing for Hitachi in the Japan V-League this winter. Hitachi lost a heart-breaking 27-29, 26-24, 25-17, 22-25, 15-8 match to Toray on March 21. Paolini totaled 23 kills on 44 attacks with three hitting errors in the loss. Hitachi was unable to bounce back from its loss the following day and lost to Hisamitsu Springs 25-17, 25-22, 26-24 to close out the playoffs. Paolini charted 18 kills on 29 attacks, two blocks and an ace for 21 points. Hitachi concluded the Playoff 6 round with a 2-3 record and seven points for fifth place, missing out on a chance to advance into the Playoff 3 round.

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 Swiss playoffs, Volero swept Sm’Aesch Pfeffingen 25-19, 25-13, 25-17 on March 18, then blanked second-place Volley Koniz 25-9, 25-20, 25-23 on March 21. Volero, now 8-0 in the double round-robin six-team playoff, wraps up this playoff stage on March 23 against third-place Sagres NUC I and against fifth-place VC Kanti Schaffhausen I on March 25. Volero currently holds a four-point lead over Volley Koniz and can wrap up first place out of the playoff double round-robin with just one victory in its two remaining matches.

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 IBK Altos, which won the playoff series against Hyundai with back-to-back 3-1 victories. The best-of-five championship series, which features Destinee Hooker for IBK Altos, has matches on March 27, March 29 and March 31, followed with contests on April 2 and April 4 if necessary.

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. Fourth-seed Impel Wroclaw lost to fifth-seed BKS Aluprof Bielsko Biala 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 on March 21 to open the best-of-three quarterfinal round on the road. Hagglund was a sub in the first two sets. The series shifts to Wroclaw on March 26, and if necessary, the deciding match will be played on March 27 also in Wroclaw.