Women's Update: A Vagabond Lifestyle

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Nov. 30, 2015, 2:43 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Nov. 30, 2015) – The clock is counting down the end of the calendar year and the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship pairings have been announced with 64 teams looking to hoist the championship trophy come Dec. 19. Some collegiate seniors dream of the chance to continue playing volleyball after the final whistle of 2015. Take a peek into this week's Women's National Team Update on what life is like for Team USA as they work toward qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games.

DID YOU KNOW: Jordan Larson-Burbach, a 2012 Olympic Games silver medalist for Team USA, is one of the best outside hitters in the world. Here are some fast facts that you may not have known about her:

  • Developed into an international volleyball star from a hometown population of 830 people
  • Teammates call her Govnah due to her high recognition throughout the state of Nebraska
  • Part of owner of a restaurant, Flatwater Bistro, in Lincoln, Neb., where she played collegiate volleyball for the University of Nebraska
  • In 2015 she was selected most valuable player of both the FIVB Club World Championship and the European Champions League after leading Turkish club Eczacibasi to gold in each event
  • In 2014, she helped Team USA win gold at the FIVB World Championship after leading Russian club eam Dinamo Kazan win the FIVB Club World Championship
  • Made U.S. Women’s National Team debut in 2009
  • Helped University of Nebraska win the NCAA volleyball championship in 2006 at Omaha, site of this year’s NCAA Championship.
  • Started playing volleyball at age 12, making her club debut with Nebraska Elite in 1998
  • Get to Know Jordan Better: Video Conversation
  • Full Bio: Click here.

GOT YOUR TICKETS YET FOR OLYMPIC QUALIFIER: The road to the 2016 Olympic Games will go through Lincoln, Neb., with the U.S. Women’s National Team hosting Canada, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico in the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament on Jan. 7-9 with the winner securing a trip to the Rio Olympics. Have you got your tickets to watch all six matches in the Pinnacle Bank Arena? Come cheer on Team USA as it seeks one of 12 spots into the Olympic Games next year. For more information on this event, click here.

VAGABOND LIFESTYLE: Cassidy Lichtman, a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team since 2011, recently provided a blog that sums up the vagabond-type lifestyle Team USA players endure while playing club volleyball overseas. She is currently competing for Sichuan in the Chinese League, which goes by pretty fast according to Lichtman. “We’re almost done with it. The Chinese season is so fast compared to Europe.” She even said she could be home for the holidays with her Chinese season over by Christmas. Below are some facts she provided about playing for Sichuan.

  • Our home gym is actually about 45 minutes away so somebody decided that we needed to stay in a hotel before home games. And not just the night before, but two days before
  • Then we obviously also have actual away games in other cities in China which we leave for two days before.
  • We play Tuesdays and Saturdays. If you have trouble with the math, that means we’re home maaaybe one day a week. Sometimes it’s a matter of hours…just enough time to do laundry and get more food.
  • Basically, off days at home are pretty much the most precious thing right now
  • PS the hotel for our home gym is national badminton training center in China. And if you haven’t played badminton, it’s the best.

I FELT LIKE AN ABSOLUTE ROCK STAR: U.S. Women’s National Team libero Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa, Twitter, Instagram) participated in the NBC/USOC Promotional Shoot on Nov. 20 in West Hollywood, Calif. The purpose of the shoot was to create content in all formats for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In all, she was involved in 17 different interviews or photo/video shoots for NBC to highlight the U.S. Women's National Team. "I felt like an absolute rock star," Banwarth wrote in a blog describing her experience. To read the full blog, click here. This past weekend Banwarth was in Nebraska on another media blitz promoting the 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournmaent. Around signing autographs and doing media interviews in Lincoln, she watched her alma mater University of Nebraska defeat Penn State in the Big Ten regular season finale on Nov. 28.

THOMPSON WITH BRAZIL’S REXONA ADES: Setter Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash., Twitter, Instagram) has signed to compete for Rexona Ades in the Brazilian Superliga. Rexona won its second straight match by stopping Rio Do Sul 25-21, 27-25, 25-12 on Nov. 24. Thompson set the team to a 42 kill percent and scored three aces to go with one ace for four individual points. Rexona won its second match of the week by defeating Sao Cristovao 25-20, 25-16, 25-16 on Nov. 27. Thompson was selected the match most valuable player as she set Rexona to a 45 kill percent as a team. Rexona, now 4-1 on the young season, faces eighth-place Terracap/Brasilia (2-4, 7 points) on Dec. 1 followed by a Dec. 4 match against ninth-place Pinheiro (2-3, 6 points).

KLINEMAN WITH BRAZIL’S PRAIA CLUBE: Opposite Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif., Twitter, Instagram) is competing for Praia Clube in the Brazilian Superliga this winter. Praia Clube defeated Renata Valinhos 25-20, 25-14, 25-18 on Nov. 24 for its fourth straight win to open the regular season. Klineman was named the most valuable player of the match as she totaled 14 points including 12 kills via 24 attacks and just one error, one block and one ace. Praia Clube improved to 5-0 on the season after rallying to defeat Campinas Minas 15-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-22, 15-10 on Nov. 27. For the second straight match, Klineman was the most valuable player as she registered a team-high 20 points with 18 kills on 53 swings, one block and one ace. She was also 50 percent positive on 10 receptions. Praia Clube its undefeated record into its next match against seventh-place Sesi-Sao Paulo (2-3, 8 points) on Dec. 1 before facing undefeated and second-place Volei Nestle (5-0, 14 points) on Dec. 4.

AKINRADEWO, NATALIE HAGGLUND, VANSANT WITH SWITZERLAND’S VOLERO ZURICH: Middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla., Twitter, Instagram), libero Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, Calif., Twitter, Instagram) and Krista Vansant (Redlands, Calif., Twitter, Instagram) are playing for Volero Zurich in the Swiss League as well as the CEV Champions League. In CEV Champions League action, Volero improved to 3-0 in Pool D following a 25-17, 25-17, 25-12 victory over Vizura Beograd on No. 25. Akinradewo was credited with five kills on seven attacks and five blocks for 10 points. Vansant, who subbed in each of the first two sets and started the third set, compiled three kills on six errorless attacks and an ace for four points in the victory. Hagglund was a sub in the third set and did not register an official statistic. Volero (3-0) and Beograd meet again on Dec. 10 in their next Pool Champions League matches. Volero improved to 7-0 in the Swiss League by sweeping last-place Volley Toggenburg I 25-11, 25-15, 25-18 on Nov. 28.

HILL WITH TURKEY’S VAKIFBANK: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Ore., Twitter, Instagram), the MVP of the 2014 FIVB World Championship, is playing for VakifBank in the Turkish League and CEV Champions League this winter. VakifBank remains undefeated in the Turkish League through eight match after sweeping Ilbank 25-16, 25-18, 25-21 on Nov. 29. Hill provided eight kills on 22 swings and a block for nine points in the victory. She added a 61 positive reception percent on 18 chances. VakifBank, now 9-0 on the season with a one-point lead over second-place Fenerbahce, takes on seventh-place Canakkale on Dec. 6 in the next Turkish League match. In the European Champions League, VakifBank remained undefeated in Pool B by defeating Calcit Ljubljana 25-12, 25-14, 25-15 on Nov. 26. Hill came away with 11 points in the victory with eight kills on 16 attacks, two aces and a block. She also recorded a 75 positive reception percent on eight chances. VakifBank (3-0) meets Calcit Ljubljana again on Dec. 9 in the next Pool B match.

JACKSON WITH TURKEY’S GALATASARAY: Middle blocker Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles, California, Twitter, Instagram) is competing for Galatasaray of the Turkish League this winter. Galatasaray won its third straight Turkish League match by upsetting Eczacibasi 22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-18 on Nov. 29. Jackson contributed 11 points in the victory, all coming on 14 errorless attacks. Galatasaray, which is in third place, takes on ninth-place Halkbank on Dec. 6 in the next round of the Turkish League. In CEV Cup action, Galatasaray has advanced to the 8th Final Round home-and-home series against VDK GENT Dames on Dec. 12 and Dec. 16.

LARSON-BURBACH, KREKLOW WITH TURKEY’S ECZACIBASI: Outside hitter Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb., Twitter, Instagram) and setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn., Twitter, Instagram) are playing for Eczacibasi of the Turkish League this winter, along with the CEV Champions League. In European CEV Champions League action, Eczacibasi swept previously undefeated Chemik Police of Poland in a 25-22, 25-18, 26-24 victory. Larson-Burbach totaled eight kills on 23 attacks and two aces for 10 points in the victory. She chipped in a 47 percent positive reception percent on 17 chances. Kreklow set the team to a 36 kill percent while adding two aces in the win. Eczacibasi (2-1) meets Chemik Police again on Dec. 10 in their next Champions League match. In the Turkish League, Eczacibasi lost to Galatasaray 22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-18 on Nov. 29 for its second setback in three Turkish League matches. Larson-Burbach charted a team-high 15 points, all on kills coming off 32 swings. She added a 57 percent positive reception percent on seven chances. Kreklow set the team to a 42 kill percent in the loss. Eczacibasi, now in in sixth place, challenges 11th-place Salihli BLD on Dec. 6 in its next Turkish League match.

DIETZEN WITH TURKEY’S FENERBAHCE: Middle blocker Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pa., Twitter, Instagram) is competing this winter for Fenerbahce in the Turkish League and CEV Champions League. In European CEV Champions League action, Fenerbahce remained undefeated in Pool E by defeating Poland’s Impel Wroclaw 25-13, 25-10, 26-24. Dietzen notched 11 points with seven kills on eight errorless attacks to go with three blocks. Fenerbahce (3-0) and Impel Wroclaw (1-2) meet again on Dec. 9 in the next Pool E match. Fenerbahce stopped Canakkale 25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 25-22 for its fourth straight Turkish League win. Dietzen provided three kills on five errorless attacks and two blocks in playing just the first two sets. Fenerbahce, now in second place and trailing league-leader VakifBank by just one point, takes on Bursa Sehir on Dec. 5 in its next Turkish League match.

HILDEBRAND WITH POLAND’S IMPEL WROCLAW: Outside hitter Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah, Twitter, Instagram) is competing this winter for Impel Wroclaw in the Polish League and CEV Champions League. In CEV Champions League, Impel Wroclaw lost to Turkey’s Fenerbahce 25-13, 25-10, 26-24 on Nov. 25 to fall to 1-2 in Pool E. Hildebrand scored seven points, all on kills via 19 attacks. She chipped in a 43 positive reception percent on 23 chances. Impel Wroclaw meets Fenerbahce in the next Pool E match on Dec. 9. In the Polish League, Impel Wroclaw swept SK Bank Legionovia 25-22, 25-18, 25-19 on Nov. 28 to keep pace with the league front runners. Hildebrand notched 12 points with nine kills on 20 attacks, two aces and a block. She chipped in a 36 positive reception percent on a team-best 25 reception chances. Impel Wroclaw (7-2, 19 points), which is now in a tie for third place with Dabrowa Gonricza, looks to win a fifth straight Polish Orlen Liga match on Dec. 2 versus fifth-place Budowlani Lodz (6-9, 18 points), followed by a Dec. 6 match against seventh-place BKS Aluprof Bielsko-Biala (4-5, 15 points).

LOWE, JENNA HAGGLUND WITH ITALY’S BUSTO ARSIZIO: Opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif., Twitter, Instagram), MVP of the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix, and setter Jenna Hagglund (West Chester, Ohio, Twitter, Instagram) are competing for Unendo Yamamay Busto Arsizio of the Italian Serie A1 League this winter. Busto Arsizio snapped a two-match losing streak by defeating Il Bisonte Firenze 25-19, 25-20, 19-25, 25-21 on Nov. 28. Hagglund set the squad to a 37 kill percent and added a block and ace for two points. Lowe tallied a match-high 25 points with 19 kills on 43 attacks, five aces and a block. Busto Arsizio (4-4, 12 points), in seventh place, will seek to add to its win streak on Dec. 2 as it faces 10th-place Metalleghe Sanitars Montichiari (4-4, 9 points) before a Dec. 6 match against league-leader Igor Gorgonzola Novara (5-2, 16 points).

GIBBEMEYER, LLOYD WITH ITALY’S POMI CASALMAGGIORE: Middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn., Twitter, Instagram) and setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, Calif., Instagram), the MVP of the Pan American Games, are playing for Pomi Casalmaggiore of the Italian Serie A1 league this winter and the CEV Champions League. In CEV Champions League, Casalmaggiore stopped Czech Republic’s Agel Prostejov 25-20, 25-16, 25-21 on Nov. 25 to improve to 2-1 in Pool C. Gibbemeyer was perfect on attack with five kills on five errorless swings to go with three blocks for eight points. Casalmaggiore and Prostejov meet again in the fourth leg of Pool C on Dec. 9. In the Italian Serie A1, Pomi Casalmaggiore lost to fourth-place Liu Jo Modena 25-16, 25-15, 25-16 on Nov. 29. Gibbemeyer was held to two kills on eight attacks. Lloyd set the team to a 34 kill percent while providing two individual kills on two swings. Casalmaggiore (5-2, 16 points), now in a virtual tie with Igor Gorgonzola Novara for first place, faces 12th-place Sidtirol Bolzano (2-5, 6 points) in a mid-week match on Dec. 3 before taking on sixth-place Savino Del Bene Scandicci (4-3, 13 points) on Dec. 6.

GLASS, ROBINSON, EASY, ADAMS ALL WITH ITALY’S IMOCO CONEGLIANO: Setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich., Twitter, Instagram), the 2013 and 2014 USA Volleyball Female Athlete of the Year, outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill., Twitter, Instagram), outside hitter Megan Easy (Boston, Mass.), a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, and Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio, Twitter, Instagram) are all playing for Imoco Volley Conegliano of the Italian Serie A1 League this winter. Conegliano had its four-match win streak snapped by Igor Gorgonzola Novara in a 25-18, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21 setback on Nov. 29. Easy and Robinson each scored 18 points with 15 kills, two aces and a block in the loss. Robinson was 59 percent positive on 29 reception attempts, while Easy was 48 percent positive on 27 attempts. Glass set the team to a 39 kill percent and added three individual kills on five attacks. Adams scored five kills on 11 attacks in the loss. Conegliano (5-3, 15 points), which falls one spot to third in the Italian Serie A1, faces 11th-place Club Italia (2-5, 6 points) on Dec. 2 before challenging fourth-place Liu Jo Modena (5-2, 14 points) on Dec. 5.

BARTSCH WITH GERMANY’S DRESDNER: Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Ill., Twitter) is playing for Dresdner SC of the German Bundesliga and CEV Champions League this winter. In CEV Champions League Pool E action, Dresdner topped Azerbaijan’s Telekom Baku 25-16, 25-21, 26-24 to improve to 2-1 in the opening round. Bartsch scored a match-high 21 points with 14 kills on 29 swings, six aces and a block. She added a 59 positive reception percent on 17 chances. In the German Bundesliga, Dresdner held back Potsdam 25-14, 25-14, 21-25, 22-25, 15-13 in a thrilling five-set road victory in Potsdam. Bartsch played and started in just the fifth set, compiling four kills on eight attacks along with a 60 positive reception percent on five chances. Fellow American Katie Slay scored 11 points in the victory. Second-place Dresdner (6-2, 18 points) returns to Bundesliga action on Dec. 5 against 12th-place Thuringen (1-7, 4 points).

STEVI ROBINSON WITH GERMANY’S STUTTGART: Libero Stevi Robinson (Hermosa Beach, Calif., Twitter, Instagram) is signed to play for Allianz MTV Stuttgart of the German Bundesliga, which is also playing in the CEV Champions League. Stuttgart defeated VolleyStars Thuringen 21-25, 26-24, 25-11, 25-13 on Nov. 28 in the German Bundesliga. Robinson did not play in the match. Stuttgart (6-3, 17 points) plays third-place USC Munster (6-4, 18 points) on Dec. 6 in its next Bundesliga match. In CEV Champions League Pool A, Stuttgart (0-3) dropped a 25-18, 25-17, 25-18 match to Azerbaijan’s Lokomotiv Baku. Robinson did not play in the match. Stuttgart will seek its first win of the 2015-16 Champions League when it has a rematch with Lokomotiv Baku on Dec. 9.

FAWCETT WITH CHINA’S FUJIAN: Opposite Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio, Instagram), most valuable player of the NORCECA Championship leading Team USA to gold in 2015, and former U.S. National Team player Juliann Faucette are playing for Fujian in the Chinese professional league. Fujian suffered a tough 25-27, 25-20, 21-25, 25-18, 15-7 road loss to Shanghai on Nov. 24. Fawcett produced 30 points in the loss with 28 kills on 44 attacks and two aces. Fujian answered with a 25-23, 17-25, 25-20, 25-20 victory over Jiangsu on Nov. 28. Fawcett totaled 22 points with 21 kills on 60 attacks and one block in the victory. Fujian, now 4-5 on the season and in fourth place in Group II, concludes the regular season on Dec. 1 against Sichuan.

LICHTMAN WITH CHINA’S SICHUAN: Outside hitter Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif., Twitter), an outside hitter on the U.S. Women’s National Team, is competing professionally for Sichuan of the Chinese professional volleyball League this winter. Sichuan was upended by Jiangsu 25-20, 21-25, 25-21, 20-25, 15-10 on Nov. 24. Lichtman charted eight points with seven kills on 22 attacks and one block. Sichuan came back the following match with its own five-set win, defeating Shandong 25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 23-25, 15-9 on Nov. 28. Lichtman piled up 11 kills on 20 attacks and one ace. Sichuan is now 3-6 on the season and in fifth place in Group II. Sichuan concludes the regular season first round with a Dec. 1 match against Fujian. Lichtman said “We’ve only won a couple of matches but this team didn’t win any in the regular season last year so we’re actually doing well and we have a chance to make it into the top 8 in playoffs.” To follow her season-long blog on Facebook, click here.

PAOLINI WITH JAPAN’S HITACHI RIVALE: Middle blocker Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich., Twitter, Instagram), a middle blocker on Team USA, is playing her second consecutive season with Hitachi Rivale of the Japan V-League. Hitachi held on to defeat Ageo Medics 25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 22-25, 15-8 on Nov. 28. Paolini notched 14 kills on 29 attacks and just one hitting error to go with six blocks and two aces for 22 points. Hitachi had its modest win streak snapped on Nov. 29 with a 25-21, 25-27, 25-22, 25-17 loss to then-fourth-place NEC. Paolini charted 19 kills on 39 attacks, two aces and a block for 22 points. Hitachi (7-4, 17 points), which moved up one spot to fourth place, faces fifth-place Okayama (6-5, 16 points) on Dec. 5 and league-leader Toray (8-3, 24 points) on Dec. 6.

DIXON WITH JAPAN’S TORAY ARROWS: Middle blocker Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn., Twitter, Instagram), Best Blocker in the 2015 FIVB World Cup helping Team USA to the bronze medal, is playing her first season in the Japan V-League with Toray Arrows. Toray lost to second-place Hisamitsu Springs 25-23, 21-25, 25-21, 15-7 on Nov. 28. Dixon rattled off 16 kills on 24 errorless attacks to go with two blocks for 18 points in the loss. Toray was unable to bounce back the following day as it fell to eighth-place Toyota 25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 20-25, 15-8 on Nov. 29. Dixon scored 12 kills on 26 attacks and five blocks for 17 points in the setback. Toray (8-3, 24 points), which had its first-place lead cut from seven to two points over the weekend, with a seven-point lead over second-place Hisamitsu Springs, looks to hold off the losing streak against sixth-place Denso (5-6, 12 points) on Dec. 5 and fourth-place Hitachi (7-4, 17 points) on Dec. 6.

MURPHY WITH JAPAN’S AGEO MEDICS: Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill., Twitter, Instagram), Team USA’s leading scorer in 2013 and 2014, is playing her second season in the Japan V-League with Ageo Medics. Ageo nearly upset third-place Hitachi before falling 25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 22-25, 15-8 on Nov. 28. Murphy collected 19 kills on 56 swings and one ace for 20 points in the loss. Ageo suffered its second five-set loss of the weekend after falling to Okayama 25-16, 24-26, 25-22, 16-25, 15-13 on Nov. 29. Murphy hammered 29 kills on 69 attacks with just two errors and scored 33 total points with two aces and two blocks. Ageo (3-11, 11 points), in seventh place, challenges second-place Hisamitsu Springs (7-4, 22 points) on Dec. 5 and third-place NEC (6-5, 21 points) on Dec. 6.