Women's Update: USA Earns Spot in 2017 Grand Champions Cup

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Dec. 12, 2016, 3:30 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Dec. 12, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team has been selected to play in the 2017 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup while its head coach Karch Kiraly has been named to a prestigious FIVB commission. Get all the team news in this week’s update below.

KARCH SELECTED TO KEY FIVB COMMISSION: U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly was selected to 10-member FIVB Technical and Coaching Commission as announced by the international federation on Dec. 8. The commission now includes the three most recent coaches to lead the U.S. Women’s National Team. China’s Lang Ping led the U.S. Women from 2005-08, culminating with the silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games on her home soil. New Zealand’s Hugh McCutcheon, who serves as president of the Technical and Coaching Commission, mentored the U.S. Women from 2009-12 leading to silver at the 2012 Olympic Games. Kiraly paced Team USA to the bronze at the most recent 2016 Rio Olympics. Other members selected to the Technical and Coaching Commission are France’s Philippe Blain, Korea’s Kiwon Park, Italy’s Giovanii Guidetti, England’s Audrey Cooper, Brazil’s Jose Roberto “Ze Roberto” Guimarães, Japan’s Toshiro Endo and Egypt’s Sherif Hamdy Elshemerly. For additional appointments to FIVB commissions, click here.

U.S. WOMEN SELECTED FOR WORLD GRAND CHAMPIONS CUP: The U.S. Women’s National Team has been selected to compete in the six-team FIVB World Grand Champions Cup that will take place Sept. 5-10 in Tokyo and Nagoya, Japan. The field is comprised of the top-ranked team from the four highest ranked continental confederations, plus one wild card joining host Japan. Team USA will represent NORCECA. The Asian Volleyball Confederation will be represented by reigning Olympic Games champion China, while the South American Confederation is represented by world’s fourth-ranked Brazil. Russia, ranked fifth in the world, will represent the European Confederation. Korea, ranked 10th in the world, was selected as the wild card and sixth-ranked Japan rounds out the field. The World Grand Champions Cup will have the first two days staged at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Sept. 5-6, before the tournament shifts to Nippongaishi Hall in Nagoya for the final three days Sept. 8-10. The tournament utilizes a round-robin format. The FIVB World Grand Champions Cup has been held in Japan every four years since 1993. In past years, teams from NORCECA qualified for the World Grand Champions Cup by winning that year’s NORCECA Championship. For additional information, click here.

USA VOLLEYBALL, ANAHEIM OFFICIALLY EXTEND PARTNERSHIP: USA Volleyball has formally signed an extension with the City of Anaheim to serve as the Official Host City of the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams. The new deal runs through the entire 2020 Olympic quadrennial. “USA Volleyball could not be more pleased that our U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Teams will be calling the City of Anaheim home for another four years,” USA Volleyball Secretary General Kerry Klostermann said. “The U.S. Men’s team relocated to Anaheim in 2006 and the U.S. Women followed in 2009. The Olympic medals won by the teams in 2008, 2012 and 2016 are attributable to the generous support provided by the City of Anaheim and its citizens.” In September 2016, the Anaheim City Council approved funding that will pay USA Volleyball $1.5 million over the next four years leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Following the Anaheim City Council vote, USA Volleyball and Sports Anaheim, a division of Anaheim’s convention and visitor’s bureau Visit Anaheim, negotiated the final contract details to stay within the framework of the City Council approved vote. While Anaheim has served as their training city, the two international powerhouse indoor teams have captured four of a possible five Olympic Games medals plus one FIVB World Championship title (U.S. Women in 2014), FIVB World Cup title (U.S. Men in 2015), four FIVB World Grand Prix titles (U.S. Women in 2010-12, 2015) and two FIVB World League titles (U.S. Men in 2008, 2014). Prior to their moves to Anaheim, neither the U.S. Men or Women had medaled at the Olympics since 1992. For the full story, click here.

FUTURE TEAM USA MEMBERS ADVANCE TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP SEMIFINALS: The NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship semifinals will take place on Thursday, Dec. 15, with Stanford University challenging University of Minnesota at 7 p.m. ET followed by defending champion University of Nebraska taking on University of Texas at 9:30 p.m. ET. Both semifinal matches will air live on ESPN. Typically the NCAA semifinals showcases several athletes who will go on to join the U.S. Women’s National Team, which has five players with their alma mater competing in the finals this week. Nebraska has alums Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Twitter, Instagram), Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa, Twitter, Instagram) and Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois, Twitter, Instagram) currently on the national team, while Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio, Twitter, Instagram) played for Texas and Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida, Twitter, Instagram) was a standout at Stanford. The championship match will take place on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET and aired on ESPN2.

MIYASHIRO ELECTED TO USOC’S ATHLETES’ ADVISORY COUNCIL: USA Volleyball is proud to announce that 2012 Olympic silver medalist Tamari Miyashiro (Kaneohe, Hawaii) has been elected to serve as USAV’s representative to the United States Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Advisory Council (AAC) for the 2017-2020 quadrennial. Miyashiro was elected by her athlete peers (beach, indoor and sitting volleyball) within USA Volleyball who have represented the United States in Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American Games, Parapan American Games, World Championships or other major international competitions within the preceding 10 years. “I am excited and honored to represent an elite group of athletes this quad on the Athletes' Advisory Council,” Miyashiro said. “I think it's important that the athletes' voice gets heard and I am looking forward to helping them in any way that can relieve them of extra stresses while competing at the highest level. I am excited to get to work next month and looking forward to see the athletes train hard for Tokyo.” The USOC AAC is an advisory council with the primary responsibility of communicating athletes’ concerns and issues to the USOC family, as well as communicating information from the USOC family directly to elite athletes. On a basic level, all AAC Representatives should be informed and involved in the following areas: Selection Procedures for Olympic, Paralympic and Pan Am Trials, Selection Procedures for protected competitions other than above, Athlete Agreements, Code of Conduct, Personal Competitive Gear, NGB Governance, Anti-Doping, and Performance Partnership Agreement (PPA). For the full story, click here.

ROBINSON, LOWE WITH CHINA’S BAIC MOTORS: Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois, Twitter, Instagram) and opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California, Instagram), both members of the 2016 bronze-winning U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, are in China this winter playing for BAIC Motors Beijing. BAIC Motors won both its matches in five sets this past week to end the regular season on a three-match win streak. BAIC Motors defeated Jiangsu Zhongtian 28-30, 26-24, 25-20, 20-25, 15-11 on Dec. 6. Robinson scored 17 points in the victory, while Lowe added eight points while starting just the first two sets. BAIC Motors ended the regular season with a 25-17, 18-25, 17-25, 25-21, 15-12 victory over Shanghai East Haolan on Dec. 10. Robinson tallied 15 points, including 12 kills and three blocks. Lowe, who started just the first three sets, chipped in 10 points in the victory. BAIC Motors ended the six-team Group 2 stage in third place with a 6-4 record. Lowe ended the regular season in 16th place in scoring with 140 points. She converted on 52 percent of her attacks.

MURPHY, EASY WITH CHINA’S HENAN: Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois, Twitter, Instagram), a bronze medalist with the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, and outside hitter Megan Easy (Boston, Massachusetts), a silver medalist with the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, are playing in the Chinese League this winter with Henan. Henan lost a heart-breaking 15-25, 15-25, 27-25, 25-23, 16-14 match to Sichuan on Dec. 6. Easy pocketed a match-high 26 points with 24 kills on 49 swings and two blocks. Murphy chipped in 15 points in the loss. Henan lost its regular season finale 25-17, 25-20, 25-19 to Liaoning Radio and TV on Dec. 10. Easy scored a team-high 10 points with nine kills on 27 attacks, while Murphy tacked on eight points. Henan finished the six-team group 1 regular season with a 1-9 record and in sixth place. Easy finished the regular season ranked third in scoring with 195 points and 42 kill percent.

LARSON, ADAMS WITH TURKEY’S ECZACIBASI: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Twitter, Instagram) and middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio, Twitter, Instagram), both members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team that won bronze in Rio, are playing for Eczacibasi of the Turkish League and as part of the European Champions League this winter. In the Turkish League, Eczacibasi rallied to defeat Nilufer 24-26, 24-26, 25-15, 25-19, 15-10 on Dec. 11. Larson, who started the final four sets, contributed nine points with eight kills on 25 errorless attacks and a block. She added a 56 positive reception percent on nine chances. Adams did not play in the match as the Turkish League has a max on foreigners on the court at the same. Eczacibasi (6-3), which dropped to third place with the five-set win, returns to Turkish League action on Dec. 18 against Sariyer (2-7). In European Champions League action, Eczacibasi has advanced to the fourth round where it will face Turkish rival VakifBank, Russia’s Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg and Germany’s Dresdner in a double-round robin Pool D. Eczacibasi opens at Dresdner on Dec. 14.

HILL WITH TURKEY’S VAKIFBANK: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon, Instagram) a bronze medalist on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, returns this winter to play for Turkey’s VakifBank and in the European Champions League. VakifBank swept Canakkale 25-17, 25-14, 25-18 on Dec. 10 to remain undefeated in the Turkish League. Hill, who started all three sets, racked up six kills on 14 swings and an ace for seven points while handling 21 of the team’s 42 service receptions. VakifBank, the only undefeated team with an 9-0 record, is back in action on Dec. 17 against eighth-place Halkbank (4-5). After after byes in the European Champions League first, second and third rounds, VakifBank begins its part of the prestigious tournament on Dec. 14 against Russia’s Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg in the double round robin Pool D.

FAWCETT, CRIMES WITH TURKEY’S SARIYER: Opposite Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio, Instagram) and middle Alexis Crimes (Rancho Cucamonga, California, Instagram), both alternates to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, are competing for Sariyer in the Turkish League this winter. Sariyer lost its second straight match, falling to Besiktas 25-22, 27-25, 25-23 on Dec. 11. Fawcett scored a team-high 15 points with 12 kills on 29 swings and three blocks. Crimes added seven kills on 15 swings in the loss. Sariyer, now in ninth place with a 2-7 record, will look to avoid a three-match losing streak when it faces third-place Eczacibasi (6-3) on Dec. 18.

BARTSCH WITH ITALY’S BOLZANO: Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Illinois, Twitter), an alternate on the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, is competing for Sudtirol Bolzano in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. Bolzano tripped up 10th-place Saugella Team Monza 25-19, 25-23, 18-25, 25-19 on Dec. 10 in Bolzano. Bartsch collected a team-high 20 points with 18 kills on 45 swings, one ace and one block. She also turned in a 70 positive reception percent on 23 reception attempts. Bolzano (3-7, 11 points), now in ninth place, will look to avoid a second straight loss when it faces league-leader Foppapedretti Bergamo (7-1, 20 points) on Dec. 18.

LLOYD, GIBBEMEYER WITH ITALY’S CASALMAGGIORE: Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California, Instagram), a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist setter for Team USA, and middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram) have returned to Italy to compete for Pomi Casalmaggiore in the Italian Serie A1 league and the CEV Cup. Casamaggiore, now in second place with 19 points and a 7-1 record, will resume Italian League action on Dec. 15 versus league-leader Foppapedretti Bergamo (7-1, 20 points), followed by Savino Del Bene Scandicci on Dec. 18. In CEV Cup action, Casalmaggiore will face Maccabi XT Haifa in the 16th Final Round with dates of the home-and-home series with the first match set for Jan. 12 and the return match date not yet determined.

AKINRADEWO WITH SWITZERLAND’S VOLERO ZURICH: Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida, Twitter, Instagram), the Best Blocker in the 2016 Olympic Games after leading the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team to a bronze medal, is playing for Volero Zurich in the Swiss League and in the European Champions League. Volero swept Viteos NUC I 25-22, 25-20, 25-22 on Dec. 10 to remain undefeated in the Swiss League. Volero will return to action on Dec. 17 against Hotel Cristal VFM. Volero, which had first, second and third-round byes in the European Champions League, starts the double-round robin fourth round Pool B against Russia’s Dinamo Krasnodar on Dec. 13.

HANCOCK WITH POLAND’S IMPEL WROCLAW: Setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma, Twitter, Instagram), who played for the U.S. Women during the 2016 Pan American Cup and set the tournament record for aces in a match and tournament, is playing for Poland’s Impel Wroclaw in the Orlen Liga. Wroclaw blanked seventh-place PTPS Pila 25-22, 25-20, 25-18 on Dec. 7 to start its week. Hancock scored nine individual points with four kills on eight errorless swings, three aces and two blocks. She also set Wroclaw to a 39 kill percent as a team. American teammate Megan Courtney scored seven points in the victory. Wroclaw swept then-third-place KS Palac Bydgoszcz 25-19, 25-17, 25-14 on Dec. 11. Hancock set the team to a 37 kill percent while scoring six aces and a kill for seven individual points. Courtney scored a team-high 15 points with 11 kills on 19 errorless swings, two aces and two blocks. Wroclaw, which moved up to third place with a 7-4 record and 24 points, will challenge Legionovia Legionowa on Dec. 17 in its next Orlen Liga match.