Women's Update: NCAA Displays Future of Team USA

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Dec. 19, 2016, 2:44 a.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Dec. 19, 2016) – Fans of the U.S. Women’s National Team got a sneak peek of players who may be joining the team in 2017 as the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship ended over the weekend with Stanford winning the title.

AJANAKU LEADS STANFORD TO NCAA TITLE: Stanford Unviersity middle Inky Ajanaku, who was part of the U.S. Women’s National Team that captured gold at the 2015 Pan American Cup, tallied 16 kills on 31 swings, one block solo and seven block assists in leading Stanford University to a 25-21, 25-19, 18-25, 25-21 victory over University of Texas as the Cardinal won a record-tying seventh NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship on Dec. 17 in Columbus, Ohio. She was selected as the NCAA Tournament’s most outstanding player. For further details, click here.

KARCH ON NCAA FINALS BROADCAST: U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly served as the color commentator for the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship semifinals on ESPN on Dec. 15 and the title match on ESPN2 on Dec. 17. The two semifinal broadcasts were the first time ESPN aired NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball championship matches and received record viewership.

USAV PROCESSES 233 FEMALE INTERNATIONAL TRANSFERS: USA Volleyball has processed 328 international transfer certificates (233 females, 95 males) allowing United States citizens to compete in foreign professional volleyball leagues for the 2016-17 season as of Dec. 16 – an increase of 11 transfers in the last month. Additional transfers will be processed throughout the winter months. On the women's side, athletes have transferred to play in 33 different countries with Germany attracting 50 players, England 24 players, and Sweden, Switzerland and Philippines with 13 apiece. For the full story, click here.

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, which had first, second and third-round byes in the European Champions League, opened the double-round robin fourth round with a 25-15, 25-21, 25-27, 25-18 victory over Russia’s Dinamo Krasnodar on Dec. 13 in Krasnodar. Akinradewo scored 14 points with 10 kills on 16 swings, three blocks and an ace in starting all four sets. Volero will face Dinamo Moscow (1-0) in the second leg of European Champions League Pool B on Jan. 12. Volero swept Hotel Cristal VFM 25-17, 25-20, 25-21 in Swiss League action on Dec. 17 and will return to action on Dec. 21 against Volley Top Luzern in its last match before the calendar turns to 2017.

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 European Champions League action, Eczacibasi opened the fourth round double-round robin Pool D with a 25-17, 25-11, 25-21 victory over Germany’s Dresdner SC on Dec. 14. Adams scored a team-high 15 points with seven kills on 13 attacks and just one error to go with four aces and four blocks. Larson contributed 13 points with six kills on 12 attacks and just one error, coupled with four aces and three blocks. She handled 20 of the team’s 40 receptions with a 40 positive reception. Eczacibasi returns to Champions League action on Jan. 10 against Turkish rival VakifBank (1-0). In the Turkish League, Eczacibasi blanked Sariyer 25-18, 26-24, 25-18 on Dec. 18. Larson pitched in seven kills on 23 attacks and two aces for nine points in the victory. Adams, with foreign roster limitations in the Turkish League, did not suit for the match. Eczacibasi (7-3), now in third place, returns to Turkish League action on Dec. 21 against seventh-place Besiktas (6-4).

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. After byes in the European Champions League first, second and third rounds, VakifBank began the double-round robin fourth round Pool D with an 18-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-13 victory over Russia’s Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinbug on Dec. 14. Hill was a sub in all four sets, recording a 100 positive reception percent on three chances without a single offensive attack. VakifBank resumes Champions League action on Jan. 10 against Turkish rival Eczacibasi (1-0). VakifBank blanked Halkbank 27-25, 25-18, 25-17 on Dec. 17 to remain undefeated in the Turkish League. Hill, who started all three sets, hammered out 14 kills on 30 swings and added an ace for 15 points in the victory. She also handled 22 of the team’s 57 receptions, recording a 73 positive reception percent. VakifBank, the only undefeated team with an 9-0 record, is back in action on Dec. 21 versus fourth-place Bursa B.Sehir BLD (7-3).

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 third straight match, falling to Eczacibasi 25-18, 26-24, 25-18 on Dec. 18. Fawcet tallied seven points with six kills on 15 swings and an ace. Crimes added four blocks and three kills on nine swings for seven points. Sariyer, now in 11th place with a 2-8 record, will look to avoid a four-match losing streak when it faces 12th place Idman Ocagi (2-8) on Dec. 21.

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, which closed the Chinese regular season on a hot streak, continued the momentum in the first round of the playoffs with a 25-23, 25-18, 25-23 victory over Liaoning Radio and TV on Dec. 17. Robinson hammered out 11 kills on 24 attacks to go with four blocks for a team-best 15 points. Lowe, who started just the first set, scored seven points in the victory. BAIC Motors takes its 1-0 playoff record into the second leg against Tianjin on Dec. 20 and will have a rematch with Liaoning Radio and TV on Dec. 24.

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, which finished the six-team Group 1 regular season in sixth place, started the second tier playoffs well with a 25-13, 25-16, 27-25 victory over Dianchi College on Dec. 17. Easy notched 14 kills on 33 swings and four blocks for 18 points. Murphy was a sub in the third set. Henan resumes the playoffs on Dec. 20 against Shandong.

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. Casalmaggiore downed Italian league-leader Foppapedretti Bergamo 20-25, 25-17, 28-26, 25-19 on Dec. 15. Lloyd set her team to a 44 kill percent and contributed two individual kills on three attacks and two blocks for four points. Gibbemeyer put 10 points on the scoresheet with six kills on 12 attacks and four blocks. Casalamaggiore continued its hot play with a 25-23, 25-13, 25-14 win over Savino Del Bene Scandicci on Dec. 18. Lloyd has two blocks and a kill while setting Casalmaggiore to a 35 kill percent. Gibbemeyer pocketed five blocks and three kills on eight errorless attacks. Casamaggiore, now in first place with 25 points and a 9-1 record, will resume Italian League action on Dec. 26 against 10th-ranked Metalleghe Montichiari (2-8, 6 points). 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.

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 nearly upset then league-leader Foppapedretti Bergamo on Dec. 17 before falling 25-21, 21-25, 25-23, 31-33, 15-13. Bartsch scored a team-leading 24 points with 22 kills on 53 attacks and two blocks. She also handled 21 serves with an 81 positive reception percent. Bolzano (3-7, 12 points), now in eighth place, will look to avoid a second straight loss when it faces seventh-place LIU JO Nordmeccanica Modena (4-5, 13 points) on Dec. 26.

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 swept Legionovia Legionowa 25-13, 25-18, 25-22 on Dec. 17. Hancock set her team to a 44 kill percent and charted nine individual points with four kills on eight attacks, three aces on 10 serves and two blocks. Wroclaw, in third place with an 8-4 record and 27 points, will challenge fourth-place Developres SkyRes Rzeszow (8-4, 25 points) on Dec. 23 in its next Orlen Liga match.