Women's Update: Past, Present and Future

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Feb. 08, 2016, 7:22 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 8, 2016) – U.S. Women’s National Team players – past and future – are converging on the U.S. Olympic Training Center this month for two big events, while current members are competing overseas in pro leagues. U.S. Olympic athletes participated in the recent USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches’ Clinic Feb. 4-6, while future athletes will take part in the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts Feb. 19-21.

DID YOU KNOW: Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) shined on the international stage in 2015 in just her second year with the U.S. Women’s National Team after joining the squad in May 2014.

  • Selected 2015 USA Volleyball Female Indoor Most Improved Player
  • In her first FIVB event, she was named Best Setter at 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix in leading Team USA to the gold medal
  • Kreklow led the U.S. to gold at the NORCECA World Championship Qualification Tournament in her first international tournament with the senior team.
  • Set University of Missouri to a school-record .356 team hitting efficiency in 2013 en route to being name SEC Player of the Year.
  • She started every match during her four-year career at Missouri.
  • Was coached at University of Missouri by her uncle and aunt, Wayne and Susan Kreklow.
  • Father Mike played basketball at University of Wisconsin for two years before transferring to Drake University, where her mother Marcia played volleyball.
  • Led U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team to gold at 2008 NORCECA Continental U-18 Championship.
  • Full Bio

NATIONAL TEAM OPEN TRYOUTS: The annual U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts are scheduled for Feb. 19-21 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The tryout traditional draws around 240 athletes with hopes of earning a spot on one of the U.S. Women’s National Team programs. Athletes who have come out of the tryout include Kim Hill, who attended in 2013 and went on to earn the most valuable player award at the 2014 FIVB World Championship. Athletes will be bidding for spots not only in the Women’s National Team gym, but also positions on the U.S. Collegiate National Team programs, both domestic and international. The tryout is open to athletes who have concluded their college eligibility and current collegiate athletes born in the years 1987-1997 inclusive. Athletes born before 1987 must contact USA Volleyball for approval. Registration closes on Feb. 5. To register and for more details, click here. USA Volleyball will streaming nearly 100 percent of the action on the tryout courts, along with many new features to be announced later this month.

HIGH PERFORMANCE COACHES’ CLINIC: The 2016 USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches' Clinic, titled "Destination: Olympics - Embracing Adversity on the Road to Gold", had 242 individuals participate in the 2.5 day seminar at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., led by international coaching superstars.

Karch Kiraly (current U.S. Women's National Team head coach), Hugh McCutcheon (2008 U.S. Olympic Men's Team gold-medal coach and 2012 U.S. Olympic Women's Team silver-medal coach), Doug Beal (CEO of USA Volleyball, three-time U.S. Olympic Men's Team coach including 1984 Olympics gold-medal) and Mick Haley (2000 U.S. Olympic Women's Team head coach) headlined the list of presenters. For a full list of presenters, click here.

Along with the headline speakers, five Olympians/Paralympians were on hand giving their thoughts on the game. U.S. Olympic Women’s Team members included five-time Olympian and two-time silver medalist Danielle Scott-Arruda, two-time Olympian and 1992 bronze medalist Kim Oden, three-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic silver medalist Stacy Sykora, three-time Olympian and 2008 gold medalist Clay Stanley and two-time Paralympic Games silver medalist Katie Holloway.

HP Coaches' Clinic Photo Galleries: Feb. 6 | Feb. 5 | Feb. 4

The clinic drew nine individuals from outside the United States from as far as Belgium, Morocco, Qatar, Spain and Tunisia, and just across the border in Canada.

Since 2004, the USA Volleyball High Performance Department has featured the annual HPCC as a way to bring together great coaching minds to network and share the most current, pertinent and critical issues in the sport. Past speakers have included the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team coaches, international coaches, USAV High Performance Pipeline Coaches and USAV Region HP Coaches. Topics vary annually and have covered ideas such as the men’s versus women’s game, sports psychology, uses of technology and drill ideas.

Along with the attendees, 12 current collegiate players who were either part of the U.S. Collegiate National Team program or the U.S. Women's Junior National Team last summer served as athlete demonstrators to assist the speakers in presenting drills on court.

Morgan Heise, a libero who just finished her junior season at SMU last fall after being a part of the U.S. Collegiate National Team program last June, felt she learned just as much as the coaches watching her as an athlete demonstrator.

"Well first off, the first day we learned more about serving as it is important here as it is in college," Heise said. "I learned about hand placement and the connection on the serve. And today, with the whole defense process, I learned about digging the slide ball and tips, and just how important it is to get the ball high enough for the setter to set. No one really thinks about when the last point will be for yourself, and Stacy Sykora really made that important in the role of digging."

One of Heise’s individual highlights was just the presence she was in with the Olympians and Olympic coaches.

"Definitely meeting all the Olympians and just being with all these girls is awesome,” Heise said. “I have never been in this situation and it is a great feeling."

Athlete Demonstrators for the USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches' Clinic

  • Melanie Crow - Mississippi
  • Kayla Haneline - Northern Iowa
  • Chelsea Harris - Rice
  • Morgan Heise - Southern Methodist
  • Caroline Knop - Michigan
  • Morgan Kuhrt - Iowa State
  • Laura Larson - Arizona
  • Jordan Poulter - Illinois
  • Jenna Rosenthal - Marquette
  • Lauren Schad - San Diego
  • Taylor Tashima - Northwestern
  • Taylor Treacy - North Carolina

CEV EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AND CEV CUP: The CEV European Champions League Playoff 12 round starts out with U.S. Women’s National Team players competing in four matches, as well as a CEV Cup Challenge Round match this week. The five matches, which includes Americans going head-to-head in two of the matches, can be watched live on laola1.tv.

  • Feb. 9: Fenerbahce (Dietzen) vs. Chemik Police, 10:30 a.m. PT, WATCH
  • Feb. 10: Volero Zurich (Akinradewo, N. Hagglund, Vansant) vs. Lokomotiv Baku, 5 a.m. PT, WATCH
  • Feb. 10: Eczacibasi (Larson, Kreklow) vs. VakifBank (Hill), 8 a.m. PT, WATCH
  • Feb. 10: Dresdner (Bartsch) vs. Dinamo Moscow, 9 a.m. PT, WATCH
  • Feb. 11: Impel Wroclaw (Hildebrand) vs. Galatasaray (Jackson), 8 a.m. PT, WATCH

LARSON, KREKLOW WITH TURKEY’S ECZACIBASI: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (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 the Turkish League, Eczacibasi handled Nilufer 25-18, 20-25, 25-19, 25-22 on Feb. 6. Larson scored nine points with six kills and three blocks while adding a 50 positive reception percent on 16 chances. Kreklow did not enter the match. Fourth-place Eczacibasi (11-4, 32 points) takes on eighth-place Canakkale on Feb. 13 in the next Turkish League match. In European CEV Champions League, Eczacibasi opens its home-and-home Playoff 12 round with a Turkish rival VakifBank on Feb. 10, followed by the return match on Feb. 24.

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. In the Turkish League, VakifBank lost a heart-breaking 26-24, 23-25, 25-22, 16-25, 17-15 match to league-leader Fenerbahce on Feb. 6. Hill came in off the bench to sert the fourth and fifth sets and provided four points in the loss. She added a 70 positive reception percent on 10 chances. VakifBank (13-2, 38 points), now in second place, looks turn the momentum around on Feb. 13 against fifth-place Bursa B.Sehir BLD. In the European Champions League, VakifBank moves into the Playoff 12 Round to face Turkish rival Eczacibasi in a home-and-home series Feb. 10 and Feb. 24.

JACKSON WITH TURKEY’S GALATASARAY: Middle blocker Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles, California, Twitter, Instagram) is competing for Galatasaray of the Turkish League this winter. In the Turkish League, Galatasaray edged Sariyer 25-20, 19-25, 25-16, 25-14 on Feb. 6. Jackson scored 10 kills on 19 swings and two blocks for 12 points in the victory. Galatasaray (13-2, 35 points), in third place, faces last-place Ilbank on Feb. 13 in the next Turkish League match. In CEV Cup action, Galatasaray has advanced to the CEV Cup Challenge Round to take on Poland’s Impel Wroclaw in the home-and-home series Feb. 11 and Feb. 24.

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. Fenebahce won a hard-fought battle over VakifBank 26-24, 23-25, 25-22, 16-25, 17-15 on Feb. 6 to grab first place in the Turkish League. Dietzen did not suit for the match. Fenerbahce (12-1, 40 points), now with a three-point lead over VakifBank for the league-lead, meets 10th-place Idman Ocagi on Feb. 13 in the next Turkish League match. In European CEV Champions League, Fenerbahce challenges Poland’s Chemik Police in the Playoff 12 Round in the home-and-home series Feb. 9 and Feb. 23.

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. Volero improved to 17-0 in the Swiss League with two league victories last week. Volero upended last-place Volley Toggenburg 25-15, 25-14, 25-10 on Feb. 6 before taking down sixth-place Hotel Cristal VFM 25-20, 25-16, 25-20 on Feb. 7. Volero’s (17-0, 51 points) next Swiss League match is on Feb. 13 against third-place Viteos NUC I. In CEV Champions League, Volero moves into the Playoff 12 Round against Azerbaijan’s Lokomotiv Baku with home-and-home matches on Feb. 10 and Feb. 25.

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 won its eighth and ninth consecutive matches last week with two victories to maintain its top spot in the league standings. Conegliano topped Sudtirol Bolzano 25-22, 25-8, 25-17 on Feb. 3. Glass sett the squad to a 41 kill percent while converting four of five individual attacks into points to go with two blocks for six points. Easy claimed 15 points with 14 kills on 25 attacks and an ace to go with 14 receptions. Robinson tacked on 14 points with nine kills on 25 swings, four aces and a block. She added a 75 positive reception percent on a team-best 16 chances. Adams turned in eight points with four kills on nine swings, two aces and two blocks. Conegliano maintained the winning streak by sweeping Unendo Yamamay Busto Arsizio 25-19, 25-21, 25-14 on Feb. 6. Glass set the team to a stellar 49 kill percent and .417 hitting efficiency while scoring one kill and one block for two individual points. Adams scored a team-best 14 points with 10 kills on 17 attacks, three blocks and an ace. Easy collected eight kills on 20 attacks and four blocks for 12 points. Robinson aided the cause with six kills on 21 attacks and two blocks for eight points while contributing a 76 positive reception percent on a team-best 17 chances. Conegliano (14-3, 41 points) will seek its 10th straight win on Feb. 14 when it faces eighth-place Metalleghe Sanitars Montichiari (8-9, 22 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 the Italian Serie A1, Pomi Casalmaggiore recovered from its loss last week to league leader Conegliano to defeat eighth-place Metalleghe Sanitars Montichiari 25-14, 22-25, 25-19, 25-21 on Feb. 3. Gibbemeyer hammered out eight kills on 13 swings to go with two blocks and an ace for 11 points. Lloyd set the squad to a 40 kill percent while adding three individual kills on five attacks, two aces and a block for six points. Casamaggiore was idle in the fourth round of the second half. Casalmaggiore (12-4, 37 points), now in third place, faces fourth-place Igor Gorgonzola Novara (12-4, 35 points) on Feb. 14. Casalmaggiore has also been selected to host the semifinals and finals of the CEV Champions League April 9-10, thus bypassing the Playoff 12 and Playoff 6 rounds.

FAWCETT WITH ITALY’S NOVARA: Opposite Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio, Instagram), most valuable player of the 2015 NORCECA Championship and the 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament, transferred to Italy’s Igor Gorgonzola Novara after completing the short-season Chinese professional league. In the Italian Serie A, Novara blanked Il Bisonte Firenze 25-22, 25-22, 25-22 on Feb. 3. Fawcett did not play in the match. In its second match of the week, Novara fell to Liu Jo Modena 27-25, 25-22, 25-17 on Feb. 7. Fawcett returned to the lineup and scored 12 kills on 28 swings and one block for 13 points in the loss. Novara (12-4, 35 points), in fourth place, returns to Italian League action on Feb. 14 against third-place Pomi Casalmaggiore (12-4, 37 points). In the CEV, Novara (2-4, 7 points) dropped down from the Champions League to the CEV Cup Challenge Round and will face Azeryol Baku in a home-and-home sries Feb. 11 and Feb. 23.

LOWE, JENNA HAGGLUND WITH ITALY’S BUSTO ARSIZIO: Opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa 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. Unendo Yamamay Busto Arsizio snapped its losing streak in defeating Obiettivo Risarcimento Vicenza 23-25, 25-23, 27-25, 25-23 on Feb. 3. Lowe collected 27 points with 25 kills on 65 swings, one ace and one block. Hagglund started the first two sets. However, Busto Arsizio was unable to keep the win streak alive as it fell to league-league Imoco Volley Conegliano 25-19, 25-21, 25-14 on Feb. 6. Lowe scored nine points with eight kills on 27 swings and a block. Hagglund started the first two sets in the loss. Busto Arsizio (7-10, 21 points), now in ninth place, will seek to get back in the win column on Feb. 14 as it faces sixth-place Foppapedretti Bergamo (8-8, 26 points).

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-Ades rallied to defeat fifth-place Brasilia Volei 25-13, 26-28, 17-25, 26-24, 15-7 on Feb. 2. Thompson set her squad to a 40 kill percent for the match while adding one ace and a kill in the victory. Rexona-Ades won its second match of the week by stopping Pinheiros 25-17, 22-25, 25-20, 25-15 on Feb. 4. Thompson scored two individual kills while setting the team to a 45 kill percent. Rexona-Ades (17-1, 48 points), now in first-place with a two-match lead and three standings points advantage, resumes Brazilian Superliga action on Feb. 12 against second-place Praia Clube (15-3, 45 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 split a pair of matches last week as it opened with a 25-13, 25-22, 25-18 win over SESI Sao Paulo on Feb. 2. Klineman totaled 16 points in the victory, including 11 kills on 22 errorless attacks, four blocks and an ace. However, third-place Volei Nestle upset Praia Clube 25-11, 25-23, 14-25, 25-12 on Feb. 5. Klineman scored two kills on five attacks and a block in starting the first two sets. Praia Clube (15-3, 45 points) looks to bounce back on Feb. 12 against league-leader Rexona-Ades (17-1, 48 points).

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 the Polish League, Impel Wroclaw held on to defeat PTPS Pila 25-14, 25-23, 23-25, 19-25, 15-13 on Feb. 3. Hildebrand scored six points in the victory and handled 30 of the team’s 94 receptions. Impel Wroclaw swept Polski Cukier Muszynianka Enea 26-24, 25-21, 25-15 on Feb. 7 for its second straight win of the week. Hildebrand cranked out 12 points with seven kills on 15 attacks, three aces and two blocks. She chipped in a 46 positive reception percent on a team-best 24 chances. Impel Wroclaw (14-3, 37 points), which moved up to third place with the two wins, resumes Polish League action on Feb. 14 against 10th-place KS Palac Bydgoszcz (3-13, 7 points). In the CEV, Impel Wroclaw dropped down from the Champions League to the CEV Cup Challenge Round where it will play Turkey’s Galatasaray on Feb. 11 and Feb. 24 in a home-and-home series to determine who advances to the Final Phase of the Cup.

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 opened the playoffs on Feb. 7 with a win over regular season champion Toray Arrows 26-24, 26-24, 18-25, 25-22 to gain a one-point edge in the playoff standings over Toray. Paolini notched 25 points with 21 kills, four blocks and an ace.

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. Murphy ended the regular season ranked second in scoring with 507 points and a 6.03 per set scoring average. She averaged 5.42 kills per set, also second in the league. Murphy held a 17.3 serve efficiency for second-best in the league, while having 26 aces for third-place.

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 the German Bundesliga, Dresdner recovered from its upset loss last week to win two matches including a 25-18, 25-23, 19-25, 25-10 win over VT Aurubis Hamburg on Feb. 3. Bartsch did not play in the match. Dresdner won its second straight match with a 25-22, 25-11, 25-10 win over third-place VC Wiesbaden on Feb. 6. Bartsch returned to the lineup to score nine points with seven kills on 21 swings and two blocks. She added a 57 positive reception percent on seven chances. Dresdner (16-3, 47 points), which remains in first place in the league standings, returns to German Bundesliga action on Feb. 14 when it faces 11th-place Straubing (7-11, 20 points). In CEV Champions League, Dresdner has advanced to the Playoff 12 Round to face Russia’s Dinamo Moscow on Feb. 10 and Feb. 24 in the home-and-home series.