Women's Update: Behind the Curtain Details

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Jan. 25, 2016, 2:15 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 25, 2016) – This week’s U.S. Women’s National Team Update not only brings you the latest in the players’ status overseas playing with their pro club teams, but it also gives you some behind the curtain details on the players such as how Kayla Banwarth reads opponents as a libero, Kelsey Robinson’s new “24-Hours” blog series and getting to know Alisha Glass.

DID YOU KNOW: Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) has developed into one of the best-ever setters in the history of the U.S. Women’s National Team and is among the top setters in the world.

  • Named USA Volleyball Female Indoor Athlete of the Year for 2013 and 2014
  • Selected Best Setter of 2014 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship as she led Team USA to the gold medal
  • Named finalist for the 2014 Women's Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year
  • Earned gold medal in three consecutive FIVB World Grand Prix Final Rounds (2010, 2011, 2012) and was Best Setter in the 2010 and 2012 editions
  • Starting setter at Penn State all four years and led Nittany Lions to three consecutive NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship titles before joining National Team in June 2009
  • Chosen AVCA All-America First-Team in 2008 and 2009 after being selected second team as sophomore in 2007.
  • Started on 2004 U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team that won NORCECA Championship and earned Best Setter
  • Finished prep career as national and state high school record holder in season aces (296), career aces (937) and career kills (3,584) while being coached by her mother, Laurie Glass
  • Likes to do jigsaw puzzles in her free time
  • As a young setter in club volleyball, Alisha wanted to be like Misty May-Treanor and was inspired by Karch Kiraly, her current head coach with the U.S. Women’s National Team.
  • Get to Know Alisha Glass Video
  • Full Bio

READ PROGRESSION OF A LIBERO: Tim Toy, a U.S. Women’s National Team super fan who runs JamtheGym.com and the We Serve First Foundation, sat down with Team USA libero Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) on how she prepares for teams and how she goes about reading the progression of an opposing team’s offense to get in the best possible position to dig or pass the serve. "So how does the libero go about his/her business on the court?" Toy wondered. He asks Banwarth how much preparation goes into being a libero versus how much is just reaction and instinct; the steps that Banwarth goes through as a digger and as a passer; first reads if the opponent is in system; and much more. As far as the team's success at the NORCECA Olympic Qualifier in Lincoln, Neb., Banwarth stated in the article: "In Lincoln we were on a mission. I think that's why everyone was so dialed in. After not qualifying at World Cup, we had a little chip on our shoulder and we were determined to send a message that we belong in the Olympics." Check out the article by clicking here.

24-HOURS BLOG SERIES BY KELSEY: Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill.) is exploring parts Europe and reporting back what she sees during a 24-hour trip to cities during her off-days. “One of the greatest parts of my job is the ability to travel to foreign places on a whim,” Robinson said. “The downfall, however, is that I often have to take these adventures in one day. So how do you spend 24 hours in a place like Florence or Pisa? I’ve got you covered.” To read her first two blog entries, click the links below:

CEV EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AND CEV CUP: The CEV European Champions League six-leg first round comes to an end this week with several matches playing a key role in deciding pool seedings heading into the playoff round.

  • Jan. 26: Volero Zurich (Akinradewo, N. Hagglund, Vansant) vs. Uralochka NTMK Ekaterina, 7 a.m. PT, WATCH
  • Jan. 27: Fenerbahce (Dietzen) vs. Dresdner (Bartsch), 9 a.m. PT, WATCH
  • Jan. 27: Novara (Fawcett) vs. VakifBank (Hill), 11:30 a.m. PT, WATCH
  • Jan. 27: Casalmaggiore (Gibbemeyer, Lloyd) vs. Eczacibasi (Larson, Kreklow), 11:30 a.m. PT, WATCH
  • Jan. 27: Impel Wroclaw (Hildebrand) vs. Telekom Baku, 11:30 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 European CEV Champions League Pool C action, Eczacibasi rallied to defeat Czech Republic’s Agel Prostejov 25-21, 18-25, 22-25, 28-26, 15-12 on Jan. 19. Eczacibasi withstood three match points in the fourth set before winning the final three points to win the set and never trailing in the fifth set. Larson charted 16 points with 13 kills on 35 attacks, two aces and a block while handling four receptions with a 50 positive percent. Kreklow did not play in the match. Eczacibasi (3-2, 9 points), now in second place in Group C, must defeat Italy’s Pomi Casalmaggiore (4-1, 12 points) 3-0 or 3-1 in the final first-round match on Jan. 27 to take the pool’s top seed heading into the playoffs. In the Turkish League, Eczacibasi upset undefeated league-leader VakifBank 25-22, 27-25, 15-25, 26-24 on Jan. 23. Larson notched 15 points with 13 kills on 28 attacks and two aces. Kreklow did not play in the match. Fourth-place Eczacibasi (9-4, 26 points) challenges 10th-place Idman Ocagi on Jan. 30 in its next Turkish League match.

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 European Champions League Pool B, VakifBank swept Poland’s PGE Atom Trefl SOPOT 25-20, 25-21, 25-18 on Jan. 20 in Istanbul, Turkey. Hill claimed 10 points with seven kills on 24 attacks, two blocks and an ace. She chipped in a 47 positive reception percent on 19 chances. VakifBank (5-0, 15 points), which has clinched the top spot in Pool B, closes out the first round on Jan. 27 against Italy’s Igor Gorgonzola Novara (2-3, 6 points). VakifBank lost for the first time in 13 matches of the 2015-16 Turkish League season after falling to fourth-place Eczacibasi (9-4, 26 points) 25-22, 27-25, 15-25, 26-24 on Jan. 23. Hill scored seven points in the loss with five kills and two blocks while holding a 73 positive reception percent on 15 chances. VakifBank (12-1, 35 points) looks to rebound on Jan. 30 against ninth-place Halkbank.

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 Pool E action, Fenerbahce (5-0) remained undefeated by defeating Azerbaijan’s Telekom Baku 25-18, 25-19, 25-16 on Jan. 21 in Azerbaijan. Dietzen tallied four kills on seven errorless swings and two blocks for six points. Fenerbahce (5-0, 14 points), which has now secured the group’s top seed going into playoffs, concludes the first round on Jan. 27 against Germany’s Dresdner SC (3-2, 7 points), which is tied for second place in Group E. Fenebahce blanked seventh-place Sariyer 26-24, 25-21, 25-17 on Jan. 24 to move ahead of VakifBank for the league leadership. Dietzen did not play in the match. Fenerbahce (11-1, 37 points) plays last-place Ilbank on Jan. 30 in its next Turkish League 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. In CEV Cup action, Galatasaray blanked Volley Koniz 25-16, 25-17, 25-16 to start the CEV Cup 4th Round home-and-home series. Jackson scored five points with two aces, two kills and a block. The teams conclude the home-and-home series on Jan. 27. In the Turkish League, Galatasaray edged Canakkale 28-26, 21-25, 25-17, 30-28 on Jan. 23. Jackson contributed eight points in the victory with six kills on 15 attacks, one block and one ace. Galatasaray (11-2, 29 points), in third place, faces 11th-place Salihli on Jan. 31 in the next Turkish League match.

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 Pool D action, Volero remained undefeated after sweeping France’s RC Cannes 25-20, 25-19, 25-13 on Jan. 21 in Zurich. Akinradewo scored eight points with six kills on 11 attacks and two blocks. Vansant was a sub in the third set, registering one kill on as many attacks. Volero (5-0, 15 points), which has already clinched the group’s top seed heading into the playoffs, concludes the first round on Jan. 26 against Russia’s Uralochka Ekaterinburg (4-1, 10 points), which has secured the second seed regardless of the match outcome. Volero improved to 14-0 in the Swiss League by beating seventh-place VBC Cheseaux 25-15, 25-14, 25-11 on Jan. 23. Volero, which has not lost a set in the Swiss League, faces fifth-place Volley Koniz on Jan. 30.

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 Pool E, Impel Wroclaw stopped Germany’s Dresdner SC 25-23, 29-27, 15-25, 25-19 on Jan. 20 in Germany. Hildebrand hammered 20 kills on 42 attacks, one ace and one block for 22 points in the victory. She 24 receptions in the victory. For her efforts, she was named to Laola1.tv's Dream Team for the week. To watch a video highlighting her performance, click here. Impel Wroclaw (2-4, 7 points), now tied for second place in the group but in third place on tiebreakers, will close out the first round on Jan. 27 against winless Telekom Baku (0-5, 2 points) on Jan. 27. In the Polish League, Impel Wroclaw upset league leader Chemik Police (13-1, 40 points) 24-26, 25-21, 25-15, 11-25, 15-13 on Jan. 24. Hildebrand collected 11 kills on 36 attacks and produced a 55 positive reception percent on 29 chances. Impel Wroclaw (12-2, 32 points), which dropped to fourth place despite the loss, resumes Polish League action on Jan. 30 against second-place PGE Atom Trefl Sopot (12-2, 35 points).

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 sixth consecutive match by sweeping Obiettivo Risarcimento Vicenza 25-15, 25-21, 25-22 on Jan. 24. Glass set the team to a 40 kill percent while pitching in two kills on two attacks, two blocks and two ace for six points. Easy totaled 12 kills on 33 points to go with a 40 positive reception percent on a team-best 25 chances. Adams contributed six kills on 12 attacks, three blocks and an ace for 10 points. Robinson added seven kills and two blocks for nine points to go with a 41 positive reception percent on 17 chances. Conegliano (11-3, 33 points) will seek a seventh straight win on Jan. 31 when it faces Pomi Casalmaggiore (11-3, 33 points) in a battle of the two teams tied for the league lead.

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 Pool C, group leader Casamaggiore solidified its top spot with a 25-23, 12-25, 25-23, 25-17 victory over Poland’s Chemik Police on Jan. 20. Gibbemeyer, who was named to Laola1.tv's Dream Team for the the Week (see video highlights), notched 14 points with seven kills on 14 attacks and just one to go with a team-best six blocks and one ace. Lloyd added five blocks and one kill for six indidividual points while setting the team to a 33 kill percent for the match. Casalmaggiore (4-1, 12 points) closes out the double-round robin first round on Jan. 27 against second-place Eczacibasi (3-2, 9 points), which needs to win in three or four sets to take the group’s top seed. In the Italian Serie A1, Pomi Casalmaggiore continued its winning ways by defeating Foppapedretti Bergamo 25-27, 25-19, 25-23, 25-21 on Jan. 24. Gibbemeyer scored 15 points with 11 kills on 18 attacks, three blocks and an ace. Casalmaggiore (11-3, 33 points) faces Conegliano (11-3, 33 points) on Jan. 31 in a battle of the two teams tied atop the league standings.

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 CEV Champions League, Novara (1-3, 3 points) dominated Calcit Ljubljana 25-22, 25-14, 25-17 on Jan. 19. Fawcett scored three kills on 11 attacks in starting the first two sets. Novara (2-3, 6 points), in third place in Pool B, closes out the first round on Jan. 27 against undefeated league leader VakifBank (5-0, 15 points). In the Italian Serie A, Novara swept Club Italia 25-23, 25-18, 25-18 on Jan. 24. Fawcett subbed into the match in the first set and started the final two sets to pocket seven kills on 18 swings with just two errors. Novara (11-3, 32 points), in third place and just one point behind league leaders Conegliano and Casalmaggiore, is idle during the coming week.

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. Busto Arsizio ended its two-match losing streak by defeating Suditrol Bolzano on Jan. 24. Lowe notched a match-high 21 points with 19 kills on 45 swings and two aces. Hagglund set her teammates to a 38 kill percent while also serving an ace in the victory. Busto Arsizio (6-8, 18 points), now in ninth place, looks to maintain its winning streak when it plays fifth-place LIU JO Modena (9-5, 26 points) on Jan. 31.

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 swept Sao Cristovao Saudesao Caetano 25-23, 25-11, 25-20 on Jan. 19. Thompson set her team to a 46 kill percent while scoring one individual kill on one swing and an ace for two points in the victory. The Brazilian Superliga is on hiatus until the first week of February as second-place Rexona Ades (14-1, 40 points) returns on Feb. 2 to face fifth-place Terracap/Brasilia Volei (8-8, 25 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 blanked Camponesa Minas 25-22, 25-20, 25-18 on Jan. 18. Klineman charted nine kills on 27 attacks and a block for 10 points in the victory. She added four receptions with a 50 positive percent. Praia Clube (14-2, 42 points), in first place with a two-point lead over second-place Rexona Ades (14-1, 40 points), returns to Brazilian Superliga action on Feb. 2 against Sesi Sao Paulo.

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 rallied to defeat Ageo Medics 20-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-21 on Jan. 23. Dixon started the first three sets before being removed due to an injury. She scored three kills on 11 attacks, two blocks and an ace for six points. Toray finished the weekend with a 23-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-22 victory over Hitachi Rivale on Jan. 24. Dixon remained out of the lineup. Toray (17-4, 49 points) ended the regular season in first place heading into the V-League six-team top-division playoffs. Dixon led the league in kill percent at 51.9 percent.

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 blanked Denso 25-17, 25-22, 25-22 on Jan. 23. Paolini charted six kills on 16 attacks in the vicory. Hitachi lost its V-League regular season finale to league-leader Toray 23-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-22 on Jan. 24. Paolini recorded 16 kills on 34 attacks and two blocks for 18 points. Hitachi (13-8, 36 points) ended the regular season in third place and advance to the six-team V-League top-division playoffs. Paolini held the second-best kill percent with a 50.2 mark.

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 fell to league-leader Toray 20-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-21 on Jan. 23. Murphy totaled 26 kills on 77 attacks and one ace for 27 points in the loss. Ageo concluded the regular season with a 25-18, 25-20, 22-25, 25-21 victory over Denso on Jan. 24. Murphy provided Ageo 22 kills on 61 attacks, two aces and three blocks for 27 points in the victory. Ageo (20 points) finished the regular season in eighth place and failed to advance to the V-League’s six-team top division playoffs. Murphy ended the 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 CEV Champions League Pool E action, Dresdner lost to Poland’s Impel Wroclaw 25-23, 29-27, 15-25, 25-19 on Jan. 20 in Germany. Bartsch totaled 14 points with 13 kills on 37 attacks and an ace in the loss. She added 23 receptions with a 52 positive reception percent. Dresdner (3-2, 7 points), now in second place in the group heading into the final weekend of the first round, takes on pool leader Fenerbahce (5-0, 14 points) on Jan. 27. In the German Bundesliga, Dresdner swept Schweriner 25-23, 25-20, 25-10 in a battle of the top two teams atop the league standings. Bartsch scored a team-high 17 points with 13 kills on 25 swings, along with three aces and a block. She added a 33 positive reception percent on 15 chances. Dresdner (14-2, 41 points), now alone at the top of the standings, returns to German Bundesliga action on Jan. 30 against sixth-place Stuttgart (9-6, 26 points).