Women's Update: Scoops on Court and Luke

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | March 06, 2016, 7:31 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 6, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team members are active all around the world playing as they move into the closing stages of their pro club seasons. The latest weekly update includes player news, as well as features on Courtney Thompson, a blog written by Natalie Hagglund highlighting her teammate Foluke Akinradewo and an Upward Sports interview with Christa Dietzen among other topics.

DID YOU KNOW: Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.), a 2012 Olympic Games silver medalist, is one of the U.S. Women’s National Team leaders and long-time veterans and joining the team in January 2007.

  • Stepped in to start the 2012 Olympic Games quarterfinal match delivering a 3-0 victory over Dominican Republic to put Team USA in the medal round.
  • Subject of the move “Court & Spark: A Volleyball Documentary”. For a trailer of the movie, click here.
  • Co-founder of the Give It Back Foundation. It was created in 2015 by the U.S. Women’s National Team members who share the mission of leading the next generation of athletes toward healthy competition and generosity. Based on the core values of “Lead. Play. Compete!”, they began a journey to instill the spirit of the Olympics and World Championship within young athletes in their local communities. In partnership with a local sport club Puget Sound Volleyball, the inaugural two-day instructional camp took place in Thompson’s hometown of Kent, Washington. This camp raised $35,000 for Children's Therapy of Kent. In the future, all camps will be fundraisers to support a local charity connected to the lead athlete. For details, click here.
  • Helped University of Washington win the 2005 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship title
  • Selected AVCA All-America First-Team three times and ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American while at University of Washington.
  • Set then-Pac-10 record for career assists with 6,552, which was third-best in NCAA history.
  • First female player at University of Washington to have her collegiate jersey retired.
  • As a junior at Washington, earned Honda Sports Award as best collegiate volleyball player and was a finalist for the award as a senior.
  • Valedictorian of Kentlake High School graduating class.
  • Led Kentlake High School to three state volleyball championships and also earned all-state in basketball as a senior.
  • Full Bio

DIETZEN INTERVIEW WITH UPWARD SPORTS: Middle blocker Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pa.) participated in a Q&A interview with Upward Sports where she answers questions on playing multiple sports, what adjustments she needed to make at the National Team level, her accomplishment that most stands out, her past struggles with anxiety and fear of failure, and her short- and long-term goals after the 2016 Olympic Games. Read the article by clicking here.

NATALIE HAGGLUND PROVIDES SERVE-RECEIVE TIPS: Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, Calif.) has launched her own personal website at nataliehagglund.com and recently answered a young readers’ question on tips on service reception. To read her response, click here. She also blogged about her USA and Volero Zurich teammate, Foluke Akinradewo. To read the blog that reveals some lesser known facts about Akinradewo, click here.

KARCH AND KAYLA AT USOC MEDIA SUMMIT: U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly and libero Kayla Banwarth will be participating in the United States Olympic Committee Team USA Media Summit on March 8 with over 600 media attending. The pair will take turns answering questions from the media, along with photo shoots, broadcast interviews and turns with top social media outlets from around the world. Kiraly is scheduled to take part in a press conference at 10:40 a.m. PT, which can be watched live by clicking here. The Team USA Media Summit provides media with unprecedented interview opportunities and access to America's top Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls from all sports, all in one place, leading into the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

CONDOLENCES TO KIM WILLOUGHBY: USA Volleyball expresses its deepest condolences to Kim Willoughby, 2008 U.S. Olympic Team silver medalist, with the passing of her three-year-old daughter, Kailia, following an accident in Puerto Rico on March 2. According to police reports, Kailia suffered head trauma after falling out of the bath tub while Kim was going for a towel. Kim is competing for Mayaquez in the Puerto Rico Superliga in 2016.

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 swept sixth-place Bursa B. Sehir 25-20, 25-19, 25-21 on March 5. Larson crushed 14 kills on 30 attacks in the victory while holding a 60 positive reception percent on 10 chances. Kreklow started the first two sets as Eczacibasi converted 50.7 percent of its attacks into points in those two sets. Eczacibasi (15-4, 43 points), which moved up into sole possession of third place, faces fourth-place Galatasaray on March 12 in the 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 Turkish League, VakifBank rallied from a first-set loss against Sariyer to win 23-25, 25-17, 25-16, 29-27 on March 5. Hill provided nine points in the victory with five kills and four aces. She chipped in a 58 positive reception percent on a team-leading 31 reception chances. VakifBank (17-2, 50 points), now in second place and just two points behind league-leader Fenerbahce, takes on last-place Ilbank on March 12. In the European Champions League, VakifBank has advanced to the Playoff 6 Round where it will face Volero Zurich in a home-and-home series on March 10 and a return date to be announced.

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 the Turkish League, Fenebahce rallied from its loss last week to sweep ninth-place Halkbank 25-21, 25-12, 25-13 on March 5. Dietzen did not play in the match. Fenerbahce (17-2, 52 points), in first place by two points over VakifBank, plays sixth-place Canakkale on March 12 in the next Turkish League match. In European CEV Champions League, Fenerbahce has advanced to the Playoff 6 series to play Russia’s Dinamo Moscow in a home-and-home series on March 9 and a return date to be announced.

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 was upset by eighth-place Nilufer 25-27, 25-22, 25-23, 25-14 on March 5 in its third straight setback. Jackson converted nine of 16 attacks into points and scored two aces for 11 total points. Galatasaray (14-5, 40 points), now in fourth place, challenges third-place Eczacibasi on March 12. In CEV Cup action, Galatasaray has advanced to the CEV Cup semifinals where it will face Germany’s Schweriner in the home-and-home series on March 8 and March 12.

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 13th straight match by sweeping Club Italia 25-17, 25-17, 25-23 on March 2. Glass set Conegliano to a 45 kill percent and scored two individual points with a kill and block. Adams scored a team-high 12 points with 10 kills on 16 attacks and two blocks. Robinson charted nine kills on 23 swings and two aces for 11 points while handling 14 receptions with an 86 positive percent. Easy matched her total with 11 points on 10 kills via 27 swings and a block. She was credited with a 67 positive reception percent on a team-best 18 reception chances. Congeliano won its 14th straight match on March 6, but needed to rally to a 25-22, 21-25, 23-25, 25-13, 15-11 victory over LIU JO Modena. Glass set Conegliano to a 43 kill percent and scored two kills on five errorless swings. Easy connected for 22 points with 21 kills on 45 attacks and a block. She added a team-best 29 receptions with a 55 positive percent. Adams followed with 20 points, including 11 kills on 20 swings, a team-best eight blocks and an ace. Robinson charted 15 points with 11 kills on 40 swings, two aces and two blocks. She was credited with a 65 positive reception percent on 26 chances. Conegliano (19-3, 54 points) will seek its 15th straight win on March 13 against sixth-place Savino Del Bene Scandici (12-9, 36 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 swept Suditrol Bolzano 25-11, 25-19, 25-14 on March 2. Gibbemeyer scored eight kills on 16 errorless attacks, three blocks and two aces for a match-high 13 points. Casalmaggiore followed up the mid-week win by edging sixth-place Savino Del Bene Scandicci 25-22 26-24, 25-27, 25-17 on March 6. Lloyd set Casalmaggiore to a 46 kill percent, and she tacked on three kills on nine attacks and four blocks for seven points. Gibbemeyer notched 10 points with eight kills on 13 swings and two blocks. Casalmaggiore (16-5, 49 points), now in second place, faces third-place Nordmeccanica Piacenza (15-6, 48 points) on March 13. 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. Novara lost to Savino Del Bene Scandici 23-25, 30-28, 25-21, 25-16 on March 2 to start the week. Fawcett, who started the first set and subbed in the third set, was held scoreless. Novara bounced back to edge Unendo Yamamay Busto Arsizio 24-26, 25-21, 22-25, 29-27, 15-12 on March 5. Fawcett charted 14 points with 10 kills on 25 attacks and four blocks. She added four receptions in the victory. Novara (15-6, 42 points), in fourth place, returns to Italian League action on March 13 against seventh-place Foppapedretti Bergamo (11-10, 35 points).

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 lost to Metalleghe Sanitars Montichiari 17-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-16, 19-17 on March 2. Lowe scored a team-high 32 points with 30 kills on 58 attack with just three errors to go with two blocks in the loss. Hagglund set the team to a 43 kill percent for the match and tallied three individual kills on eight swings and an ace for four points. Busto Arsizio lost its second straight five-set match on March 5, this time 24-26, 25-21, 22-25, 29-27, 15-12 on March 5 to Igor Gorgonzola Novara. Lowe pocketed 20 points with 19 kills on 58 attacks and an ace ace. Hagglund set the team to a 36 kill percent in the loss. Busto Arsizio (8-14, 27 points), now in eighth place, is idle next week.

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, which ended the Swiss League regular season at 18-0 and just one set loss, improved to 3-0 in the Swiss playoffs after topping Volley Koniz 25-17, 25-13, 25-17 on March 2. Volero continues the Swiss playoffs on March 6 against fifth-place TS Volley Dudingen and March 12 versus third-place Hotel Cristal VFM. In CEV Champions League, Volero will now face Turkey’s VakifBank in the home-and-home Playoff 6 round with matches on March 10 and a return date to be announced.

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 concluded the regular season with a convincing 25-18, 25-19, 25-21 victory over third-place Volei Nestle on March 4. Thompson set her team to a 46 kill percent for the match and scored one ace. Rexona-Ades (21-1, 60 points) ended the regular season in first place with an eight-point advantage over second-place Praia Clube (17-5, 52 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 lost its final regular season match to Rio Do Sul 25-22, 16-25, 19-25, 25-20, 16-14 on March 4. Klineman produced 15 points, all coming on kills via 37 attacks. She also handled 24 of her team’s 86 receptions in the match. Praia Clube (17-4, 52 points) finished second in the standings as it was unable to move up or down regardless of the final match outcome.

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 before the squad dropped to the CEV Cup. In the Polish League, Impel Wroclaw edged Budowlani Lodz 25-21, 22-25, 25-13, 25-15 on March 5. Hildebrand contributed 15 kills on 37 attacks in the victory. She handled 18 receptions with a 61 positive percent. Third-place Impel Wroclaw (17-4, 46 points), in a third-place tie, concludes the Polish League regular season on March 12 against BKS Aluprof Profi Credit Bielsko Biala.

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, which received a bye into the V-League Championship match after winning the six-team playoff, will meet semifinal winner Hisamitsu Springs on March 12 in Tokyo for the title.

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. In its Challenge Match series with second-division JT Marvelous, Ageo lost the opening match 25-21, 25-16, 26-24 on March 5. Murphy scored 16 kills on 49 attacks and a block for 17 points in the loss. In the second match of the series, JT Marvelous won 25-18, 25-23, 25-21 to sweep the series. Murphy collected 11 kills on 28 attacks and four blocks for 15 points. With the loss, Ageo is relegated to the V-League second division for 2016-17, while JT Marvelous moves up to the top division.

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. Fresh off its German Cup title, Dresdner won two matches last week to conclude the German Bundesliga regular season. Dresdner defeated VolleyStars Thuringen 25-23, 25-17, 17-25, 25-9 on March 2. Bartsch only started the fourth set and pocketed four kills on nine attacks while holding a 75 positive reception percent on eight chances. Dresdner ended the regular season with a 25-19, 25-22, 25-16 victory over Aachen on March 5. Bartsch totaled 18 points with 14 kills on 36 swings, three aces and a block. She also handled 11 receptions with a 73 positive percent. Dresdner (20-4, 60 points) captured the regular season title and top seed into the playoffs based a three-point edge in the standings over second-place Schweriner (20-4, 57 points). Dresdner advances directly to the quarterfinals and will play the lowest remaining seed of the pre-playoff matches.