Women's Update: Robinson, Mental Game, NY Times

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | March 21, 2016, 2:53 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 21, 2016) – The latest U.S. Women’s National Team Weekly Update provides the latest news on players competing in their pro seasons abroad, along with a “Did You Know” on Kelsey Robinson, a New York Times story on Courtney Thompson and a passionate blog by Natalie Hagglund on how she is transforming her mental mindset to once again enjoy the game.

DID YOU KNOW: Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois) joined the U.S. Women’s National Team in May 2014 and has competed in seven tournaments during that span with two USA Volleyball Cup appearances (2014 versus Brazil and 2015 versus China). She has already earned six medals in her seven tournaments, including four gold medals.

  • Named Best Receiver at 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament as USA earned gold and spot into 2016 Olympic Games
  • Named Best Outside Spiker at 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix
  • Selected to FIVB World Championship roster in her rookie season, which ended in gold. She started four matches in the tournament with a 3.05 points per set average.
  • Writes a 24 Hours Series Blog where she visits a city for 24 hours on her off-day and writes about her experiences. To read about cities she has blogged about, click here.
  • Selected AVCA All-America First-Team and Big Ten Player of the as a senior in 2013 at University of Nebraska following a transfer from University of Tennessee where she was 2012 SEC Player of the Year and AVCA All-American Second-Team as a junior.
  • Graduated from University of Nebraska in 2013 with a degree in broadcast journalism and has aspirations to have a broadcasting career following her playing career.
  • Selected to U.S. Women’s National Volleyball A2 Team in 2011 where she competed in Dallas.
  • Ranked No. 19 high school recruit on PrepVolleyball.com’s list of Senior Aces and earned high school All-American honors by two publications
  • Helped Wheaton-St. Francis to over 100 wins during her prep career
  • Video: Get to Know Kelsey Robinson
  • Full Bio

THOMPSON SUBJECT OF NEW YORK TIMES FEATURE: Courtney Thompson (Kent, Washington), her 2015-16 pro season in Brazil with Rexona-Ades, was the featured subject of a March 15 New York Times Article title “An American Olympian Prepares, on the Enemy’s Turf.” The article delves into why Thompson and her teammates venture outside the United States to play in pro leagues and what it is like to play in a foreign country especially in Brazil with the upcoming Olympic Games and the host nation being among the favorites. Thompson also articulates one reason for heading to Brazil, that being to be coached by legendary Bernardo Rezende. To read the New York Time article that landed on its sports cover page for March 16, click here.

Related: U.S. Women's National Team Home Page

LATEST NATALIE HAGGLUND BLOG: On her self-titled website nataliehagglund.com, Natalie Hagglund blogs about the mentality side of the game and finding her best self. In the opening of her blog, she writes, “The last couple of years, mentality has been the weakest part of my game and has really held me back from excelling in the learning process…so as you can imagine, it is really difficult for someone like me to share an emotional experience with this weakness in such a public way.” To find out what was her worst mental nightmare and what changed it, read her powerful, self-examination and very personal blog on how she is transforming her mentality by clicking here.

CEV EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AND CEV CUP: The CEV European Champions League Playoff 6 quarterfinal round concludes this week with U.S. Women’s National Team players on three teams competing in two matches. To watch live streams of the matches that will qualify teams to the Champions League semifinals, visit the watch links below.

  • March 22: Fenerbahce (Dietzen) vs. Dinamo Moscow, 10 a.m. PT, WATCH
  • March 24: VakifBank (Hill) vs. Volero Zurich (Akinradewo, N. Hagglund, Vansant), 1 p.m. PT, WATCH

HANEEF-PARK SUPPORTING PHIT ACT ON CAPITOL HILL: USA Volleyball Board of Director Tayyiba Haneef-Park, a three-time Olympian and two-time Olympic silver medalist, wrote the blog in regards to her visit to Congress on March 16 in support of the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act. She was joined by Molten USA in discussing the matter with legislators to advocate legislation to cut consumers’ cost for sports and fitness activities. To read the blog, click here.

U.S. COLLEGIATE NATIONAL TEAMS: USA Volleyball has announced two of its three U.S. Collegiate National Team rosters that will train and compete this summer. To view the CNT-China Tour roster and find out details of its competition, click here. To view the CNT-Europe Tour roster and find out in which major tournament it will compete in, click here.

KLINEMAN WITH BRAZIL’S PRAIA CLUBE: Opposite Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, California, Twitter, Instagram) is competing for Praia Clube in the Brazilian Superliga this winter. Praia Clube, which finished the regular season in second place, evened its best-of-three quarterfinal round series with Sesi Sao Paulo with a 25-18, 20-25, 25-21, 25-15 victory on March 14 as Klineman was named match most valuable player. She racked up 25 points with 19 kills on 42 swings and a match-high six blocks. Klineman added a team-best 22 receptions with a 63 positive reception percent. The momentum carried into the deciding third match as Praia Clube won 25-22, 25-21, 25-17 on March 18. For the second match in a row, Klineman was tabbed most valuable player as she scored 19 kills on 45 swings with just two errors to go with two blocks and an ace for 22 points. Praia Clube moves into the semifinals to face third-seed Camponesa Minas.

THOMPSON WITH BRAZIL’S REXONA-ADES: Setter Courtney Thompson (Kent, Washington, Twitter, Instagram) has signed to compete for Rexona-Ades in the Brazilian Superliga. Rexona-Ades, as the regular season champion and top seed in the playoffs, swept its quarterfinal round best-of-three series following a 25-20, 25-21, 25-19 victory over eighth-seed Pinheiros/Klar on March 15. Thompson started just the first two sets as Rexona-Ades had a 42 kill percent in the opening set and 35 kill percent in the second set. Thompson added an ace in the victory. Rexona-Ades moves into the semifinals to face fourth-seed Volei Nestle with match dates yet to be announced.

LARSON, KREKLOW WITH TURKEY’S ECZACIBASI: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Twitter, Instagram) and setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram) are playing for Eczacibasi of the Turkish League this winter, along with the CEV Champions League. In the Turkish League, Eczacibasi earned a key 26-24, 17-25, 25-19, 25-17 victory over fourth-place Galatasaray on March 16. Kreklow set the team to a 44 kill percent while adding two individual kills on four swings and an ace for three points. Larson contributed six points with five kills via 18 attacks and a block. Eczacbasi ended the week with a 25-12, 25-21, 30-28 victory over Salihli on March 19. Kreklow set Eczacibasi to a stellar 53 kill percent and .416 hitting efficiency (47-10-89) while serving one ace. Larson did not play in the match. Eczacibasi (17-4, 49 points), which moved up into sole possession of third place and idle this past week, faces seventh-place Sariyer on Mach 26.

HILL WITH TURKEY’S VAKIFBANK: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon, 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 dominated Canakkale 25-12, 25-22, 25-8 on March 17. Hill was a sub in all three sets, scoring one kill and two aces in limited action. She also handle seven receptions in the victory. VakifBank (19-2, 56 points), now in second place and just two points behind league-leader Fenerbahce, takes on 10th-place Idman Ocagi on March 26. In the European Champions League, VakifBank can advance to the semifinal round on April 9 if it defeats Switzerland’s Volero Zurich in the second match of the home-and-home Playoff 6 quarterfinal round on March 24.

DIETZEN WITH TURKEY’S FENERBAHCE: Middle blocker Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania, Twitter, Instagram) is competing this winter for Fenerbahce in the Turkish League and CEV Champions League. In the Turkish League, Fenerbahce swept Bursa B. Sehir 25-15, 25-19, 25-7 on March 19. Dietzen did not play in the match. Fenerbahce (19-2, 58 points), in first place by two points over VakifBank, plays fourth-place Galatasaray on March 26 in the next Turkish League match. In European CEV Champions League, Fenerbahce can earn a spot into the CEV Champions League semifinals April 9 with a win in the return quarterfinal match on March 22.

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 split two matches last week. Galatasaray lost to third-place Eczacibasi 26-24, 17-25, 25-19, 25-17 on March 16. Jackson was credited with seven points via five kills on 14 attacks and two blocks. Galatasaray rebounded with a convincing 25-22, 25-18, 25-21 victory over Halkbank on March 19. Jackson was on fire offensively with nine kills on 11 swings to go with a block for 10 points. Galatasaray (15-6, 43 points), now in fourth place, takes on league-leader Fenerbahce on March 26 in the next Turkish regular season match. In CEV Cup action, Galatasaray has advanced to the CEV Cup Finals as it faces Russia’s Dinamo Krasnodar in a home-and-home series with dates to be announced.

AKINRADEWO, NATALIE HAGGLUND, VANSANT WITH SWITZERLAND’S VOLERO ZURICH: Middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla., Twitter, Instagram), libero Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, California, 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 8-0 in the Swiss playoffs after two wins last week. Volero swept Viteos NUC 25-16, 25-14, 25-13 on March 17, followed by a 25-15, 25-21, 25-18 sweep of Sm’Aesch Pfeffingen on March 19. Volero continues the double-round robin playoffs on March 26 against fifth-place TS Volley Dudingen. In CEV Champions League, Volero concludes its home-and-home Playoff 6 quarterfinal round series with Turkey’s VakifBank on March 24 with the winner heading to Italy to play in the Champions League semifinals on April 9.

BARTSCH WITH GERMANY’S DRESDNER: Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Illinois, Twitter) is playing for Dresdner SC of the German Bundesliga and CEV Champions League this winter. Dresdner (20-4, 60 points), which captured the regular season title and top seed into the playoffs, opened the Playoff 1-8 best-of-three round with a 25-19, 25-12, 25-18 victory over eighth-seed Kopenick on March 19. Bartsch scored 13 points with 11 kills on 25 attacks, one block and one ace. She handled 12 receptions with a 42 positive percent. American teammate Gina Mancuso added 12 points in the victory, while Katie Slay added seven points. Dresdner can wrap up the series on March 26 with a victory. If necessary, the series tiebreaker is scheduled for March. 30.

GIBBEMEYER, LLOYD WITH ITALY’S POMI CASALMAGGIORE: Middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram) and setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California, 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. Casalmaggiore took a break from the Serie A1 regular season to compete in the Italian Cup semifinals this past week. After going up 2-0 to Foppapedretti Bergamo, Casalmaggiore was unable to hang on for the victory in a 19-25, 11-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-13 loss on March 19. Gibbemeyer scored 11 points with nine kills on 20 swings and two blocks. Lloyd set the team to a 38 kill percent for the match while collecting five blocks in the loss. Bergamo went on to win the championship the following day with a 3-0 win over Nordmeccanica Piacenza. Next week Casalmaggiore (16-6, 49 points), now in third place, will face 12th-place Il Bisonte Firenze (3-19, 10 points) on March 26. 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.

GLASS, ROBINSON, EASY, ADAMS ALL WITH ITALY’S IMOCO CONEGLIANO: Setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan, 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. Due to the Italian Cup playoffs followed by a bye week, Conegliano (20-3, 57 points) has a two-week hiatus from the regular season before it goes for its 16th straight win on April 2 against 12th-place Il Bisonte Firenze (3-19, 10 points) to conclude the regular season.

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 (16-6, 44 points), in fourth place, returns to Italian League action on March 26 against second-place Nordmeccanica Piacenza (16-6, 51 points).

LOWE, JENNA HAGGLUND WITH ITALY’S BUSTO ARSIZIO: Opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California, 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 (8-14, 27 points), now in ninth place, was idle this past week and returns to action on March 26 against 11th-place Club Italia (7-15, 20 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 before the squad dropped to the CEV Cup. In the Polish League, Impel Wroclaw enters the playoffs as the third seed and will face second-seed PGE Atom Trefl best-of-three series with matches on March 23 and April 9. If necessary, the tiebreaking match will be played on April 16.