The U.S. Women's National Team begins defense of its FIVB World Championship title next year with first-round matches against Russia and Korea as part of the six-team round-robin Pool C in Kobe, Japan.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 11, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s National Team learned who its first round opponents will be at the 2018 FIVB World Championship as it seeks to defend its world crown won back in 2014.
- Madi Kingdon came up one point short of a world record for points in a single match as she helped IBK to a five-set win over Hyundai on Dec. 5.
- Kim Hill helped first-place Imoco Volley Conegliano to a five-set win over second-place Igor Gorgonzola Novara and Lauren Gibbemeyer on Dec. 9 in the Italian Serie A1. The two teams meet again Wednesday to start the European Champions League fourth round.
- The European Champions League Fourth Round begins this week with several Americans in the spotlight. Aside from the Conegliano and Novara match, the opening leg also has VakifBank with Kelsey Robinson playing Turkish rival Galatasaray on Dec. 14 and ASPTT Mulhouse with Lexi Dannemiller meeting Developres SkyRes Rzeszow on Dec. 13.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Name the current college senior who helped the U.S. Women’s National Team win gold at the 2017 Pan American Cup and bronze at the 2016 Pan American Cup.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP DRAW: The U.S. Women’s National Team will begin its FIVB World Championship title defense in Pool C against No. 5 Russia, No. 10 Korea, No. 16 Thailand, No. 24 Azerbaijan and No. 34 Trinidad & Tobago as determined by the drawing of lots held on Dec. 7 in Tokyo. The top eight teams in the FIVB world ranking as of August 2017 were placed across the four pools in accordance to the serpentine system. Host Japan (world’s No. 6) was placed in position one of Pool A before the remaining seven teams followed. The remaining 16 teams were drawn across the bottom four positions of each first-round pool. Pool C, one of four six-team first-round groups that comprise the 24-team World Championship, will be held Sept. 29 to Oct. 4 in Kobe, Japan. The top four teams in each first-round pool advances to the second round Japanese cities of either Nagoya or Osaka with matches held Oct. 7-11. The third round will be held Oct. 14-16 in Nagoya with the semifinals and finals held Oct. 19-20 in Yokohama. The World Championship occurs every four years and in the second year of each Olympic quadrennial cycle.
- Pool A (at Yokohama): #6 Japan, #8 Netherlands, #11 Argentina, #13 Germany, #18 Cameroon, #26 Mexico
- Pool B (at Sapporo): #1 China, #7 Italy, #12 Turkey, #17 Bulgaria, #19 Canada, #25 Cuba
- Pool C (at Kobe): #2 USA, #5 Russia, #10 Korea, #16 Thailand, #24 Azerbaijan, #34 Trinidad & Tobago
- Pool D (at Hamamatsu): #3 Serbia, #4 Brazil, #9 Dominican Republic, #13 Puerto Rico, # 21 Kazakhstan, #33 Kenya
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AND CEV UP STREAMS: Three European Champions League matches featuring U.S. Women’s National Team players will stream live on laola.tv as the main phase (fourth round) starts. In addition, one CEV Cup match with a U.S. Women’s National Team player will air on laola.tv.
- Dec. 13: Champions League - ASPTT Mulhouse (Lexi Dannemiller) vs. Developres SkyRes Rzeszow, 10 a.m. PT, WATCH
- Dec. 13 – CEV CUP – Dresdner (Madi Bugg) vs. Pays dAix Venelles Volley, 11 a.m. PT, WATCH
- Dec. 13: Champions League - Imoco Volley Conegliano (Kim Hill) vs. Igor Gorgonzola Novara (Lauren Gibbemeyer), 12:35 p.m. PT, WATCH
- Dec. 14: Champions League - VakifBank (Kelsey Robinson) vs. Galatasaray, 9 a.m. PT, WATCH
KIM GLASS FEATURED IN ESPNW ARTICLE AS PART OF MTV’S THE CHALLENGE SERIES: Kim Glass, a 2008 Olympic silver medalist with the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, has been part of the MTV’s The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars reality series. ESPNW recently featured Glass in a Dec. 5 story on her experiences with the show and competing for her charity, Covenant House. To read the story, click here. The Challenge airs on MTV Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET.
KINGDON WITH KOREA V-LEAGUE’S IBK: Outside hitter Madi Kingdon (Hermosa Beach, California, Instagram, Twitter), a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, is playing her second consecutive professional season with IBK of the Korea V-League. Kingdon nearly etched her name into the history books with a world-record performance, coming up one point short while leading IBK to a 22-25, 25-23, 25-12, 26-28, 15-11 victory over second-place Hyundai on Dec. 5 in the Korea V.League. She scored 57 points in a five-set win over Hyundai with 52 kills on an incredible 110 swings, four blocks and an ace. For more information on the match and Kingdon’s reactions, click here. IBK (7-5), now in third place, plays first-place Korea Expressway (8-4, 26 points) on Dec. 12 and fifth-place GS Caltex (5-7, 11 points) on Dec. 16.
"What you tell yourself about yourself, about your life, about your limitations, you will believe. You are the only one who can limit your greatness. Remember you are enough." 💪🏾 #mondaymotivation #mindset #mindsetiseverything - Mindset is everything. - 🔥1 match left to finish out the first half of the regular season on a good note. #3WeekPush
LARSON, ADAMS WITH ECZACIBASI IN TURKISH LEAGUE: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Instagram, Twitter), a two-time Olympic Games medalist, and middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio, Instagram, Twitter), a 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist, are playing professionally with Eczacibasi in the Turkish League for the 2017-18 season. Eczacibasi closed out the Turkish League regular season first half by sweeping Halkbank 25-19, 25-17, 25-22 on Dec. 5. Larson collected 19 points in the victory with 15 kills on 21 attacks for a 71.4 kill percent while adding two blocks and two aces on a team-leading 19 serves. With foreigner limits in play for Turkish League matches, Adams did not play in the match. Eczacibasi (10-1) will head into the second half of the Turkish League season in a three-way tie for first with VakifBank and Fenerbahce. Eczacibasi begins the CEV Cup competition with a home-and-home series with VC Oudegem in the 16th Finals Round starting on Dec. 13 followed by a Jan. 10 match.
ROBINSON WITH VAKIFBANK IN TURKISH LEAGUE: Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California, Instagram, Twitter), a 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist, is playing club volleyball with VakifBank in the Turkish professional league this winter. VakifBank blanked Bursa B.Sehir Bld 25-19, 25-13, 25-17 on Dec. 5. Robinson, as a sub in the second and third sets, pocketed two kills on two attacks and handled five receptions in her limited duty. VakifBank (10-1) will start the second half of the Turkish League season in a three-way tie for first place with Eczacibasi and Fenerbahce. In European Champions League action, VakifBank has advanced to the group phase that starts next month. They are part of Pool D, where it will face Grot Budowlani Lodz, Dinamo Moscow and Turkish rival Galatasaray in double round-robin action. VakifBank opens against Galatasaray on Dec. 14.
AKINRADEWO WITH JAPAN V-LEAGUE’S HISAMITSU SPRINGS: Two-time U.S. Olympic medalist Foluke Akinradewo (Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Instagram, Twitter) is playing middle for Japan V.League’s Hisamitsu Springs this winter. Hisamitsu Springs handled Toray 22-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-16 on Dec. 9. Akinradewo had eight kills on 16 errorless attacks, one block and one ace for 10 points. Hisamitsu Springs edged Toyota 25-16, 27-29, 25-19, 28-30, 15-6 on Dec. 6. Akinradewo notched 18 kills on 31 errorless attacks to go with two blocks and two aces for 22 points. After a break for holidays, first-place Hisamitsu Springs (15-0) meets Hitachi Rivale on Jan. 6 and NEC Red Rockets on Dec. 7.
HILL WITH CONEGLIANO IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon, Instagram), a 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist, is playing for Imoco Volley Conegliano in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. In the Italian Serie A1, Conegliano recovered to defeat second-place Igor Gorgonzola Novara 20-25, 25-19, 16-25, 25-23, 15-11 on Dec. 9 in a battle of the top two ranked teams in the Italian Serie A1. Hill scored a match-high 26 points with 20 kills on 47 attacks, four aces on 16 serves and two blocks, She also handled 37 of the team’s 95 receptions with a 68 positive reception percent. Conegliano (9-1, 26 points) closes out the first half against sixth-place Mycicero Volley Pesaro (5-5, 15 points) on Dec. 16. In the European Champions League, Conegliano will take part in the main group phase in December. They are grouped in Pool and will face Agel Prostejov, Fenerbahce and Igor Gorgonzola in a double round-robin format. Conegliano meets Italian rival Novara on Dec. 13 to start Pool B.
GIBBEMEYER WITH NOVARA IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: U.S. Women’s National Team middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) is playing her 2017-18 professional season with Igor Gorgonzola Novara in the Italian Serie A1. In a battle of the top two Italian Serie A1 teams, second-place Novara lost to Imoco Volley Conegliano (9-1, 26 points) 20-25, 25-19, 16-25, 25-23, 15-11 on Dec. 9. Gibbemeyer collected four points with two kills on eight attacks and two blocks. Novara (8-2, 24 points), now in second place in the Italian Serie A1, ends the Italian Serie A1 first half against eighth-place Sab Volley Legnano (4-6, 11 points points) on Dec. 17. Novara is also participating in the European Champions League this winter and will have a bye into fourth round. They are part of Pool B, where it will face Agel Prostejov, Fenerbahce and Imoco Volley Conegliano in a double round-robin format. Novara challenge Italian rival Conegliano on Dec. 13 to start the European Champions League.
BARTSCH-HACKLEY, WILHITE WITH ITALY’S UNET E-WORK BUSTO ARSIZIO: Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois, Instagram, Twitter) and Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter), both outside hitters for the U.S. Women’s National Team, are playing their 2017-18 pro season for Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio in the Italian Serie A1. Busto Arsizio rallied to defeat Pomi Casalmaggiore 25-19, 17-25, 17-25, 25-19, 15-10 on Dec. 8. Bartsch-Hackley contributed 16 points with 12 kills on 41 swings, two blocks and two aces on 15 serves. Wilhite did not play in the match. Busto Arsizio (8-2, 23 points, which remains third in the standings but with the same record as second-place Igor Gorgonzola Novara (8-2, 24 points), takes on fourth-place Savino Del Bene Scandicci (8-2, 22 points) to close out the first half on Dec. 16 in a match that can be watched live on ESPN3. Busto Arsizio is also competing in the European CEV Cup with a home-and-home series in the 16th Finals Round against ZOK Bimal-Jedinstvo Brcko on Dec. 12 and the return match in early January.
CARLINI WITH SCANDICCI IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois, Instagram, Twitter), who played her first year with the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, is playing her first pro season with Savino Del Bene Scandicci in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. Scandicci narrowly avoided an upset to 11th-place Foppapedretti Bergamo in winning 25-16, 26-28, 23-25, 25-18, 15-10 on Dec. 10. Carlini set Scandicci to a 39 kill percent for the match and added three blocks in the victory. Scandicci (8-2, 22 points), now in fourth place, closes out the Italian Serie A1 first half on Dec. 16 against third-place Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio (8-2, 23 points) in a match that can be watched live on ESPN3.
DIXON, HANCOCK WITH MONZA IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter), an alternate to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Team, and U.S. Women’s National Team setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma, Instagram, Twitter) are playing for Saugella Team Monza in the Italian Serie A1 this winter after missing the 2016-17. Team Monza nearly rallied from two sets down to fifth-place Liu Jo Nordmeccanica Modena before falling 21-25, 29-31, 25-20, 25-20, 15-11 on Dec. 10. Dixon scored 13 points with nine kills on 21 attacks and a team-leading four blocks. Hancock set Team Monza to a 39 kill percent and added 11 points via six aces on 25 serves, four kills on nine errorless attacks and a block. Team Monza (4-6, 13 points), now in seventh place, will finish the first half of the season on Dec. 17 against 11th-place Foppapedretti Bergamo (2-8, 6 points).
HANNAH TAPP WITH FIRENZE IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Middle Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter), who played her first season with the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, is playing her pro season with Il Bisonte Firenze in the Italian Serie A1. Firenze nearly rallied from two sets down to sixth-place Mycicero Volley Pesaro (5-5, 15 points) before falling 25-17, 25-23, 20-25, 19-25, 15-6 on Dec. 10. Tapp tallied eight kills on 15 swings with just one error to go with two blocks in the loss. Firenze (3-7, 11 points), now in ninth place, will look to avoid a two-match losing streak as it closes out the first half on Dec. 17 against 12th-place Lardini Filottrano (1-9, 4 points).
WOPAT WITH BAIC MOTORS IN CHINA: Carly Wopat (Santa Barbara, California, Instagram, Twitter), a middle for the U.S. Women’s National Team, is playing for BAIC Motors in Beijing as part of the Chinese professional league. BAIC lost to fourth-place Zhejiang 24-26, 25-21, 22-25, 25-23, 15-13 in a heart-breaking five-set match on Dec. 9. Wopat recorded 11 points in the loss, including a team-best four blocks. BAIC (5-4, 21 points), now in third place in Group B of the regular season, returns to action on Dec. 12 against second-place Tianjin (7-1, 21 points), followed by a Dec. 16 match versus league-leader Shanghai (8-1, 23 points).
McMAHON WITH SOVERATO IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: U.S. Women’s National Team opposite Liz McMahon (Liberty Township, Ohio, Instagram) is playing for Volley Soverato in the Italian Serie A2 this winter. Soverato blanked 17th-place Golden Tulip Volalto Caserta 26-24, 27-25, 25-20 on Dec. 10 in Caserta. McMahon hammered 11 kills on 28 attacks and added two aces on seven serves for 13 points in the victory. Soverato (10-2, 29 points), which remained in second place, will meet fourth-place Delta Informatica Trentino (9-4, 28 points) on Dec. 13 followed by sixth-place Battistelli S.G. Marignano (8-4, 23 points) on Dec. 17.
PAIGE TAPP, McCAGE WITH ALLIANZ MTV STUTTGART IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Middles Paige Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) and Molly McCage (Spring, Texas, Instagram), who were part of the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, are playing professionally this winter with Allianz MTV Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga. Stuttgart defeated 11th-place VCO Berlin 25-15, 21-25, 25-15, 25-20 on Dec. 9. McCage notched a match-high 16 points with 11 kills on 17 attacks with just one error to go with a match-best four blocks and an ace. After recently signing with Stuttgart, Tapp made her debut in the Bundesliga by scoring two kills on four attacks and an ace on four serves in starting the second set. Stuttgart swept eighth-place SC Potsdam 25-16, 25-14, 25-18 on Dec. 10 for its second straight win in as many days. McCage totaled five points with four kills on eight attacks and an ace. Stuttgart (7-1, 22 points), which moved up to first place in the Bundesliga, returns to regular season action on Dec. 16 versus sixth-place Vilsbiburg (5-3, 14 points). Stuttgart is also competing in the CEV Cup this winter and has a 16th Finals Round home-and-home series against VK Up Olomouc on Dec. 13 and Jan. 10.
BUGG WITH DRESDNER IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Setter Madi Bugg (Apex, North Carolina, Instagram), who was part of the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, is competing in the German Bundesliga with Dresdner SC this winter. Dresdner rallied to defeat first-place Schwerin 20-25, 25-7, 21-25, 27-25, 15-13 on Dec. 6. Bugg got the start and played just the first set as Dresdner hit 38 percent as a team. Dresdner won its second match of the week with a 25-21, 20-25, 25-18, 25-23 victory over Black Aachen on Dec. 9. Bugg was a sub in the second set and did not register statistics in the contest. Dresdner (7-1, 20 points), still in second place but now only one point behind Schwerin in the standings, challenges Suhl on Dec. 16 in its next Bundesliga match. Dresdner is competing in the CEV Cup this winter and begins 16th Finals Round home-and-home competition against Pays d’Aix Venelles VB on Dec. 13.
AMBER ROLFZEN WITH BEZIERS IN FRENCH LEAGUE: Middle Amber Rolfzen (Papillion, Nebraska, Instagram), who was part of the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, is competing with Beziers in the French League this winter. Beziers swept Chamalieres 25-21, 25-13, 25-18 on Dec. 5. Rolfzen pocketed nine points with six kills on nine attacks, two aces and a block. Beziers held off fifth-place St. Raphael 11-25, 25-22, 25-22, 20-25, 15-12 on Dec. 9. Rolfzen collected nine points with seven kills on 12 attacks, three aces on 11 serves and one block. American teammate Krystal Rivers checked in with a team-best 18 points. Beziers (9-1, 25 points), in second place, meets ninth-place Evreux (3-6, 11 points) on Dec. 17 in its next French League match.
DANNEMILLER WITH MULHOUSE IN FRENCH LEAGUE: Setter Lexi Dannemiller (West Chester, Ohio, Instagram, Twitter), a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, is competing for ASPTT Mulhouse in the French League this winter. Mulhouse snapped its two-match losing skid by defeating SF Paris St. Cloud 25-20, 20-25, 25-18, 25-22 on Dec. 5. Dannemiller was a sub in the second set of the four-set victory while American teammate Hayley Spelman notched a team-high 20 points. Dannemiller did not play in Mulhouse’s 29-27, 25-21, 24-26, 25-21 victory over Quimper on Dec. 9. Spelman scored 18 points in the win. Mulhouse (7-3, 21 points), which is in third place, will seek a third straight French League win when it faces fifth-place LeCannet (5-5, 15 points) on Dec. 16. Mulhouse will also compete in the European Champions League this year and has a bye into the main format, or fourth round. They are grouped in double-round-robin Pool A with CSm Volei Alba Blaj, Volero Zurich and Developres SkyRes Rzeszow. Mulhouse faces Rzeszow on Dec. 13 to start the Champions League schedule.
BENSON WITH VANDOEUVRE NANCY IN FRENCH LEAGUE: Libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona, Instagram, Twitter), who was part of the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, is competing for Vandoeuvre Nancy in the French professional league this winter. Vandoeuvre Nancy edged Evreux 23-25, 25-17, 25-19, 19-25, 15-12 on Dec. 5. Benson was credited with a 76 positive reception percent on handling 21 of the team’s 93 receptions. Vandoeuvre Nancy dropped a 23-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-15, 15-13 match to Venelles on Dec. 9. Benson handled 28 of the team’s 102 receptions with a 68 positive reception percent. Vandoeuvre Nancy (4-6, 10 points), now in 10th place, resumes French League action Dec. 15 against seventh-place St. Raphael (4-6, 14 points).
TRIVIA ANSWER: Rhamat Alhassan, who is a senior at the University of Florida this fall, has trained in the U.S. Women’s National Team gym the past two years and helped Team USA win consecutive medals at the 2016 and 2017 Pan American Cup. She was named Best Blocker in the 2016 event and helped the U.S. win gold this past summer.