Women's Update: Team Makes National, International Headlines

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Dec. 17, 2017, 2:22 p.m. (ET)

Kim Hill blocking during the European Champions League
Kim Hill attacks during the opening round of the European Champions League main phase

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 17, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s National Team had a busy week in the news including Carli Lloyd and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley earning prestigious honors from USA Volleyball. Lincoln, Nebraska, was on the national and international volleyball radars for two different events. Read all the details below in the latest U.S. Women’s Weekly Update.

QUICK SETS

  • The U.S. Women will host its FIVB Volleyball Nations League pod May 15-17 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Team USA will face Italy, Turkey and Poland in the four-team round-robin.
  • Carli Lloyd was selected USA Volleyball’s Female Indoor Player of the Year and teammate Michelle Bartsch-Hackley was tabbed Most Improved Player of the Year.
  • Kim Hill and Conegliano opened the European Champions League main phase with a key win over Italian rival Novara.
  • Kayla Banwarth, who helped Team USA to the 2016 Olympic Games bronze medal as the libero, was part of the Nebraska coaching staff that led the Huskers to their fifth NCAA title this past weekend in Kansas City.

TRIVIA QUESTION: As a senior in college, which current U.S. Women’s National Team player earned the AVCA National Player of the Year after having never been an All-American in her first three collegiate seasons?

LLOYD NAMED USAV FEMALE INDOOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California, Instagram)took on an expanded leadership role with the U.S. Women’s National Team as its captain in 2017, and that did not hinder the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist from delivering success on the court. In the process, she helped a young and dynamic squad grow as teammates in the first year of the Olympic quadrennial. For her 2017 contributions, Lloyd has been selected as the 2017 USA Volleyball Female Indoor Player of the Year. Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois, Instagram, Twitter)was tabbed as the 2017 USA Volleyball Female Indoor Most Improved Player of the Year. For the full story with quotes from U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly, Lloyd and Bartsch-Hackley, click here.

LINCOLN TO HOST U.S. WOMEN, VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE: The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team will return to Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2018 as it hosts a four-team round-robin pod May 15-17 in the opening week of the new FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL). Team USA, ranked No. 2 in the world by the FIVB, will host No. 7 Italy, No. 12 Turkey and No. 22 Poland at the 7,900-seat Bob Devaney Sports Center in the first scheduled international matches of the 2018 season. Match tickets for University of Nebraska volleyball season ticket holders will go on sale Dec. 18 at 10 a.m. CT. Tickets that remain will go on sale to the public Dec. 19 at 10 a.m. CT through huskers.com/usavolleyball or 800-8-BIGRED. All session ticket prices are $36, $66 and $96. Single session tickets, which will go on sale at a later date this winter, will be $15, $25 and $35. For the full story and match schedule, click here.

USA VOLLEYBALL CONNECTIONS TO NCAA FINALS: The NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship and semifinals drew record crowds in Kansas City as Nebraska won its fifth NCAA volleyball title. Kayla Banwarth, who helped the U.S. earn bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games as the starting libero, was an assistant coach for the Huskers and helped Nebraska to a title in her first season as a full-time coach. To read about the NCAA Championship and other NCAA Championship connections to USA Volleyball, click here.

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. In CEV Cup action, Eczacibasi dominated VC Oudegem 25-11, 25-15, 25-15 on Dec. 13 to start the 16th Final Round home-and-home series. Adams turned in 10 points with six kills on eight attacks, three blocks and an ace. Larson had nine points in the victory, including four aces on 14 serves, three kills and two blocks. She was credited with a 75 positive reception percent on a team-best 16 chances. The CEV Cup series concludes on Dec. 10 with the winner advancing to the 8th Finals Round. During the intermission between the first and second halves of the regular season, Eczacibasi will compete in the Turkish Cup and will meet the Nilufer/HalkBank winner in the second round. 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.

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. In European Champions League action, VakifBank won its opening Pool D match against Turkish rival Galatasaray 25-22, 25-18, 23-25, 26-24 on Dec. 14. Robinson was a sub in all four sets, delivering two kills on five errorless attacks and a block. She added seven receptions in the victory. VakifBank returns to Champions League action on Jan. 10 against Poland’s Grot Budowlani Lodz. With the Turkish League in intermission following the close of the first half, VakifBank is competing in the Turkish Cup and has a bye directly to the second round where it will meet the Beylikduzu/Bursa winner. 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.

LARSON, CARLINI NCAA FACEBOOK LIVE INTERVIEWS: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Instagram, Twitter) and setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois, Instagram, Twitter) participated in separate Facebook Live interviews last week on the NCAA account. The two U.S. Women’s National Team members discussed what it was like playing in the NCAA championship and the transition to the national team. The pair answered questions from around the world and gave nuggets on how athletes can become better volleyball players.

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 European Champions League, Conegliano opened the fourth round’s Pool B with a 25-13, 25-18, 20-25, 25-14 victory over Italian rival Igor Gorgonzola Novara on Dec. 13. Hill provided Conegliano 13 kills on 24 attacks and a block for 14 points in a balanced offensive victory. She added a 63 positive reception percent on handling 35 of the team’s 66 total receptions. Conegliano returns to European Champions League Pool B action on Jan. 10 against Agel Prostejov (0-1). In the Italian Serie A1, Conegliano cruised to a 25-23, 25-19, 25-19 victory over Mycicero Volley Pesaro on Dec. 16 to end the regular season’s first half. Hill notched 10 points with eight kills on 23 swings, one ace and once block. She added a 75 positive reception percent on a team-leading 24 attempts. Conegliano (10-1, 29 points), which holds on to first place, opens the second half of the regular season on Dec. 26 against 10th-place Pomi Casalmaggiore (2-9, 10 points).

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 the European Champions League, Novara opened the fourth round Pool B with a 25-13, 25-18, 20-25, 25-14 loss to Italian rival Imoco Volley Conegliano on Dec. 13. Gibbemeyer contributed five points in the loss with four kills on 11 swings and a block. Novara will seek to even its record at 1-1 on Jan. 11 as it meets Turkish power Fenerbahce. In the Italian Serie A1 first half regular season finale, Novara blanked Sab Volley Legnano 27-25, 25-21, 25-16 on Dec. 17. Gibbemeyer chalked up five kills on 10 errorless attacks and a block for six points. Novara (9-2, 27 points), now in second place in the Italian Serie A1, starts the Italian League second half on Dec. 26 against fourth-place Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio (8-3, 24 points).

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 rallied to defeat third-place Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio 16-25, 25-14, 24-26, 26-24, 15-9 on Dec. 12, highlighted by coming back from a 21-16 deficit in the fourth set to force the deciding fifth set. Carlini scored two blocks in the win and helped Scandicci to a 36 kill percent as a team in the first-half finale. Scandicci (9-2, 24 points), which moved up to third place, opens the second half of the Italian League on Dec. 26 against fifth-place Liu Jo Nordmeccanica Modena (7-4, 18 points).

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. As part of the CEV Cup, Busto Arsizio swept ZOK Bimal-Jedinstvo Brcko 27-25, 25-10, 25-23 on Dec. 12 to start the 16th Finals Round home-and-home series. After missing a series of matches due to injury, Wilhite returned to the court to provide two kills on six attacks and two aces on four serves as she came off the bench in the second set and started the third set. Bartsch-Hackley was a sub in the third set, providing five kills on 12 attacks and a block. Busto Arsizio concludes the home-and-home series on Jan. 10 with the winner advancing to the 8th Finals Round. Busto Arsizio dropped a 16-25, 25-14, 24-26, 26-24, 15-9 match to then-fourth-place Savino Del Bene Scandicci on Dec. 16 to conclude the Italian League’s first-half. Bartsch-Hackley scored 14 kills on 49 attacks and was credited with an 81 positive reception percent on 36 chances. Wilhite, a sub in the middle three sets, tallied one kill on three errorless swings and provided an 80 positive reception percent on five chances. Busto Arsizio (8-3, 24 points, which falls to fourth in the standings, meets second-place Igor Gorgonzola Novara (9-2, 27 points) on Dec. 26 to open the second half.

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 downed Foppapedretti Bergamo 27-25, 25-22, 17-25, 25-19 on Dec. 17. Dixon scored nine kills on 22 attacks with only one error. She added a team-best five blocks as part of a 14-point performance. Hancock was a sub in the first three sets. Team Monza (5-6, 16 points), now in sixth place, starts the second half on Dec. 26 against Il Bisonte Firenze.

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 swept Lardini Filottrano 25-18, 25-23, 25-21 on Dec. 17. Tapp connected for five kills, two blocks and an ace ace for eight points in the sweep. Firenze (4-7, 14 points), now in eighth place, opens the second half of the season on Dec. 26 against sixth-place Saugella Team Monza (5-6, 16 points).

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. IBK fell to Korea Expressway 25-20, 25-15, 21-25, 25-19 on Dec. 12. Kingdon tallied 16 points with 14 kills on 64 swings, one block and one ace. She added 10 digs in the loss. IBK bounced back to sweep GS Caltex 25-21, 25-18, 25-22 on Dec. 16. Kingdon collected 33 points in the three-set win, including 31 kills on 53 attacks and two aces. She added 11 digs and 11 excellent receptions on 23 chances. IBK (8-6, 23 points), now in third place, takes on KGC on Dec. 24 in its next league contest.

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 second-place Tianjin 25-12, 28-26, 25-16 on Dec. 12. Wopat scored five points in the loss. BAIC absorbed its second straight loss on Dec. 16, falling to league-leader Shanghai 25-19,2 5-20, 25-22. Wopat produced 10 points in the loss. BAIC (5-6, 21 points), now in fourth place in Group B of the regular season, meets sixth-place Yunnan Dianchi on Dec. 23 in its next league match.

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 lost twice this past week with first match being a 23-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-21 setback to Delta Informatica Trentino on Dec. 13. McMahon hammered 17 kills on 32 swings and added an ace in the loss. Severato concluded the week with a 9-25, 25-16, 29-27, 25-18 loss to Battistelli S.G. Marignano on Dec. 17. McMahon scored 14 kills on 36 attacks in the loss. Soverato (10-4, 29 points), which fell from second to sixth place with the two losses, takes on 16th-place Sigel Marsala (2-12, 7 points) on Dec. 26 in its next league match.

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. In the CEV Cup, Stuttgart overwhelmed VK Up Olomouc 25-12, 25-14, 25-20 on Dec. 13 to start the home-and-home 16th Finals Round series. McCage pocketed nine points with four kills on nine swings along with a match-high five blocks. Tapp, who came off the bench in the second and started the third set, added a kill and block for two points. Allianz concludes the home-and-home series on Jan. 10 with the chance to advance to the 8th Finals Round. In the German Bundesliga, Stuttgart blanked Rote Raben Vilsbiburg 25-14, 25-16, 25-14 on Dec. 16. McCage secured 14 points with seven kills on 10 attacks, five blocks and two aces. Tapp was a sub in the third set. Stuttgart (8-1, 25 points), which remains in first place in the Bundesliga, returns to regular season Bundesliga action on Dec. 26 against third-place Schwerin (7-2, 21 points).

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. In the CEV Cup, Dresdner defeated Pays d’Aix Venelles 25-13, 25-18, 25-20 to start the home-and-home 16th Finals Round series. Bugg served twice as a sub in the third set. Dresdner can advance to the CEV Cup 8th Finals Round with a win in the concluding match on Jan. 9 in France. Dresdner topped VfB Suhl Lotto Thuringen 25-20, 25-23, 25-22 on Dec. 16. Bugg, who started all three sets, sparked Dresdner to a 45 kill percent as a team as she also contributed three points. Bugg was named the most valuable player of the match. Dresdner (8-1, 23 points), still in second place, faces 10th-place Erfurt (1-8, 4 points) on Dec. 28 in its next Bundesliga match.

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. In the CEV Cup, Beziers handled Sliedrecht 25-17, 25-19, 25-21 at home on Dec. 13. Rolfzen scored four kills on six attacks, two aces on 16 serves and a block for seven points in her CEV debut. American teammate Krystal Rivers turned in 18 points in the win. The home-and-home series concludes on Jan. 10 with the winner ticketed to the 8th Finals Round. In the French League, Beziers knocked off Evreux 25-12, 25-19, 25-17 on Dec. 17. Rolfzen totaled four points with three kills on four errorless attacks and a block. Beziers (10-1, 28 points), in second place, meets league-leader RC Cannes (10-1, 29 points) on Jan. 6 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. In the European Champions League, Mulhouse opened its fourth round Pool A with a 25-18, 20-25, 25-14, 25-17 loss to Developres SkyRes Rzeszow on Dec. 13. Dannemiller came off the bench in the first set and started the final three sets. She scored two points with a kill and block. Mulhouse will try to level its record at 1-1 when it faces Switzerland’s Volero Zurich (0-1) on Jan. 11 in Pool A action. Mulhouse was edged by fifth-place Le Cannet 15-25, 30-32, 25-23, 25-22, 15-11 on Dec. 16. Dannemiller started the first three sets and came back to start the fifth set. She provided three kills on five swings and a block while helping Mulhouse to an overall 43 kill percent as a team. Mulhouse (7-4, 22 points), which is in third place, resumes French League action on Jan. 6 against ninth-place Vandoeuvre Nancy (5-6, 13 points).

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 downed seventh-place St. Raphael 25-15, 27-25, 25-17 on Dec. 16. Benson handled 15 receptions with a 73 positive reception percent in the victory. Vandoeuvre Nancy (5-6, 13 points), now in ninth place, resumes French League action on Jan. 6 against third-place Mulhouse (7-4, 22 points).

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. The Japan V.League is on holiday break until the new year. After a break for holidays, first-place Hisamitsu Springs (15-0) meets Hitachi Rivale on Jan. 6 and NEC Red Rockets on Dec. 7.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Sarah Wilhite (Instagram, Twitter) was named the 2016 AVCA National Player of the Year following her senior season at the University of Minnesota without much national fanfare her first three years with the Gophers.