Tori Dixon (hitting) had an eventful holiday season both on and off the court
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 31, 2017) – U.S. Women’s National Team members remained busy on the court over the holiday break as their professional teams continued action in regular season action and the leagues’ respective Cup matches.
- Tickets are now on sale for the FIVB Volleyball Nations League as the U.S. Women host Italy, Turkey and Poland from May 15-17 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Tickets can be ordered online at www.huskers.com/usavolleyball or by calling 800-8-BIGRED. For the full story and match schedule, click here.
- Kelsey Robinson and her Turkish pro team VakifBank won the Turkish Cup title with back-to-back victories on Dec. 23-24. The title match was played against American teammates Jordan Larson and Rachael Adams, who compete for Eczacibasi.
- During the holiday break, the Italian Cup quarterfinals took place and Americans are on all four teams advancing to the semifinal round to take place on Feb. 17. Kim Hill (Conegliano) will meet Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Sarah Wilhite (Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio) in one semifinal. In the second semifinal, Lauren Gibbemeyer (Novara) will challenge Tori Dixon and Micha Hancock (Team Monza).
- Madi Bugg helped Dresdner win its German Cup semifinal match to advance to the title match in March.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Name the U.S. Olympic silver medalist who was a member of the USA Jump Rope team that won silver in the 12-14 age division at the World Championship in Belgium.
DIXON ANNOUNCES ENGAGEMENT ON INSTAGRAM: Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) had an extra special holiday season to wrap up 2017. On Dec. 21, she announced her engagement to Josh Johnson on Instagram with the caption “Doing life forever with him” with three ring images behind the caption.
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 claimed the Turkish Cup title with wins over Fenerbahce and Eczacibasi. VakifBank handled Fenerbahce 25-15, 23-25, 25-15, 25-19 on Dec. 23 in the semifinal round. After being a sub in the second and third sets, Robinson came on to start the fourth set and contributed an overall five points. She scored four kills on six attacks and a block, while handling 10 receptions with a 50 positive reception percent. In the Turkish Cup championship match, VakifBank swept Eczacibasi 25-22, 25-18, 32-30 on Dec. 24. Robinson was a sub in the third set, providing one kill on one swing. She was credited with a 67 positive reception percent on six chances in the third set. 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 (1-0) returns to action on Jan. 10 against Poland’s Grot Budowlani Lodz.
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. During the intermission between the first and second halves of the Turkish League regular season, Eczacibasi placed second in the Turkish Cup. Eczacibasi defeated Galatasaray 25-19, 25-17, 16-25, 26-24 in the semifinals on Dec. 23. Larson collected a team-leading 20 points with 17 kills on 29 attacks, two blocks and an ace. She was credited with a 72 positive reception percent on 18 chances. Adams was a sub in the third set, racking up two kills on four swings. Eczacibasi lost to VakifBank 25-22, 25-18, 32-30 in the title match on Dec. 24. Larson hammered 14 kills on 33 swings to go with one aces and once block for 16 points. Adams was a sub in the second set. 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. In CEV Cup action, Eczacibasi will close out its 16th Finals Round home-and-home series with VC Oudegem on Jan. 10 with the winner advancing to the 8th Finals Round.
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 Cup quarterfinals, Conegliano swept Il Bisonte Firenze 25-20, 25-19, 25-17 on Dec. 20 in the opening home-and-home match. Hill contributed 15 points in the victory with 11 kills on 28 attacks and four blocks. She was credited with a 94 positive reception percent on 16 reception chances in the victory. In the return match, Conegliano held off Firenze to earn the semifinal berth though it lost the match 29-27, 29-27, 24-26, 21-25, 15-8 on Dec. 30. Hill, who started the first four sets, tallied 20 points with 18 kills on 49 swings and two aces. She also handled 15 errorless receptions with a 100 positive reception percent. Conegliano will meet Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio on Feb. 17 in the semifinal round. In the Italian Serie A1 regular season second half opener, Conegliano defeated 10th-place Pomi Casalmaggiore 25-16, 24-26, 25-21, 25-14 on Dec. 26. Hill provided 14 kills on 32 attacks with just one error to go with one block and one ace for 16 points. She also handled 39 of the team’s 70 receptions with a 54 positive reception percent. Conegliano (11-1, 32 points), which holds on to first place, resumes regular season action on Jan. 7 against eighth-place Il Bisonte Firenze (4-8, 14 points). In the European Champions League, Conegliano (1-0) returns to Pool B action on Jan. 10 against Agel Prostejov (0-1).
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 Italian Cup quarterfinals, Novara blanked MyCicero Volley Pesaro 25-20, 25-16, 25-23 on Dec. 20 in the first of the home-and-home series. Gibbemeyer pocketed five kills on 10 errorless attacks, four blocks and two aces for 11 points. Novara concluded the quarterfinals with a 25-20, 25-17, 25-18 sweep over Pesaro to advance to the semifinals. Gibbemeyer, starting just the first two sets, scored one kill in the match. Novara will face Saugella Team Monza in the Italian Cup semifinals on Feb. 17. In the Italian Serie A1 second half regular season opener, Novara claimed a 25-22, 25-20, 26-24 victory over fourth-place Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio (8-4, 24 points) on Dec. 26. Gibbemeyer knocked down five kills on 11 attacks to go with two blocks and an ace for eight points. Novara (9-2, 27 points), which remains in second place, resumes Italian League action on Jan. 7 versus seventh-place Mycicero Volley Pesaro (6-6, 18 points). In the European Champions League, Novara (0-1) will seek to even its record at 1-1 on Jan. 11 as it meets Turkish power Fenerbahce.
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. In the Italian Cup quarterfinals, Team Monza opened its home-and-home series with a shocking upset sweep of Savino Del Bene Scandicci 25-14, 25-21, 25-21 on Dec. 20. Dixon scored five kills on 11 attacks and added an ace for six points. Hancock set Team Monza to a stellar 44 kill percent. She added two aces on 11 serves and a block for three individual points. With the upperhand, Team Monza lost to Scandicci 25-13, 25-16, 19-25, 26-28, 15-13 on Dec. 30 in the return match. However, Team Monza earned the semifinal berth through the tiebreakers. Dixon collected five kills on 16 attacks in the win. Hancock scored two kills on three swings, one block and one ace for four points, while setting Team Monza to a 52 kill percent in the key third set to advance. Both Dixon and Hancock played in only the first three sets. Team Monza challenges regular season leader Imoco Volley Conegliano in the Italian Cup semifinals on Feb. 17. In the Italian Serie A1 second half opener, Team Monza blanked Il Bisonte Firenze 25-20, 25-20, 25-15 on Dec. 26. Hancock set the team to a 41 kill percent while tallying a match-high six blocks to go with three kills for nine points. Dixon added five points with four kills on 11 swings and an ace. Team Monza (6-6, 19 points), now in fifth place, returns to regular season action on Jan. 7 against ninth-place Sab Volley Legnano (4-8, 11 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. Busto Arsizio opened the Italian Cup quarterfinals home-and-home series with a tough 25-20, 27-29, 20-25, 25-20, 15-10 road loss to Liu Jo Nordmeccanica Modena on Dec. 21. Bartsch-Hackley secured 23 points in the loss with 18 kills on 44 swings and just two errors. She added three aces on a team-best 25 serves and two blocks for 23 points. Bartsch-Hackley handled 31 receptions with a 65 positive reception percent. Wilhite was a sub in all but the third set, racking up one kill on five swings. In the return match at home, Busto Arsizio defeated Modena 26-24, 24-26, 25-21, 25-14 on Dec. 30 to earn a spot into the semifinals. Bartsch-Hackley pocketed 11 kills on 33 swings, three blocks and an ace for 15 points in the victory. She handled 25 receptions without an error with an 84 positive reception percent. Wilhite was a sub in the third set. Busto Arsizio will face Imoco Volley Conegliano in the Italian Cup semifinals on Feb. 17. In the Italian Serie A1 second half opener, Busto Arsizio lost to second-place Igor Gorgonzola Novara 25-22, 25-20, 26-24 on Dec. 26. Bartsch was credited with 13 points with 12 kills on 31 swings and a block. She also handled 33 receptions with a 76 positive reception percent. Wilhite did not play in the match. Busto Arsizio (8-4, 24 points, which stays fourth in the standings, meets last place Lardini Filottrano (1-11, 4 points) on Jan. 7 in its next regular season match. As part of the CEV Cup, Busto Arsizio concludes its 16th Finals Round home-and-home series with ZOK Bimal-Jedinstvo Brcko on Jan. 10 with a chance to advance to the 8th Finals Round.
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. In the Italian Cup quarterfinals, Scandicci was upset by Saugella Team Monza 25-14, 25-21, 25-21 on Dec. 20 in the home-and-home series opener. Carlini set the team to a 34 kill percent in the loss. With its backs against the wall, Scandicci won the return match 25-13, 25-16, 19-25, 26-28, 15-13 on Dec. 30. However, Team Monza earned the semifinal berth by just forcing the match to a fourth set. Carlini started the first three sets as Scandicci converted 44 percent of its attacks with her on the court. In the start of the Italian Serie A1 second half, Scandicci swept sixth-place Liu Jo Nordmeccanica Modena (7-5, 18 points) 25-23, 25-14, 25-19 on Dec. 26. Carlini set the squad to a 42 kill percent as a team. She added two blocks in the win. Scandicci (10-2, 27 points), which stays inthird place, resumes regular season action on Jan. 6 against 10th-place Pomi Casalmaggiore (2-10, 10 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. In the Italian Cup quarterfinals, Firenze lost to Imoco Volley Conegliano 25-20, 25-19, 25-17 on Dec. 20 in the first match of the home-and-home series. Tapp scored eight points in the loss with four kills on 14 swings, three blocks and an ace. Firenze won a hard-fought 29-27, 29-27, 24-26, 21-25, 15-8 match on Dec. 30 in the Italian Cup quarterfinals return match, but Conegliano advanced through the tiebreaker system. Tapp, who started the first three sets, scored seven kills on 13 errorless attacks and a block for eight points before leaving the match with Conegliano securing the advancement. Between the two Italian Cup matches, Firenze lost to Saugella Team Monza 25-20, 25-20, 25-15 on Dec. 26 to open the second half of the Italian Serie A1 regular season. Tapp collected three blocks and two kills for five points in the loss. Firenze (4-8, 14 points), now in eighth-place, meets league-leader Imoco Volley Conegliano (11-1, 32 points) on Jan. 7 in its next league match.
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 downed KGC 25-19, 25-20, 23-25, 25-21 on Dec. 24. Kingdon charted 30 kills on 74 swings and two blocks for 32 points. She added 19 digs in the win. On the opposite side of the court, American Alaina Bergsma Coble scored 28 kills on 78 attacks and five blocks for a match-high 33 points. IBK (9-6, 26 points), now in third place, returns to action on Jan. 1 when it faces second-place Hyundai (10-6, 30 points, followed by a Jan. 6 contest against fifth-place GS Caltex (7-9, 16 points).
I’m thankful for the struggle. . When you are trying to achieve greatness, you realize early on that a want for glory is never enough. You must learn to love the grind. . We all start from ground zero, and we all experience failure along the way. Everyone gets knocked down over & over, and the further you go in your sport, the more it seems to hurt. . People give up. Sometimes by choice, sometimes not. They lose passion, they get injured, life pulls them in a different direction. . But there’s always a few who keep getting back up and charging forward. They learn, they improve, they fight. When the going gets tough, they lean in. . Those are the champions. . #embracethestruggle #enjoythejourney #leanin
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 defeated Yunnan Dianchi 25-20, 25-22, 25-20 on Dec. 23 to conclude Pool B’s first phase. Wopat contributed six points in the victory. BAIC (6-6, 24 points), which finished fourth place in Group B of the regular season, starts Stage 2 Group A on Jan. 2 against Jiangsu, followed by a Jan. 6 contest against Guandong Hengda.
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. During the Empress Cup, Hisamitsu Springs lost to Denso 25-23, 27-25, 22-25, 15-25, 15-13 on Dec. 17. The Japan V.League is on holiday break until the new year. First-place Hisamitsu Springs (15-0) meets Hitachi Rivale on Jan. 6 and NEC Red Rockets on Jan. 7.
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 defeated Sigel Marsala 25-12, 25-20, 25-19 on Dec. 26. McMahon notched 14 points in the victory with 10 kills on 25 attacks, three blocks and an ace on six serves. In its first half finale, Soverato lost to third-place Fenera Chieri 25-18, 23-25, 25-19, 25-19 on Dec. 30. McMahon scored eight points in the loss with seven kills on 28 swings and a block. Soverato (11-5, 32 points), which is now in seventh place, starts the second half of the season on Jan. 6 against Barricalla Collegno.
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 a break from the German Bundesliga, Stuttgart lost to Wiesbaden 21-25, 25-19, 26-24, 25-19 on Dec. 17 in the German Cup semifinals. McCage tallied eight kills on 11 attacks and three blocks for 11 points in the loss. Tapp, who started the final two sets, totaled three points with two kills on five swings and an ace. In the German Bundesliga regular season, Stuttgart lost to third-place Schwerin 35-33, 25-19, 27-25 in a three-set battle. McCage contributed eight kills on 20 attacks and three blocks for 11 points. Tapp started the entire match and notched one kill and two blocks. Stuttgart (8-2, 25 points), which remains in first place in the Bundesliga, returns to regular season Bundesliga action on Jan. 13 against ninth-place Suhl (2-8, 6 points). In the CEV Cup, Allianz concludes the home-and-home series with VK Up Olomouc on Jan. 10 with the chance to advance to the 8th Finals Round.
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 German Cup semifinals, Dresdner edged Schwerin 17-25, 25-23, 18-25, 25-21, 15-10 on Dec. 20 to advance to the German Cup Finals match against Wiesbaden on March 4. Bugg was a sub in the first and third sets, registering five serves. Dresdner defeated Erfurt 25-12, 25-15, 25-12 on Dec. 28. Bugg paced Dresdner to a 39 kill percent as she started all three sets. She recorded two aces and a block in the victory. Dresdner (9-1, 26 points), which moved up to first place with the win, faces 11th-place VCO Berlin (0-9, 0 points) on Jan. 5 in its next Bundesliga match. In the CEV Cup, Dresdner concludes its home-and-home 16th Finals Round series with Pays d’Aix Venelles on Jan. 9 in France. Dresdner won the first match in three sets.
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 French League, second-place Beziers (10-1, 28 points) meets league-leader RC Cannes (10-1, 29 points) on Jan. 6 in its next French League match. In the CEV Cup, Beziers plays the second match of its home-and-home series against Sliedrecht Sport on Jan. 10 with the winner ticketed to the 8th Finals Round.
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 (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). In the European Champions League, 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.
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 (5-6, 13 points), now in ninth place, resumes French League action on Jan. 6 against third-place Mulhouse (7-4, 22 points).
TRIVIA ANSWER: Megan Hodge Easy, who helped the U.S. win silver at the 2012 Olympic Games, also won silver in the World Championship Jump Rope Championship in the 12-14 age division.