Women's Update: Talk of a Pro League in USA

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Feb. 20, 2017, 2:41 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Feb. 20, 2017) – While some 375 U.S. athletes compete overseas in professional leagues – including several in the prestigious European Champions League for which you can stream live this Wednesday – the thoughts of a domestic pro league right here in the USA has stirred up a lot of positive energy. For details and other U.S. Women’s National Team news from around the globe, read the full Weekly update below.

NATIONAL TEAM PLAYERS IN SUPPORT OF DOMESTIC PRO LEAGUE

USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis was recently interviewed by Sports Business Journal where the topic of a domestic professional volleyball league was broached.

“With the successes of our national teams, the high volleyball television/streaming ratings from the 2016 Olympics and our membership growth, we are confident that such a domestic league will succeed now when past attempts have failed,” said Davis, who is targeting a launch of a league by 2020. To read the full interview, click here.

U.S. athletes would also back a domestic pro league should it evolve. In separate interviews with worldofvolley.com, U.S. middles Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio, Twitter, Instagram) and Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram) shared the positives of a domestic league where National Team athletes and other U.S. players alike could benefit.

“I am fully behind and support the launch of a professional league in the USA,” Adams said. “It would be an amazing alternative for American players who want to continue playing but don't want to spend 8 -9 months out of a year living and playing in a foreign country away from family and friends. Especially for those who want to balance and grow a family of their own.”

Dixon feels that launching a league will be a challenging task, but would be amazing to U.S. players if it were to be successful.

“I absolutely love the idea,” Dixon said. “I think it will be extremely difficult, but if successful, it would be amazing to be able to stay in the U.S. year round and train. I think a lot of U.S. Volleyball players end their careers simply because they don't want to leave their family and friends for eight months to play abroad. By having a league (in the USA), I think it would prolong a lot of careers and give an outlet for people to play post-college. I can't speak on the technicalities, but as a player, it would definitely be a good thing.”

To read what other U.S. National Team athletes are saying about a potential domestic pro league, including those on the men’s side, read the www.worldofvolley.com article by clicking here.

KARCH ANSWERS FAN QUESTIONS ON #FIVBASKKARCH: U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly responded to fan questions submitted to the FIVB on its Facebook page with the hashtag #FIVBAskKarch. He gives advice to young players (and their parents) who are not in a starting role to keep them motivated in pursuing volleyball, how he stays calm in tense matches, his favorite setter to play alongside while on the U.S. Men’s National Team, his coaching advice he would give to his younger playing self, what it is like to train and travel with the U.S. Women’s National Team and his favorite beach venues to play at. To watch his responses on YouTube, click here.

WATCH AMERICANS IN EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AND CEV CUP: The CEV European Champions League 4th Round has three matches being streamed live with Americans competing including a head-to-head match of Eczacibasi versus VakifBank. In addition, two Americans will highlight Pomi Casalmaggiore’s CEV Cup match. All four matches can be watched live on laola1.tv.

DIXON INTERVIEWED BY VOLLEYWOOD: U.S. Women’s National Team middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram) was interviewed recently by website VolleyWood in a Facebook live question and answer. To watch the interview, click the play button above.

ROBINSON, FAWCETT WITH ITALY’S CONEGLIANO: Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois, Twitter, Instagram), a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, and opposite Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio, Instagram) are playing in the Italian Serie A1 after transferring midseason from teams China and Turkey, respectively. In Italian Serie A action, Conegliano swept third-place Igor Gorgonzola Novara 25-21, 25-18, 25-21 on Feb. 15 in Novara. Robinson slammed 10 kills on 20 attacks and added a block for 11 points. She chipped in a 76 positive reception percent on a team-beat 29 reception chances. Fawcett contributed a team-leading 13 points with nine kills on 21 attacks and four blocks. To watch highlights of the match, click here. Conegliano concluded the week with a 25-23, 25-22,2 25-11 victory against last-place Club Italia Crai (2-16, 10 points) on Feb. 19. Fawcett notched 11 points with seven kills on 20 attacks, two aces and two blocks. Robinson pocketed seven points with four kills on 12 swings and three blocks. She was credited with a 56 positive reception percent on 27 of the team’s total receptions. For highlights, click here. Conegliano (16-2, 46 points), which remains in first place, returns to action on Feb. 25 against 11th-place Metalleghe Montichiari (4-14, 14 points). In the European Champions League, Conegliano (2-2, 7 points) will challenge Italian rival Liu Jo Nordmeccanica Modena in a Pool A match on Feb. 22.

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

LLOYD, GIBBEMEYER WITH ITALY’S CASALMAGGIORE: Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California, Instagram), a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist setter for Team USA, and middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram) have returned to Italy to compete for Pomi Casalmaggiore in the Italian Serie A1 league and the CEV Cup. In the Italian League, Casalmaggiore ended a two-match losing skid by defeating Unet Yamamay Busto Arsizio 25-23, 25-16, 16-25, 25-17 on Feb. 15. Lloyd set her team to a 36 kill percent and added three individual kills on four chances and two blocks for five points. Gibbemeyer collected eight points with five kills on 14 attacks and three blocks. Casalmaggiore’s scheduled match against ninth-place Il Bisonte Firenze has been moved to March 2. Casalmaggiore (14-3, 39 points), which remains in second place, resumes Italian League action on Feb. 25 against seventh-place Liu Jo Nordmeccanica Modena (8-10, 24 points). In CEV Cup action, Casalmaggiore will face HPK Hameenlinna on Feb. 22 with a spot in the 4th Finals Round (quarterfinals) at stake. Casalmaggiore won the first of two home-and-home matches in the series.

BARTSCH WITH ITALY’S BOLZANO: Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Illinois, Twitter), an alternate on the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, is competing for Sudtirol Bolzano in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. Bolzano won its second match in a row by defeating Il Bisonte Firenze 26-24, 18-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-9 on Feb. 15. Bartsch charted 20 points with 17 kills on 62 attacks, two aces and a block. She was credited with a 64 positive reception percent on 28 reception chances. Bolzano lost to 11th-place Metalleghe Montichiari 23-25, 25-20, 25-21, 21-25, 15-13 on Feb. 19. Bartsch, starting just the first three sets and subbing in the fifth, totaled 11 kills on 37 attacks with a 67 positive reception percent on 21 chances. Bolzano (7-11, 24 points), which dropped to eighth-place place following the loss, returns to the court on Feb. 26 when it faces fifth-place Savino Del Bene Scandicci (10-8, 29 points).

HILL WITH TURKEY’S VAKIFBANK: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon, Instagram) a bronze medalist on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, returns this winter to play for Turkey’s VakifBank and in the European Champions League. In the Turkish regular season, VakifBank swept Besiktas 30-28, 25-12, 25-14 on Feb. 15. Hill was a sub in the first and third sets and provided one ace on five serves. She added a 71 excellent reception percent on her seven chances. VakifBank blanked second-place Eczacibasi 25-13, 25-20, 25-23 on Feb. 18. Hill was a sub in all three sets but did not score. VakifBank is 17-0 overall in the Turkish League. In the European Champions League, VakifBank (4-0, 11 points) resumes action on Feb. 22 as they play Turkish rival Eczacibasi (3-1, 10 points).

LARSON, ADAMS WITH TURKEY’S ECZACIBASI: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Twitter, Instagram) and middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio, Twitter, Instagram), both members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team that won bronze in Rio, are playing for Eczacibasi of the Turkish League and as part of the European Champions League this winter. In the Turkish League, Eczacibasi held off Halkbank 26-24, 22-25, 25-19, 25-18 on Feb. 15. Adams notched seven kills on 15 attacks, four blocks and two aces for 13 points. Larson did not dress for the match with limitations on foreign players in the Turkish League matches. In its second match of the week, Eczacibasi lost to league-leader VakifBank 25-13, 25-20, 25-23 on Feb. 18. Larson returned to the starting lineup and scored three kils and two blocks. She was perfect on her four receptions. Adams did not play in the match. Eczacibasi ranks third in the league standings with a 12-5 record. In Champions League Pool D, Eczacibasi (3-1, 10 points) returns to action on Feb. 22 when it faces Turkish rival VakifBank, which leads the pool with a 4-0 record.

CRIMES WITH TURKEY’S SARIYER: Middle Alexis Crimes (Rancho Cucamonga, California, Instagram), an alternate to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, is competing for Sariyer in the Turkish League this winter. Sariyer lost to Galatasaray 25-22, 25-22, 25-17 on Feb. 15. No statistics are available for the match. In its second match of the week, Sariyer lost to Seramiksan 25-22, 20-25, 25-17, 25-15 on Feb. 18. Crimes did not play in the match. Sariyer is now in 11th place in the Turkish League regular season standings with a 3-14 record.

AKINRADEWO WITH SWITZERLAND’S VOLERO ZURICH: Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida, Twitter, Instagram), the Best Blocker in the 2016 Olympic Games after leading the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team to a bronze medal, is playing for Volero Zurich in the Swiss League and in the European Champions League. In the Swiss League, Volero blanked VBC Cheseaux 25-16, 25-13, 25-21 on Feb. 15. Volero capped its week with a 25-15, 25-8, 25-17 victory over Volley Lugano I on Feb. 18. Volero (20-0, 59 points), now in first place in the Swiss League with a five-point and two-victory advantage over second-place Sm’Aesch Pfeffingen I, returns to its domestic league schedule on Feb. 25 against sixth-place VBC Cheseaux (8-14, 24 points) followed by a Feb. 26 match against fourth-place Viteos NUC I (12-10, 39 points). In the CEV Champions League, Volero (3-1, 10 points) will face Russia’s Dinamo Moscow, which leads the group with a 4-0 record, in its next Champions League Pool B match on Feb. 22.

HANCOCK WITH POLAND’S IMPEL WROCLAW: Setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma, Twitter, Instagram), who played for the U.S. Women during the 2016 Pan American Cup and set the tournament record for aces in a match and tournament, is playing for Poland’s Impel Wroclaw in the Orlen Liga. Wroclaw defeated third-place Grot Budowlani Lodz 25-19, 25-23, 23-25, 25-21 on Feb. 15 to start the week. Hancock set Wroclaw to a 34 kill percent and provided two kills and two blocks for four individual points. American teammate Megan Courtney scored 10 points with eight kills and two aces. Wroclaw concluded the week’s action with a 25-21, 25-23, 25-22 victory over Polski Cukier Muszynianka on Feb. 19. Hancock set her squad to a 45 kill percent while scoring two individual kills and serving one ace on seven chances. Courtney moved to libero for the match and was credited with a 54 positive reception percent on 13 chances. Wroclaw, in second place in the regular season with a 17-4 record and 53 points, will challenge league-leader Chemik Police (20-0, 57 points) on Feb. 25.

WOPAT WITH JAPAN’S TORAY ARROWS: Carly Wopat (Santa Barbara, California, Twitter, Instagram), a middle who competed on the 2016 U.S. Pan American team, is playing for the Toray Arrows of the Japan V-League this winter. In the Final 6 playoffs, Toray was edged by leader Hisamitsu Springs 25-27, 25-20, 25-21, 18-25, 15-9 on Feb. 19. Wopat scored 23 points in the loss with 18 kills on 32 attacks and five blocks. Toray is 1-1 in the playoffs with both matches going five sets. Toray plays Hitachi Rivale on Feb. 25 in its next Final 6 round robin playoff match. The top three teams in the Final 6 round advance to the Final 3 (semifinal round).

JACKSON WITH JAPAN’S HITACHI RIVALE: Middle Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles, Twitter, Instagram), who was part of the U.S. Women’s National Team most of the last Olympic quadrennial, is playing for Japan’s Hitachi Rivale. In the Final 6 playoffs, Hitachi lost a heartbreaking 22-25, 18-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-10 match to leader Hisamitsu Springs on Feb. 18. Jackson totaled 17 kills on 35 attacks and two blocks for 19 points. Hitachi is in fourth place through the first of two playoff matches. Hitachi plays Toray Arrows on Feb. 25 in its next Final 6 round robin playoff match, followed by a Feb. 26 match against Toyota. The top three teams in the Final 6 round advance to the Final 3 (semifinal round).

U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM OPEN TRYOUT: The U.S. Women’s National Team will hold its annual open tryout March 3-5 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The three-day tryout is expected to draw 240 athletes with hopes of earning a spot in one of the U.S. Women’s National Team programs. Athletes who have come out of the tryout include Kim Hill, the 2014 FIVB World Championship most valuable player. This tryout is open to current college-age athletes and older born in the years 1989-1999* inclusive (Women’s Junior age group athletes born in 1988 or 1999 AND NOT currently enrolled in college must be invited to attend this tryout) AND high school athletes born in 1997 or earlier. Athletes born before 1988 must contact USA Volleyball at indoorhp@usav.org for approval. For more information and registration links, click here.