Women's Update: FIVB World Grand Prix Prelim Roster Named

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | June 06, 2017, 3:22 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (June 6, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s National Team held its fourth and final Red-Blue on June 2 with the Pan American Cup and FIVB World Grand Prix as tournaments on the horizon. Also, Team USA will host Canada on June 13 in San Juan Capistrano, California, two days before leaving for the Pan Am Cup in Peru.

The U.S. has named its 21-player preliminary roster for the 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix, the premier annual international women’s volleyball tournament. Each weekend has three sites of four teams playing round-robin matches.

The four setters selected to the preliminary roster are Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois), Lexi Dannemiller (West Chester, Ohio), Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma) and Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California). The three opposites named to the roster are Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana), Liz McMahon (Liberty Township, Ohio) and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois). The three liberos tabbed to the preliminary roster are Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona), Kristen Hahn (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California).

The six middles selected to the roster are Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota), Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota), Molly McCage (Spring, Texas), Amber Rolfzen (Papillion, Nebraska), Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota) and Paige Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota). The five outside hitters chosen for the squad are Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Illinois), Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio), Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Arizona), Sonja Newcombe (Lake Arrowhead, California) and Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota).

Team USA opens up the World Grand Prix in Kunshan, China, with matches against Russia on July 7, Italy on July 8 and host China on July 9. The Americans remain in China the following weekend with contests against Turkey on July 14, Italy on July 15 and host China on July 16 in Macau. The U.S. finishes the preliminary rounds in Cuiaba, Brazil with matches against Netherlands on July 20, Belgium on July 21 and Brazil on July 23.

The U.S. can select 14 players from the preliminary roster to compete in each of the three group weekends and the Final Round, changing out players during each weekend phase. The top five teams through the preliminary phase plus Final Round host China will compete Aug. 2-6 for the World Grand Prix title.

The U.S. Women’s National Team will compete in the 16th Pan American Cup being held June 17-25 in Lima and Canete, Peru.

The 12-team Pan American Cup has two six-team preliminary round pools that will play a full round-round schedule. Team USA is part of Group A with matches against Venezuela on June 17, Colombia on June 18, Puerto Rico on June 19, Mexico on June 20 and Argentina on June 21. Group B includes Canada, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Peru and Trinidad & Tobago.

After an off day on June 22, the quarterfinals round will take the second- and third-place teams from both groups and play crossover matches to determine which two teams will advance to the June 24 semifinals to join the respective pool winners. The tournament concludes on June 25 with the medal round matches and other classification matches.

The final Red-Blue intrasquad match was held June 2 at Kennedy High School in LaPalma, California. Outside hitter Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) led all scorers with 13 points, including 11 kills and two aces. Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Illinois) added eight kills and four blocks for 12 points. Outside hitter Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Arizona) contributed 12 points with nine kills on a .471 hitting efficiency, two aces and a block.

Middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) reached 10 points with five kills, four blocks and an ace. Middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) was one of five players scoring nine points as she had five kills, three blocks and an ace. Middle Paige Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota) pocketed three kills, four blocks and two aces. Gibbemeyer, Dixon and Tapp all played at the University of Minnesota.

Outside Aiyana Whitney (Norwood, New Jersey) tallied six kills and three blocks for nine points. Liz McMahon (Liberty Township, Ohio) secured eight kills on .316 hitting to go with a block. Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) pocketed seven kills and two blocks for nine points.

Middle Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota) chipped in eight points with five kills on eight errorless swings and three blocks in two sets. Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) added seven kills. Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) totaled six kills in two sets.

Libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California) handled 11 receptions with a 63.6 positive reception percent. Libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona) held a 53.3 positive reception percent on 15 chances.

Setters Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois), Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma), Madi Bugg (Apex, North Carolina) and Lexi Dannemiller (West Chester, Ohio) all played four sets. Carlini and Hancock each scored three points in the match.

For the match, the U.S. had a combined 29 blocks and 13 aces.

The U.S. Women’s National Team will host the Canadian Women’s National Team in a friendly match on June 13 at JSerra High School in San Juan Capistrano, California. The match will start at 7 p.m. PT and tickets will be available for purchase at the door one hour prior to the match. The USA-Canada match will represent the first contest against an international opponent for Team USA since it won bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games. Both the USA and Canada will travel later in the week to Peru for the XVI Pan American Cup that is from June 16-25.

The U.S. Women’s National Team hosts Brazil on Aug. 27 and Aug. 29 in Anaheim as part of the USA Volleyball Cup, and you can now get the hottest volleyball of the summer ticket through TicketMaster by clicking here. The Americans will host their South American rivals in the two-match series at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena just a couple miles from where Team USA trains in Anaheim – the official host city of the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Teams. The U.S. is ranked No. 2 in the current FIVB world ranking after earning bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games. Brazil, which lost to eventual 2016 Olympic Games champion China in a five-set match in the quarterfinals in Rio, is ranked No. 4 in the world. The two teams met in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games gold-medal match with the Brazilians winning both matches. “Brazil has built one of a handful of legendary programs in international volleyball, and this year’s USA Volleyball Cup matches will be a wonderful opportunity for American fans to see both programs live,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “Every time we square off across the net, it’s a battle - both teams test each other, and learn, and we cherish experiences like that. We’ll see you in August!” The USA Volleyball Cup opening match will have first serve at 4 p.m. PT on Aug. 27, while the Aug. 29 match will start at 7:30 p.m. PT.

The U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked No. 2 in the world after a bronze-medal finish at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, has 26 players training at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim – the official host city for both the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Teams. Additional players will be added to the 2017 training roster following a short rest or finishing their college’s academic year. Training rosters are subject to change weekly with new athletes added or removed. Team USA works out weekdays from approximately 8:30-11:30 a.m., but subject to change. All practices at the American Sports Centers are open to the public.

Player (Position, 2016-17 Pro Club, College, Hometown)
Inky Ajanaku (Middle, Rehabbing in USA, Stanford, Tulsa, Oklahoma)
Michelle Bartsch (Outside, Bolzano (Italy), Illinois, Maryville, Illinois)
Amanda Benson (Libero, Final Season in College, Oregon, Litchfield Park, Arizona)
Madi Bugg (Setter, NUC (Switzerland), Stanford, Apex, North Carolina)
Lauren Carlini (Setter, Final Season in College, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
Megan Courtney (Outside, Wroclaw (Poland), Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
Lexi Dannemiller (Setter, Schweriner (Germany), Michigan, West Chester, Ohio)
Tori Dixon (Middle, Rehabbing in USA, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
Annie Drews (Opposite, Caguas Criollas (Puerto Rico), Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
Lauren Gibbemeyer (Middle, Pomi Casalmaggiore (Italy), Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
Kristen Hahn (Libero, Did Not Compete, Iowa State, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Micha Hancock (Setter, Wroclaw (Poland), Penn State, Edmond, Oklahoma)
Madi Kingdon (Outside, IBK (Korea), Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
Molly McCage (Middle, Wiesbaden (Germany), Texas, Spring, Texas)
Liz McMahon (Opposite, Dresden (Germany), Illinois, Liberty Township, Ohio)
Kelly Murphy (Opposite, Henan (China), Florida, Wilmington, Illinois)
Sonja Newcombe (Outside, Sichuan (China), Oregon, Lake Arrowhead, California)
Stephanie Niemer (Outside, Caguas Criollas (Puerto Rico), Cincinnati, Erlanger, Kentucky)
Amber Rolfzen (Middle, Dresden (Germany), Nebraska, Papillion, Nebraska)
Kadie Rolfzen (Opposite, Dresden (Germany), Nebraska, Papillion, Nebraska)
Hannah Tapp (Middle, Schweriner (Germany), Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
Paige Tapp (Middle, Juncos Valencianas (Puerto Rico), Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
Sarah Wilhite (Outside Hitter, Final Season in College, Minnesota, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
Aiyana Whitney (Outside Hitter, MTV Stuttgart (Germany), Penn State, Norwood, New Jersey)
Justine Wong-Orantes (Libero, Final Season in College, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
Carly Wopat (Middle, Toray (Japan), Stanford, Santa Barbara, California)