Women's Update: Italian Title, Evaluating for the Future

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | March 06, 2017, 1:27 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (March 6, 2017) – This week’s U.S. Women’s National Team update highlights several success stories Team USA members had this past weekend including a title won in Italy, while also recapping the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryout that evaluated 235 athletes aspiring to be in the pipeline.

U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM OPEN TRYOUT EVALUATES 235 ATHLETES: The annual U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryout evaluated 235 athletes this past weekend at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Karch Kiraly, head coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team, led the three-day tryout process held March 3-5.

Courtney Schwan, an outside hitter from University of Washington, said “This tryout has been an amazing experience. I am so blessed to get the opportunity to play with these amazing players. It is such a high competitive volleyball – everybody loves high competitive volleyball, the best kind of volleyball. It was a great learning. I learned a lot from the coaches – they have a great coaching staff here. I was so excited to be here.”

The tryout was held for players aspiring for spots on the U.S. Women’s National Team, along with 60 positions on the U.S. Collegiate National Team. Further, select athletes born in 1998 or 1999 were competing for spots on the 2017 U.S. Women’s Junior National Team.

All but two sessions were live streamed to the USA Volleyball website, and can be watched on-demand on the USA Volleyball YouTube channel. Fans can track how their favorite players performed, while coaches can use the videos as a resource for quality drills used in the USA gym.

Photos from all three days of the tryout are posted to USA Volleyball’s Facebook account. To view the three albums with over 700 total images, click here.

For details on the tryout and the roster of athletes, click here.

VIRTUE NAMED TO U.S. WOMEN’S COACHING STAFF: Erin Virtue, currently the women’s volleyball associate head coach at Northwestern University, has accepted a position with the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team as a consultant assistant coach working with Karch Kiraly, the program’s head coach, for the 2020 Olympic quadrennial. Virtue is no stranger to the USA gym as a player and coach within USA Volleyball’s High Performance pipeline. She served as head coach of the U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team that captured silver at the 2016 NORCECA Women’s U18 Continental Championship and qualifying Team USA to this year’s FIVB Women’s U18 World Championship. In total, Virtue has spent 11 seasons coaching in the High Performance program, mentoring athletes in the Select (U16), Youth (U18) and Junior (U20) age groups. For the full story, click here.

 

COPPA ITALIA FINALE TONIGHT! 💙🐾 • • • Watch on ESPN3 at 11am CT 🙋🏼

A post shared by Kelsey Robinson (@krobin32) on

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 the European Champions League, Conegliano overwhelmed Azerbaijan’s Telekom Baku 25-13, 25-9, 25-16 on Feb. 28 in Baku. Robinson and Fawcett did not play in the match as several reserves gained playing time. Conegliano (4-2, 12 points), which will host the Champions League Final Round, finished Pool A in second place with a 4-2 record behind Italy’s Liu Jo Nordmeccanica Modena. In a break from the Italian Serie A1 regular season, Conegliano captured the Italian Cup top prize this past weekend with two victories. Conegliano rallied past Igor Gorgonzola Novara 23-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-23 on March 4. Robinson collected nine points with six kills on 29 attacks and three blocks, but was even more impressive in serve-receiving handling 31 of the team’s 85 chances with an 81 positive reception percent. Fawcett scored a team-high 19 points with 17 kills on 45 attacks and two aces on 12 serves. Conegliano receives a bye in the Playoff 6 (quarterfinal round) as the host to the Final Four. In the Italian Cup title match, Conegliano swept Liu Jo Nordmeccanica Modena 25-23, 25-22, 25-23 in a close three-set match on March 5. Fawcett pocketed 15 points, including 14 kills on 35 attacks and an ace. Robinson charted nine points with eight kills on 26 attacks and just one error to go with a block. She also handled 25 of the team’s 63 receptions with a 68 positive percent. In Italian Serie A action, first-place Conegliano (17-2, 49 points) returns to regular season action on March 12 against Unet Yamamay Busto Arsizio.

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 lost to Il Bisonte Firenze 25-18, 9-25, 25-16, 16-25, 15-13 on March 2 in a match originally scheduled for Feb. 19. Gibbemeyer scored 15 points in the loss with 11 kills on 14 errorless swings and four blocks. Lloyd set the team to a 34 kill percent while adding two blocks and an ace. Casalmaggiore (14-5, 40 points), which remains in second place, resumes Italian League action on March 11 against Foppapedretti Bergramo. In CEV Cup action, Casalmaggiore will face Germany’s Allianz MTV Stuttgart in its home-and-home 4th Finals (quarterfinals) round series with matches on March 7 and March 15.

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 (7-12, 25 points), which remains in eighth-place, returns to the court on March 12 against 10th-place Saugella Team Monza (5-14, 17 points) as the league was on hiatus for the Italian Cup semifinals and finals this past weekend.

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 CEV Champions League, Volero swept Russia’s Dinamo Krasnodar 25-18, 25-23, 25-22 on Feb. 28 in Zurich to finish second in the Pool B. Akinradewo pocketed nine points with seven kills on nine errorless attacks, one ace and one block I the victory. Volero (4-2, 11 points) advances to the Playoff 6 (quarterfinal round) by being one of the two top second-place teams. Volero will meet Turkey’s VakifBank in a home-and-home series with dates to be determined. In the Swiss League, Volero blanked TS Volley Dudingen I twice last week with a 25-12, 25-16, 25-9 win on March 2 followed by a 25-15, 25-16, 25-19 victory on March 4. Volero (24-0, 71 points), which holds a commanding eight-point lead in the Swiss League, plays second-place Sm’Aesch Pfeffingen I (21-3, 63 points) on March 8 and third-place Hotel Cristal VFM (16-9, 47 points) on March 11.

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 Champions League Pool D, Eczacibasi defeated Germany’s Dresdner SC 25-15, 19-25, 25-22, 25-18 in the final group phase match before heading into the Playoff 6 (quarterfinals) round. Larson notched 13 points with 10 kills on 24 attacks, two aces and a block She chipped in 38 of the team’s 74 receptions with a 36 positive percent. Adams secured seven points with four kills on 12 swings, two blocks and an ace. On the opposite side of the net, American Liz McMahon scored 18 points and Erin Johnson added 14 points for Dresdner. Kadie Rolfzen, a recent Nebraska grad, turned in 12 points in the loss. For highlights of match, click here. Eczacibasi (4-2, 13 points) concluded Pool D in second place behind domestic league rival VakifBank and qualified for the Playoff 6 (quarterfinal) round. Eczacibasi will meet Turkish rival Fenerbahce in a home-and-home series to determine which team advances to the Final Four on April 22-23. In the Turkish League, Eczacibasi held off ninth-place Seramiksan 25-21, 22-25, 25-21, 22-25, 21-19 in a five-set battle on March 5. Larson notched 14 points with 12 kills on 34 swings and two blocks. She was credited with a 45 positive reception percent on 22 chances. Adams, who started just the first two sets, racked up five kills on 12 attacks and a block for six points. Eczacibasi, which dropped to third place in the league with a 14-5 record despite the win, plays last-place Nilufer Bld (1-18) on March 11 in its next Turkish match.

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 European Champions League, VakifBank downed Russia’s Uralochka NTMK-Ekaterinburg 25-19, 25-27, 25-20, 25-18 on Feb. 28 to go undefeated in Pool D. Hill, a sub in all four sets, compiled seven kills on 16 attacks and an ace for eight points. She added 10 receptions in her limited role. For highlights of the match, click here. VakifBank (6-0, 17 points) finished Pool D in first place heading into the Playoff 6 (quarterfinal) round. VakifBank will challenge Switzerland’s Volero Zurich in the Playoff 6 home-and-home series with dates to be announced. In the Turkish regular season, VakifBank lost for the first time in 19 matches in the 2016-17 season after falling to third-place Fenerbahce (15-3) 25-18, 26-24, 25-23 on March 4. Hill, a sub in the first two sets and starting in the third set, tallied two kills on six swings with a 57 positive reception percent on 14 chances. VakifBank, 18-1 overall in the Turkish League and two fewer losses than second-place Fenerbahce, resumes its domestic action on March 12 against sixth-place Canakkale Bld (10-9).

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 fifth-place Bursa B. Sehir Bld 27-25, 25-14, 25-19 on March 4. Crimes, who started the first two sets and was a sub in the third, scored four kills on 10 attacks and an ace for five points in the loss. Sariyer, in 11th place in the Turkish League with a 4-15 record, meets eighth-place Besiktas (9-10) on March 11 in its next match.

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 to JT Marvelous 25-18, 25-18, 26-28, 16-25, 19-17 in a marathon five-set match on March 5 to conclude the Final 6 round-robin playoffs. Jackson collected 18 points via 15 kills and three blocks. Despite the loss, Hitachi advanced to the Final 3 semifinals based on tiebreakers. Although four teams finished with 2-3 records from third to sixth place, Hitachi finished in third place based on tiebreakers and a total of 10 points in the Final 6 playoffs, best fourth-place JT Marverlous (eight points), fifth-place Toyota (eight points) and sixth-place Toray (seven points). Hitachi will meet Hisamitsu Springs in the semifinals on March 11, and the winner will face NEC Red Rockets in the championship on March 12.

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 beat Toyota 25-21, 23-25, 25-17, 25-17 on March 4 to improve to 2-2 in the Final 6 Playoffs. Wopat recorded 15 points with 14 kills and a block. However, Toray lost its final match of the Final 6 round robin with a 20-25, 28-26, 25-22, 25-15 setback to NEC Red Rockets on March 5. Wopat hammered seven kills and added two blocks for nine points. Toray finished the Final 6 with a 2-3 record and 11-12 set record to finish in sixth place even though third-place Hitachi Rivale, fourth-place JT Marvelous and Toyota all finished the same 2-3 records. Only the top three teams in the Final 6 round advance to the Final 3 (semifinal round).

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 topped Enea PTPS Pila 25-7, 29-27, 25-16 on March 4. Hancock set her team to a 45 kill percent and she added seven aces, two blocks and one ace on three attacks. American teammate Megan Courtney totaled 12 points with 10 kills on 22 attacks and two blocks. Wroclaw, in second place in the regular season with an 18-4 record and 56 points, will face league-leader Chemik Police (22-0, 63 points) on March 8 before meeting eighth-place KS Palac Bydgoszcz (7-16, 25 points) on March 12.