Women's Update: Facts on National Training Team

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | May 22, 2017, 9:18 a.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (May 22, 2017) – The U.S. Women's National Training Team has swelled to 26 athletes for the coming week, days after the second Red-Blue intrasquad scrimmage. This week's update includes some interesting facts on the athletes who are in the gym.

UPDATED U.S. WOMEN’S TRAINING ROSTER
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, will have 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 – with four new players arriving. Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota), a 2016 U.S. Olympic Team alternate, returns for her sixth season with Team USA. The other three players – middle Paige Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota), opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) and outside hitter Stephanie Niemer (Erlanger, Kentucky) – all just finished their professional seasons in Puerto Rico and joining the National Team for the first time.

Additional players will be added to the 2017 training roster following the completion of their pro leagues overseas and 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. 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, Illiniis)
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 Minnesota (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)
Notes: * Wilhite and Carlini begin on May 16; ^ Wopat begins on May 17

TRAINING TEAM NOTES:
The U.S. Women's National Team has many new faces, and some interesting storylines and tidbits.

  • The team has two sets of twins training as of May 22. Amber and Kadie Rolfzen (Papillion, Nebraska) and Hannah and Paige Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota) are beginning their first seasons with the U.S. Women's National Team after competing at University of Nebraska and University of Minnesota, respectively.
  • The team has five players hailing from the University of Minnesota - and four are playing middle. Along with outside Sarah Wilhite (Eden Praire, Minnesota), the quartet of Gopher middles who are part of the National training team are Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota), Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota, Hannah and Paige Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota).
  • Out of the 26 players training at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim, California, 16 are in their first season.
  • Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) and outside hitter Sarah Wilhite (Eden Praire, Minnesota) come into training this year with some major honors secured in the last few months. Carlini was named the prestigious Sullivan Award winner for best amateur athlete among all sports earlier this spring. Wilhite was selected the AVCA Division I Player of the Year in December 2016.

OUTSIDES DOMINATE 2ND RED-BLUE
The U.S. Women’s National Team held its second Red-Blue intrasquad scrimmage of the season on May 19 with 21 players seeing action at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, California. The Red Team won the three of the four sets, coming back to win 22-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-19. Players switched between the Red and Blue team throughout the night. The Red-Blue was scheduled for four sets with each set played to 25 points. Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Illinois) led all scorers with 26 points with 18 kills on 41 attacks as part of a .293 hitting efficiency. She added five aces and three blocks in playing all four sets for the Blue Team. Outside hitter Sonja Newcombe (Lake Arrowhead, California) pocketed 18 points with four sets for the Red Team, including 15 kills on 34 attacks as part of a .353 hitting efficiency and three blocks. Outside Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Arizona) chipped in 15 points via 12 kills on 32 attacks and three blocks in splitting two sets each on the Red and Blue side. Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota), the 2016 AVCA Division I Player of the Year, contributed 13 points with 11 kills on 30 swings, one block and one ace in four sets. She was playing her first Red-Blue match of the season. Middle Molly McCage (Spring, Texas) recorded six kills on 13 attacks, three aces and a block for 10 points as highest scoring non-outside hitter. In total, 16 players scored at least one point in the match. Only liberos and setters did not score a point in the contest. For the complete recap, click here.

TICKETS FOR USA VOLLEYBALL CUP VS BRAZIL NOW ON SALE: 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.

U.S. WOMEN TO HOST CANADA IN FRIENDLY MATCH: 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.

RED-BLUE SCRIMMAGE SCHEDULE: The U.S. Women’s National Team will officially begin its summer training block on May 1, and already have several Red-Blue intrasquad matches lined up for fans in Southern California to watch the team get ready for summer competitions. In addition, fans are welcome to attend training sessions at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim. The U.S. Women typically train Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. PT.

  • May 19: at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School (San Juan Capistrano, California), 7 p.m. PT
  • May 26: at Santiago Canyon College (Orange, California), 6 p.m. PT (doubleheader with U.S. Men’s National Team)
  • June 2: at Kennedy High School (La Palma, California), 7 p.m. PT