WNT Update: Future Shines at NCAA Championship

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Dec. 17, 2018, 1:31 p.m. (ET)

Jordan Larson attacking during Turkish League
Jordan Larson going for an Eczacibasi kill during the Turkish League action against VakifBank.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 17, 2018) – As USA Volleyball announced its season-ending awards being presented to a trio of U.S. Women’s National Team members, future members of Team USA showcased their skills at the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship.

QUICK SETS

  • Foluke Akinradewo and Kelsey Robinson were named USA Volleyball’s Female Indoor Co-Players of the Year for 2018, while Sarah Wilhite Parsons was selected USAV’s Female Indoor Most Improved Player of the Year.
  • Future national team members showcased their skills this past week at the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship in Minneapolis where Stanford claimed its record-setting eighth title with a thrilling five-set win over Nebraska in front of 18,113 fans onsite a national television audience. U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly served as the ESPN/ESPN2 television color analyst for a live television audience in the semifinals and finals.
  • Eczacibasi, led by Jordan Larson, defeated VakifBank and Kelsey Robinson in four sets on Dec. 15 in a battle of undefeated teams in the Turkish League.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Which U.S. Women’s National Team player appeared in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd section in the issued dated Nov. 26, 2007?

AKINRADEWO, ROBINSON AND WILHITE PARSONS EARN USAV POSTSEASON HONORS: Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California/Bartlett, Illinois) adapted to her new role as libero for the U.S. Women’s National Team on the fly in 2018, while middle Foluke Akinradewo (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) proved to be a consistent, high-level performer Team USA benefited from during the 2018 campaign. For their efforts, Robinson and Akinradewo have been selected as the 2018 USA Volleyball Female Indoor Co-Players of the Year. Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) was tabbed as the 2018 USA Volleyball Female Indoor Most Improved Player of the Year. For the full story, click here.

LOWE AT NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP AND AVCA CONVENTION: Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California, Instagram), a 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist, was in Minneapolis this past weekend for the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship and the AVCA Annual Convention. As part of her time in Minneapolis, she helped present awards at the AVCA All-American Awards banquet, talked about her experiences playing in the 2011 NCAA championship match for UCLA during breaks in the NCAA matches and much more. Also, Lowe discussed where she will be headed to play pro volleyball right after the new year. Watch the Twitter interview above to find out where she is headed overseas to play.

FUTURE NATIONAL TEAM MEMBERS ON NCAA GRAND STAGE: The 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball National Championship concluded this past weekend with several possible future national team members shining in front of 18,000-plus in stadium fans in additional to a national television audience. Top-seeded Stanford (34-1) claimed its record-setting eighth NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship title after defeating seventh-seeded Nebraska (29-7) 28-26, 22-25, 25-16, 15-25, 15-12 on Saturday evening in front of 18,113 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Stanford junior outside hitter Kathryn Plummer, who was named the AVCA Division I Player of the Year for the second year in a row, scored three of her 19 kills in the deciding set. For the match, she had 21 points with two blocks assists, one ace and 10 digs. Plummer is the only player to win a medal in a World Championship event in both indoor and beach volleyball age-group competition. Nebraska senior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke scored a match-high 27 kills on 70 attacks to go with two block assists and an ace for 29 points. She has come up through the USA Volleyball High Performance pipeline, including a silver-medal at the 2013 FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championship. For the full recap of the championship match, click here.

LARSON AND GIBBEMEYER WITH ECZACIBASI IN TURKISH LEAGUE: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Twitter, Instagram) and middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram) are competing with Eczacibasi in the Turkish League this winter. Larson is serving as the team’s captain. In the Turkish League, Eczacibasi pulled off a key 25-21, 25-13, 20-25, 25-20 victory over previously undefeated VakifBank on Dec. 15. Larson scored 17 points via 15 kills on 31 swings, one block and one ace. She was credited with a 44 positive reception percent after handling 32 of the team’s 70 receptions. Gibbemeyer was a sub in the third set, scoring one kill on her only attack. Eczacibasi (8-0), in first place in the Turkish League as the only undefeated team, returns to domestic league action on Dec. 22 against fourth-place Galatasaray (5-4). In its next European Champions League match, Eczacibasi (1-0) challenges Hameenlinna (0-1) on Dec. 19.

ROBINSON WITH VAKIFBANK IN TURKISH LEAGUE: Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California, Twitter, Instagram, Website) is playing club volleyball with VakifBank in the Turkish professional league and European Champions League this winter. In the Turkish League, VakifBank lost to undefeated Eczacibasi 25-21, 25-13, 20-25, 25-20 on Dec. 15. Robinson contributed nine kills on 18 attacks in the loss. She handled 29 of the team’s 85 receptions with a 59 positive percent. VakifBank (8-1), now in second place, resumes its domestic league schedule on Dec. 22 against fifth-place Turk Hava Yollari (6-3). In its European Champions League, VakifBank (1-0) returns to action on Dec. 20 against Maritza Plovdiv (0-1). Robinson has launched her own website, nomandplay.com on her passions for play, travel and food. To read more about her website, click here.

DREWS AND LEE WITH BEYLIKDUZU IN TURKISH LEAGUE: Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana, Twitter, Instagram) and Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, Twitter, Instagram) are competing with Kameroglu Beylikduzu Voleybol Ihtisas alongside fellow American setter Kelly Hunter in the Turkish League for the 2018-19 season. Beylikduzu lost a tough five set match (33-35, 25-20, 22-25, 25-18, 15-7) to fourth-place Galatasaray on Dec. 14. Drews scored a team-best 26 points with 24 kills on 47 attacks, one ace and one block. Lee added 13 points, including 10 kills on 31 swings, two blocks and an ace. She handled 31 of the team’s 110 receptions. Hunter set her squad to a 43 kill percent and chipped in two individual kills and two blocks. Beylikduzu (3-6), now in ninth place, returns to Turkish League action on Dec. 22 against eighth-place Aydin B. Sehir (4-5).

LLOYD WITH PRAIA CLUBE IN BRAZIL: Setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California, Instagram) is playing for Praia Clube in the Brazilian Superliga this winter. Praia Clube also has former U.S. Women’s National Team member Nicole Fawcett playing at opposite. Praia Clube defeated Hinode Barueri 25-22, 25-20, 25-22 on Dec. 14 in its first Brazilian Superliga match following the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship. Lloyd set Praia Clube to a 44 kill percent and .346 hitting efficiency while adding three individual kills on seven errorless attacks and a block for four points. Fawcett added 18 points with 14 kills on 35 swings, three blocks and an ace. Praia Clube (6-0, 17 points), the only undefeated team in the Brazilian Superliga, returns to action on Dec. 21 against sixth-place Osasco Voleibol Clube/Audax (4-3, 12 points).

AKINRADEWO WITH HISAMITSU SPRINGS IN JAPAN: Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Twitter, Instagram) has returned to Hisamitsu Springs of the Japanese V-League this winter. Hisamitsu Springs, in a break from the V-League, is competing in the Empress Cup through next week. After a first-round bye, Hisamitsu Springs defeated Kinrankai High School in straight sets on Dec. 15 in the second round. In the third round Hisamitsu Springs defeated Hitachi Rivale in four sets to advance to next weekend’s semifinal match against NEC Red Rockets. Hisamitsu Springs (7-1, 22 points) is in first place in the V-League Western Conference and leads both divisions with 22 points.

DIXON AND KINGDON-RISHEL PLAYING FOR BEIJING BAIC IN CHINESE LEAGUE: Middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram) and Madi Kingdon Rishel (Phoenix, Arizona, Twitter, Instagram) are playing for Beijing BAIC Motors Volleyball Club in China during the 2018-19 pro season. BAIC Motors rallied from two sets down to defeat Shanghai 17-25, 14-25, 25-13, 29-27, 15-10 on Dec. 11. Dixon notched 12 points with eight kills on 18 swings, three blocks and an ace. Kingdon Rishel added two kills in playing the first two sets. BAIC Motors, now in third place with a 3-2 record and eight points, resumes action on Dec. 18 against fifth-place Guangdong Evergrande (2-3, 7 points).

MURPHY WITH SHANGHAI VOLLEYBALL CLUB: Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois, Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Shanghai Volleyball Club this winter. Shanghai lost o BAIC Motors 17-25, 14-25, 25-13, 29-27, 15-10 on Dec. 11. Murphy scored a team-leading 23 points with 20 kills on 41 swings and three blocks. Shanghai, now in second place with a 4-1 record and 11 points in the second round Group C, resumes league action on Dec. 18 against first-place Tianjin (5-0, 15 points).

HILL WITH CONEGLIANO IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon, Instagram) is playing for Imoco Volley Conegliano in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. In the Italian Serie A1, Conegliano ended a two-match losing streak by defeating Il Bisonte Firenze 25-21, 20-25, 25-21, 25-21 on Dec. 15. Hill was a sub in the fourth set and did not score a point. Conegliano (7-2, 21 points), which moved up one spot to third place, returns to Italian Serie A1 action on Dec. 23 against 10th-place Bosca San Bernardo Cuneo (4-5, 10 points). In the European Champions League, Conegliano returns to Champions League action on Dec. 18 against Germany’s SSC Palmberg Schwerin (0-1).

BARTSCH-HACKLEY, CARLINI WITH NOVARA IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois, Twitter, Instagram) and setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois, Twitter, Instagram) are playing for Igor Gorgonzola Novara in the Italian Serie A1 and the European Champions League this winter. In the Italian Serie A1, Novara handled Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri 25-20, 25-17, 25-10 on Dec. 15. Carlini set Novara to a 56 kill percent and .466 hitting efficiency (41-7-73) while scoring seven individual kills on as many swings. Novara (9-0, 26 points), in first place in the Italian Serie A1, challenges second-place Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio (8-1, 23 points) on Dec. 23 in its next league match. In the European Champions League, Novara (1-0) returns to Pool C action on Dec. 19 against Minchanka Minsk (0-1).

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ADAMS AND HANCOCK WITH TEAM MONZA IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio, Twitter, Instagram) and setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma, Twitter, Instagram) are playing for Saugella Team Monza in the Italian Serie A1 and CEV Challenge Cup this winter. In the Italian Serie A1, Team Monza swept then-fifth place Pomi Casalmaggiore 25-19, 25-21, 25-20 on Dec. 10. Adams was near perfect with six kills on seven errorless attacks and two blocks for eight points. Hancock added four aces and a kill for five individual points while setting Team Monza to a 42 kill percent. Team Monza downed Banca Valsabbina Millenium Brescia 25-23, 25-10, 22-25, 25-17 on Dec. 16. Adams tallied nine kills on 15 attacks, two aces and a block for 12 points. Hancock set Team Monza to a 40 kill percent and .280 hitting efficiency. She also had four kills on five swings and an ace for five points. Team Monza (5-5, 17 points), which moved up two spots to sixth place with the two wins, challenges 11th place Lardini Filottrano (2-7, 6 points) on Dec. 23 in its next league match. In the CEV Challenge Cup, Team Monza has advanced to the 8th Finals Round home-and-home series where it will meet VDK Bank Gent on Dec. 19, followed by the return match on Jan. 23.

COURTNEY AND HANNAH TAPP WITH BERGAMO IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Libero/outside hitter Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio, Instagram) and Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram) are playing for Zanetti Bergamo in the Italian Serie A1 during the 2018-19 pro season. Bergamo swept Club Italia Crai 25-17, 25-27, 28-26 on Dec. 15 to even its season record through 10 matches. Tapp tallied nine points with six kills on 10 attacks, two blocks and an ace. Courtney, a sub in the final two sets, contributed four kills on five swings and handled six receptions with a 67 positive reception percent. Bergamo (5-5, 14 points), now in seventh place, is idle this coming week.

WHITNEY WITH FILOTTRANO IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Opposite Aiyana Whitney (Norwood, New Jersey, Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Lardini Filotrrano in the Italian Serie A1 this winter along with American Courtney Schwan. Filottrano lost to second-place Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio 22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-23 on Dec. 15. Whitney totaled a match-high 20 points with 16 kills on 54 swings, two blocks and two aces. Filottrano (2-7, 6 points), in 11th-place, faces Saugella Team Monza on Dec. 23 in its next league match.

WASHINGTON WITH BRESCIA IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Middle Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado, Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Banca Valsabbina Millenium Brescia in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. Brescia fell to Banca Valsabbina Millenium Brescia 25-23, 25-10, 22-25, 25-17 on Dec. 16. Washington contributed 10 points in the loss with seven kills on 16 swings, two aces and a block. Brescia (3-6, 11 points), now in ninth place, faces last-place Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri (0-9, 1 point) on Dec. 22 in its next league match.

OGBOGU WITH CHEMIK POLICE IN POLAND: Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas, Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Chemik Police in the Polish League and European Champions League this winter. Chemik Police rebounded from its first Orlen Liga loss by defeating 10th-place KSZO Ostrowiec 25-12, 25-19, 25-16 on Dec. 12. Ogbogu tallied seven kills on nine errorless attacks, two aces and a block for 10 points in the victory. Chemik Police swept VolleyWroclaw 25-21, 25-14, 26-24 on Dec. 15. Ogbogu did not play in the match. Chemik Police (9-1, 28 points), which remains in first place by two points, returns to Polish Orlen Liga action on Dec. 23 against second-place LKS Commercecon Lodz (9-1, 26 points). In European Champions League action, Chemik Police (0-1) returns to action on Dec. 19 against Fenerbahce (1-0).

WILHITE, PAIGE TAPP, RIVERS AND McCAGE WITH MTV STUTTGART IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite Parons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram), middles Molly McCage (Spring, Texas, Twitter, Instagram) and Paige Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram), opposite Krystal Rivers and setter Madi Bugg are playing for Allianz MTV Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga. All but Bugg played for the U.S. Women in the 2018 season. In the German SuperCup semifinals, Stuttgart defeated Aachen 20-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-18, 25-23 on Dec. 12 to advance to the finals. Rivers collected a match-high 25 points with 21 kills on 35 attacks and four blocks. Wilhite hammered 13 kills on 29 swings to go with three blocks for 16 points. She added a 48 positive reception percent on 29 chances. McCage tacked on 10 kills on 14 attacks, two blocks and two aces for 14 points. Tapp chipped in four kills on eight swings and a block for five points. Bugg was a sub in the first and fourth sets. Stuttgart will now face Schwerin on Feb. 24 in the finals. In the German Bundesliga, Stuttgart swept Aachen 25-17, 25-17, 25-21 on Dec. 15. Rivers scored a match-high 16 points via 10 kills on 20 attacks and six blocks. Wilhite Parsons tallied 11 points, all kills on 19 swings with just one error. She handled 12 receptions with a 42 positive percent. McCage hammered seven kills on eight attacks along with three blocks and an ace for 11 points. Tapp was the fourth American in double-figure scoring with five kills on 10 attacks and five blocks. Stuttgart (6-0, 17 points), which is in third place in the Bundesliga but with two fewer matches played than league-leader Schwerin (8-0, 22 points), plays second-place Dresden (6-1, 18 points) on Dec. 22 in its next league match. In the European Champions League, Stuttgart (0-1) resumes action on Dec. 19 against France’s Beziers (1-0), which won its opener against Maritza Plovdiv in straight sets.

BENSON WITH DRESDNER IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona, Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Dresdner SC in the German Bundesliga this winter. Dresdner is also competing in the CEV Cup this winter. In the Bundesliga, Dresdner blanked SC Potsdam 25-19, 25-13, 25-17 on Dec. 15. Benson was credited with a 44 positive reception percent on nine chances. Dresdner (6-1, 18 points), in second place, resumes Bundesliga action on Dec. 22 against third-place Stuttgart (6-0, 17 points).

TRIVIA ANSWER: Rachael Adams appeared in the iconic Sports Illustrated Faces In the Crowd Section dated Nov. 26, 2007. The text read: “Rachael, a senior middle blocker at Mount Notre Dame High, had 32 kills in a 3-2 comeback win over Ursuline in the regional final, helping the 24-5 Cougars reach their second straight state title match. A member of the U.S. youth national team, she led MND in kills (452) and blocks (129) and was first-team all-state.”