Women's Update: Pro Leagues Start 2018 with Bang

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Jan. 08, 2018, 10:30 a.m. (ET)

Kelsey Robinson attacks during Turkish League action
Kelsey Robinson attacks during the Turkish League

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 8, 2018) – The pro season kicked off the 2018 calendar year with a bang this past weekend as many of the U.S. Women’s National Team members were in action.

QUICK SETS

  • Three European Champions League and three CEV Cup matches with Americans competing will air live on laola.tv this week.
  • The U.S. Women host Italy, Turkey and Poland in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League May 15-17 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Tickets can be purchased at www.huskers.com/usavolleyball or by calling 800-8-BIGRED. For the full story and match schedule, click here.
  • Rhamat Alhassan earned the 2017 Honda Award as the best collegiate volleyball player. She has been part of the U.S. Women’s National Team the past two summers.
  • Amber Rolfzen scored 11 points as Beziers defeated French League leader RC Cannes.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Who scored the final point of the 2016 Olympic Games bronze-medal match, which resulted in Team USA winning its third straight Olympic medal?

ALHASSAN WINS HONDA AWARD: Rhamat Alhassan stayed busy on the volleyball court in 2017, both with the University of Florida and the U.S. Women’s National Team. For her efforts, Alhassan was named the Honda Sports Award winner as the top collegiate volleyball player in the country. The honor is presented by THE Collegiate Women Sports Award. Alhassan has played with the U.S. Women’s National Team the past two summers. She helped the U.S. Women win gold at the Pan American Cup in June 2017. She tallied 54 points in the tournament, including nine points in the title match against Dominican Republic. Alhassan returned to college in the fall and sparked the University of Florida to the runner-up finish in the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship. The AVCA selected Alhassan to its All-America First-Team for the second time as she became a four-time All-American. Alhassan also earned the 2017 SEC Player of the Year. For the full story, visit https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2018/January/04/Alhassan-Named-Honda-Award-Winner.

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AND CEV UP STREAMS: Three European Champions League matches featuring U.S. Women’s National Team players will stream live on laola.tv as the main phase reaches its second leg this week. In addition, three CEV Cup matches with at least one U.S. Women’s National Team player will air on laola.tv.

AKINRADEWO WITH JAPAN V-LEAGUE’S HISAMITSU SPRINGS: Two-time U.S. Olympic medalist Foluke Akinradewo (Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Instagram, Twitter) is playing middle for Japan V.League’s Hisamitsu Springs this winter. Hisamitsu Springs blanked Hitachi Rivale 25-20, 25-22, 25-22 on Jan. 6, its first match of the new year. Akinradewo collected 13 kills on 26 errorless attacks and two blocks for 15 points. Hisamitsu Springs swept NEC Red Rockets 25-17, 27-25, 25-15 on Jan. 7. Akinradewo scored 13 points with 11 kills on 20 errorless attacks, one block and one ace. First-place Hisamitsu Springs (17-0) meets JT Marvelous on Jan. 13 and Denso on Jan. 14.

LARSON, ADAMS WITH ECZACIBASI IN TURKISH LEAGUE: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Instagram, Twitter), a two-time Olympic Games medalist, and middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio, Instagram, Twitter), a 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist, are playing professionally with Eczacibasi in the Turkish League for the 2017-18 season. Eczacibasi dominated Kameroglu Beylikduzu 25-18, 25-14, 25-13 on Jan. 7 to remain in a virtual three-way tie for the league lead. Larson pocketed eight kills on 13 swings with just one error on offense, while adding three aces on a team-best 23 serves and a block for 12 points. Adams did not play in the match with the foreigner limits in place. Eczacibasi (11-1) faces Besiktas on Jan. 14 in its next Turkish League match. In CEV Cup action, Eczacibasi will close out its 16th Finals Round home-and-home series with VC Oudegem on Jan. 10 with the winner advancing to the 8th Finals Round.

Hoping for more fairytales like this in the new year πŸ’•βœ¨

A post shared by Kelsey Robinson (@krobin32) on

ROBINSON WITH VAKIFBANK IN TURKISH LEAGUE: Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California, Instagram, Twitter), a 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist, is playing club volleyball with VakifBank in the Turkish professional league this winter. VakifBank swept sixth-place Halkbank (5-7) 25-15, 25-15, 25-21 on Jan. 7 to stay at top of the league standings. Robinson hammered eight kills on 22 swings with just one error to go with an ace. She was credited with a 74 positive reception percent on 19 chances. VakifBank (11-1) resumes Turkish League action on Jan. 14 against ninth-place Kameroglu Beylikduzu (4-8). In European Champions League action, VakifBank (1-0) returns to action on Jan. 10 against Poland’s Grot Budowlani Lodz.

HILL WITH CONEGLIANO IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon, Instagram), a 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist, is playing for Imoco Volley Conegliano in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. In the Italian Serie A1, Conegliano rallied past eighth-place Il Bisonte Firenze (4-9, 14 points) 22-25, 25-11, 25-23, 25-12 on Jan. 7. Hill scored 18 points in the victory, highlighted by 15 kills on 33 errorless attacks, two blocks and an ace. She chipped in an 81 positive reception percent on 16 chances. Conegliano (12-1, 35 points), which holds on to first place, meets 12th-place Lardini Filottrano (2-11, 6 points) on Jan. 14 in its next Italian Serie A1 match. In the European Champions League, Conegliano (1-0) returns to Pool B action on Jan. 10 against Agel Prostejov (0-1).

GIBBEMEYER WITH NOVARA IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: U.S. Women’s National Team middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) is playing her 2017-18 professional season with Igor Gorgonzola Novara in the Italian Serie A1. In the Italian Serie A1, Novara trimmed seventh-place Mycicero Volley Persaro (6-7, 19 points) 25-23, 27-25, 22-25, 19-25, 15-13 on Jan. 7. Novara rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the tiebreaking set to win. Gibbemeyer, who was a sub in the second and third sets before starting the final two, tallied two kills on seven attacks and two blocks down the stretch. Novara (11-2, 32 points), which remains in second place, resumes Italian League action on Jan. 14 versus eighth-place Il Bisonte Firenze (4-9, 14 points). In the European Champions League, Novara (0-1) will seek to even its record at 1-1 on Jan. 11 as it meets Turkish power Fenerbahce.

DIXON, HANCOCK WITH MONZA IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter), an alternate to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Team, and U.S. Women’s National Team setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma, Instagram, Twitter) are playing for Saugella Team Monza in the Italian Serie A1 this winter after missing the 2016-17. In the Italian Serie A1, Team Monza swept Sab Volley Legnano (4-9, 11 points) 25-18, 25-20, 25-13 on Jan. 7. Dixon notched a match-high 15 points with nine kills on 14 attacks and just one error to go with a team-leading five blocks and an ace. Hancock set the squad to a stellar 49 kill percent. She added three individual kills on five errorless attacks, one ace and one block for five points. Team Monza (7-6, 22 points), now in fifth place, challenges third-place Savino Del Bene Scandicci (10-3, 27 points) on Jan. 14 in its next league match.

BARTSCH-HACKLEY, WILHITE WITH ITALY’S UNET E-WORK BUSTO ARSIZIO: Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois, Instagram, Twitter) and Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter), both outside hitters for the U.S. Women’s National Team, are playing their 2017-18 pro season for Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio in the Italian Serie A1. In the Italian Serie A1, Busto Arsizio was upset by last-place Lardini Filottrano (2-11, 6 points) 19-25, 25-19, 26-24, 17-25, 15-10 on Jan. 7. Bartsch-Hackley turned in 16 points with 15 kills on 32 attacks and a block. She was credited with a 50 positive reception percent on 22 chances. Wilhite, in her first starting role, tacked on 13 points with eight kills on 37 attacks, a team-high four blocks and an ace. She also handled 36 of the team’s 98 receptions with a 33 positive reception percent. Busto Arsizio (8-5, 25 points, which stays fourth in the standings, meets sixth-place Liu Jo Nordmeccanica Modena (8-5, 21 points) on Jan. 13. As part of the CEV Cup, Busto Arsizio concludes its 16th Finals Round home-and-home series with ZOK Bimal-Jedinstvo Brcko on Jan. 10 with a chance to advance to the 8th Finals Round.

CARLINI WITH SCANDICCI IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois, Instagram, Twitter), who played her first year with the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, is playing her first pro season with Savino Del Bene Scandicci in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. In the start of the Italian Serie A1, Scandicci lost to 10th-place Pomi Casalmaggiore (3-10, 13 points) 25-19, 15-25, 25-21, 25-18 on Jan. 6. Carlini set Scandicci to a 29 kill percent for the match while adding in two blocks, one ace and one kill for four individual points. Scandicci (10-3, 27 points), which stays in third place, resumes regular season action on Jan. 14 versus Saugella Team Monza.

HANNAH TAPP WITH FIRENZE IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Middle Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter), who played her first season with the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, is playing her pro season with Il Bisonte Firenze in the Italian Serie A1. Firenze started strong against league-leader Imoco Volley Conegliano (12-1, 35 points) on Jan. 7 before falling 22-25, 25-11, 25-23, 25-12. Tapp did not suit for the match. Firenze (4-9, 14 points), now in eighth-place, meets Igor Gorgonzola Novara on Jan. 14.

Double high five for a 3-0 win πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ’ž

A post shared by Madi (kingdon) Rishel (@madi_kingdon) on

KINGDON WITH KOREA V-LEAGUE’S IBK: Outside hitter Madi Kingdon (Hermosa Beach, California, Instagram, Twitter), a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, is playing her second consecutive professional season with IBK of the Korea V-League. IBK defeated Hyundai 25-21, 25-15, 19-25, 25-17 on Jan. 1 to start the new year. Kingdon totaled 33 points with 28 kills on 62 attacks, three aces and two blocks. She added 19 digs in the victory. IBK won its second match of 2018 with a 25-23, 25-17, 25-22 victory over GS Caltex on Jan. 6. Kindgon contributed 25 kills on 43 attacks in the victory, in addition to 11 digs. IBK (11-6, 32 points), now in second place, returns to action on Jan. 10 against KGC and Jan. 14 versus the Pink Spiders.

WOPAT WITH BAIC MOTORS IN CHINA: Carly Wopat (Santa Barbara, California, Instagram, Twitter), a middle for the U.S. Women’s National Team, is playing for BAIC Motors in Beijing as part of the Chinese professional league. After finishing the regular season in fourth place of Group B, BAIC has started Stage 2 of the playoffs in strong fashion as Wopat has switched to opposite due to injuries. BAIC defeated Jiangsu 25-22, 25-23, 24-26, 25-21 on Jan. 2. Wopat was a sub in the second and third sets, recording two kills. BAIC then won its second Stage 2 match of the week with a 27-29, 25-15, 20-25, 25-12, 15-12 victory over Guangdong Hengda on Jan. 6. Wopat, who was a sub in the first set and started the final two sets, tallied two blocks and a kill in the win. BAIC returns to Stage 2 action on Jan. 9 against Jiangsu before meeting Guangdong Hengda again on Jan. 13.

McMAHON WITH SOVERATO IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: U.S. Women’s National Team opposite Liz McMahon (Liberty Township, Ohio, Instagram) is playing for Volley Soverato in the Italian Serie A2 this winter. Soverato lost to eight-place Barricalla Collegno (10-7, 29 points) 25-21, 21-25, 25-19, 25-19 on Jan. 6 to start the second half of the season. McMahon pocketed eight points with seven kills on 24 attacks and a block. Soverato (11-6, 32 points), which is now in seventh place, resumes action on Jan. 14 against fifth-place Savallese Millenium Brescia (12-5, 36 points).

PAIGE TAPP, McCAGE WITH ALLIANZ MTV STUTTGART IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Middles Paige Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) and Molly McCage (Spring, Texas, Instagram), who were part of the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, are playing professionally this winter with Allianz MTV Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga. In the German Bundesliga regular season, Stuttgart (8-2, 25 points) was idle this past week. Stuttgart (8-2, 25 points), which is in second place in the Bundesliga, returns to regular season Bundesliga action on Jan. 13 against ninth-place Suhl (2-9, 6 points). In the CEV Cup, Allianz concludes the home-and-home series with VK Up Olomouc on Jan. 10 with the chance to advance to the 8th Finals Round.

BUGG WITH DRESDNER IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Setter Madi Bugg (Apex, North Carolina, Instagram), who was part of the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, is competing in the German Bundesliga with Dresdner SC this winter. Dresdner swept 11th-place VCO Berlin 25-15, 25-13, 25-14 on Jan. 5 in its first Bundesliga match of the new year. Bugg was a sub in all three sets, recording one kill on one attack while serving six times. Dresdner (10-1, 29 points), which remains in first place, faces fifth-place Munster (6-5, 21 points) on Jan. 14 in its next Bundesliga match. In the CEV Cup, Dresdner concludes its home-and-home 16th Finals Round series with Pays d’Aix Venelles on Jan. 9 in France. Dresdner won the first match in three sets.

AMBER ROLFZEN WITH BEZIERS IN FRENCH LEAGUE: Middle Amber Rolfzen (Papillion, Nebraska, Instagram), who was part of the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, is competing with Beziers in the French League this winter. In the French League, Beziers upset then-league-leader RC Cannes 31-29, 12-25, 27-25, 19-25, 15-6 on Jan. 6. Rolfzen netted 11 points in the victory, including eight kills on 15 swings, two blocks and an ace. Beziers (11-1, 30 points), now in first place, meets third-place Mulhouse (8-4, 25 points) on Jan. 13 in its next league match. In the CEV Cup, Beziers plays the second match of its home-and-home series against Sliedrecht Sport on Jan. 10 with the winner ticketed to the 8th Finals Round.

DANNEMILLER WITH MULHOUSE IN FRENCH LEAGUE: Setter Lexi Dannemiller (West Chester, Ohio, Instagram, Twitter), a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, is competing for ASPTT Mulhouse in the French League this winter. Mulhouse downed ninth-place Vandoeuvre Nancy (5-7, 13 points) 25-22, 29-31, 25-18, 25-20 on Jan. 6 to start the new year in the French League. Dannemiller started the opening set and paced Mulhouse to a 47 kill percent as a team while adding one kill on two swings and a block. Mulhouse (8-4, 25 points), which is in third place, resumes French League action on Jan. 13 against league-leader Beziers (11-1, 30 points). In the European Champions League, Mulhouse will try to level its record at 1-1 when it faces Switzerland’s Volero Zurich (0-1) on Jan. 11 in Pool A action.

BENSON WITH VANDOEUVRE NANCY IN FRENCH LEAGUE: Libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona, Instagram, Twitter), who was part of the U.S. Women’s National Team this past summer, is competing for Vandoeuvre Nancy in the French professional league this winter. Vandoeuvre Nancy lost to third-place Mulhouse (8-4, 25 points) 25-22, 29-31, 25-18, 25-20 on Jan. 6 to start the new year. Benson was credited with a 55 positive reception percent on 22 reception chances. Vandoeuvre Nancy (5-7, 13 points), now in ninth place, resumes French League action on Jan. 13 versus 10th-place Nantes (3-8, 12 points).

TRIVIA ANSWER: Kim Hill scored an ace to cap the Americans’ four-set win over the Netherlands to claim the bronze medal.