WNT Update: Americans Start Fast in Pro Leagues

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Nov. 05, 2018, 7:35 p.m. (ET)

Kim Hill playing for her Italian club Imoco Volley Conegliano
Kim Hill playing for her Italian club Imoco Volley Conegliano

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Nov. 5, 2018) – U.S. Women’s National Team members are spread across the globe playing in the 2018-19 professional leagues, and many of them are already well underway.

QUICK SETS

  • Jordan Larson and Lauren Gibbemeyer helped lead Eczacibasi to the Turkish SuperCup title by defeating VakifBank in four sets on Oct. 31.
  • The U.S. Women's National Team will host Brazil, Korea and Germany June 4-6 during its 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League preliminary round matches. Further, Team USA travels to Bulgaria, Italy, China and Russia during the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League. The Americans are the defending Volleyball Nations League champions.
  • Foluke Akinradewo married her fiancé on Nov. 3.
  • Allianz MTV Stuttgart – with four Americans who were on the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2018 – won two matches to advance to the European Champions League third round.

TRIVIA QUESTION: How many different teams/programs have Paige Tapp and Sarah Wilhite Parsons competed together?

2019 VNL PRELIMINARY SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED: The U.S. Women’s National Team will face a daunting travel schedule in defending its FIVB Volleyball Nations League title and to start the 2019 international competition season. The VNL, with a $1 million top prize for the winner, is the highest profile annual international volleyball tournament. The VNL begins with a five-week preliminary round involving round-robin action for the 16-team field. Each preliminary round week includes four pools of four teams playing a round-robin schedule. Team USA opens the 2019 VNL May 21-23 in Bulgaria, where it will face the hosts, Japan and Belgium. The Americans stay in Europe the second week when they face the top two teams from the recently completed FIVB World Championship. USA, along with World Championship Serbia and Dominican Republic compete May 28-30 in Italy, the World Champion runner-up. In their only hosting week, the U.S. Women will challenge Brazil, Korea and Germany June 4-6 at a site to be announced later this fall. After its brief time back in the United States, Team USA travels to China where it will face the World Championship bronze medalist and reigning Olympic Games champion Chinese team along with Poland and 2018 VNL runner-up Turkey from June 11-13. The U.S. returns to Europe for the final VNL preliminary week as Russia hosts the Americans, Thailand and Netherlands. The VNL Final Six will be staged July 3-7 in China as the top five teams in the preliminary round join host China. For the full story, click here.

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: The 2018-19 European Champions League will have no fewer than six current U.S. Women’s National Team members competing in the main phase starting Nov. 20. VakifBank, with Kelsey Robinson, has been drawn into Pool A. Allianz MTV Stuttgart, with 2018 U.S. Women’s National Team members Molly McCage, Krystal Rivers, Paige Tapp and Sarah Wilhite, has been drawn into Pool A should it defeat CSM Volei Alba Blaj in the third round. In Pool B, Jordan Larson and Lauren Gibbemeyer will be leading Eczacibasi. Igor Gorgonzola Novara, with Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Lauren Carlini, headlines Pool C. In Pool D, Kim Hill and American teammate Megan Hodge Easy lead Imoco Volley Conegliano. Many of the European Champions League matches can be watched this season on flovolleyball.tv.

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. Prior to the opening of the Turkish League, Eczacibasi defeated VakifBank 20-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-19 on Oct. 31 to claim the Turkish Super Cup matching up the top two teams from the previous season. Larson contributed 18 points with 15 kills on 31 swings, two blocks and an ace on 20 errorless serves. Gibbemeyer was a sub in the second and fourth sets, recording one block in her limited action. Eczacibasi swept Nilufer 25-14, 25-12, 25-12 on Nov. 3 to open the Turkish League season. Gibbemeyer provided three kills on seven errorless attacks and a block for four points. Larson did not play in the match as she attended U.S. teammate Foluke Akinradewo’s wedding on Nov. 3. Eczacibasi returns to action on Nov. 6 against Halkbank (0-1) and concludes the week on Nov. 10 against Galatasaray (1-0). Next month Eczacibasi will be competing in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship Dec. 4-9 in Shaoxing, China.

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 this winter. Before the regular season began, VakifBank played in the Turkish Super Cup on Oct. 31 and dropped a 20-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-19 match to Eczacibasi. Robinson pocketed 10 points in the match with six kills, three blocks and an ace after playing the entire U.S. Women’s National Team season as the American libero. VakifBank rallied to defeat Karayollari 23-25, 25-15, 29-31, 25-13, 15-6 in the Turkish League season opener on Nov. 3. Robinson, starting all but the fourth set, compiled seven kills on 20 attacks in the victory. She added a 100 percent positive reception percent on six chances, along with a 67 excellent percent rating. VakifBank challenges Besiktas (0-1) on Nov. 6 in the second round of the Turkish League and concludes the week against Fenerbahce on Nov. 10. Next month VakifBank will be competing in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship Dec. 4-9 in Shaoxing, China. Robinson has launched her own website, nomandplay.com on her passions for play, travel and food.To read more about her website, click here.

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First game in Turkey in the books! 🏐 #bevi

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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 defeated Halkbank 23-25, 25-16, 25-9, 25-18 on Nov. 3 in the season opener. Drews scored a team-leading 20 points with 16 kills on 33 swings, two blocks and two aces. She held a .364 hitting efficiency for the match. Lee tacked on 12 points with eight kills on 22 attacks and four blocks. She added a 65 positive reception percent on 20 chances. Hunter set the team to a 49 kill percent and .337 hitting efficiency while scoring two individual kills and an ace. Beylikduzu faces Fenerbahce (1-0) on Nov. 6 in the second round of league play before meeting Eczacibasi (1-0) on Nov. 9.

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. Further, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Megan Hodge Easy (Boston) is competing for Conegliano. Conegliano is 2-0 after the first three rounds of the Italian Serie A1. Hill did not play in the season opening 25-12, 25-22, 25-14 victory over Pomi Casalmaggiore on Oct. 27. Easy totaled a team-leading 18 points in the victory, including 14 kills on 20 attacks with a .650 hitting efficiency, two blocks and two aces. She added 28 receptions with a 50 positive percent. For highlights of the match, click here. After being idle in the second round, Conegliano defeated Saugella Team Monza 27-25, 25-19, 25-19 on Nov. 3. Hill tallied 10 points in her starting role, compiling nine kills on 28 attacks and a block. She also handled 18 receptions with a 72 positive percent. Easy did not play in the match. Conegliano challenges Zanetti Bergamo on Nov. 14 in its next Italian league match.

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 this winter. Novara swept Banca Valsabbina Millenium Brescia 25-11, 25-22, 25-12 on Oct. 28 to open its Serie A1 regular season. Carlini set Novara to a 44 kill percent with a .333 hitting efficiency. She added three kills on three attacks in the victory. Bartsch-Hackley did not play in the match. For highlights of the match, click here. Novara blanked Savino Del Bene Scandicci 25-19, 25-18, 25-19 on Nov. 1. Carlini, playing against her 2017-18 club Scandicci for the first time, set Novara to a 43 kill percent and .284 hitting efficiency. She added one kill on four attacks. Bartsch-Hackley made her season debut with five kills on 17 attacks and a block for six points. She handled 11 receptions with an 82 positive percent. For match highlights, click here. Novara remained undefeated by sweeping Zanetti Bergamo 25-12, 25-15, 25-15 on Nov. 4. Carlini set Novara to a 51 kill percent and .405 hitting efficiency in the victory. She added three blocks and two kills on five swings. Bartsch-Hackley did not play in the match.

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 this winter. Team Monza opened the regular season with a 25-21, 25-21, 25-18 victory over Club Italia Crai on Oct. 28. Hancock set her team to a 51 kill percent and .333 hitting efficiency while posting three aces, one kill and one block. Adams chipped in four kills on 10 swings and an ace. Team Monza lost its first match of the season, a 23-25, 25-1, 25-22, 25-16 setback to Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio on Nov. 1. Adams scored 14 points in the loss, including 13 kills on 19 swings and an ace. Hancock set the team to a 38 kill percent and added two individual kills on three attacks and an ace. Team Monza dropped its second straight Serie A1 match on Nov. 3 as Imoco Volley Conegliano won 27-25, 25-19, 25-19. Adams pocketed 13 points with 10 kills on 17 attacks as part of a .529 hitting efficiency, along with two blocks and an ace. Hancock set the team to a 33 kill percent and had one block. Team Monza picks up its regular season schedule on Nov. 11 against Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri.

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 lost to Unet E-Works Busto Arsizio 26-24, 25-15, 25-20 on Oct. 28 to open the Serie A1 regular season. Tapp started all three sets, compiling two kills on seven attacks, one block and one ace. Courtney, who was a sub in the second set and started at outside in the third set, tallied two kills in her limited action. Bergamo dropped a 25-19, 25-21, 25-23 match to Pomi Casalmaggiore on Nov. 1. Courtney pounded 13 kills on 30 attacks in a starting role and added a 55 positive reception percent on 22 chances. Tapp added two blocks and a kill. Bergamo lost its third straight match to open the season, falling to Igor Gorgonzola Novara 25-12, 25-15, 25-15 on Nov. 4. Both Tapp and Courtney scored one point each in the loss. Bergamo will seek its first victory of the season against Il Bisonte Firenze on Nov. 11.

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 lost its season opener 25-11, 25-22, 25-12 to Igor Gorgonzola Novara on Oct. 28. Washington contributed eight points in the loss, including five kills on 13 errorless swings and three blocks. Brescia rebounded to defeat Il Bisonte Firenze 26-24, 19-25, 25-14, 25-21 on Nov. 1 to even its Serie A1 record. Washington hammered eight kills on 18 swings with just one error to go with three blocks and an ace. For match highlights, click here. Brescia improved to 2-1 on the season by defeating Club Italia Crai 25-16, 23-25, 25-18, 25-10 on Nov. 4. Washington did not play in the match. Brescia will now face Lardini Filottrano on Nov. 11 in its next league match.

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 Savino Del Bene Scandicci 23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-23 in a close four-set match to open the regular season. Whitney pocketed 16 points with 15 kills on 35 swings and an ace. Filottrano evened its record at 1-1 by defeating Club Italia Crai 25-18, 25-13, 24-26, 25-17 on Nov. 1. Whitney scored 10 kills on 23 swings, one block and one ace for 12 points. For match highlights, click here. Filottrano will now face Banca Valsabbina Millenium Brescia on Nov. 11 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 this winter. In the Polish Super Cup, Chemik Police lost to Budowlani Lodz in five sets on Oct. 27. In the Polish League regular season opener, Chemik Police topped DPD Legionovia Legoinowo 23-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-20 on Nov. 5. Ogbogu had a stellar performance with 15 kills on 19 swings, four aces and two blocks for 21 points. She was named match most valuable player for her performance. For a photo gallery of the match, click here. Chemik Police takes on Bank Pocztowy Palac Bydgoszcz on Nov. 9 in the second round.

WILHITE PARSONS, PAIGE TAPP, RIVERS AND McCAGE WITH MTV STUTTGART IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram), middles Molly McCage (Spring, Texas, Twitter, Instagram) and Paige Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram), and opposite Krystal Rivers (Birmingham, Alabama) are playing for Allianz MTV Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga. The squad is also competing in the European Champions League. Stuttgart defeated Netherlands’ Sliedrecht Sport 25-14, 25-22, 25-19 on Oct. 24 in the European Champions League second-round home-and-home opener in the Netherlands. Rivers scored a match-high 15 points with 14 kills on 26 swings and one block. Tapp added five kills on eight errorless swings and three blocks for eight points. McCage tacked on five points with three kills on nine errorless attacks and two aces. Stuttgart swept the two-match series by defeating Sliedrecht Sport 25-7, 25-12, 25-22 on Oct. 31 in the Champions League second-round finale in Stuttgart. Rivers scored seven points in the victory, including four kills and three blocks. McCage tacked on five points in starting the first and third sets. Tapp scored two kills on three attacks and three blocks in the victory. Wilhite Parsons chipped in two kills and a block for three points. Stuttgart has now advanced to the third round where it play CSM Volei Alba Blaj in a home-and-home series on Nov. 7 and Nov. 13. Stuttgart opens its Bundesliga schedule on Nov. 10 against Wiesbaden.

BENSON WITH DRESDNER IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona, Twitter) is playing for Dresdner SC in the German Bundesliga this winter. Dresdner SC opened the Bundesliga with a 25-14, 25-20, 18-25, 25-21 victory over USC Munster on Oct. 31. Benson was credited with a 59 positive reception percent on 17 chances in the victory. Dresdner resumes Bundesliga action on Nov. 10 against Erfurt.

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 defeated Toray Arrows 25-17, 25-14, 25-22 on Nov. 3 to open the V-League. Akinradewo did not play as she got married on the same day in the United States.

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 opens the Superliga season on Nov. 16 against Volei Balneario Camboriu. Next month Praia Clube will be competing in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship Dec. 4-9 in Shaoxing, China.

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 Motor Volleyball Club in China during the 2018-19 pro season.

MURPHY WITH SHANGHAI VOLLEYBALL CLUB: Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois, Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Shanghai Volleyball Club this winter.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Sarah Wilhite Parsons and Paige Tapp have played together in club volleyball for Northern Lights, in college with University of Minnesota, the U.S. Women’s National Team and now Allianz MTV Stuttgart. In total, they have been teammates for eight years in four different programs.