U.S. Women's Press Kit for World Championship

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Sept. 21, 2018, 4 p.m. (ET)

U.S. Women's National Team

U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team

2018 FIVB World Championship Press Kit

U.S. Women's National Team Home Page | FIVB World Championship Home Page | World Championship Format
Media Contact: Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org)

Jump to: The Roster | Team in General | Karch Quotes on Players | Storylines | Player Notes | Latest USA World Championship Info

The Roster

# - Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 – Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Penn State, Edmond, Oklahoma)
3 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, California, Bonsall, California)
5 – Rachael Adams (M, 6-2, Texas, Cincinnati, Ohio)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (M, 6-2, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Florida, Wilmington, Illinois)
13 – Sarah Wilhite Parsons (OH, 6-2, Minnesota, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Champaign, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Stanford, Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (L, 6-2, Nebraska, Manhattan Beach, California)
24 – Karsta Lowe (OPP, 6-4, UCLA, Rancho Santa Fe, California)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Luka Slabe, Tama Miyashiro
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Physiotherapist: Kara Kessans
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz
Doctors: Dr. Christopher Lee and Lori Boyajian-O’Neill
Consultant Coaches: Marv Dunphy
Scout Coach: Giuseppe Vinci
Mental Performance Coach: Traci Statler

Team in General

  • The U.S. Women’s National Team is ranked second in the world in the current FIVB rankings.
  • The U.S. Women won the 2014 FIVB World Championship, a first major title for the program. The team will defend their World Championship title this fall in Japan. The World Championship, held every fourth year, is the first triple crown event of the Olympic quadrennial.
  • The U.S. Women are the only women’s indoor team to have reached the podium in the last three Olympic Games. Team USA earned silver in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics before taking home bronze in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The storied program has yet to win the Olympic Games gold.
  • Head Coach Karch Kiraly, named “Player of the Century” by the FIVB, is the only person to win Olympic gold medals in both indoor (1984 and 1988) and beach volleyball (1996). After serving as an assistant with the U.S. Women during the 2009-2012 quad, he accepted the head job in September 2012. As head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team program, Kiraly has lead Team USA to a 170-36 record over the last six years.
  • Path to the Podium – USA Volleyball has launched a new long-term campaign titled Path to the Podium. USA Volleyball will spotlight athletes at all levels to showcase their personal journeys to their podium. For more details, click here.

About 2018 Season

  • The U.S. Women opened the 2018 season by winning the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League (rebranded event replacing the long-standing World Grand Prix) and the $1 million top prize. The U.S. went 17-2 in the tournament, including a 10-match win streak in the prelim round (nine sweeps). During the prelim win streak, the Americans defeated No. 1 China and No. 4 Brazil. In the Final 6 round, the Americans defeated Turkey and Serbia to avenge both their prelim losses, then went on to defeat No. 1 China in the semifinals and Turkey again in the gold-medal match. Details on the championship, click here.
  • The U.S. Women also won the Pan American Cup with a younger roster due to overlap in training with the Volleyball Nations League. To read about the Pan Am Cup title, click here.
  • Team USA won all four exhibition matches with Brazil in a mid-August tour of Brazil.
  • The U.S. Women are 26-4 during the 2018 season, and two of the losses were without the main part of the roster available. For 2018 results, click here.

Karch Kiraly Quotes on Roster

On Rachael Adams: “Rachael is one of four strong middles who help lead our block and defense, and who are helping push our team to new heights, including a gold medal at the inaugural Volleyball Nations League. We all have the imperative to improve, and she continues to log extra, ‘deep’ work while pursuing mastery, and adding nuance to her game.”

On Foluke Akinradewo: “Foluke is such a strong presence with USA. Her professionalism and pursuit of mastery infects every corner of the USA program. In addition, she’s been exerting her style of leadership more, which is a real positive since she commands great respect from her teammates.”

On Michelle Bartsch-Hackley: “Bartschy’s having her best year yet with USA, including making a huge positive impact with an MVP performance during the first-ever Volleyball Nations League tournament - and her versatility was big during some key moments in that tournament.”

On Megan Courtney: “Megan has worked extremely hard returning to play after a knee injury last year, so the whole program was happy to see her back in action in Brazil during our August tour there. Now she’s looking to take her game beyond where it was prior to her injury, and making great strides.”

On Tori Dixon: “We played with four really strong middles during Volleyball Nations League, and they all took turns making contributions. Tori’s biggest turn was during Finals Week, where she again proved to be a rock-steady performer and presence for this program. That consistency has been a hallmark of her game ever since she arrived in this gym.”

On Lauren Gibbemeyer: “Gibb is having her best USA season ever, playing at a high level, which allowed her to be a strong performer during Volleyball Nations League, among all four of our highly skilled middles. She also brings a unique intensity and fire to our program, every day, every drill.”

On Micha Hancock: “Micha is a fierce competitor and leader, and those qualities helped her stay prepared for her moments of competitive opportunity during Volleyball Nations League, including helping us change the course of some critical matches. She’s also having a tangible effect on the high level of training in our gym.”

On Kim Hill: “Kim continues to make big contributions in every way and every phase toward the team’s performance and has worked hard to build greater strength and depth in certain technical areas - all of which allows her to contribute even more. She has also taken on more responsibility as a leader, and she’s effective because she’s such a trusted teammate.”

On Jordan Larson: “Jordan continues to make her presence felt throughout our program, in a fierce and positive way. One way she does that is in playing a lead role in bringing and demanding a consistently high level of effort and execution in training, every play, every day. She’s also expanded her leadership skillset and taken on additional responsibilities as USA captain this season.”

On Carli Lloyd: “Carli’s patience and perseverance really paid off for her and USA earlier this year as she drove our team’s offense all the way to a Volleyball Nations League gold medal. Few people have a real understanding of all the work that goes into pursuing excellence, therefore few people would appreciate all that she does to pursue greatness.”

On Karsta Lowe: “After taking a break from volleyball, Karsta has returned with a deeper perspective and greater clarity about what she values most. This has allowed her to make significant changes, and help raise the level of play in our training gym. We are all looking forward to her return to FIVB competition.”

On Kelly Murphy: “Ever since her first FIVB tournament in 2013, Murph has earned great trust from her teammates with her steady and consistent play, her unflappable demeanor and her composure when the competition heats up. After taking a break to graduate from college, she picked up right where she left off.”

On Kelsey Robinson: “We asked something special of Kelsey just two matches into the first-ever Volleyball Nations League - to change positions from outside hitter to libero, for the good of the team. She willingly and selflessly embraced the challenge and helped us win a gold medal. As with so many of our people, she’s now toiling to raise her game to new heights.”

On Sarah Wilhite: “Sarah has earned significant opportunities to compete this season, including helping lead USA to the gold medal at the Pan American Cup. She has worked very hard to improve parts of her game, allowing her to help her team more, and making her one of the team’s most improved players.”

Storylines

CAN THEY REPEAT: The U.S. won its first FIVB World Championship in 2014 since the competition began in 1952. Now Team USA has a target on its back as the defending champions of the event held every four years. The Americans begin their World Championship quest Sept. 29-Oct. 4 in Kobe, Japan, with first-round opponents Azerbaijan, Trinidad & Tobago, Korea, Thailand and Russia. The World Championship concludes Oct. 20 in Yokohoma. For Team USA first-round opponent capsules, click here.

GETTING THE OLYMPIANS BACK TOGETHER WITH A YOUNG ROSTER: All eight returning U.S. Olympians from the 2016 Rio Games took off some or all of 2017, but are back for the 2018 FIVB World Championship. Rachael Adams, Foluke Akinradewo, Kim Hill, Jordan Larson, Carli Lloyd, Karsta Lowe, Kelly Murphy and Kelsey Robinson are all back in full force in 2018. At no point have they all played together in 2017 or 2018. With other athletes receiving ample playing time in 2017 and 2018 to show how they can perform under tournament pressure, the veteran experience blended with the younger roster in 2018 led to two tournament gold medals (FIVB Volleyball Nations League and Pan American Cup).

CONVERTED LIBEROS: The U.S. Women’s National Team has converted Kelsey Robinson and Megan Courtney, both outside hitters in college and early in their national team and professional careers, to libero within the last year. Courtney made an ‘experimental switch’ to libero at the end of August 2017 for the USA Volleyball Cup and FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in September 2017. However, she injured her ACL playing outside hitter in her second day of training at outside hitter with her pro club in Poland last year. She returned to the court and played libero in two exhibition matches versus Brazil in August 2018. Robinson’s switch to libero happened more abruptly – starting at outside hitter in the second match of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, then moving to libero in the third match the following day. With her as the starting libero, Team USA was 16-1 and won the VNL gold medal.

KARSTA LOWE BACK IN 2018: After the 2016 Olympic Games and playing in the short pro season in China, Karsta Lowe elected to take 2017 off from the National Team and went back to college to concentrate on her master’s degree at the University of Southern California. Ultimately, Lowe informed the coaching staff in late spring 2018 that she wanted to return to the National Team and began training again the first week of May. For the full story, click here.

STILL IN SEARCH OF OLYMPIC GOLD: The U.S. Women’s National Team has been one of the most storied volleyball programs in the world, yet it has not come away with gold at the Olympic Games and has just one major title win – 2014 FIVB World Championship. The Americans have medaled in the last three Olympic Games, including falling to Brazil in the 2008 and 2012 gold-medal match and finishing with bronze in 2016.

Player Notes

Rachael Adams (Middle, Cincinnati, Ohio)

  • Key Notes: Earned a starting middle blocker role on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team and bronze medal … Compiled an impressive 2016 season to become USA Volleyball’s Female Indoor Most Improved Player of the Year following a 2015 season in which she did not make any of the top tier international tournament rosters … her father was drafted in the fourth round of the 1978 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Adams has started 11 matches in 2018 and played in 38 total sets. She helped the Americans capture the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League gold medal this summer where she started eight matches producing 2.31 points per set. Adams converted 52.9 percent of her attacks into points during VNL competition, along with a .329 hitting efficiency and 0.65 blocks per set. Adams started two matches in an exhibition tour of Brazil and another match against Japan. During the exhibition matches, she converted 56.4 percent of her attacks with a .436 hitting efficiency and averaged 2.58 points per set. For the season, Adams has converted 54.1 percent of her attacks with a .367 hitting efficiency leading to 2.39 points per set.

Foluke Akinradewo (Middle, Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

  • Key Notes: Two-time Olympic medalist, winning silver in 2012 in London and bronze in 2016 in Rio … selected to 2016 Olympic Games Dream at middle blocker … after her playing career is over, wants to pursue a career in the medical profession and she is already a certified EMT and was a human biology major Stanford University … holds tri-citizenship along with Canada and Nigeria … did not play club volleyball as a youth, but was a standout in the USA Volleyball High Performance pipeline including as starting middle blocker on the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team at the 2005 FIVB Women’s Junior World Championship.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Akinradewo helped the U.S. Women capture the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League with a 17-2 overall record. As the team mixed up lineups throughout the 15-match preliminary phase to keep everyone fresh and healthy, she started 11 matches with 41 sets played. Akinradewo averaged 2.41 points per set for the entire tournament including 1.78 kills and 0.55 blocks per set. She held a .389 hitting efficiency as she converted 49.0 percent of her kills into points.

Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Outside Hitter, Champaign, Illinois)

  • Key Notes: Rose to international prominence this summer after winning the FIVB Volleyball Nations League most valuable player, leading the USA in scoring and helping the squad win gold … selected 2017 USA Volleyball Female Indoor Athlete of the Year … after her collegiate career was over at University of Illinois, she went into coaching where she served as a student assistant coach for the Illini and then was a volunteer coach for the MEN’S volleyball program at UC Irvine for the 2013 season when the Anteaters won the NCAA Tournament … after coaching, went back to playing volleyball overseas in Puerto Rico, Germany and Italy, and was an alternate for the 2016 Olympic Games roster.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Bartsch-Hackley was named most valuable player of this year’s FIVB Volleyball Nations League after leading Team USA to the gold medal. During the VNL, Bartsch-Hackley averaged a team-leading 4.59 points per set after starting 13 of the 19 matches. She held a .345 hitting efficiency for the tournament with a 46.2 kill percent and 3.95 kills per set in also being named Best Spiker of the tournament. Further, she averaged 0.27 aces, 0.37 blocks and 1.76 digs per set. For the season, Bartsch-Hackley has started 15 matches and contributed 4.46 points per set. In addition to the VNL, she started two matches on the exhibition tour of Brazil where she tallied 38 points in 10 sets played.

Megan Courtney (Libero, Dayton, Ohio)

  • Key Notes: After being an outside hitter at Penn State and with the U.S. Women's National Team for most of 2017, made an experimental transition to become a libero with starts during the USA Volleyball Cup versus Brazil and 2017 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup … two days into her 2017-18 pro club season in Poland, tore her ACL and missed much of the 2018 international season … helped Penn State win consecutive NCAA title in 2013 and 2014 as she was named tournament’s most outstanding player in 2014, then earned AVCA All-America Second-Team in 2015.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Courtney had a late start to the 2018 season after recovering from an ACL tear suffered on the second day of training with her pro club in Poland last fall. During a home exhibition match against Japan and four exhibitions in Brazil, Courtney eased back into the libero position. She averaged 2.33 digs per set in 15 sets played, along with a .366 receiving efficiency on 93 chances. Courtney started three of four matches in Brazil, all USA victories.

Tori Dixon (Middle, Burnsville, Minnesota)

  • Key Notes: Overcame a heart surgery in 2013 prior to senior year at Minnesota … named best blocker at both the 2015 FIVB World Cup and the 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament and appearing to be a solid choice to make the 2016 Olympic Games roster before she tore her ACL in a pro club match at the end of January 2016 in Japan … missed the entire 2016 season before returning to the team in 2017 … named a Best Blocker at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League … father played in the NFL and is the second player from New Zealand to play in an NFL game.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Dixon was named Best Blocker during the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League as she averaged 0.46 blocks per set with 11 starts and 41 sets played. Overall, she averaged 2.34 points per set during the VNL while converting 47.0 percent of her attacks into points with a .383 hitting efficiency. The U.S. won the VNL with a 17-2 record. Dixon also started two of four exhibition matches against Brazil in August 2018. For the season, she is averaging 2.23 points per set with a .368 hitting efficiency.

Lauren Gibbemeyer (Middle, St. Paul, Minnesota)

  • Key Notes: Alternate to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Volleyball team … began training full time with Team USA in 2011 after being a two-time All-American at the University of Minnesota … earned gold at 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League after helping Team USA win bronze at 2017 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Gibbemeyer helped the U.S. claim gold at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. She started eight of 19 matches in the VNL including 27 sets played. Gibbemeyer averaged 3.11 points per set during VNL competition, including 0.89 blocks per set and 2.00 kills per set. She converted 52.9 percent of her attacks into points with a .451 hitting efficiency. Gibbemeyer started two of four matches during an exhibition tour of Brazil in August resulting in 2.89 points per set. For the season, she holds a .387 hitting efficiency resulting in 1.92 kills per set along with a 0.89 block average.

Micha Hancock (Setter, Edmond, Oklahoma)

  • Key Notes: Named MVP and best setter at 2017 Pan Am Cup, a year after setting records for aces in a single match and tournament at the 2016 Pan Am Cup … led Penn State to back-to-back NCAA Division I national titles and was MVP of the 2013 NCAA championship, followed by AVCA Division I National Player of the Year in 2014 … Father Michael was a professional boxer, and mother Kelly played basketball at Oklahoma State.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Hancock has played in 57 sets during the 2018 season including three starts on an exhibition tour of Brazil in August that resulted in a 4-0 record against the fourth-ranked team in the world. She served as the back-up setter during the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League this year, which ended with Team USA winning gold and the $1 million top prize. Among her highlights during the VNL was coming off the bench in the VNL Final Six pool play to rally the Americans to victory over Turkey.

Kim Hill (Outside Hitter, Portland, Oregon)

  • Key Notes: Almost did not attend a 2013 U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryout thinking she was not good enough and came out of the tryout of 240 athletes earning a spot in the USA gym in May 2013. Within 21 months of the tryout was selected the most valuable player of the 2014 FIVB World Championship as the U.S. won its first triple crown title (Olympics, FIVB World Championship, FIVB World Cup). She was a starter at outside hitter on the bronze-medal winning U.S. Olympic Team in 2016.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Hill helped the U.S. Women capture the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League with a 17-2 overall record. As the team mixed up lineups to keep everyone fresh and healthy, she started 11 matches and played in 44 sets. Hill averaged 3.68 points per set that included averages of 3.23 kills, 0.23 blocks and 0.23 aces. She converted 39.4 percent of her attacks into points all while holding a 1.82 dig average and racking up 167 excellent service receptions on 285 chances. Hill scored a match-high 20 points coming off the bench during the VNL gold-medal match.

Jordan Larson (Outside Hitter, Hooper, Nebraska)

  • Key Notes: A Nebraska legend, became an international star from a hometown of 830 population in Hooper, Nebraska … teammates call her ‘The Governor’ … two-time Olympian with silver in 2012 and bronze in 2016 … Earned back-to-back USA Volleyball Female Indoor Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016 … Earned gold with U.S. in 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Larson served as captain of the U.S. Women that won the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League title after going 17-2 overall. She started 13 of the 19 VNL matches with 49 sets played. Larson averaged 2.73 kills, 0.37 blocks and 0.45 aces per set during the VNL for a total of 3.55 points per set. She converted 38.5 percent of her attacks into points, all while tallying 2.12 digs per set in the back row and handling 166 total service receptions with a .458 efficiency.

Carli Lloyd (Setter, Bonsall, California)

  • Key Notes: The name may be the same as the star on the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, but Carli Lloyd of USA Volleyball is making a name for herself after earning bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games … named most valuable player of the 2015 Pan American Games … named the 2017 USA Volleyball Female Indoor Athlete of the Year … she overcame depression early in the 2016 Olympic quad … uncle is Galen Tomlinson, who was Turbo in the 1980s television series American Gladiator and became a father figure to Carli after her father passed away when she was 4.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Lloyd started all 19 matches of the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League resulting in Team USA earning the gold medal. The Americans finished the tournament with a 17-2 record, including a stretch of 10 consecutive victories that included wins over No. 1 China and No. 4 Brazil. Team USA won 12 of its 17 matches in straight sets. Lloyd set the U.S. to a .306 hitting efficiency for the tournament. Individually, she scored 47 points during the VNL that included averages of 0.34 blocks and 0.16 aces per set. Lloyd added 156 digs in the tournament for a 2.44 set average.

Karsta Lowe (Opposite, Rancho Santa Fe, California)

  • Key Notes: Earned bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games, scoring 41 points off the bench as an opposite … after 2016-17 pro season, stepped away from the sport of volleyball to concentrate on her master’s degree at the University of Southern California, then rejoined Team USA in May 2018 after missing the sport … played tennis competitively until middle of school … never made her school volleyball team’s “A” squad until her junior year.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: In her first competition back after his year-plus hiatus, Lowe scored 18 points in an exhibition match versus Japan while holding a .469 hitting efficiency. She also started two exhibition matches against Brazil in August, including a 15-point performance on Aug. 12 and an 18-point effort on Aug. 16. For the season, Lowe has averaged 3.11 points per set while posting a .336 hitting efficiency in 18 sets played.

>Kelly Murphy (Opposite, Wilmington, Illinois)

  • Key Notes: Is a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist who took the fall season off from the U.S. Women’s National Team and all of the 2017-18 professional season to finish her collegiate degree from the University of Florida … Scored a team-best 157 points during the 2014 FIVB World Championship in helping the U.S. Women win gold … Led Team USA in scoring during her first two seasons, netting 314 points (3.53 points per set) her rookie year in 2013 and 370 points (4.35 points per set) in 2014 … was a setter/hitter playing for University of Florida and registered 30 career triple-doubles in college.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Murphy helped the U.S. Women capture the FIVB Volleyball Nations League gold medal, including a 17-2 overall record in the tournament. She started 12 of the 19 matches and played in 56 sets. Murphy averaged 2.73 points per set including averages of 2.18 kills and 0.41 blocks per set. Murphy converted 42.7 percent of her attacks into points with a .294 hitting efficiency. In the matches she did not start, she was utilized as the opposite in the double-sub for one back-row rotation.

Kelsey Robinson (Libero, Manhattan California/Bartlett, Illinois)

  • Key Notes: Is a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist who did not compete in any tournaments in 2017 to rest from a long 2016 Olympic quad … switched from outside hitter to libero during the third match of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League preliminary round and started every match the rest of the tournament, including a 10-match win streak and the gold medal … she has launched her own website, nomandplay.com, that combines her passions for play, travel and food.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Robinson made the transition from outside hitter to starting libero during the third match of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. She promptly settled the Team USA reception and back-row defense leading to 10 consecutive victories in the VNL preliminary round including wins over No. 1 China and No. 4 Brazil. That momentum carried over to the VNL Final Six where Robinson helped the U.S. win gold and finish the tournament with a 17-2 record. She averaged 2.79 digs per set and held a .531 receiving efficiency on handling 343 receptions over the course of 18 starts (17 at libero) and 62 sets played.

Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Outside Hitter, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)

  • Key Notes: Joined the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2017 after earning AVCA and espnW National Player of the Year as a senior at University in Minnesota … before her Player of the Year honor in 2016, she had never been named all-American in previous three years in college … helped U.S. win gold at consecutive Pan Am Cups in 2017 and 2018 … married Jameson Parsons in early May 2018 … played youth club volleyball for Northern Lights with U.S. Women’s teammates Hannah and Paige Tapp.
  • 2018 Season Highlights: Wilhite helped the Americans win the Pan American Cup in July 2018. She compiled averages of 2.89 points, 2.37 kills, 0.26 blocks, 0.26 aces and 2.05 digs per set while starting five matches. She contributed 15 points in the Pan Am Cup finals against Dominican Republic. Wilhite also played eights sets in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League preliminary round where she tallied six kills, six digs, one block and one ace as a reserve.