Pro Playoffs Heat Up for U.S. Women Overseas

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | April 21, 2019, 4:39 p.m. (ET)

Kim Hill attacks during Conegliano's victory over Team Monza on April 21 in the Italian Serie A1 semifinal round
Kim Hill attacks during Conegliano's victory over Team Monza on April 21 in the Italian Serie A1 semifinal round

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 21, 2019) – Several U.S. Women’s National Team players and other Americans are still embroiled in title hunts in their overseas professional leagues before coming home to train and compete in red, white and blue.

QUICK SETS

TRIVIA QUESTION: How many players have won multiple Olympic Games medals for the U.S. in women’s indoor volleyball?

KELSEY ROBINSON VLOG'S ON TRAINING DAY EATING: Kelsey Robinson has distributed her ninth vlog in her series, highlighting what she eats on training days. She meets up with other Americans playing pro club in Turkey for brunch. Robinson gives a tour of the local market she shops for food. Throughout the video, her adorable cat makes random appearances. To watch this video and other videos in her vlog series, click here.

LARSON INSTAGRAM STORIES Q&A: Jordan Larson took questions from her fans through Instagram Stories on a recent off-day and responded with some great insights. Below is a sampling of her responses. For all her responses, visit her Instagram Highlights page by clicking here.

  • What do you recommend to players striving to make Team USA? “Never give up mentality. It is not always going to be easy but if you are willing to put in the work, anything is possible. Take advantage of every opportunity that’s given. It could be a stepping stone. Also, continue to be a learner. I thought I knew everything coming out of college when in reality it was just the beginning.”
  • When did you say to yourself you should be a professional player? “It wasn’t until after I graduated college and was given an offer to play in Puerto Rico. I knew I wanted to try and play but didn’t know what that meant or looked like. Here I am almost 11 seasons later.”
  • Tips on how to be a creative outside hitter? “The block is your friend. Being able to have vision of what the block is doing on the other side is huge. Also, sometimes the answer is being able to hit high and hard against the block.”
  • How do you overcome frustrating moments during games? “I try to lean on my teammates. The best thing about volleyball is that it’s a team sport and you are never alone. Asking to help is always ok in my book!”
  • What’s your fave volleyball shoes? My favorite shoes are the #crazyflightx! It’s been so much fun working with @adidasvolleyball coming up with this special design in honor of my mom.”
  • How did you feel when being on the court for the first time as a national player? “I was scared and nervous. Playing alongside many legends in the game but I tried to embrace it and take one day at a time. I was lucky to come into the program when I did and given the opportunities I was given.”

HILL, LOWE WITH CONEGLIANO IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon, Instagram) and opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California, Instagram) are playing for Imoco Volley Conegliano in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. In the Italian Serie A1 playoffs, Conegliano opened its best-of-five semifinal round series with a 25-16, 25-14, 25-16 victory over fourth-seed Saugella Team Monza. Hill contributed nine kills on 24 swings and two blocks for 11 points in the victory. She was credited with a 78 positive reception percent on nine chances. Lowe was a sub in the third set, but did not score a point in her limited action. Conegliano went up 2-0 in the series with a 25-19, 25-12, 25-22 victory over Team Monza on April 21. Hill charted 10 kills on 23 swings in the victory while holding a 67 positive reception percent on 12 chances. Lowe, a sub in the second set, added three kills on five errorless attacks. Conegliano can close out the series on April 23. If necessary, matches four and five are on April 25 and April 27. In the European Champions League, Conegliano has advanced to the title match where it will face Italian rival Novara on May 18 in Berlin.

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 playoffs, second-seeded Novara survived a quarterfinal round scare in which it lost the first match of the best-of-three series to Il Bisonte Firenze. After winning the second match to force a tiebreaking third set, Novara found itself again up to a huge test on April 15 before holding off Firenze 25-22, 25-22, 21-25, 12-25, 17-15 to advance to the semifinals. Bartsch-Hackley notched 10 kills on 25 swings and had a 61 positive reception percent on 18 chances. Carlini set Novara to a 38 kill percent and scored three individual kills on six errorless attacks and an ace for four points. In its opening best-of-five semifinal round series, Novara lost to third-seeded Savino Del Bene Scandicci 25-16, 15-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-12 on April 18. Novara elected to rest several of its starters at the beginning of the match and fell behind early. Carlini, who started the full match, set Novara to a 37 kill percent. Bartsch-Hackley, who came in as a sub in the third set and started the final two sets, provided five kills on 13 attacks and two blocks. She was credited with 16 receptions and an 81 positive reception percent. Novara bounced back to even the series at 1-1 with a 27-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-19 home victory on April 20. Bartsch-Hackley collected 14 kills on 36 attacks, one block and one ace for 16 points. Carlini set Novara to a 42 kill percent and added three aces 23 serves and a kill. Matches three and four will be held April 22 and April 25, and if necessary, the tiebreaking fifth match will be staged April 27 in Novara. In the European Champions League, Novara has advanced to the title match where it will face Italian rival Conegliano on May 18 in Berlin.

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 playoffs, Team Monza rallied from a disappointing loss to start its best-of-three quarterfinal round series against Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio by winning the next two to advance to the semifinals – including a 25-22, 25-18, 25-23 victory on April 15. In the deciding match, Hancock set Team Monza to a 44 kill percent and scored a kill and block for two points. Adams scored a kill in the victory. With the victory, Team Monza advanced to face regular season champion Imoco Volley Conegliano in the best-of-five semifinal round series. In the opening match on April 19 in Monza, Conegliano powered to a 25-16, 25-14, 25-16 victory to take an early series lead. Hancock scored a kill and block for two points in the match, while Hancock scored three kills on seven errorless attacks and a block for four points. Team Monza lost to the second match in the series 25-19, 25-12, 25-22 on April 21 to fall behind 2-0 in the series. Adams scored seven points in the loss with four kills, two blocks and an ace. Hancock added two kills on four swings and three blocks for five points. Team Monza now is a must-win situation to remain in the playoffs, starting with match three on April 23. If necessary, matches four and five are on April 25 and April 27.

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, seeded second in the playoffs, lost a heartbreaking 28-26, 25-22, 17-25, 17-25, 15-6 match to top-seeded Itambe Minas to open its best-of-three championship round series. Lloyd set Praia Clube to a 39 kill percent and added three blocks, two individual kills and an ace in the loss. Fawcett pocketed 30 points with 26 kills on 44 swings, three blocks and an ace. Praia Clube falls into a must-win situation on April 26 to force a deciding match on May 3.

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), 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. Stuttgart, the top seed in the playoffs, closed out its best-of-three semifinal round series with Aachen by winning 25-23, 25-19, 25-23 on April 18 in match three. Rivers slammed 17 kills on 32 attacks to go with two blocks to lead Stuttgart. Wilhite Parsons added five kills on 10 attacks, two blocks and an ace for eight points. McCage tacked on eight points with five kills on eight swings and three blocks. Tapp chipped in two kills and a block for three points. Bugg set Stuttgart to a 45 kill percent and .282 hitting efficiency while added two kills on two attacks and an ace for three individual points. Stuttgart now meets Schwerin in a best-of-five series with the first match on April 27.

View this post on Instagram

Focused on the finals 👀

A post shared by Lauren Gibbemeyer (@lgibby5) on

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 playoffs, top-seeded Eczacibasi will meet second-seeded VakifBank in the best-of-three finals with the first two matches on April 24 and April 26, and if necessary, match three is on April 29.

View this post on Instagram

🖤

A post shared by Kelsey Robinson (@krobin32) on

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 playoffs, second-seeded VakifBank defeated third-seeded Fenerbahce 23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-18 on April 17 to win both matches of the home-and-home semifinal round series. Robinson crushed 11 kills on 19 swings while adding three aces on 19 serves. She was credited with a 63 positive reception percent after handling 48 of the team’s 72 receptions. VakifBank will now face regular season champion Eczacibasi in the best-of-three finals with the first two matches on April 24 and April 26. If necessary, the deciding third match will be play April 29. Robinson has launched her own website, www.nomandplay.com on her passions for play, travel and food. To read more about her website, click here. In addition, Robinson has created her vlog on what it is like to be an American citizen and play professional volleyball overseas. To watch her vlogs, 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 opened its Playoff 5-6 home-and-home series with a 30-28, 25-20, 21-25, 25-21 victory over Turk Hava Yollari on April 19. Drews collected 18 points with 15 kills via 44 swings, two blocks and an ace. Lee hammered 15 kills on 34 swings to go with two blocks for 17 points. She handled 23 receptions in the victory. Hunter set Beylikduzu to a 40 kill percent and scored two kills on two swings, one block and one ace for four points. Beylikduzu can clinch fifth place with the rematch on April 22.

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. In the Polish Orlen Liga, top-seeded Chemik Police will play Developres SkyRes Rzeszów for third place in a best-of-five series starting on April 23.

TRIVIA ANSWER: The U.S. has had 10 players earn multiple Olympic Games medals, including four from the two most recent Olympics. Foluke Akinradewo, Christa Dietzen, Jordan Larson and Courtney Thompson all earned silver medals in the 2012 London Olympics and bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Other double-medal winners are Lindsey Berg, Nicole Davis, Tayyiba Haneef-Park, Danielle Scott and Logan Tom winning consecutive silvers in 2008 and 2012. The only other double Olympic medalist is Paula Weishoff, who won silver in 1984 and bronze in 1992.