Rettke Leads Wisconsin into NCAA Semis

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Dec. 15, 2019, 2:49 p.m. (ET)

Dana Rettke, who has helped Wisconsin to the NCAA semifinals, in a post-match interview on ESPNU with her national team head coach Karch Kiraly
Dana Rettke, who has helped Wisconsin to the NCAA semifinals, in a post-match interview on ESPNU with her national team head coach Karch Kiraly

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 15, 2019) – U.S. Women’s National Team middle Dana Rettke (Riverside, Illinois) has sparked the University of Wisconsin into the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship semifinals. Meanwhile, Team USA international star Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) gives insights into her pregnancy and push to return to her third Olympic Games in the current edition of the U.S. Women’s National Team Weekly Update.

AKINRADEWO BEING PROFILED THROUGH PREGNANCY AND POST-PREGNANCY: Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) gave birth to her son on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28) and she had the weeks leading up to it being documented on film by The Cuore Project, which was founded and run by her 2012 Olympic teammate Lindsey Berg. The Cuore Project will continue to follow Akinradewo’s progress toward making the 2020 Olympic Team in the coming months. To watch the first installment where Akinradewo talks about when she first found out she was pregnant (hint, she was in Japan and was not finished with her pro season) and how that changed her training regimen, click here. Akinradewo also gives insights into how her 2019 spring and summer went while many in the volleyball community were unaware of her pregnancy. She also discusses her desire to make the 2020 Olympic Games roster, including “starting from zero” and “really earn her role” after being a starter for so long.

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MAIN PHASE HEADS TO THIRD LEG: The European Champions League has eight members of the U.S. Women’s National Team competing for a total of five pro teams in this year prestigious event. All matches are scheduled to stream on FloVolleyball.tv.

RETTKE LEADING WISCONSIN: Middle Dana Rettke (Riverside, Illinois, Instagram, Twitter), who was part of the U.S. Women’s FIVB Volleyball Nations League gold-medal team along with the 2020 Olympic qualification tournament, sparked the Badgers into the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship semifinals with two wins in the regional round. The fourth-seeded Badgers swept Texas A&M 25-20, 25-17, 25-23 on Dec. 13. Rettke hit .667 with 14 kills on 21 errorless attacks to go with one block solo and four block assists. In the regional finals, Wisconsin swept No. 5 seed University of Nebraska 25-18, 25-22, 25-19 on Dec. 14. Rettke contributed seven kills, two block solos and six block assists in the victory. Wisconsin, which improved to 26-6 overall, now advances to the semifinals where it will face top-seeded Baylor University on Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. ET. The match can be watched live on ESPN.

THOMPSON CONTINUES LEADING CINCINNATI: Jordan Thompson (Edina, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) had a breakout season with the U.S. Women’s National Team during its gold-medal run in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League and qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games before heading back for her senior season at University of Cincinnati. Her NCAA career came to an end on Dec. 13 as the Bearcats lost to Penn State University 20-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-12, 15-11 in a heart-breaking five-setter in which they led 2-1 in sets during the Sweet 16 round. Thompson ended the match with 30 kills and a .282 hitting efficiency. The match marked Thompson’s sixth 30-plus kill performance in the 2019 NCAA season, highlighted by a 50 kill match against Connecticut on Nov. 3. Cincinnati was playing in its first-ever regional semifinal match. Thompson ended her collegiate career has 2,626 kills in her four-year career at Cincinnati. She will now likely pursue pro options overseas in preparation for the 2020 Olympic year season with the U.S. Women’s National Team.

LARSON WITH SHANGHAI IN CHINESE LEAGUE: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Shanghai in the Chinese Super League this winter. Shanghai improved to 2-0 in the four-team Pool E of China’s second-round playoff after a hard-fought 23-25, 25-17, 19-25, 25-20, 15-12 victory over Beijing Auto on Dec. 10. Larson racked up 14 kills on 43 swings, two aces and two blocks for 18 points. She was credited with a 67 positive reception percent on 12 chances. Shanghai handled Bayi Nanchang 25-19, 21-25, 25-14, 25-20 on Dec. 14 to remain undefeated in the four-team Pool E of China’s second-round playoffs. Larson smashed 20 kills on 36 attacks and just one error to go with an ace for 21 points. She was credited with a 73 positive reception percent on 26 chances. Shanghai, 3-0 in the second round, resumes action on Dec. 17 against Beijing Auto.

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Shanghai you’ve already won me over.

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BARTSCH-HACKLEY, DIXON WITH BEIJING AUTO IN CHINESE LEAGUE: Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois, Instagram, Twitter) and middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) are playing for Beijing Auto in the Chinese Super League this winter. Beijing Auto lost a heart-breaking 23-25, 25-17, 19-25, 25-20, 15-12 match to Shanghai on Dec. 10 in the four-team Pool E of China’s second-round playoffs. Dixon contributed 17 kills on 25 swings and a block for 18 points in the loss. Bartsch-Hackley added 12 kills on 45 swings, two aces and a block for 15 points. She added an 83 positive reception percent on 23 chances. Beijing Auto lost to Shandong 25-22, 25-21, 25-22 in Shandong on Dec. 14. Dixon totaled six kills on 12 swings and seven blocks for 13 points. Bartsch-Hackley, who started the opening set, scored one kill on three swings. Beijing Auto, now 1-2 in the second round of playoffs, resumes action on Dec. 17 against division leader Shanghai (3-0).

OGBOGU, HILL WITH CONEGLIANO IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas, Instagram, Twitter) and outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon, Instagram) are playing in the Italian Serie A1 and European Champions League for Imoco Volleyball Conegliano this winter. In the Italian Serie A1, Conegliano returned from China with the FIVB Club World Championship title in hand but quickly was upset by last-place Bartoccini Fortinfissi Perugia 25-15, 23-25, 25-18, 17-25, 15-10 on Dec. 12 five days after winning gold in China. Ogbogu totaled 13 kills on 24 attacks and eight blocks. Hill and several of Conegliano’s typical starters did not suit for the match, resulting in Conegliano’s first loss of the Italian season. Conegliano swept Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri 25-19, 25-16, 25-16 on Dec. 15. Hill totaled eight kills on 20 attacks with a 58 positive reception percent on 12 chances. Ogbogu claimed eight points with five kills and three blocks. Conegliano (10-1, 30 points), which sits atop the standings, returns to action on Dec. 22 against seventh-place Il Bisonte Firenze (6-5, 18 points). In European Champions League, Conegliano (2-0, 5 points) meets Pool D leader Nantes VB (2-0, 6 points) on Dec. 17 in the third leg.

COURTNEY, HANCKOCK WITH NOVARA IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Libero/outside hitter Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio, Instagram) and setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma, Instagram, Twitter) are playing for Igor Gorgonzola Novara in the Italian Serie A1 and European Champions League this winter. In the Italian Serie A1, Novara lost to Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri 25-22, 19-25, 25-20, 25-23 on Dec. 12 five days after returning from the FIVB Club World Championship. Hancock set Novara to a 42 kill percent while scoring seven kills on eight errorless attacks, six aces and two blocks. Courtney scored 13 points with 12 kills on 29 attacks and a block. She was credited with a 50 positive reception percent on 24 chances. Novara withstood Perugia to win 25-13, 20-25, 25-17, 25-19 on Dec. 15. Courtney racked up 14 kills on 34 swings and two blocks for 16 points. She was credited with a 76 positive reception percent (71 percent excellent) on 21 chances. Hancock set Novara to a 39 kill percent while scoring one kill. Novara (7-4, 20 points), now in fourth place, plays third-place Pomi Casalmaggiore (7-4, 22 points) on Dec. 21 in its next Italian Serie A1 match. In European Champions League, Novara (1-1, 3 points) returns to action on Dec. 17 against Pool C leader LKS Comercecon Lodz (2-0, 4 points).

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Smilin, wildin, lets go Game dayyy

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WASHINGTON, LOWE WITH BUSTO ARSIZIO IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Middle Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado, Instagram, Twitter) and opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California, Instagram) are playing for Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio in the Italian Serie A1 and CEV Cup this winter. Busto Arsizio topped Saugella Monza 26-24, 25-18, 26-28, 25-22 on Dec. 15. Lowe crushed 11 kills and served three aces for 14 points. Washington added five kills on nine attacks, two aces and two blocks for nine points. Busto Arzisio (9-2, 27 points), now in second place, faces ninth-place Lardini Filottrano (5-6, 14 points) on Dec. 22 in its next Italian Serie A1 match. In the CEV Cup, Busto Arsizio will look to close out its home-and-home 16th Finals Round series on Dec. 19 to advance to the 8th Finals Round.

POULTER WITH CHIERI IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Setter Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colorado, Instagram, Twitter) is competing for Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri in the Italian Serie A1 for the 2019-20 pro season along with American Amber Rolfzen (Papillion, Nebraska). Chieri upset Igor Gorgonzola Novara 25-22, 19-25, 25-20, 25-23 on Dec. 12. Poulter set Chieri to a 42 kill percent and added two aces, one block and one kill. Rolfzen chipped in 10 kills on 17 attacks, two blocks and two aces for 14 points. Chieri lost to league-leader Conegliano 25-19, 25-16, 25-16 on Dec. 15. Poulter scored one kill while setting her team to a 24 kill percent. Chieri (4-7, 13 points), in 10th place, takes on eighth-place Zanetti Bergamo (5-6, 15 points) on Dec. 22 in its next league match.

ALHASSAN WITH CASERTA IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Middle Rhamat Alhassan (Glenarden, Maryland, Instagram, Twitter) is competing for Golden Tulip Volato 2.0 Caserta in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. Caserta lost to Savino Del Bene Scandicci 28-26, 25-23, 25-13 on Dec. 15. Alhassan contributed six kills on eight attacks and two blocks for eight points in the tough loss. Caserta (2-9, 8 points), which is in 13th place, challenges 12th-place Bosca San Bernardo Cuneo (3-8, 9 points) on Dec. in its next league match.

FOECKE WITH FIRENZE IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Outside hitter Mikaela Foecke (West Point, Iowa, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Il Bisonte Firenze in the Italian Serie A1 for the 2019-2020 season. Firenze lost to Lardini Filottrano 25-22, 25-19, 25-17 on Dec. 15. Foecke, a sub in the first set and starter in the third, scored one kill while handling 13 receptions with a 77 positive reception percent. Firenze (6-5, 18 points), which is in seventh place, meets league-leader Imoco Volley Conegliano (10-1, 30 points) on Dec. 22 in its next league match.

CUTTINO WITH CASALMAGGIORE IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Opposite Danielle Cuttino (Indianapolis, Indiana, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Epiu Pomi Casalmaggiore in the Italian Serie A1 during the 2019-2020 pro season. Casalmaggiore swept Bosca San Bernardo Cuneo 25-23, 25-13, 25-16 on Dec. 14. Cuttino, a sub in the first set, scored two kills on five swings and a block for three points in limited action. Casalmaggiore (7-4, 22 points), which is in third place, returns to action on Dec. 21 against fourth-place Igor Gorgonzola Novara (7-4, 20 points) in its next league match.

JONES-PERRY WITH BRESCIA IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Outside hitter Roni Jones-Perry (West Jordan, Utah, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Banca Valsabbina Millenium Brescia in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. Brescia lost to Zanetti Bergamo 21-25, 25-23, 25-17, 25-13 on Dec. 14. Jones-Perry, a sub in the final two sets, scored one kill in her limited action. Brescia (4-7, 11 points), now in 11th place, returns to action on Dec. 22 against fifth-place Savino Del Bene Scandicci (7-4, 19 points).

DREWS WITH JT MARVELOUS IN JAPAN V-LEAGUE: Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana, Instagram, Twitter) is playing in the Japan V-League this winter with JT Marvelous. JT Marvelous swept Toyota 25-14, 25-14, 25-23 on Dec. 14 in a battle of the top two teams in the Star Division. Drews amassed 18 kills on 30 swings and two blocks for 20 points. JT swept PFU Blue Cats 25-18, 25-19, 25-20 on Dec. 15. Drews collected 18 kills on 30 attacks, three blocks and two aces for 23 points. JT Marvelous (15-3, 43 points), which is in first place in the Star Conference, resumes action on Dec. 21 against Saitama Ageo Medics (10-6, 31 points, fourth in Star Division) followed by Kurobe Aqua Fairies (1-16, 5 points, sixth in Star Division) on Dec. 22.

HANNAH TAPP WITH HITACHI IN JAPAN V-LEAGUE: Middle Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) is playing with Hitachi Rivale in the Japan V-League this winter. Hitachi was edged by Hisamitsu Springs 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-27, 15-9 on Dec. 14. Tapp provided 13 kills on 33 swings and was a force at the net for eight blocks on a 21-point performance. Hitachi edged Himeji Victorina 20-25, 27-25, 26-24, 25-27, 15-11 on Dec. 15. Tapp contributed 18 kills on 32 attacks with just one error to go with seven blocks for 25 points. Hitachi (6-12, 21 points), in fifth place in the Premier Conference, faces Okayama Sea Gulls 11-4, 32 points, second din Premier Division) on Dec. 21 and NEC Red Rockets (8-7, 24 points, third in Premier Division) on Dec. 22.

LEE WITH KUROBE IN JAPAN V-LEAGUE: Outside hitter Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Kurobe Aqua Fairies in the Japan V-League this winter. Kurobe lost to Saitama Ageo Medics 25-15, 25-23, 25-13 on Dec. 14. Lee scored 20 kills on 46 swings and a block for 21 points. Kurobe (1-16, 5 points), in sixth place in the Star Conference, challenges Toray on Dec. 21 and division-leader JT Marvelous (15-3, 43 points) on Dec. 22.

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💙 F I N A L E 🧡

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RIVERS, ROSENTHAL WITH STUTTGART IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Opposite Krystal Rivers (Birmingham, Alabama, Instagram, Twitter) and middle Jenna Rosenthal (Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, Instagram, Twitter) are playing for Allianz MTV Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga and the European Champions League. Stuttgart rallied to defeat SSC Palmberg Schwerin 17-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-19, 15-9 on Dec. 11 in the German Cup semifinals. Rivers piled up 32 points, including 31 kills on 63 attacks and a block. American teammate Ainise Havili set Stuttgart to a 41 kill percent while scoring an individual kill and ace for two points. Stuttgart will now face Dresdner on Feb. 16 in the German Cup gold-medal match. Stuttgart handled Vilsbiburg 26-28, 26-24, 25-19, 25-19 on Dec. 14. Rivers netted 21 points with 19 kills on 48 swings, one block and one ace. Havili set Stuttgart to a 39 kill percent. Stuttgart (8-1, 25 points), which remains in first place based in the Bundesliga regular season standings, returns to action on Dec. 21 against second-place SSC Palmberg Schwerin (8-1, 23 points). In European Champions League, Stuttgart (1-1, 4 points) returns to action on Dec. 17 against Khimik Yuzhny (0-2, 1 point), which is in fourth place in Pool C.

WONG-ORANTES WITH SCHWERIN IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for SSC Palmberg Schwerin in the German Bundesliga this winter. American Lauren Barfield is also a member of the team. Schwerin lost a thrilling 17-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-19, 15-9 match to Allianz MTV Stuttgart in the German Cup semifinals on Dec. 11. Wong-Orantes did not play in the match. In the German Bundesliga, Schwerin edged SC Potsdam 23-25, 25-20, 25-12, 22-25, 15-12 on Dec. 14. Wong-Orantes did not play in the match. Schwerin (8-1, 24 points), which ranks second in the Bundesliga regular season, returns to action on Dec. 21 against league-leader Allianz MTV Stuttgart (8-1, 25 points). In the CEV Cup 16th Finals Round, Schwerin leads Sliedrecht Sports 1-0 and can advance to the 8th Finals Round with a victory to close out the home-and-home series on Dec. 17.

KADIE ROLFZEN WITH DRESDNER IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen (Papillion, Nebraska, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Dresdner in the German Bundesliga and the CEV Challenge Cup. Dresdner topped Suhl 25-18, 22-25, 25-19, 25-21 on Dec. 11 in the German Cup semifinals. Rolfzen was on fire with 14 kills on 24 swings with just one error to go with two blocks. Dresdner will now face Allianz MTV Stuttgart on Feb. 16 in the German Cup gold-medal match. In the German Bundesliga, Dresdner swept Straubing 25-20, 25-18, 25-20 on Dec. 14. Rolfzen pitched in six kills on 14 swings and two aces for eight points. She also handled 16 receptions in the victory. Dresdner (5-4, 15 points), in fifth place, returns to German Bundesliga action on Dec. 21 against ninth-place Weisbaden (2-6, 5 points). In the CEV Challenge Cup, Dresdner leads SC Prometay 1-0 in its 16th Finals Round home-and-home series with the winner of the Dec. 18 match heading to the 8th Finals Round.

CARLINI WITH DINAMO MOSCOW IN RUSSIA LEAGUE: Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Dinamo Moscow in the Russia Super League and the European Champions League. Dinamo swept Proton 25-14, 25-9, 25-18 on Dec. 13. Carlini did not play in the match. Dinamo Moscow (5-4, 17 points), in fifth place, resumes Russia Super League action on Dec. 22 against second-place Uralochka-NTMK (8-1, 25 points). In the European Champions League, Dinamo (2-0, 6 points) will play Pool E second-place RC Cannes (2-0, 5 points) on Dec. 17. Dinamo will face Uralochka in the Russia Cup semifinals on Dec. 25.

SELIGER-SWENSON WITH BEZIERS IN FRENCH LEAGUE: Setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson (Minnetonka, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Beziers in the French League and the CEV Challenge Cup along with American teammate Alexa Smith (Colorado Springs, Colorado). Beziers topped Paris Saint Cloud 25-17, 25-15, 25-19 on Dec. 10. Seliger-Swenson set Beziers to a 57 kill percent while adding an individual kill and ace for two points. Smith did not play in the match. Beziers rallied past Terville Florange 27-29, 18-25, 25-16, 25-15, 15-12 on Dec. 14. Match statistics are not available. Beziers (10-3, 30 points), which dropped to fourth despite the win, returns to action on Dec. 21 against ninth-place Saint-Raphael (5-7, 14 points). Beziers plays RSR Walferdange in the second match of a home-and-home CEV Challenge Cup 16th Finals Round series on Dec. 18 with the winner advancing to the 8th Finals Round.

KINGDON-RISHEL WITH THY IN TURKISH LEAGUE: Outside hitter Madi Kingdon Rishel (Phoenix, Arizona, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Turk Hava Yollari (THY) in the Turkish League this winter. In a break from the Turkish League, THY swept its home-and-home series with Besiktas in the Turkish Cup by winning the return match 18-25, 25-17, 25-11, 27-25 on Dec. 11. Kingdon-Rishel scored 12 kills on 34 swings and an ace for 13 points. She added a 68 positive reception percent on 37 chances. THY has now advanced to the quarterfinals of the Turkish Cup. In the Turkish League, THY finished the first half of the season in sixth place with a 5-6 record. THY has advanced to the CEV Challenge Cup 8th Finals Round with dates and opponents to be determined.

ROBINSON WITH FENERBAHCE IN TURKISH LEAGUE: Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Website)) is playing for Fenerbahce in the Turkish League and European Champions League this winter. Fenerbahce resumes Champions League action on Dec. 18. In the Turkish league, Fenerbahce (9-2, 26 points) closed out the first half of the season in third place. In the European Champions League, Fenerbahce (1-1, 4 points) takes on Pool A fourth-place LP Salo (0-2, 0 points) on Dec. 18. Check out her video highlighting a visit to Prague while on a break from her pro team.

WILHITE PARSONS WITH SESI BAURU IN BRAZILIAN SUPERLIGA: Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) is competing for Sesi Bauru in the Brazilian Superliga this winter. Sesi Bauru lost to second-place Dentil/Praia Clube 25-20, 27-25, 25-15 on Dec. 13. Wilhite Parsons, who started the third set after being a sub in the first two sets, provided 14 receptions with a 64 positive percent without an offensive attack. Bauru (4-4, 14 points), currently in fourth place, returns to action on Dec. 20 against Itambe Minas.

BENSON WITH NUC IN SWISS LEAGUE: Libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona) is playing for Viteos Neuchatel UC in the Swiss League and CEV Cup this winter along with American teammates Tia Scambray (Dana Point, California) and Kyra Holt (Hercules, California). Neuchatel UC defeated Geneve Volley 25-20, 25-16, 25-15 on Dec. 14. Neuchatel UC (9-2, 27 points), now in second place, challenges seventh-place VBC Cheseaux I (3-7, 9 points) on Dec. 21 in its next Swiss League match. In the CEV Cup 16th Finals Round, Neuchatel UC needs to defeat Minchanka Minsk in the second match of the home-and-home series on Dec. 18 to advance to the 8th Finals Round.