Americans Keying Pro Teams in Champions League

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Feb. 18, 2019, 1:13 p.m. (ET)

Tori Dixon
Tori Dixon has led Beijing BAIC Motors to a 2-0 lead in the Chinese semifinals best-of-five playoffs against Shanghai.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 18, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team will have several players competing in a key European Champions League matches this week with the chance to advance to the quarterfinals at stake in the second to last main phase match.

QUICK SETS

  • Kim Hill and Karsta Lowe have helped Imoco Volley Conegliano to first place in the Italian Serie A1.
  • Foluke Akinradewo has paced Hisamitsu Springs to a first-place finish in the Japan V-League with one round remaining.
  • Sarah Wilhite Parson, Molly McCage and Paige Tapp have Germany’s Stuttgart currently in first place in the Bundesliga. Stuttgart will face Schwerin in the German Cup finals on Feb. 24.
  • Chiaka Ogbogu and her Chemik Police squad currently lead the Polish Orlen Liga.
  • Tori Dixon has helped BAIC Motors to two big victories over Shanghai to open the Chinese League best-of-five semifinal round and can clinch a spot in the finals on Feb. 19.

TRIVIA QUESTION: The U.S. Women will host their 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League matches in Lincoln, Nebraska. Since 2013, how many tournaments have the U.S. hosted in Nebraska?

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE THIS WEEK: The U.S. Women’s National Team will have members competing on six teams in the European Champions League fifth leg this week, including a head-to-head match with Americans facing each other. Three of the five matches will impact the pool standings and who advances to the quarterfinals with first-place going against second-place teams. VakifBank (Kelsey Robinson), which leads Pool A, faces second-place Allianz MTV Stuttgart (Sarah Wilhite Parsons, Paige Tapp and Molly McCage). Pool C leader Igor Gorgonzola (Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, Lauren Carlini) play second-place Budowlani Lodz. Imoco Volley Conegliano (Kim Hill, Karsta Lowe), second in Pool D, meets group leader Savino Del Bene Scandicci with the winner likely to finish in first place. Other Champions League matches this week has Pool B leader Eczacibasi (Jordan Larson, Lauren Gibbemeyer) facing third-place Uralockha-NTMK Ekaterinburg, while Pool E Chemik Police (Chiaka Ogbogu) searching for its first Champions League win against third-place C.S.M. Bucuresti. All five matches can be streamed on www.flovolleyball.tv.

NATIONAL TEAM OPEN TRYOUT: The U.S. Women’s National Team will look toward the future the first week of March as it holds its annual open tryout on the U.S. Olympic Training Center complex in Colorado Springs March 1-3. Nearly all the current U.S. Women's National Team have participated in the open tryout process, including Jordan Larson, Kim Hill, Rachael Adams, Carli Lloyd, Tori Dixon, Karsta Lowe and Chiaka Ogbogu. To be eligible, athletes must be U.S. citizen and either current college age athletes and older born in the years 1990-2001 inclusive, or high school athletes born in 2001 or earlier. Athletes must possess a working knowledge of offensive/defensive systems and terminology consistent with that of a typical mid- to high-level collegiate program. The tryout also serves as a means for athletes with remaining collegiate eligibility to be selected for one of two U.S. Collegiate National Team programs that will take place late this spring and early summer. Registration deadline is Feb. 13. For full details on the tryout and how to register, click here.

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 Motors Volleyball Club in China during the 2018-19 pro season. BAIC Motors won its best-of-five semifinal series opener against Shanghai 25-16, 25-18, 25-19 on Feb. 12. Dixon slammed six kills on nine attacks and added two blocks for eight points. Kingdon Rishel did not play in the match. BAIC Motors edged Shanghai 25-21, 21-25, 25-13, 19-25, 15-11 on Feb. 16 to go up 2-0 in the series. Dixon notched 16 points with 14 kills on 24 attacks and two blocks. Kingdon Rishel did not play in the match. BAIC Motors can clinch the series on Feb. 19 with a victory. If necessary, matches four and five will be played on Feb. 25 and March 1.

MURPHY WITH SHANGHAI VOLLEYBALL CLUB: Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois, Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Shanghai Volleyball Club this winter. Shanghai lost its best-of-five semifinal series opener to BAIC Motors 25-16, 25-18, 25-19 on Feb. 12. Murphy tallied eight kills on 30 swings in the loss. Shanghai dropped a heart-breaking 25-21, 21-25, 25-13, 19-25, 15-11 match to BAIC Motors on Feb. 16 to fall behind 2-0 in the best-of-five series. Murphy secured 17 points with 15 kills on 48 swings, one block and one ace. Shanghai is now in a must-win situation in match three on Feb. 19. If necessary, matches four and five will be played on Feb. 25 and March 1.

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, Novara blanked seventh-place Il Bisonte Firenze (9-10, 29 points) 25-19, 26-24, 25-19 on Feb. 16. Bartsch-Hackley tallied seven kills on 22 attacks and a block for eight points. Carlini set Novara to a 41 kill percent while serving two aces on 13 serves. Novara (15-4, 46 points), which moved up to second place, plays sixth-place Saugella Team Monza (11-8, 34 points) on Feb. 23 in its next Italian Serie A1 match. In the European Champions League, Novara (4-0, 12 points) returns to Pool C action on Feb. 19 Budowlani Lodz (3-1, 8 points).

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, Conegliano swept Lardini Filottrano 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 on Feb. 16. Lowe produced a team-high 16 points with 12 kills on 29 attacks, two blocks and two aces on 15 serves. Hill added 12 kills 23 swings and an ace for 13 points. She was credited with an 80 positive reception percent on 20 chances. Conegliano (15-3, 46 points), which remains in first place in the Italian Serie A1, challenges last-place Club Italia Crai (0-18, 2 points) in its next Italian Serie A1 match. In the European Champions League, Conegliano (3-1, 7 points) returns to action on Feb. 20 against Italian rival Savino Del Bene Scandicci (3-1, 10 points), which leads Pool D.

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 CEV Challenge Cup, Team Monza defeated Calcit Volley Kamnik 25-14, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22 on Feb. 13 to sweep its home-and-home 4th Finals Round (quarterfinals) series. Hancock, who started the first three sets as Team Monza secured its bid to the semifinals heading into the fourth set, helped her team to a 42 kill percent and added two individual kills on two attacks. Adams did not play in the match. Team Monza is 6-0 during their first participation in the CEV Challenge Cup. Team Monza will now face Volero Le Cannet in the home-and-home semifinals. In the Italian Serie A1, Team Monza lost to third-place Savino Del Bene Scandicci (15-3, 42 points) 27-29, 25-21, 25-23, 25-13 on Feb. 17. Adams scored six kills on 15 attacks, one block and one ace for eight points. Hancock, who set Team Monza to a 40 kill percent, had four kills on five errorless attacks and two aces on 19 serves. Team Monza (11-8, 34 points), which fell two spots to sixth place during the Italian Serie A1, faces second-place Igor Gorgonzola Novara (15-4, 46 points) on Feb. 23 in its next Italian Serie A1 match.

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 Bosca San Bernardo Cuneo 15-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-22 on Feb. 17. Tapp pocketed 10 points with six kills on 10 swings, three blocks and an ace. Courtney added three kills and two blocks for five points. Bergamo (8-11, 24 points), now in 10th place, will play 11th-place Lardini Filottrano (4-14, 11 points) on Feb. 24 in its next league match.

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 was idle this past week. Brescia (8-10, 23 points), now in ninth place, will play fifth-place Pomi Casalmaggiore (12-7, 35 points) on Feb. 24 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. Filottrano lost league-leader Imoco Volley Conegliano 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 on Feb. 16. Whitney totaled seven points with five kills on 20 attacks and two aces. Filottrano (4-14, 11 points), in 11th-place, resumes action on Feb. 24 against 10th-place Zanetti Bergamo (8-11, 24 points).

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 downed Hitachi Rivale 25-12, 23-25, 25-22, 25-20 on Feb. 16. Akinradewo did not play in the match. Hisamitsu Springs (18-2, 52 points), which will finish with the best record in both the Western and Eastern Divisions, is idle next week in the final week heading into the playoffs.

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, Eczacibasi defeated fifth-place Besiktas (8-11) 25-19, 25-16, 25-19 on Feb. 17. Gibbemeyer hammered nine kills on 14 errorless attacks, two blocks and an ace for 12 points. Larson did not play in the victory. Eczacibasi (19-0), in first place in the Turkish League as the only undefeated team, resumes domestic league action on Feb. 23 against second-place Vakifbank (18-1). In the European Champions League, Eczacibasi (4-0, 12 points), in first place in Pool B, challenges Russia’s Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg (2-2, 5 points) on Feb. 20 in its next Champions League match.

View this post on Instagram

Forever valentine 🖤

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, VakifBank downed seventh-place Kameroglu Beylikduzu Voleybaol Ihtisas (9-10) 25-17, 25-17, 25-21 on Feb. 17. Robinson scored 12 points with 11 kills on 19 swings and an ace. She was credited with a 71 positive reception percent on 21 chances. VakifBank (18-1), in second place, returns to Turkish League action on Feb. 23 against league-leader Eczacibasi (19-0). In European Champions League, VakifBank (4-0, 12 points) returns to action on Feb. 20 against Germany’s Allianz MTV Stuttgart (3-1, 9 points). Robinson has launched her own website, 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 lost to second-place VakifBank (18-1) 25-17, 25-17, 25-21 on Feb. 17. Drews provided seven kills on 25 attacks, two aces and a block for 10 points. Lee added five kills on 15 swings and an ace. Hunter set the team to a 31 kill percent and added a block. Beylikduzu (9-10), which fell to seventh place, returns to Turkish League action on Feb. 23 against fourth-place Galatasaray (12-7).

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, Chemiki Police rallied to defeat fourth-place Grot Budowlani Lodz (14-4, 38 points) 25-18, 20-25, 19-25, 25-18, 15-10 on Feb. 15. Ogbogu scored 11 points with nine kills on 23 swings and two blocks. Chemik Police (17-2, 50 points), which remains comfortably in first place with an eight-point cushion, returns to Polish Orlen Liga action on Feb. 23 against last-place KSZO Ostrowiec (2-16, 8 points). In European Champions League action, Chemik Police (0-4, 1 point) returns to action on Feb. 20 against Pool E’s third-place team CSM Bucuresti (1-3, 3 points).

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. Defeated Esport Clube Pinheiros 23-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-11 on Feb. 11. Lloyd set Praia Clube to a 44 kill percent and added one individual kill. Fawcett added 12 points with five kills, four aces and three blocks. Praia Clube won its second match of the week with a 25-15, 25-13, 25-23 victory over Flumininense on Feb. 15. Lloyd set Praia Clube to a stellar 53 kill percent and added one ace. Fawcett scored 16 points with 14 kills on 24 swings and two aces. Praia Clube (16-2, 47 points), which is now in second place in the Brazilian Superliga, is idle next week.

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. In the German Bundesliga, Stuttgart defeated Schwarz-Weiss Erfurt 25-17, 24-26, 25-15, 25-20 on Feb. 16. McCage, who started the final three sets, tallied 10 points with five kills on eight swings, four blocks and an ace. Tapp, who started all but the second set, added six kills on 10 errorless attacks and a block. Wilhite Parson collected four kills on 10 swings and two aces while starting just the first two sets. Rivers, who started the first two sets, pocketed 12 kills on 22 swings in the victory. Bugg, who started the final two sets, helped Stuttgart to a 47 kill percent and added two aces and an individual kill. Stuttgart (17-0, 49 points) resumes Bundesliga action on March 2 against Aachen. During the break in the Bundesliga, Stuttgart faces Schwerin in the German Cup final on Feb. 24. In the European Champions League, Stuttgart (3-1, 9 points), in second place in Pool A, resumes action on Feb. 20 against Turkey’s VakifBank (4-0, 12 points).

BENSON WITH DRESDNER IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona, Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Dresdner SC in the German Bundesliga this winter. Dresdner lost to second-place SSC Palmberg Schwerin (16-1, 46 points) 23-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-19 on Feb. 13. Benson handled 27 receptions with a 41 positive percent. Dresdner (10-6, 32 points), in fourth place, resumes Bundesliga action on Feb. 23 against sixth-place Suhl (9-7, 26 points).

TRIVIA ANSWER: The U.S. has hosted four tournaments in the state of Nebraska since 2013, compiling a 14-1 record in 15 matches.

  • 2013 NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship in Ralston (4-0)
  • 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round in Omaha (5-0)
  • 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament in Lincoln (3-0)
  • 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League Preliminary Round in Lincoln (2-1)