Americans Win Gold in China, Poland Pro Leagues

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | March 11, 2019, 11:17 a.m. (ET)

Tori Dixon attacking during Chinese Volleyball League gold-medal playoff round
Tori Dixon attacking during Chinese Volleyball League gold-medal playoff round

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 11, 2019) – Gold medals and multiple playoff victories were among the many highlights this past week for U.S. Women’s National Team members as they are nearing the end of their 2018-19 pro seasons overseas.

QUICK SETS

  • Tori Dixon and Madi Kingdon Rishel helped lead Beijing BAIC Motors to the Chinese Volleyball League title by sweeping the championship best-of-five round series.
  • Chiaka Ogbogu was named Best Blocker of the Polish Cup after leading her Chemik Police squad to the title on Sunday.
  • Rachael Adams and Micha Hancock led Saugella Team Monza to the CEV Challengers Cup finals after needing an extra set to win their semifinal round series over Volero Le Cannet.
  • Jordan Larson and Lauren Gibbemeyer helped Eczacibasi finish atop the Turkish League regular season standings and will head into the playoffs as the top seed.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Who is the only U.S. female to compete in the Olympic Games in both indoor and beach volleyball?

FIVB INTERVIEW WITH GIBBEMEYER: Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) recently took time out of her busy schedule playing in the European Champions League and Turkish League to do an interview with the FIVB. She answers question related to coping with the busy FIVB Volleyball Nations League schedule, her role playing for Eczacibasi in the Turkish League, what she likes to do in her free time, her expectations of the 2019 VNL and what she wants to accomplish after her playing career is complete. To read the Q&A, click here.

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS WITH USA CONNECTIONS: The U.S. Women’s National Team will have members competing on five of eight teams which have advanced to the European Champions League quarterfinals. VakifBank (Kelsey Robinson), Eczacibasi (Jordan Larson, Lauren Gibbemeyer) and Igor Gorgonzola Novara (Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, Lauren Carlini) all claimed top place in their four-team main phase pools, while Allianz MTV Stuttgart (Sarah Wilhite Parson, Paige Tapp and Molly McCage) and Imoco Volley Conegliano (Kim Hill, Karsta Lowe) were among the top second-place teams to advance. The quarterfinal home-and-home round will have Novara facing Stuttgart (first match on March 12), VakifBank challenging Dinamo Moscow, Conegliano versus Eczacibasi and Savino Del Bene Scandicci versus Fenerbahce.

DIXON, 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 first Chinese Volleyball League title this past weekend. BAIC Motors, which finished the Chinese pro league’s regular season in third place, defeated top-seeded Tianjin 27-29, 26-24, 25-16, 29-27 on March 5 to go up 2-0 in the best-of-five championship round series. Dixon notched 14 kills on 26 attacks and two blocks for 16 points in the victory. BAIC Motors closed out the series by winning match three 25-21, 25-15, 20-25, 25-20 on March 9. Dixon tallied eight kills on 25 swings, one block and one ace for 10 points. She was named most valuable player of the final match. Dixon finished the league as the top blocker with 0.84 blocks per set and 81 total blocks. She finished second in Best Spiker with a 52 kill percent, including 208 kills on 399 attacks.

MURPHY WITH SHANGHAI VOLLEYBALL CLUB: Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois, Twitter, Instagram) is playing for Shanghai Volleyball Club this winter. Shanghai defeated Jiangsu Zhongtian Iron and Steel 25-15, 23-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-6 on March 5 to claim third place in the Chinese League playoffs. Shanghai swept the best-of-three series to end their playoff run. Murphy scored 30 points with 25 kills on 42 attacks and just one attack error for a .571 hitting efficiency. She added three blocks and two aces on 23 errorless serves in the victory. Murphy ended the season as the seventh-best scorer with 330 points scored and was eighth in points per set at 3.88.

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. Chemik Police swept Grot Budowlani Lodz 27-25, 25-22, 25-14 on March 9 in the Polish Cup semifinal round. Ogbogu collected seven kills on 12 errorless attacks and two blocks for nine points in the victory. In the Polish Cup finals, Chemik Police swept Developres SkyRes Rzeszow 25-23, 25-21, 25-22 on March 10. Ogbogu contributed 13 points in the victory with nine kills on 15 attacks, three blocks and an ace. At the conclusion of the tournament, Ogbogu was named Best Blocker of the Polish Cup. In the Polish Orlen Liga, Chemik Police was idle with the Polish Cup taking its place on the schedule. Chemik Police, (19-2, 56 points), which remains comfortably in first place with an eight-point cushion, closes out the Orlen Liga regular season on March 16 against third-place LKS Commercecon Lodz (15-6, 45 points).

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GAME DAY⁣ @imocovolley beast mode status: 🔝

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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 edged seventh-place Il Bisonte Firenze (10-11, 33 points) 25-16, 24-26, 25-20, 19-25, 15-8 on March 9. Hill scored a team-high 17 points with 15 kills on 36 swings, one block and one ace on 12 serves. She was credited with an 80 positive reception percent on 15 chances. Lowe, who was a sub in three of the five sets, tallied three kills on seven errorless attacks. Conegliano (18-3, 54 points), which increased its lead over second-place Novara (15-6, 47 points) to seven points in the standing, plays Bosca San Bernardo Cuneo on March 16 in its next Italian league match. In the European Champions League, Conegliano has advanced to face Turkey’s Eczacibasi in the home-and-home quarterfinal round with matches on March 13 and March 19.

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 was upset by 12th-place Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri (3-18, 9 points) 22-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 15-13 on March 9. Bartsch-Hackley contributed 17 points with 16 kills on 32 swings and a block. She handled 54 of the team’s 99 receptions with a 69 positive percent. Carlini set the squad to a 46 kill percent and added one kill and one block for two individual points. On the opposite side of the net, American Jordyn Poulter set Chieri to a 45 kill percent and totaled two individual points. Novara (15-6, 47 points), which remains in second place, resumes action on March 17 against Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio. In the European Champions League, Novara has advanced to the quarterfinal home-and-home series where it will face Allianz MTV Stuttgart on March 12 and March 21.

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 advanced to the CEV Challengers Cup finals, but needed an extra set to defeat France’s Volero Le Cannet. Having won the first of two matches in the home-and-home semifinals in a five-set thriller, Team Monza dropped the return match 16-25, 25-15, 25-21, 18-25, 15-13 on March 6 in Italy. Adams claimed 17 points in the match with 10 kills on 21 swings, four aces and three blocks. Hancock set Team Monza to a 35 kill percent as a team and chipped in three individual kills on three swings and a block. With both teams winning five-set matches on their opponent’s home court, a golden set was played immediately after the contest and Team Monza used its home crowd to propel itself to a 15-9 victory. Team Monza will now face Aydin BBSK in the home-and-home finals on dates to be announced. In the Italian Serie A1, Team Monza bounced back from a slow start to defeat Banca Valsabbina Millenium Brescia 15-25, 20-25, 25-12, 27-25, 15-12 on March 10. Team Monza trailed 12-9 in the deciding fifth set before scoring the final six points of the match. Hancock set Team Monza to a 39 kill percent and added three individual kills. Adams totaled two kills in starting the first two sets. Team Monza (14-8, 42 points), which moved up one spot to fourth place during the Italian Serie A1, faces 11th-place Lardini Filottrano (5-16, 14 points) on March 17 in its next league match.

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Us every step around the city

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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 dominated last-place Club Italia Crai 25-23, 25-17, 25-4 on March 10 in Milano. Tapp connected for six kills on 12 attacks and three blocks for nine points. Courtney secured five points with four kills on six errorless swings and a block. She was credited with a 58 positive reception percent on 12 chances. Bergamo (9-13, 28 points), now in ninth place, is idle this coming week.

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 edged out by fifth-place Saugella Team Monza 15-25, 20-25, 25-12, 27-25, 15-12 on March 10 despite having a 12-9 lead in the deciding fifth set. Washington did not play in the match. Brescia (8-13, 25 points), now in 10th place, will meet 12th-place Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri (3-18, 9 points) on March 17 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 to fourth-place Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio 25-19, 25-22, 25-27, 25-23 on March 10. Whitney tallied 18 points in the loss, all on kills via 42 attacks. Filottrano (5-17, 14 points), in 11th-place, resumes action on March 17 against fifth-place Saugella Team Monza (14-8, 42 points).

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 swept 10th-place Aydin B.Sehir Bld. 25-16, 25-16, 25-13 on March 9 to conclude the regular season. Gibbemeyer slammed six kills on seven errorless attacks to go with a block for seven points. Larson did not play in the match. Eczacibasi (21-1) ended the regular season in first place in the Turkish League. In the European Champions League, Eczacibasi moves into the quarterfinal home-and-home series with Italy’s Imoco Volley Conegliano with matches on March 13 and March 19.

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@vergegirl

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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 11th-place Canakkale 25-19, 25-21, 25-19 on March 6 to conclude the regular season. Robinson powered down 14 kills on 26 attacks one block and one ace in the victory. She added nine receptions with a 67 excellent reception percent. VakifBank (21-1) finished the regular season in second place based on tiebreakers after tying Eczacibasi with the best record. In European Champions League, VakifBank will now face Dinamo Moscow in a home-and-home quarterfinal round series beginning March 13 and concluding March 20. 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 Nilufer 19-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-17 on March 10 to conclude the Turkish League regular season. Drews converted 17 of 41 attacks into points and added a block for 18 points. Lee chipped in 12 kills on 27 attacks, three blocks and two aces for 17 points. She was credited with a 48 positive reception percent after handling 33 of the team’s 87 receptions. Hunter set the squad to a 36 kill percent while adding four individual kills on five errorless attacks and three blocks for seven points. Beylikduzu finished the regular season in eighth place.

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 (18-2, 52 points), which finished the Japan V-League in first place overall, defeated Toray 22-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-22 on March 9. Akinradewo pocketed 20 points with 16 kills on 21 attacks and four blocks. Hisamitsu Springs remained undefeated in the playoffs by defeating Hitachi Rivale 25-19, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19 on March 10. Akinradewo scored 10 kills on 17 attacks with just one attack error in the victory. Hisamitsu Springs, now 4-0 in the eight-team round-robin playoff, resumes action on March 16 against Ageo Medics and March 17 versus JT Marvelous.

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 rallied to defeat first-place Minas Tenis Clube 25-23, 20-25, 21-25, 25-22, 16-14 on March 8. Lloyd set Praia Clube to a 43 kill percent and .308 hitting efficiency in the victory. She added three blocks in the victory. Fawcett, who started the first three sets, scored 10 points, all on kills from 27 attacks. Praia Clube (18-2, 52 points), which is now in second place in the Brazilian Superliga based on tiebreakers with Minas Tenis Clube (18-2, 53 points), concludes the second half of the season with matches on March 12 against third-place Hinode Barueri (14-6, 41 points) and on March 15 against fourth-place SESC RJ (13-7, 39 points).

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 rallied to defeat third-place Dresdner 25-23, 18-25, 17-25, 25-18, 16-14 on March 7. Rivers scored a match-high 30 points with 25 kills on 43 swings, four blocks and an ace. Tapp chipped in seven kills on 14 swings and three blocks for 10 points. McCage tacked on six kills on 12 errorless swings and a block for seven points. Wilhite, who started the first three sets, added two points. Bugg, who started the final two sets to propel the come-from-behind victory, tallied two individual points and led Stuttgart to a .417 hitting efficiency over the final two sets. Stuttgart (19-0, 54 points) resumes Bundesliga action on March 14 against second-place Schwerin (17-1, 49 points) followed by a March 16 contest versus seventh-place Suhl (9-9, 26 points). In the European Champions League, Stuttgart moves into the quarterfinals home-and-home round to face Pool C winner Igor Gorgonzola Novara with the first match on March 12 followed by a March 21 contest.

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 dropped a heart-breaking 25-23, 18-25, 17-25, 25-18, 16-14 loss to undefeated Allianz MTV Stuttgart on March 7. Benson handled 32 receptions with a 53 positive reception percent. Dresdner (13-7, 42 points), in third place, resumes Bundesliga action on March 13 against ninth-place Wiesbaden (9-10, 25 points).

TRIVIA ANSWER: Kerri Walsh Jennings was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Women’s Indoor Volleyball Team before she shifted over to playing beach volleyball. She would go on to win Olympic gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012, followed by a bronze in 2016.