U.S. Women Winning Pro Playoff Matches, Titles

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | March 24, 2019, 4:09 p.m. (ET)

Jordan Larson and Lauren Gibbemeyer helped lead Eczacibasi to the Turkish Cup title
Jordan Larson and Lauren Gibbemeyer helped lead Eczacibasi to the Turkish Cup title

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 25, 2019) – Members of the U.S. Women’s National Team helped lead Eczacibasi to the Turkish Cup while five Team USA players are still in the hunt for the coveted European Champions League title heading into the semifinals.

QUICK SETS

  • In the European Champions League, the U.S. Women’s National Team has players on three of the four semifinal teams. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Lauren Carlini have led Igor Gorgonzola Novara into the semifinals against Kelsey Robinson and her VakifBank squad. Meanwhile, Kim Hill and Karsta Lowe have led Imoco Volley Conegliano into the semifinals against Fenerbahce.
  • Jordan Larson and Lauren Gibbemeyer helped lead Eczacibasi to the Turkish Cup title with a four-set win over Fenerbahce on March 24.
  • Foluke Akinradewo and her Hisamitsu Springs team went 7-0 in the Japan V-League Final 8 round and have advanced to the championship round where it will await the winner of the Final 3.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Which U.S. Women’s National Team player was the first NCAA student-athlete to make the AVCA All-American first-team roster in both indoor and beach volleyball during the same academic year?

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, which finished the Japan V-League in first place overall, dominated NEC Red Rockets 25-21, 25-23, 25-16 on March 24. Akinradewo totaled five kills on seven attacks, three aces and a block for nine points. Hisamitsu Springs finished the Final 8 with an undefeated 7-0 record and now will await the Final 3 winner of second-place Toray Arrows and JT Marvelous two-match playoff this weekend.

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 European Champions League, Eczacibasi was on the verge of reaching the semifinals after winning the first home-and-home quarterfinal round match against Imoco Volley Conegliano. However, the Italian side charged back to win the second match 25-21, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21 on March 19 to force a golden set. In the one set playoff, Conegliano took control and won 15-10 to earn its spot into the semifinals. Larson tallied 11 points in the match with nine kills on 48 swings, one block and one ace. She handled 35 of the team’s 99 receptions with a 66 positive percent. Gibbemeyer added eight kills on 22 swings and an ace for nine points. In the Turkish Cup, Eczacibasi clipped Nilufer 25-20, 25-13, 25-23 in the quarterfinals on March 22. Gibbemeyer provided seven kills on 14 errorless attacks, three blocks and an ace in the victory. Larson did not play in the match. Eczacibasi rallied past Galatasaray 25-11, 22-25, 19-25, 25-16, 15-8 in the Turkish Cup semifinals on March 23. Larson pocketed 16 points with 15 kills via 27 attacks and an ace. She was credited with a 57 positive reception percent on 28 chances. Gibbemeyer claimed seven points with five kills on 15 swings and two blocks. Eczacibasi rallied to defeat Fenerbahce 23-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-20 on March 24 to win the Turkish Cup. Larson piled up 16 points with 11 kills on 24 swings, four aces on 23 serves and a block. She was credited with a 70 positive reception percent on 27 chances. Gibbemeyer started the first two sets before leaving the match with tactical moves that involved limits on foreigners on the court at the same time. During her time on the court, she converted all four of her attacks into points with two aces on seven serves for six points. The Turkish Cup title match was Eczacibasi’s fourth contest in six days. In the Turkish League playoffs, Eczacibasi faces Kameroglu Beylikduzu in the home-and-home quarterfinal round with matches on March 28 and March 30.

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 European Champions League, VakifBank bounced back from a disappointing five-set loss to Russia’s Dinamo Moscow in their opening quarterfinal home-and-home series to win a 25-19, 25-16, 25-8 at home on March 20 and secure a spot in the semifinals. Robinson notched seven kills on 21 swings, two blocks and an ace for 10 points. She added a 50 positive reception percent on six chances. Robinson said: “I'm so happy. I think we put so much energy and focused into this game tonight. I think it shows. We came out ready to go and I am just really proud of every single part of my team.” VakifBank, which has reached the Champions League semifinals for the seventh time in a row, challenges Italy’s Igor Gorgonzola Novara in a home-and-home semifinal round series between April 2-11. VakifBank has won 38 of its last 40 Champions League matches, along with four titles in the last 10 years. In the Turkish Cup, VakifBank swept Besiktas 25-22, 25-20, 25-13 in the quarterfinals on March 22. Robinson, starting just the opening two sets, contributed eight kills on 17 swings with a 50 positive reception percent on eight chances. In its third match in four days, VakifBank fell to Fenerbahce in a hard-fought 17-25, 25-21, 25-21, 29-31, 15-13 match in the Turkish Cup semifinals. Robinson picked up 11 points in the loss, including nine kills on 26 attacks and two blocks. She was credited with a 55 positive reception percent on 31 chances. In the Turkish League playoffs, VakifBank leads Nilufer 1-0 in the home-and-home quarterfinal round series with the return match on March 28. 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.

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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 will face top-seeded Eczacibasi in the Turkish League home-and-home quarterfinals on March 28 and March 30.

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 European Champions League, Conegliano recovered from an opening quarterfinal loss to Eczacibasi to win the return match 25-21, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21 on March 19 to set up a golden set to determine which team advanced to the semifinals. In the golden set, Conegliano used an 8-2 run to stake a 12-7 advantage and went on to win 15-10. Hill, who was named most valuable player of the match, scored 25 points with 23 kills on 48 attacks and two blocks. She handled 20 receptions with an 80 positive percent. Lowe, who was a sub in the opening set before starting the rest of the match, added 19 points with 16 kills on 41 swings and three blocks. Conegliano will now face Turkey’s Fenerbahce in the Champions League semifinal round with home-and-home matches held between April 2-11. In the Italian Serie A1, Conegliano lost to Banca Valsabbina Millenium Brescia 25-15, 17-25, 15-25, 28-26, 16-14 on March 24 with several of its regular starters sitting out the match with the regular season title already secured. Both Hill and Lowe did not play in the match. Conegliano (19-4, 58 points), which remains in first place with a six-point lead, concludes the regular season on March 30 against fourth-place Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio (15-8, 45 points).

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 European Champions League, Novara defeated Germany’s Allianz MTV Stuttgart 25-14, 25-22, 16-25, 18-25, 16-14 on March 21 to earn its first-ever berth into the semifinals after sweeping the quarterfinal home-and-home series. Novara had secured its spot after winning the first two sets of the match. Bartsch-Hackley tallied 12 kills on 18 swings, three aces and a block in just the first two sets before coming out of the match with advancement secured. She handled 16 receptions with a 69 positive percent. Bartsch-Hackley, who was most valuable player of the match, said: “We are happy and proud, our target was to achieve a spot in the semifinals and we made it by playing very good in the first two sets. Now we look forward to playing VakifBank. They have amazing players and we expect to play two very tough games. We will push ourselves and practice hard to get ready for such important matches.” Carlini set Novara to a .309 hitting efficiency in the first two sets while scoring two kills on two swings and a block. Novara, which is 8-0 in Champions League action in 2018-19, now faces Turkey’s VakifBank in the home-and-home semifinals to be played April 2-4. In the Italian Serie A1, Novara edged Bosca San Bernardo Cuneo 25-15, 25-18, 18-25, 23-25, 15-12 on March 24. Carlini set her team to a 49 kill percent and added an ace in starting the first four sets. Bartsch-Hackley, who started the fifth set after being a sub in the third and fourth sets, tallied two kills on four swings and handled 12 receptions with a 50 positive percent. Novara (17-6, 52 points), which has sewn up second place, concludes the regular season on March 30 against sixth-place Pomi Casalmaggiore (14-9, 40 points).

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 opened its home-and-home championship round series with a dominating 25-15, 25-23, 25-17 sweep over Aydin BBSK on March 20. Team Monza rallied from an 8-0 deficit in the second set to win by two points. Adams claimed 13 points in the victory with nine kills on 14 swings and four blocks. Hancock added two kills and two blocks for four points while setting Team Monza to a 43 kill percent. Team Monza can win the Challenge Cup title at home with a win over Aydin BBSK on March 27. In the Italian Serie A1, Team Monza was idle this past week. Team Monza (15-8, 45 points), which is in a virtual tie for fourth place in the Italian Serie A1, concludes the regular season versus ninth-place Zanetti Bergamo (10-13, 31 points).

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 upset third-place Savino Del Bene Scandicci 25-22, 28-26, 25-16 on March 23. Tapp collected 11 points with eight kills on 12 attacks and three blocks. Courtney added eight kills on 24 swings and a 78 positive reception percent on a team-high 27 chances. Bergamo (10-13, 31 points), now in ninth place, closes out the regular season on March 30 against fifth-place Saugella Team Monza (15-8, 45 points).

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 defeated regular season champions Imoco Volley Conegliano 25-15, 17-25, 15-25, 28-26, 16-14 on March 24. Washington did not play in the match. Brescia (10-13, 30 points), now in 10th place, will conclude the regular season on March 30 against third-place Savino Del Bene Scandicci (17-6, 47 points).

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 Il Bisonte Firenze 24-26, 25-21, 25-19, 25-21 on March 24. Whitney totaled 17 points with 16 kills on 38 attacks and an ace. Filottrano (5-19, 14 points), in 11th-place, concludes the regular season on March 30 versus 12th-place Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri (3-20, 9 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. As the third seed in the playoffs, Praia Clube opened its best-of-five quarterfinal round series with Fluminense with a 25-23, 25-17, 25-19 victory on March 18. Lloyd set Praia Clube to a 48 kill percent and .352 hitting efficiency while tacking on three individual points with one kill, one block and one ace. Fawcett totaled seven kills on 15 swings in the victory. Praia Clube went up 2-0 in the series on March 21 with a 25-15, 25-15, 25-21 victory in Rio De Janeiro. Lloyd set her team to a 45 kill percent and .300 hitting efficiency while putting up four blocks and one ace for five points. Fawcett charted 14 points with 12 kills on 24 attacks and two aces. Praia Clube can close out the series on March 25.

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 European Champions League, Stuttgart failed to advance out of the quarterfinals after losing to Italy’s Igor Gorgonzola Novara 25-14, 25-22, 16-25, 18-25, 16-14 on March 21. Novara won both matches of the home-and-home series. Tapp led Stuttgart with 12 points after totaling six kills on 15 attacks and a match-high six blocks. McCage added 11 points on six kills via 15 attacks, four blocks and an ace. Rivers chipped in seven points with kills on 20 attacks and a block. Wilhite Parsons pocketed five points in two sets with two kills, two aces and a block. Bugg came on to start the final three sets and recorded two aces and a kill. In the German Bundesliga, Stuttgart fell to SC Potsdam 25-20, 25-21, 18-25, 19-25, 17-15 on March 23 to conclude the regular season. Wilhite Parsons tallied 18 points with 13 kills on 50 attacks, three blocks and two aces. She was credited with a 48 positive reception percent on 21 chances. Tapp, who started the final four sets, added a match-high seven blocks to go with two kills for nine points. Rivers, who was a sub in three sets, tacked on two kills on four swings. McCage, who started just the opening set, scored one kill. Bugg, who started the entire match, set Stuttgart to a 31 kill percent and added three kills and one block for four individual points. Stuttgart (20-2, 59 points), which had already secured first place in the regular season before the final match, heads into the playoffs as the top seed.

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 closed out the regular season with a 19-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-13 victory over Straubing on March 23. Benson handled 24 of the team’s 61 receptions with a 50 positive percent. Dresdner (14-8, 45 points) heads into the playoffs as the third seed.

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, Chemik Police, (19-3, 57 points) has advanced to the semifinal round as the top seed, and will await the winner of the quarterfinal round series of fourth- and fifth-place seeds.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Kim Hill was named AVCA All-America First-Team in both indoor and beach volleyball in the 2011-12 academic year while playing for Pepperdine University.