COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 14, 2019) – Foluke Akinradewo picked up some gold and individual honors in the Japan V-League, while the U.S. Women’s National Team will have four players competing in the European Champions League Finals in an all-Italian club championship.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Who did the U.S. Women defeat for its first-ever Olympic Games victory?
VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE SCHEDULE RELEASED: The FIVB has released the preliminary round schedule for its Volleyball Nations League, which goes from May 21 to June 20 with the top five teams in the 16-team field joining China for the Final Six July 3-7 in Nanjing, China. Before the U.S. arrives in Lincoln, Nebraska for its matches against Korea (June 4), Germany (June 5) and Brazil (June 6), the Americans will face Belgium, Japan and Bulgaria on consecutive days May 21-23 in Ruse, Bulgaria, to open the VNL. Bulgaria is one of three opponents the U.S. will face in the FIVB Intercontinental Olympic Qualification Tournament being held Aug. 2-4 in the United States. Team USA travels to Conegliano Veneto, Italy to play Serbia (May 28), Italy (May 29) and Dominican Republic (May 30). The second weekend features the top two team (Serbia and Italy) at the 2018 FIVB World Championship. After its VNL domestic matches in Lincoln, the U.S. travels to Jiangmen, China to play Turkey (June 11), Poland (June 12) and host China (June 13). Team USA wraps up the five-week preliminary round in Ekaterinburg, Russia, against the host Russians (June 18), Netherlands (June 19) and Thailand (June 20).
BANWARTH NAMED AVCA 30 UNDER 30: Kayla Banwarth, who helped Team USA win bronze as its libero at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, was named an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) 30 Under 30 award recipient in 2019. To qualify for the award, nominees had to be younger than 30 years old in 2018. In her two years as an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska, Banwarth helped the Huskers win the 2017 NCAA championship and followed that with a second-place finish in 2018. While she was a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, she served as a volunteer coach with the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team in 2015-16. GIVE IT BACK FOUNDATION HOLDING CAMP: The Give It Back Foundation, run by current and past members of the U.S. Women’s National Team, will hold its annual camp on Aug. 9-10 at Moon Area high School in Pittsburgh. The clinic is open to girls in grades 8-12. Cost is $300 per athlete, who will receive two days of instruction, a camp T-shirt, camp booklet and lunch on both days. This year’s camp will include Olympian coaches Christa Dietzen, Danielle Scott, Foluke Akinradewo, Megan Easy, Tama Miyashiro, Nicole Davis, Jordan Larson, Kim Hill and several other National Team players past and present. Proceeds from the camp will go towards building a high school in Gulu, Uganda. Dietzen, a Pittsburgh native, served at Christ the Center Nursey and Primary School in Gulu while on a mission trip in 2008. That trip impacted Dietzen’s heart and the children of Gulu captured her heart. To register for the camp, visit giveitbackfoundation.org.
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 took home gold in the Japan V-League, but only after winning a golden set to score the title. Hisamitsu Springs, which won the first of a home-and-home Final Round on April 6, suffered its first playoff loss on April 13 in falling to Toray Arrows 29-31, 25-19, 25-23, 23-25, 15-13 prompting a golden set. Akinradewo scored 15 kills on 30 errorless attacks, along with four blocks for 19 points in the loss. In the winner-take-all golden set, Akinradewo produced three kills on eight swings and a block for four points as Hisamitsu Springs controlled the set with a 25-18 victory. At the conclusion of the match, Akinradewo was named most valuable player of the Final Stage Playoffs, along with the Best Spiker and Best Blocker.
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 earned a spot in the championship round by sweeping Fenerbahce 25-18, 25-22, 28-26 on April 9 to win both matches of the home-and-home semifinal round series. Hill hammered eight kills on 20 attacks while handling 13 receptions with a 54 positive reception percent. Lowe was a sub in the second set. Conegliano will now face Italian rival Novara in the Super Finals round on May 18 in Berlin. In the Italian Serie A1, Conegliano swept eighth-seeded Bosca San Bernardo Cuneo for the second straight match in a 25-20, 26-24, 25-21 victory to win its best-of-three quarterfinal round series on April 13. Hill tallied 11 points with nine kills on 17 attacks, one block and one ace. She was credited with a 72 positive reception percent on a team-leading 25 chances. Lowe did not play in the victory. Conegliano will face the quarterfinal winner of Team Monza and Busto Arsizio, which are level at 1-1 in the best-of-three series.
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 earned a spot into the Super Finals but not without drama in its semifinal round series with defending champion VakifBank. Novara won the opening match of the home-and-home series on April and appeared to be in the driver’s seat for the return match at home on April 10. However, VakifBank defeated Novara 25-23, 25-20, 15-25, 25-21 to force a golden set to determine which team would move on to the finals. Novara bounced back to win the winner-take-all set 16-14 to clinch its spot into the finals, despite trailing 5-2 early in the set and needing to save two sets points trailing 14-12. Bartsch-Hackley scored 16 points in the match with 15 kills on 32 attacks and a block. She was credited with a 50 positive reception percent after handling 46 of the team’s 97 chances. Carlini set Novara to a 41 kill percent and added three aces in the victory. Novara will now face Italian rival Conegliano in the Super Final on neutral ground in Berlin on May 18. In the Italian Serie A1 playoffs, second-seeded Novara overcame a shocking upset to No. 7 Il Bisonte Firenze in the opening match of the best-of-three quarterfinal round series by winning 27-25, 25-14, 21-25, 25-23 on April 13. Bartsch-Hackley contributed 20 points, all on kills from 37 attacks with just one hitting error. She added 29 receptions with a 62 positive percent. Carlini set Novara to a 45 kill percent and added a block. Novara will face Firenze on April 15 with the winner advancing to the semifinals.
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, Team Monza bounced back from a road loss to open its best-of-three quarterfinal round series by defeating fifth-seeded Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio 28-26, 23-25, 25-23, 25-20 on April 13 to even the series at 1-1. Hancock, who set Team Monza to a 39 kill percent, scored five points with four kills on seven errorless attacks and a block. Adams, who started the first two sets and subbed in the fourth, added two kills on nine swings and two blocks for four points. Team Monza and Busto Arsizio will meet again on April 15 with the winner advancing the to the semifinals.
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 opened its semifinal round series with fourth-seed Galatasaray with a 25-17, 25-18, 25-18 victory on April 10. Larson notched a team-leading 17 points with 13 kills on 21 attacks, two aces and two blocks. She was credited with a 69 positive reception percent on 16 chances. Gibbemeyer, a sub in the final two sets, tallied one kill on one attack and a block for two points in her limited action. Across the net, American Cursty Jackson contributed six points for Galatasaray. Eczacibasi won the second match of the series with Galatasaray 25-19, 22-25, 25-17, 25-19 on April 13. Larson pocketed nine kills on 21 swings and an ace for 10 points. Gibbemeyer was a sub in the second set. On the opposite side of the net, Jackson scored 13 points for Galatasaray.
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 European Champions League, VakifBank came up short in its quest to repeat its title following a heartbreaking day in Novara, Italy. Having lost the opening match of the home-and-home series on April 4, VakifBank came back to defeat Novara 25-23, 25-20, 15-25, 25-21 on April 10 to force a golden set to determine which team would advance to the Super Finals. VakifBank got off to a 5-2 lead in the golden set and led 14-12 late in the set, but could not hold off the host Novara team in a 16-14 loss. Robinson scored nine points in the loss with seven kills on 23 swings, one block and one ace. She handled 26 receptions with a 62 positive reception percent. In the Turkish League playoffs, second-seeded VakifBank defeated third-seeded Fenerbahce 25-21, 25-22, 20-25, 25-22 on April 14 to open its home-and-home semifinal round series. Robinson contributed 12 kills on 25 swings and handled 41 of the team’s 93 receptions with a 49 positive percent. To watch the match replay, click here. VakifBank can advance to the Turkish League championship round with a win over Fenerbahce on April 17. Robinson has launched her own website, nomandplay.com on her passions for play, travel and food. 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. After losing to top-seed Eczacibasi in the quarterfinals, Beylikduzu opened its Playoff 5-8 schedule with a 25-21, 25-21, 25-19 victory over Besiktas. Drews connected for 12 kills on 28 attacks and a block for 13 points. Lee had a matching 13 points, all on kills via 22 attacks. She was credited with a 44 reception percent on 18 chances. Hunter set the squad to a 44 kill percent while adding two individual kills on three errorless swings, one block and one ace. Beylikduzu won the second match of the series over Besiktas 23-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 15-11 on April 13. Drews crushed 18 kills on 45 swings to go with three aces and two blocks for 23 points. Lee tacked on 11 kills via 38 swings, four blocks and an ace for 16 points. Hunter, who set her team to a 36 kill percent, added four blocks, two aces and two kills on three swings for eight points. Beylikduzu now has advanced to the fifth-sixth place playoff.
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, completed its best-of-three semifinal round sweep of Sesi Volei Bauru with a 25-18, 25-21, 25-14 victory on April 8. Lloyd set Praia Clube to a 50 kill percent and .363 hitting efficiency (40-11-80) while scoring three blocks and a kill on one attack for four individual points. Fawcett collected 11 kills on 23 swings and three blocks for 14 points. Praia Clube now advances to the best-of-three finals round to face top-seeded Itambe Minas. The first two matches are scheduled for April 21 and April 26. If necessary, the tiebreaking match will take place 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, defeated Aachen 25-19, 25-14, 25-21 in the opening match of the best-of-five semifinal round on April 11. Wilhite Parsons slammed 12 kills on 24 attacks and added two blocks for 14 points. She handled 15 receptions with a 40 positive reception percent. Rivers contributed 14 points in the victory with 10 kills on 21 swings, two blocks and two aces. McCage chipped in four kills on seven attacks and four blocks for eight points. Tapp totaled two kills, one block and one ace for four points. Bugg as a sub in the second set. Stuttgart went up 2-0 over Aachen with a 25-23, 25-20, 15-25, 27-25 victory on April 14. Rivers provided Stuttgart with 12 kills on 39 swings and two aces for 14 points. Wilhite Parson pounded down nine kills on 28 attacks, one block and one ace for 11 points. McCage tacked on 11 points with eight kills on 14 attacks, two blocks and an ace. Tapp added six kills on 13 attacks and two blocks for eight points. Bugg, a sub in the first and third sets before starting the fourth set, helped Stuttgart to a 37 kill percent and added two individual kills on three swings. The series continues on April 18, and if necessary, matches 4 and 5 will be on April 20 and April 23.
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 lost to fourth-seeded Grot Budowlani Lodz for the second time in the best-of-three semifinals 25-21, 25-22, 23-25, 25-12 on April 13 to be eliminated from the title hunt. For the second straight playoff match, Ogbogu scored 11 kills on 23 attacks and added two blocks. Chemik Police will now play Developres SkyRes Rzeszów for third place in a best-of-five series starting on April 23.
TRIVIA ANSWER: The U.S. defeated South Korea on Oct. 21, 1964, for its first-ever Olympic Games victory. The teams will meet again on June 4 in Lincoln, Nebraska.