COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 15, 2017) – Setter Carli Lloyd took on an expanded leadership role with the U.S. Women’s National Team as its captain in 2017, and that did not hinder the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist from delivering success on the court. In the process, she helped a young and dynamic squad grow as teammates in the first year of the Olympic quadrennial.
For her 2017 contributions, Lloyd has been selected as the 2017 USA Volleyball Female Indoor Player of the Year. Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley was tabbed as the 2017 USA Volleyball Female Indoor Most Improved Player of the Year.
“Through our 2017 summer competitions, lineups, opponents and countries changed, but one thing stayed constant: Carli Lloyd,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “She led a new group through real adversity to a series of tough wins during World Grand Prix, battling the world’s best. She faced even greater adversity with an injury in World Grand Champions Cup, yet from start to finish, Carli maintained a relentless devotion to making people around her better and helped USA to a strong start in the new Olympic quad.”
Lloyd started 15 of the team’s 26 matches and played in 68 total sets in helping Team USA finish 18-8 on the season. For the season, she compiled 11 kills, 20 blocks and eight aces for 39 total points while running the offense. Lloyd started all nine matches of the FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary round as the U.S. Women reached the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals Round with a young roster including just one other Olympian.
“I feel thankful and extremely honored to receive this recognition,” Lloyd said. “To be selected means that my efforts this summer positively affected my team and the USA program and this is a great focus of mine on a daily basis. I strive to bring the best version of myself each day with hopes that it can make those around me better as well. I love this sport, I love to compete and I still have goals that I am striving to reach with this USA team. Receiving this award shows me that I am on the right track and that there is more work to be done.”
Lloyd started both matches of the USA Volleyball Cup as Team USA split a pair of contests with Brazil as four additional Olympians returned to the court. She battled through injuries at the season-ending FIVB World Grand Champions Cup to help the Americans finish with the bronze.
“The first summer of a quad seems to be one of the most challenging from that vantage point,” Lloyd said. “There tends to be more faces in the gym, which means there is more work to be done to make connections with attackers and find chemistry through play. I found it to be both challenging and exciting. We have so many talented players in our country and it is really amazing to be a part of such a deep program.”
Bartsch-Hackley Embodies Life-Long Learner
Bartsch-Hackley played in 79 sets during the 2017 season with 16 starts. She scored 236 points with a 2.99 scoring average per set. Bartsch-Hackley held a .240 hitting efficiency (188-67-504) with a 37.3 kill percent. She averaged 0.32 blocks and 0.29 aces per set on offense, while tallying a 1.43 dig average on defense. During the FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary round, Bartsch-Hackley ranked second in serving with a 0.46 ace average and was the third-best receiver among all players with a 59.55 efficiency.
“Job number one with USA is to be a learner, to get better every day,” Kiraly said. “Michelle has accomplished that task every year she’s been with the program, and this season she got her biggest chance yet to show the results. We value players who find multiple ways to contribute, and Bartschy did that in every phase of the game. Her all-around consistency had a big impact on our results, and on the momentum USA carries forward in the Olympic cycle.”
Bartsch-Hackley attributes her improvement in 2017 as a case of being a life-long learner.
“Representing USA is something so special and I can’t say enough about playing for my country,” Bartsch Hackley said. “It’s such a great honor to be recognized as Most Improved Player. I believe it is important for every young girl to know that you can always learn something new. The honor is also a reflection of all the great coaches I’ve had. I was lucky enough to have a great college coach who was a teacher and taught each of us to be learners and try something new; even if it wasn’t comfortable. Especially if it wasn’t comfortable, actually. I’m in my fifth season professionally and I still feel like I have so much to learn and get better at. I am just working towards my goals and trying to get a little better each day.”
Lloyd Recovery from Injury
Following the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup, Lloyd opted out of her professional league contract and returned to the United States to have surgery on her injured shoulder. She was recently able to get back on the practice court and train at full speed.
“My shoulder feels great,” Lloyd said. “As of two weeks ago I was cleared to full practice on the court, including blocking and diving to the floor on defense, which is the move my shoulder was dislocated in. The rehab and strength work I have been doing has been moving along nicely. I am so thankful to our staff Kara Kessans (athletic trainer) and Jimmy Stitz (sport physiologist) for investing the time that they have into my recovery. Their work has been incredible.”
Lloyd’s time away from the court has allowed her to reflect and channel toward new goals.
“I am really invested in finding the best version of myself, both on and off of the court,” Lloyd said. “These last few months out of competition have forced me to turn inwards and find new goals for when I am with a team again. I have gone through each skill with Karch on video and we have narrowed my focus down to a few key points that we believe will help me continue my growth as a player. I am exercising my patience muscle and hoping that sooner than later I will be out there competing again.”