COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 13, 2020) – The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games 12-team women’s volleyball field has been determined with the final five spots earned over the last week, while two collegiate stars with U.S. Women’s National Team experience have signed their first professional contracts.
OLYMPIC GAMES TOURNAMENT FIELD UPDATE: The final five teams have earned their berths into the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games following the five continental Tokyo Qualification Tournaments this past week. Turkey claimed the European bid (CEV) after coming back from multiple Poland match points in the 33-31 fourth set to win the semifinals in a deciding fifth set before sweeping Germany in the finals. Dominican Republic swept the NORCECA round-robin qualifier despite needing to go five sets in the opener against Mexico. Korea went undefeated the Asia qualifier including a sweep over host Thailand in the finals. Argentina went 3-0 in the South American qualifier while losing just one set along the way to earn its bid to Tokyo. Kenya went undefeated in four matches in the African qualifier to return to the Olympic Games. The FIVB will announce the Olympic Games Pools A and B shortly pending countries confirming their quota spot earned through qualification tournaments. The pools are determined based on the serpentine world rankings with Japan as the top seed.
JORDAN THOMPSON SIGNS IN FENERBAHCE IN TURKEY: Jordan Thompson (Edina, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) ended her collegiate career in December and quickly signed a professional volleyball contract with Fenerbahce in Turkey where she will be a teammate of Kelsey Robinson. She will have the opportunity to suit for her first Turkish League match on Jan. 17 against Turk Hava Yollari as Fenerbahce is in third place in the Turkish League. Further, Fenerbahce is competing in the European Champions League where they will take a 2-1 record into the fourth leg on Jan. 22 against LP Salo. Thompson helped the U.S. win gold in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League while sparking Team USA to Olympic qualification at the Tokyo Qualification Tournament before heading back for her senior season at University of Cincinnati. During her four-year career with the Bearcats Thompson had 2,634 kills with a .319 hitting efficiency as an outside hitter. She averaged 2.08 digs, 0.50 blocks and 0.25 aces per set.
PLUMMER SIGNS WITH MONZA IN ITALY: Outside htter Kathryn Plummer (Aliso Viejo, California, Instagram, Twitter) has signed her first professional contract to play for Saugella Monza in the Italian Serie A1. She ended her four-year collegiate career at Stanford University last month with her third NCAA volleyball title. Plummer was named AVCA Division I National Player of the Year twice in her career and would have been leading contender in 2019 if not for being injured mid-season. She concluded her career with 1,953 kills and a .295 hitting efficiency. She averaged 0.26 aces and 0.72 blocks per set to go with 19.6 digs per set on defense primarily as an outside hitter. Last summer Plummer helped the U.S. Women’s National Team win gold at the Pan American Cup and later competed in the Pan American Games. Plummer will have the opportunity to play in her first Italian Serie A1 match on Jan. 15 against league-leader Imoco Volley Conegliano. Monza is currently in sixth place with an 8-5 record. In addition, Monza is competing in the CEV Cup and begins its home-and-home 8th Finals Round series with Russia’s Dinamo Moscow on Jan. 23.
DECADE OF SUCCESS: As the decade has shifted into the 2020s, the U.S. Women’s National Team had 10 years of success. The team was the only country to win two Olympic medals in women’s indoor volleyball, won the 2014 FIVB World Championship, reached podium in 36 of 43 tournaments including 19 golds and compiled a 319-72 record for an 81.6 winning percent.
BARTSCH-HACKLEY, DIXON WITH BEIJING AUTO IN CHINESE LEAGUE: Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois, Instagram, Twitter) and middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) are playing for Beijing Auto in the Chinese Super League this winter. Beijing Auto finished the Chinese League playoffs in third place with two victories over Guangdong Evergrande. Beijing Auto won the opening match 25-21, 25-15, 25-20 on Jan. 7 in Beijing. Bartsch-Hackley scored 18 kills on 42 swings, three blocks and an ace for 22 points. Dixon added four kills on 10 attacks and a block for five points. Beijing Auto closed out the series with a 22-25, 25-22, 16-25, 25-12, 19-17 victory on Jan. 11 in Guangdong. Bartsch-Hackley, who only started the first three sets and was a sub in the fifth set, totaled 25 kills on 50 attacks and a block for 26 points. Dixon chipped in eight kills on 19 swings and six blocks for 14 points.
LARSON WITH SHANGHAI IN CHINESE LEAGUE: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Shanghai in the Chinese Super League this winter. Shanghai defeated Guangdong Evergrande 25-15, 20-25, 29-27, 25-21 on Dec. 31 in the tiebreaking best-of-three match to advance to the Chinese League final series. Larson pounded down 19 kills on 40 swings and three blocks for a team-high 22 points. She added 17 receptions with a 76 positive reception percent. In its opening two matches of the best-of-five series with Tianjin, Shanghai was playing without one of its top offensive players in Louisa Lippmann who was competing for Germany in the European Olympic qualification tournament. Larson as unable to make up for the loss in both matches. Shanghai lost the first match 25-11, 25-17, 25-14 on Jan. 7. Larson scored 10 kills on 24 attacks and was 67 percent positive on 24 attempts. American Destinee Hooker scored 17 kills on 23 errorless attacks and two blocks in the Tianjin victory. Shanghai lost the second match 25-23, 25-19, 25-17 on Jan. 11. Larson tallied 13 kills on 20 attacks with a 65 percent positive reception on 20 chances. Hooker was held to four kills on 12 swings in the second match. The series resumes on Jan. 14, and if necessary, matches four and five will be on Jan. 18 and Jan. 21.
HANNAH TAPP WITH HITACHI IN JAPAN V-LEAGUE: Middle Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) is playing with Hitachi Rivale in the Japan V-League this winter. Hitachi defeated Kurobe 25-8, 23-25, 25-15, 25-16 on Jan. 11 to start the Challenge 4 playoffs. Tapp racked up 13 kills on 23 swings without an attack error and seven blocks for 20 points. Hitachi followed that victory with a 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 25-18 victory over Victorina Himeji on Jan. 12. Tapp again was stellar on the front row with 20 kills on 33 attacks and an eye-opening 11 blocks for 31 points. Hitachi swept PFU Blue Cats 25-14, 25-22, 25-18 on Jan. 13 to end the season. Tapp tallied 15 kills on 22 errorless swings and a block for 16 points. For the weekend, Tapp had 48 kills on 78 swings (.576 hitting efficiency on 48-3-78) and just three attack errors and 19 blocks (1.73 blocks per set). Tapp finished the regular season as the V-League’s top blocker with 1.08 blocks for set and 63 total blocks.
LEE WITH KUROBE IN JAPAN V-LEAGUE: Outside hitter Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Kurobe Aqua Fairies in the Japan V-League this winter. Kurobe lost to Hitachi Rivale 25-8, 23-25, 25-15, 25-16 on Jan. 11 to start the Challenge 4 playoffs. Lee turned in 13 kills on 51 swings in the loss. Kurobe bounced back to defeat PFU Blue Cats 25-22, 25-27, 25-16, 18-25, 16-14 on Jan. 12. Lee amassed 36 kills on 79 attacks, including 12 back-row attack points, and three blocks for 39 points. Kurobe concluded its season with a 25-18, 19-25, 29-27, 25-18 victory over Victorina Himeji on Jan. 13. Lee contributed 24 kills on 48 swings and two blocks for 26 points.
DREWS WITH JT MARVELOUS IN JAPAN V-LEAGUE: Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana, Instagram, Twitter) is playing in the Japan V-League this winter with JT Marvelous. JT Marvelous defeated Hisamitsu Springs 14-25, 25-12, 25-14, 25-19 on Jan. 12 to start the Final 8 playoffs. Drews collected 18 kills on 37 swings, two blocks and two aces for 22 points. JT Marvelous returns to action on Jan. 18 against Toyota followed by a Jan. 19 contest against Okayama Seagulls. Drews finished the regular season with the second-best kill percent at 49.1 percent. She was third overall in scoring with 447 points (382 kills, 41 blocks, 24 aces). She ranked as the top server with a 17.2 percent efficiency.
BENSON WITH NUC IN SWISS LEAGUE: Libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona) is playing for Viteos Neuchatel UC in the Swiss League and CEV Cup this winter along with American teammates Tia Scambray (Dana Point, California) and Kyra Holt (Hercules, California). Neuchatel NUC lost a heart-breaking 25-19, 27-25, 19-25, 21-25, 15-13 match to TS Volley Dudingen on Jan. 5. Benson was 71 percent positive on 17 receptions in helping Neuchatel to a 38 team kill percent for the match. Scambray scored a match-high 28 points and Holt added 19 points. Neuchatel swept Zesar-VFM 25-18, 25-11, 25-23 on Jan. 10. Benson was 80 percent positive on 10 receptions and helped Neuchatel to a 47 kill percent as a team with her defense. Scambray knocked down 12 kills, two aces and a block for 15 points. Neuchatel UC (11-3, 34 points), now in a first-place, challenges seventh-place Volley Lugano (7-7, 19 points) on Jan. 19 in its next Swiss League match.
OGBOGU, HILL WITH CONEGLIANO IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas, Instagram, Twitter) and outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon, Instagram) are playing in the Italian Serie A1 and European Champions League for Imoco Volleyball Conegliano this winter. In the Italian Serie A1, Conegliano (12-1, 36 points), which sits atop the standings, returns to action on Jan. 15 against sixth-place Saugella Monza (8-5, 24 points). Late the month Conegliano matches up with Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri in the Italian Cup quarterfinals on Jan. 29. In European Champions League, Conegliano (3-0, 8 points), which leads Pool D, meets C.S.M. Volei Alba Blaj on Jan. 22 in the fourth leg.
COURTNEY, HANCKOCK WITH NOVARA IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Libero/outside hitter Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio, Instagram) and setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma, Instagram, Twitter) are playing for Igor Gorgonzola Novara in the Italian Serie A1 and European Champions League this winter. In the Italian Serie A1, Novara (9-4, 26 points), now in third place, plays 10th-place Bosca San Bernardo Cuneo (5-8, 15 points) on Jan. 15 to start the second half of the regular season. Novara will face Saugella Monza in the Italian Cup quarterfinals on Jan. 29. In European Champions League, Novara (2-1, 5 points), in second place, returns to action on Jan. 22 against Pool C leader Allianz MTV Stuttgart (2-1, 7 points).
WASHINGTON, LOWE WITH BUSTO ARSIZIO IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Middle Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado, Instagram, Twitter) and opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California, Instagram) are playing for Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio in the Italian Serie A1 and CEV Cup this winter. In the Italian Serie A1, Busto Arzisio (10-3, 30 points), now in second place, faces seventh-place Il Bisonte Firenze (6-7, 18 points) on Jan. 15 to start the second half of the regular season. Busto Arsizio meets Il Bisonte Firenze on Jan. 29 in the Italian Cup quarterfinals. In the CEV Cup, Busto Arsizio will face Developres SkyRes Rzeszow in the CEV Cup 8th Finals Round home-and-home series on Jan. 23 and Feb. 5.
POULTER WITH CHIERI IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Setter Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colorado, Instagram, Twitter) is competing for Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri in the Italian Serie A1 for the 2019-20 pro season along with American Amber Rolfzen (Papillion, Nebraska). Chieri (5-8, 17 points), in eighth place, takes on last-place Bartoccini Fortinfissi Perugia on Jan. 15 to open the second half of the season. Later this month Chieri challenges Imoco Volley Conegliano on Jan. 29 in the Italian Cup quarterfinals.
FOECKE WITH FIRENZE IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Outside hitter Mikaela Foecke (West Point, Iowa, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Il Bisonte Firenze in the Italian Serie A1 for the 2019-2020 season. Firenze (6-7, 18 points), which is in fifth place, meets second-place Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio (10-3, 30 points) on Jan. 15 to start the second half of the season. Firenze challenges Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio on Jan. 29 in the Italian Cup quarterfinals.
CUTTINO WITH CASALMAGGIORE IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Opposite Danielle Cuttino (Indianapolis, Indiana, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Epiu Pomi Casalmaggiore in the Italian Serie A1 during the 2019-2020 pro season. Casalmaggiore (8-5, 25 points), which is in fifth place, returns to action on Jan. 15 when it faces fourth-place Savino Del Benne Scandicci (9-4, 25 points) to start the second half. Casalmaggiore travels to Savino Del Bene Scandicci on Jan. 29 for an Italian Cup quarterfinal match.
JONES-PERRY WITH BRESCIA IN ITALIAN LEAGUE: Outside hitter Roni Jones-Perry (West Jordan, Utah, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Banca Valsabbina Millenium Brescia in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. Brescia (5-8, 13 points), now in 12th place, returns to action on Jan. 15 against 13th-place Golden Tulip Volalto 2.0 Caserta (2-11, 8 points) to open the second half.
CARLINI WITH DINAMO MOSCOW IN RUSSIA LEAGUE: Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Dinamo Moscow in the Russia Super League and the European Champions League. In the European Champions League, Dinamo Moscow (2-1, 6 points), now in second place in Pool E, will play fourth-place Maritza Plovdiv (0-3, 1 point) on Jan. 23 in its next Champions League match. In the Russia Super League, Dinamo Moscow (6-4, 20 points), in fifth place, resumes action on Jan. 18 against third-place Dinamo Kazan (8-2, 24 points).
ROBINSON, THOMPSON WITH FENERBAHCE IN TURKISH LEAGUE: Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Website) and Jordan Thompson (Edina, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) are playing for Fenerbahce in the Turkish League and European Champions League this winter. In the Turkish league, Fenerbahce (9-2, 26 points) closed out the first half of the season in third place and starts the second half on Jan. 17 against sixth-place Turk Hava Yollari (5-6, 18 points). Fenerbahce (2-1, 7 points) resumes Champions League action on Jan. 22 against Poland’s Budowlani Lodz (1-2, 3 points).
KINGDON-RISHEL WITH THY IN TURKISH LEAGUE: Outside hitter Madi Kingdon Rishel (Phoenix, Arizona, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Turk Hava Yollari (THY) in the Turkish League this winter. In the Turkish League, THY (5-6, 18 points) finished the first half of the season in sixth place and starts the second half on Jan. 17 against third-place Fenerbahce (9-2, 26 points). THY has advanced to the CEV Challenge Cup 8th Finals Round and will play C.S.M Lugoj in a home-and-home series with matches on Jan. 22 and Feb. 4. Further, THY has now advanced to the quarterfinals of the Turkish Cup.
RIVERS, ROSENTHAL WITH STUTTGART IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Opposite Krystal Rivers (Birmingham, Alabama, Instagram, Twitter) and middle Jenna Rosenthal (Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, Instagram, Twitter) are playing for Allianz MTV Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga and the European Champions League. In the German Bundesliga, second-place Stuttgart (8-2, 25 points) returns to action on Jan. 15 against eighth-place Munster (3-7, 10 points). In European Champions League, Stuttgart (2-1, 7 points) returns to action on Jan. 23 against Italy’s Igor Gorgonzola Novara (2-1, 5 points), which is in second place in Pool C.
WONG-ORANTES WITH SCHWERIN IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for SSC Palmberg Schwerin in the German Bundesliga this winter. American Lauren Barfield is also a member of the team. In the German Bundesliga, league-leader Schwerin (9-1, 27 points) returns to action on Jan. 15 against fourth-place Aachen (7-3, 19 points). Schwerin has advanced to the CEV Cup 8th Finals Round where it will play Hameenlinna in a home-and-home series on Jan. 22 and Feb. 6.
KADIE ROLFZEN WITH DRESDNER IN GERMAN BUNDESLIGA: Outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen (Papillion, Nebraska, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Dresdner in the German Bundesliga and the CEV Challenge Cup. In the German Bundesliga, Dresdner (6-4, 18 points), in fifth place, returns to German Bundesliga action on Jan. 15 against third-place SC Potsdam (8-2, 24 points). In the CEV Challenge Cup 16th Finals Round, Dresdner now advances to the 8th Finals Round to face Stiinta Bacau in a home-and-home series on Jan. 22 and Feb. 5.
SELIGER-SWENSON WITH BEZIERS IN FRENCH LEAGUE: Setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson (Minnetonka, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) is playing for Beziers in the French League and the CEV Challenge Cup along with American teammate Alexa Smith (Colorado Springs, Colorado). Beziers has now advanced to the CEV Challenge Cup 8th Finals Round where it meets Poikky Kuusamo in a home-and-home series on Jan. 22 and Feb. 5. In the French League, Beziers (10-4, 30 points), which is in fourth place, is off until a Jan. 14 match with Vandoeuvre Nancy.
WILHITE PARSONS WITH SESI BAURU IN BRAZILIAN SUPERLIGA: Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Instagram, Twitter) is competing for Sesi Bauru in the Brazilian Superliga this winter. Sesi Bauru (5-6, 23 points), currently in fourth place, returns to action on Jan. 17 against Esporte Clube Pinheiros.