COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 3, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s National Team has selected its 14-player competition roster for the upcoming FIVB World Grand Champions Cup (WGCC) being held Sept. 5-10 in Tokyo and Nagoya, Japan.
The WGCC is a six-team, round robin event held in the first year of each Olympic quadrennial. Team USA, ranked No. 2 in the world, opens the event with matches against top-ranked China on Sept. 5 (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 4) and No. 10 Korea on Sept. 6 (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 5) in Tokyo. Following an off-day to travel to Nagoya, the Americans face No. 5 Russia on Sept. 8 (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 7), followed by host and No. 6 Japan on Sept. 9 (3:15 a.m. PT) and No. 4 Brazil on Sept. 10 (10:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 9).
Television: Every match of the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup will be televised lived in the United States on The Olympic Channel, along with multiple replays of the matches.
U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly has selected a roster that includes five Olympians who won bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Middles Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida), outside hitters Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) and Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska), and setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) were part of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team that won bronze in Rio.
Lloyd and Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) will serve as setters for Team USA at the WGCC. Joining Hill and Larson as outside hitters on the roster are Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Maryville, Illinois) and Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Arizona). American middles for the WGCC are Adams, Akinradewo, Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) and Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota). Team USA opposites selected for the WGCC are Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) and Aiyana Whitney (Norwood, New Jersey). Liberos are Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) and Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California).
Kiraly said the recently completed USA Volleyball Cup that included two exhibition matches against Brazil in Anaheim, provided the team some valuable lessons heading into the WGCC.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to get tested by five really good teams in six days at the 2017 Grand Champions Cup,” Kiraly said. “Our two exhibition matches against Brazil confirmed that we still have more work to be done, integrating the veterans who did not get the chance to compete in Grand Prix. We look forward to the chance to improve the consistency of our execution and our systems.”
The vast majority of the WGCC roster carries over from the core unit that competed in the FIVB World Grand Prix this summer. With just two Olympians – Lloyd and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) on the team and mostly first- and second-year players, Team USA qualified for the World Grand Prix Finals Round with a 6-3 record. The Americans finished fifth overall after losses to Serbia and Italy in the Finals Round pool play.
As a final tune-up for the WGCC, the U.S. hosted Brazil in the two-match USA Volleyball Cup exhibition series on Aug. 27 and Aug. 29. The Americans swept Brazil in the opening match (a bonus fourth set was played with Brazil winning) of the series with Adams, Akinradewo, Hill and Larson making their 2017 season debuts. However, Drews stole some of the Olympians thunder by scoring a team-leading 21 points through the course of the four sets (18 in the official three sets of the match). Larson and Adams added 15 and 11 points, respectively.
In the second match, Brazil won 3-1 as Drews came off the bench in third set to score a team-leading 15 points. Akinradewo added 13 points, followed by Larson with 12 points.
During the USA Volleyball Cup, Kiraly continued to experiment with his roster by having Courtney – who led the U.S. in passing statistics during the World Grand Prix as an outside hitter – shift into the libero jersey and started both matches. She started both matches for the U.S. at libero.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB World Grand Champions Cup
# – Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
3 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, California, Bonsall, California)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
5 – Rachael Adams (M, 6-2, Texas, Cincinnati, Ohio)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (M, 6-2, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
9 – Madi Kingdon (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Maryville, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Stanford, Plantation, Florida)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
29 – Aiyana Whitney (OPP, 6-5, Penn State, Norwood, New Jersey)
Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Tama Miyashiro, Marv Dunphy
Consultant Coaches: Sander Cohen, John Crawley
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Hicks
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Doctor: Dr. Andrew Gregory
Dietitian: Shawn Hueglin
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz
2017 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup Schedule
Sept. 5: Russia vs. Brazil (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 4) – at Tokyo
Sept. 5: USA vs. China (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 4) – at Tokyo
Sept. 5: Japan vs. Korea (3:15 a.m. PT) – at Tokyo
Sept. 6: Brazil vs. China (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 5) – at Tokyo
Sept. 6: USA vs. Korea (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 5) – at Tokyo
Sept. 6: Japan vs. Russia (3:15 a.m. PT) – at Tokyo
Sept. 8: USA vs. Russia (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 7) – at Nagoya
Sept. 8: China vs. Korea (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 7) – at Nagoya
Sept. 8: Japan vs. Brazil (3:15 a.m. PT) – at Nagoya
Sept. 9: Russia vs. China (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 8) – at Nagoya
Sept. 9: Brazil vs. Korea (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 8) – at Nagoya
Sept. 9: USA vs. Japan (3:15 a.m. PT) – at Nagoya
Sept. 10: Korea vs. Russia (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 9) – at Nagoya
Sept. 10: USA vs. Brazil (10:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 9) – at Nagoya
Sept. 10: China vs. Japan (3:15 a.m.) – at Nagoya