COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (July 5, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s National Team begins its month-long FIVB World Grand Prix schedule on July 7 with a roster blended with veterans and an influx of youth who came through with gold in their first international tournament last month.

Team USA has a demanding FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary round schedule that takes them to China the first two weeks followed by Brazil for the third weekend. In their opening weekend, the Americans face powerhouses No. 5 Russia on July 7, No. 8 Italy on July 8 and No. 1 China on July 9 in Kunshan, China. The World Grand Prix is the premier annual international women’s volleyball tournament that commenced play in 1993.

For the first weekend of action, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly and his staff have chosen a 14 player roster that includes two setters, two liberos, two opposites, four middles and four outside hitters. The setters include captain and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) and Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma), who was named the 2017 Pan American Cup most valuable player, best setter and best server after leading the team to gold. She was playing in just her second international event for the U.S. Women’s National Team.

At opposite, Kiraly has selected 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) and Liz McMahon (Liberty Township, Ohio). Murphy started all eight matches of the Olympic Games, while McMahon turned in the highest scoring performance for the USA at the 2017 Pan Am Cup as she tallied 27 against Puerto Rico. Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona) and Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California) will share libero duties during the first three matches of the World Grand Prix.

Team USA outside hitters selected to compete in Kunshan are Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Maryville, Illinois), Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio), Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Arizona) and Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota). Bartsch-Hackley is the only outside in the quartet with FIVB tournament experience as she helped the U.S. claim silver at the 2016 FIVB World Grand Prix. Both Kingdon and Courtney were part of last month’s Pan Am Cup gold-medal performance. Wilhite, the 2016 AVCA Division I National Player of the Year, will see her first international action in a USA uniform.

The four middles selected for the USA roster in Kunshan all hail from Minnesota and are alumni of the University of Minnesota. Veterans Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) and Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) add FIVB experience into the lineup, while both Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota) and Paige Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota) are making their first FIVB appearances. Dixon is making her first tournament appearance since suffering an ACL tear in January 2016 that derailed her dreams of making the 2016 Olympic Team. Gibbemeyer was an alternate to the 2016 Olympic roster. Paige was part of the Americans’ gold-medal performance at the 2017 Pan Am Cup, while Hannah is making her international debut.

The FIVB World Grand Prix Group one has 12 teams competing in three consecutive preliminary round weekends with pods of four teams competing in different locations. Each team can make changes to its roster each week,
so long as the players were on the preliminary roster submitted late this spring.

The U.S. preliminary schedule doesn’t get easier July 16-18 in Macau as it has rematches with China and Italy after a match-up against improving Turkey, ranked No. 12 in the world. To end the nine-match preliminary schedule, the Americans travel to Cuiaba, Brazil, to face No. 7 Netherlands, No. 16 Belgium and Brazil. To advance to the World Grand Prix Finals in Nanjing, China, Team USA must finish among the top five teams other than host China in the preliminary standings. The U.S. has won the World Grand Prix six teams, second most behind Brazil.

The U.S. has won the FIVB World Grand Prix six times, with four of the titles coming in the last seven years (2010, 2011, 2012, 2015). In the last two editions, the Americans have won gold in 2015 and reached the gold-medal match in 2016 before losing to 11-time champion Brazil. The U.S. and Brazil have held dominance over the World Grand Prix as either the Americans or Brazilians have won the tournament 17 of the 24 editions and every year since 2008.

Team USA is 8-0 to start the 2020 Olympic quadrennial’s first season. After defeating Canada in an exhibition on June 13, the U.S. won all seven matches during the Pan American Cup held June 17-25 in Peru. Only six players on the 14-player roster had ever suited up for the U.S. Women’s National Team, and only one player (Bartsch-Hackley) had played in more than just one tournament for the Red, White and Blue entering the tournament.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix Weekend #1
# – Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 – Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Penn State, Edmond, Oklahoma)
3 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, California, Bonsall, California)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
5 – Sarah Wilhite (OH, 6-1, Minnesota, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (M, 6-2, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
9 – Madi Kingdon (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Florida, Wilmington, Illinois)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Maryville, Illinois)
17 – Megan Courtney (OH, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
19 – Hannah Tapp (M, 6-2, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
20 – Amanda Benson (L, 5-7, Oregon, Litchfield Park, Arizona)
21 – Paige Tapp (M, 6-1, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
23 – Liz McMahon (OPP, 6-6, Illinois, Liberty Township, Ohio)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Tama Miyashiro, Erin Virtue
Consultant Coach: Jon Newman-Gonchar
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz

2017 U.S. Women’s Schedule in FIVB World Grand Prix Preliminary Round

At Kunshan, China
July 7: USA vs. Russia, 3 a.m. ET
July 8: USA vs. Italy, 3 a.m. ET
July 9: USA vs. China, 7 a.m. ET

At Macau, China
July 14: USA vs. Turkey, 4 a.m. ET
July 15: USA vs. Italy, 2:30 a.m. ET
July 16: USA vs. China, 3:30 a.m. ET

At Cuiaba, Brazil
July 21: USA vs. Netherlands, 5:05 p.m. ET
July 22: USA vs. Belgium, 5:05 p.m.ET
July 23: USA vs Brazil, 9:10 a.m. ET

FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round
At Nanjing, China
Aug. 2-6
China plus top five other finishers from FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary round