COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 19, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team has set its 26-player preliminary roster for the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League that officially opens the 2018 season.
Per FIVB regulations, the 26-player preliminary roster will be trimmed to 21 players by May 5, which every week’s 14-player roster must be selected from. Each country must declare its 14-player roster two days before the start of each week’s round-robin competition.
“Our 2018 eligibility roster contains a blend of experience and youth,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “From returning Olympic medalists to people barely out of college, we’re thrilled to see how this group comes together during a challenging five weeks of preliminary competition, and thrilled to be preparing for the first-ever Volleyball Nations League.”
Additional players will be training at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim throughout the summer in preparation for the Pan American Cup that takes place in July and the season-ending FIVB World Championship that starts Sept. 29 in Japan.
The FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) is in its first year replacing the long-standing FIVB World Grand Prix. The VNL has five consecutive weeks of preliminary round matches where 16 teams play in one of four round-robin pods each week around the world.
The U.S. Women, ranked second in the world by the FIVB, open the FIVB Volleyball Nations League against No. 22 Poland on May 15, followed by No. 12 Turkey on May 16 and No. 7 Italy on May 17. All three USA matches begin at 7 p.m. CT. The matches will be played at the Devaney Center on the University of Nebraska campus.
The U.S. roster includes seven Olympians who won bronze at the 2016 Rio Games, including Adams and Akinradewo at middle, Hill, Larson and Robinson at outside, Lloyd at setter and Murphy at opposite. Further, Larson, Robinson, Wong-Orantes and Rolfzen all concluded their collegiate careers at the University of Nebraska.
The U.S. will embark on an extensive road trip for the rest of the Volleyball Nations League preliminary round. The Americans travel to Toyota, Japan, to face host and No. 6 Japan, No. 8 Netherlands and No. 13 Belgium in matches held May 22-24. For the third week, Team USA challenges No. 9 Dominican Republic, No. 13 Germany and No. 16 Thailand May 29-31 in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Americans remain in Asia for week four, which will be one of the most anticipated pools on the schedule. The U.S. will face top-ranked China, No. 4 Brazil and No. 5 Russia June 5-7 in Jiangmen, China. Team USA concludes pool play June 12-14 in Sante Fe, Argentina, against the No. 3 Serbia, No. 10 Korea and No. 11 Argentina.
he Volleyball Nations League Final Round will be played June 27 to July 1 in Nanjing, China. The top five teams in the preliminary round will join China to form the six-team Final Round field.
Team USA finished the 2017 season with an 18-8 record in which many first- and second-year players saw success with expanded playing time. The U.S. did not play a single match with all seven of its returning Olympians on the roster as many took time off early in the season, while other veterans took additional time off during the season-ending tournament.
U.S. Women’s National Team Preliminary Roster for FIVB Volleyball Nations League
# – 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 – 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, Hermosa Beach, California)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Florida, Wilmington, Illinois)
13 – Sarah Wilhite (OH, 6-1, Minnesota, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Champaign, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Stanford, Plantation, Florida)
17 – Megan Courtney (OH/L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
18 – Aiyana Whitney (OPP, 6-5, Penn State, Norwood, New Jersey)
20 – Amanda Benson (L, 5-7, Oregon, Litchfield, Park, Arizona)
21 – Paige Tapp (MB, 6-1, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
22 – Molly McCage (MB, 6-3, Texas, Spring, Texas)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Manhattan Beach, California)
24 – Kadie Rolfzen (OH, 6-3, Nebraska, Papillion, Nebraska)
25 – Chiaka Ogbogu (OH, 6-2, Texas, Coppell, Texas)
27 – Caroline Knop (L, 5-8, Florida, Pasadena, California)
28 – Krystal Rivers (OPP, 5-11, Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama)
29 – Lexi Dannemiller (S, 5-11, Michigan, West Chester, Ohio)
Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Luka Slabe, Tama Miyashiro, Erin Virtue
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz