Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson in Japan
Photo courtesy of Hisamitsu Springs volleyball club

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 4, 2022) – Middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson, a three-time Olympic medalist, continued her winning ways with her club team in Japan as Hisamitsu Springs won the Empress Cup on Dec. 19.

In the final Hisamitsu Springs beat the Toray Arrows, 3-2 (18-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-27, 15-11). Akinradewo scored 21 points on 17 kills (.630) and a match-high four blocks.

In the quarterfinal, Hisamitsu Springs beat U.S. opposite Annie Drews and JT Marvelous, 3-2 (31-29, 25-21, 13-25, 18-25, 15-12).

The NEC Red Rockets with Sarah Wilhite Parsons finished third. JT Marvelous finished tied for fifth.

JT Marvelous finished the first half of the regular season in first place at 13-1. The NEC Red Rockets finished third at 11-3. Hisamitsu Springs (9-5) placed fourth.

Hitachi Rivale (6-8) with middle Hannah Tapp finished eighth. The Toyota Auto Body Queenseis (0-14) with outside hitter Kelsey Robinson placed 12th.

The Japanese league will be back in action on Jan. 9 following the holiday break.


Olympic MVP Jordan Larson and the Shanghai Guangming Ube Volleyball Club advanced to the league semifinals where they lost a best-of-three playoff to Jiangsu Zhongtian Iron and Steel, 2-1.

In the third and deciding match on Jan. 1, Shanghai lost, 3-0 (25-21, 25-12, 25-16). Larson led Shanghai with 11 points on nine kills and two blocks. She was credited with 20 receptions, 75 percent positive.

Shanghai is now playing a best-of-three series for third place against Liaoning Huajun. On Jan. 3, Shanghai beat Liaoning Huajun, 3-1 (25-19, 21-25, 25-21, 25-18). Larson did not play.


University of Wisconsin middle Dana Rettke, who helped her team win the 2021 NCAA Championship in December, has signed with Vero Volley Monza in Italy. Monza finished the first half of the season in third place at 9-3. Rettke played with the U.S. Women in the 2019 Volleyball Nations League and in the Olympic qualifier.

Prosecco Doc Imoco Volley Conegliano with outside hitters Megan Courtney and Kathryn Plummer, Igor Gorgonzola Novara with middle Haleigh Washington and setter Micha Hancock, and Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio with setter Jordyn Poulter have advanced to the semifinals of the Italian Cup.

Setter Jordyn Poulter and Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio will try to join them in the final four on Monday (Jan. 3) when they will play Savino Del Bene Scandicci.

Conegliano advanced by beating Bosca S.Bernardo Cuneo in the quarterfinals, 3-1 (23-25, 25-14, 25-22, 25-14) on Dec. 30. Poulter scored 15 points on 12 kills (.550 hitting efficiency), two blocks and one ace. Courtney played as a substitute.

Novara advanced with a quarterfinal win over Il Bisonte Firenze, 3-1 (25-21, 25-6, 19-25, 25-18). Hancock scored four points on three aces and one kill. She set Novara to a .374 hitting efficiency. Washington did not play.

Busto Arsizio advanced on Jan. 3 with a 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 19-25,25-19) win over Savino Del Bene Scandicci. Poulter scored one point with an ace and set Scandicci to a .336 hitting efficiency.

Novara will play Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri and Conegliano will play Busto Arsizi in the semifinals on Jan. 5. The final is scheduled for Jan. 6.

The Italian league finished the first half of its regular season with matches on Dec. 19. The matches scheduled for Dec. 26 were postponed.

Conegliano (11-1) finished the first part of the season in first place. Novara (10-2) finished second. Busto Arsizio (8-4) is in fifth.


Turkey’s VakifBank with middle Chiaka Ogbogu and outside Michelle Bartsch-Hackley won the FIVB Club World Championship on Dec. 19. In the final, VakifBank beat Italy’s Imoco Volley Conegliano with Courtney and Plummer, 3-2 (25-15, 22-25, 25-22, 22-25, 15-7).

Ogbogu started the final four sets and scored 15 points on 11 kills and a match-high four blocks. Bartsch-Hackley scored eight points on six kills and two blocks. Plummer started the first three sets and subbed in the final two and scored 10 points on nine kills and two blocks. Courtney added four points.

Opposite Danielle Cuttino and her Brazilian club Itambé Minas finished fourth.


Halfway through pool play of the CEV Champions League, Turkey’s VakifBank and Italy’s Igor Gorganzola Novara and Imoco Conegliano are all undefeated at 3-0. Turkey’s THY Istanbul is 2-1.

On Dec. 21, THY Istanbul with outside hitter Madi Kingdon Rishel, setter Lauren Carlini and middle blocker Tori Dixon beat VC Dukla Luberec of Czech Republic, 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-22).

On Dec. 22, VakifBank beat France’s ASPTT Mulhouse VB, 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-17). Bartsch-Hackley scored 10 points on eight kills and two aces. She was credited with 23 receptions, 57 percent positive. Ogbogu added four points on three kills and one block.

On Dec. 23, Novara beat Russia’s Dinamo Moscow, 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-23). Hancock scored one point with a block and set her team to a .368 hitting efficiency.

On Dec. 23, Imoco Conegliano beat Poland’s Grupa Azoty Chemik Police, Plummer scored 13 points and Courtney added nine.

Poulter and Busto Arsizio did not advance at the CEV Cup after losing to Germany’s Allianz MTV Stuttgart in their second match of the round of 16. Although Busto Arsizio swept Stuttgart 3-0 (29-27, 25-19, 25-23) in their first match on Dec. 8, Stuttgart came back to win the second match 3-1 (25-19, 25-18, 21-25, 25-19) on Dec. 15. Stuttgart then won a golden set 16-14 to advance. Poulter scored five points on three kills and two blocks in the second match and set Busto Arsizio to a .256 hitting efficiency.


Libero Justine Wong-Orantes and Wiesbaden (5-6) broke a three-match losing streak with a 3-2 (26-24, 25-23, 19-25, 20-25, 15-12) win over Dresden on Jan. 4. Wong-Orantes was credited with 21 receptions, 52 percent positive in the match.


The Turkish league played its final matches of 2021 on Dec. 11. VakifBank (11-2), with Ogbogu and Bartsch-Hackley, sits in third place and THY Istanbul (10-3), with Kingdon Rishel, Carlini and Dixon, is in fourth. Ogbogu leads the league in kill percentage at 64 percent (73-114).


Middle Rachael Adams and Osasco São Cristóvão Saúde (9-1) finished 2021 with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-23) over Unilife-Maringa. Adams received the VivaVolley trophy. The team is in second place in the league but will have to postpone the start of its season in 2022 due to some positive COVID cases.

Opposite Danielle Cuttino and Itambé Minas (8-2) have not played a league match since Dec. 6 because they played in the FIVB Club World Championship. They are scheduled to play again on Jan. 7. They are in third place in the league.