COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (March 28, 2016) – The majority of the U.S. Women’s National Team members playing overseas are in the playoff seasons now for the leagues, which signals the international season is just around the corner. Find out the latest news in this week’s update, along with a feature on Natalie Hagglund and Courtney Thompson.
DID YOU KNOW: Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, California) joined the U.S. Women’s National Team in January 2014 and has competed in seven tournaments during that span. In each of the seven tournaments, Hagglund has helped Team USA to a medal including golds at the 2015 Pan American Games, 2015 Pan American Cup, 2015 NORCECA Championship and 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament.
- Starting libero for U.S. Women at Pan American Games that resulted in gold
- Selected AVCA All-America First-Team for three consecutive seasons at University of Southern California from 2011-2013
- Named CoSIDA Capital One First-Team Academic All-American in 2013 and graduated from USC with a degree in communications in 2014. She became just the 14 student-athlete at USC to earn both first-team All-America honors in his or her sport and in academics
- Became USC’s all-time career leader in digs and finished third overall in Pac-12 history
- Accomplished surfer and beach volleyball player as well as indoor volleyball
- Participated on the USA Volleyball U-19 Beach Team and played in the 2009 FIVB Beach Youth (U-19) World Championships
- In 2009, partnered with Summer Ross to become the youngest team to ever qualify into the main draw of the AVP Manhattan Beach Open
- Helped the 2011 U.S. Women’s Junior National Team to a fourth-place finish at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s (U20) World Championship in Peru
- Helped LaCosta Canyon High School to being named National High School Champions in 2008 by PrepVolleyball.com
- Earned CBVA U-16 State Beach Champion and California State Championship D-1 Champion in 2008
- Won San Diego County High School Girls’ Long Board surfing Championship in 2007
- Began playing indoor club volleyball in 2002 with Encinitas Waves
- Other hobbies are writing and traveling
THOMPSON VIDEO INTERVIEW FROM BRAZIL: Courtney Thompson (Kent, Washington), who is playing for Rexona-Ades in the Brazilian Superliga, took part in an 18-minute video interview with a Brazilian media outlet with a wide range of topics. After a brief introduction in Portuguese, the interview changes over to English with questions to Thompson relating to what is it like playing in Brazil as an American and how she landed the job as the Rexona-Ades setter. Thompson also discusses how she thinks the Brazil professional leagues (men and women) and the impact of television has made Brazil into a volleyball power. Thompson talks about her greatest challenge to living away from home during the club season. She gives insight into how her game has improved in Brazil playing under the legendary coach Bernardinho. Thompson also talks about the U.S. Women’s National Team’s chances at the 2016 Olympics and her career plans after the Rio Games.
DIETZEN WITH TURKEY’S FENERBAHCE: Middle blocker Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania) is competing this winter for Fenerbahce in the Turkish League and CEV Champions League. In European CEV Champions League, Fenerbahce closed out its Playoff 6 quarterfinal round home-and-home series by rallying past Russia’s Dinamo Moscow 25-19, 24-26, 19-25, 25-18, 15-9 on March 22. Dietzen collected 11 points with eight kills on 13 errorless attacks and three blocks in the victory. Fenerbahce now will face Turkish rival VakifBank on April 9 in the semifinals, with the winner advancing to meet the opposite semifinal winner of Pomi Casalmaggiore and Dinamo Kazan for the title on April 10. In the Turkish League, Fenerbahce eased past fourth-place Galatasaray 25-17, 25-14, 25-12 on March 26. Dietzen did not play in the match. Fenerbahce (20-2, 61 points) finished the regular season in first place with a two-point advantage over VakifBank before heading into the playoffs.
LARSON, KREKLOW WITH TURKEY’S ECZACIBASI: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) and setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minnesota) are playing for Eczacibasi of the Turkish League this winter, along with the CEV Champions League. In the Turkish League, Eczacibasi rallied to defeat Sariyer 20-25, 25-20, 25-23, 27-25 on March 26 to close out the regular season. Larson scored seven kills on 22 attacks and added two blocks for nine points. Kreklow set the team to a 43 kill percent and chipped in one individual kill on two swings. Eczacibasi (18-4, 52 points) finished third in the regular season before heading into the playoffs.
HILL WITH TURKEY’S VAKIFBANK: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon), the MVP of the 2014 FIVB World Championship, is playing for VakifBank in the Turkish League and CEV Champions League this winter. In the European Champions League, VakifBank advanced to the semifinals after defeating Volero Zurich 25-22, 32-34, 25-21, 25-22 on March 24 to sweep the Playoff 6 quarterfinal round home-and-home series. Hill, a sub in the first four sets and a starter in the fourth set, turned in eight points with six kills on 11 swings and two aces. She also was credited with a 39 positive reception percent on 18 chances. VakifBank now advances to the semifinals to face Turkish rival Fenerbahce on April 9. The championship match is set for April 10 as the winner of Italian host Pomi Casalmaggiore and Russia’s Dinamo Kazan will advance to the title match against the Turkish winner. In the Turkish League, VakifBank (20-2, 59 points) dominated 10th-place Idman Ocagi 25-11, 25-17, 25-21 in the regular season finale to finish in second place. Hill did not suit up for the match. VakifBank enters the playoffs as the second seed.
JACKSON WITH TURKEY’S GALATASARAY: Middle blocker Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles, California) is competing for Galatasaray of the Turkish League this winter. In the Turkish League, Galatasaray was swept by league-leader Fenerbahce 25-27, 25-14, 25-12 on March 26. Jackson tallied three kills on nine attacks while starting just the first two sets. Galatasaray (15-7, 43 points) finished the regular season in fourth place before heading into the playoffs. In CEV Cup action, Galatasaray has advanced to the CEV Cup Finals as it faces Russia’s Dinamo Krasnodar in a home-and-home series with matches on March 29 and April 2.
THOMPSON WITH BRAZIL’S REXONA-ADES: Setter Courtney Thompson (Kent, Washington) has signed to compete for Rexona-Ades in the Brazilian Superliga. Rexona-Ades, the regular season champion and top seed in the playoffs, was upset in the opening match of the best-of-three semifinal round series as Volei Nestle came away with a hard-fought 25-22, 14-25, 26-24, 19-25, 15-10 victory on March 21. Thompson started the first three sets. However, Rexona-Ades rallied to win the second match 21-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-16 including coming back from a 21-16 deficit in the third set. Thompson started the first two sets and was a sub in the third set. The semifinal tiebreaking match will be played March 28 with the winner advancing to the championship match against the opposite semifinal round winner of Praia Clube and Camponesa/Minas.
FAWCETT WITH ITALY’S NOVARA: Opposite Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio), most valuable player of the 2015 NORCECA Championship and the 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament, transferred to Italy’s Igor Gorgonzola Novara after completing the short-season Chinese professional league. Novara swept third-place Nordmeccanica Piacenza 25-23, 25-23, 25-20 on March 26 in a key matchup in the second to last regular season match. Fawcett charted eight kills on 26 attacks and three blocks for 11 points in the victory. Novara (17-6, 47 points), in fourth place, closes out the regular season on April 2 against 10th-place Obiettivo Risarcimento Vicenza (7-16, 21 points).
GIBBEMEYER, LLOYD WITH ITALY’S POMI CASALMAGGIORE: Middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) and setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California), the MVP of the Pan American Games, are playing for Pomi Casalmaggiore of the Italian Serie A1 league this winter and the CEV Champions League. Casalmaggiore swept 12th-place Il Bisonte Firenze 25-18, 25-16, 25-23 on March 26 as it resume the Italian Serie A1 regular season. Lloyd set the team to a 33 kill percent and chipped in five points with two kills on three swings and three blocks. Gibbemeyer contributed four blocks, one ace and one kill for six points. Casalmaggiore (17-6, 52 points), now in second place with a one-point lead over Nordmeccanica Piacenza, will challenge 11th-place Club Italia (7-16, 20 points) on April 2 to close out the regular season. Casalmaggiore has also been selected to host the semifinals and finals of the CEV Champions League April 9-10, thus bypassing the Playoff 12 and Playoff 6 rounds.
GLASS, ROBINSON, EASY, ADAMS ALL WITH ITALY’S IMOCO CONEGLIANO: Setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan), the 2013 and 2014 USA Volleyball Female Athlete of the Year, outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill.), outside hitter Megan Easy (Boston, Mass.), a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, and Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) are all playing for Imoco Volley Conegliano of the Italian Serie A1 League this winter. Due to the Italian Cup playoffs followed by a bye week, Conegliano (20-3, 57 points) has been on two-week hiatus from the regular season before it goes for its 16th straight win on April 2 against 12th-place Il Bisonte Firenze (3-19, 10 points) to conclude the regular season. Conegliano has already clinched the regular season title with a five-point lead over second-place Pomi Casalmaggiore.
BARTSCH WITH GERMANY’S DRESDNER: Outside hitter
HILDEBRAND WITH POLAND’S IMPEL WROCLAW: Outside hitter Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah) is competing this winter for Impel Wroclaw in the Polish League and CEV Champions League before the squad dropped to the CEV Cup. In the Polish League playoff, third-seed Impel Wroclaw lost to second-seed PGE Atom Trefl Sopot 26-24, 16-25, 28-26, 25-21 on March 23 to open the best-of-three playoff series in Sopot. Hildebrand, a sub in the final two sets, scored four kills on 11 attacks and handled nine receptions with a 56 positive percent. The series moves to Wroclaw on April 9. If necessary, the tiebreaking match will be played on April 16.