COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Jan. 23, 2017) – USA Volleyball’s High Performance program has played a significant role in the successes of the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team as nearly every athlete has come up through the pipeline. The current U.S. Women’s Update shares how Shelton Collier has impacted several of the athletes who won bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games, along with other team news from around the world.

HP PIPELINE IMPACTING NATIONAL TEAM SUCCESS: USA Volleyball’s Indoor High Performance program has developed elite youth athletes into some of the top world-class athletes over the years, and those athletes have shined on the biggest stages. However, the High Performance pipeline has not only produced star athletes, but also develop the coaching ranks who mentor, teach and lead the athletes to greatness. During the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Wingate University Head Volleyball Coach Shelton Collier, like many other coaches and spectators across the country, was cheering on the U.S. Olympic Women’s Team. Collier, a long-time coach with the USA Volleyball High Performance program, did however take a special interest in four of the USA women during the Olympics and on the medal stand as they were presented bronze medals. Collier had the fortune of being the head coach for Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida, Twitter, Instagram), Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio, Twitter, Instagram), Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Twitter, Instagram) and Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania, Twitter, Instagram) when each of them competed in their first-ever international volleyball experiences as young teenagers in the High Performance program.

HAGGLUND GIVES ADVICE TO PLAYERS WHO MAY WANT TO PLAY OVERSEAS: U.S. Women’s National Team libero Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, California, Twitter, Instagram) recently posted a blog geared toward athletes who recently just finished their collegiate careers and possibly thinking of playing professionally overseas. While not trying to sway athletes one way or another, Hagglund gave athletes advice in eight areas to ponder before making a decision. Among her thoughts were to: 1) Don’t make your decision based on emotion; 2) Don’t let the mystery lead you astray; 3) Understand the reality; 4) Don’t think about regret; 5) Don’t let volleyball define you; 6) Know that you are qualified in other areas; 7) Take note of your current opportunities; and 8) Follow your heart.

GIBBEMEYER SHARES HER THOUGHTS ON PLAYING PRO WITH ALMA MATER: Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram) took a few minutes to discuss her life as a pro athlete in Italy with her alma mater, University of Minnesota. She shares what it is like playing for her club in a town with roughly 15,000 population and winning major events since it started to compete in the competitive Italian Serie A1 and European Champions League. She gives an outline of what her typical weekly schedule is like, where volleyball has taken around the world, what it is like going back home to St. Paul, Minnesota, and her advice to Minnesota players who are about to start their own pro careers.

LLOYD, GIBBEMEYER WITH ITALY’S CASALMAGGIORE: Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California, Instagram), a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist setter for Team USA, and middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota, Twitter, Instagram) have returned to Italy to compete for Pomi Casalmaggiore in the Italian Serie A1 league and the CEV Cup. In the Italian League, second-place Casalmaggiore won consecutive league matches last week to open the second half of the season. Casalmaggiore defeated Club Italia Crai 25-18, 25-22, 25-16 on Jan. 18. Lloyd set the team to a 48 kill percent while adding one individual kill. Gibbemeyer contributed five kills on eight attacks and a block for six points. Casalmaggiore swept Saugella Team Monza 25-23, 25-22, 25-16 on Jan. 22 Gibbemeyer chalked up six kills on 10 errorless attacks to go with a match-leading four blocks for 10 points. Lloyd set Casalmaggiore to a 45 kill percent and notched two individual kills on five swings, two blocks and an ace for five points. Casalmaggiore (12-1, 33 points), now in first place with the two wins, resumes Italian League action on Jan. 30 against seventh-place Suditrol Bolzano (5-8, 18 points). In CEV Cup action, Casalmaggiore will look to advance to the 8th Final Round with a return match against Maccabi XT Haifa on Jan. 26. Casalmaggiore won the opening match in straight sets on Jan. 12.

BARTSCH WITH ITALY’S BOLZANO: Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Illinois, Twitter), an alternate on the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, is competing for Sudtirol Bolzano in the Italian Serie A1 this winter. Bolzano upset then-fifth place Unet Yamamay Busto Arsizio 25-22, 25-21, 25-22 on Jan. 22 to move into seventh place in the league standings. Bartsch hammered out 13 kills on 49 swings to go with a team-best three blocks for 16 points. She added 18 receptions with a 78 positive reception percent. Bolzano (5-8, 18 points) returns to the court on Jan. 30 against league-leader Pomi Casalmaggiore (12-1, 33 points).

HILL WITH TURKEY’S VAKIFBANK: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon, Instagram) a bronze medalist on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, returns this winter to play for Turkey’s VakifBank and in the European Champions League. In a break from Turkish League action, VakifBank lost to Fenerbahce in the Turkish Cup title match 25-22, 25-15, 25-19 on Jan. 17. Hill, who was a sub in the first two sets before starting the final set, tallied four kills on nine attacks and a block for five points. She added 20 receptions with a 50 positive reception percent. VakifBank returned to the Turkish League regular season on a high note by defeating Galatasaray 29-27, 25-21, 25-14 on Jan. 21. Hill was a sub in the first two sets, recording one kill. VakifBank (12-0) takes on ninth-place Seramiksan (4-8) on Jan. 28 in its next Turkish League contest. In the Turkish regular season, VakifBank is 11-0 through the first half. In the European Champions League, VakifBank (2-0, 5 points) resumes action on Jan. 25 against Germany’s Dresdner SC (0-2, 0 points).

LARSON, ADAMS WITH TURKEY’S ECZACIBASI: Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska, Twitter, Instagram) and middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio, Twitter, Instagram), both members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team that won bronze in Rio, are playing for Eczacibasi of the Turkish League and as part of the European Champions League this winter. Eczacibasi defeated Bursa Sehir BLD 26-24, 25-20, 28-26 on Jan. 20 in its return to the Turkish League regular season after bowing out in the Turkish Cup semifinals. Neither Larson or Adams played in the win against Bursa Sehir. Eczacibasi, which ranks second in the league standings with a 9-3 record), will take on 12th-place Idman Ocagi (2-9) in its next Turkish League match on Jan. 28. Eczacibasi returns to Champions League Pool D action on Jan. 24 against Russia’s Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg (1-1, 3 points), which is in third place in the four-team pool.

CRIMES WITH TURKEY’S SARIYER: Middle Alexis Crimes (Rancho Cucamonga, California, Instagram), an alternate to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, is competing for Sariyer in the Turkish League this winter. Sariyer returned to Turkish League regular season action on Jan. 22, but couldn’t stop the momentum of Fenerbahce – which won the Turkish Cup last week – in a 25-21, 25-10, 25-13 loss. Crimes scored two kills on six attacks in the loss. Sariyer, in 10th place in the Turkish League regular season standings with a 3-9 record, takes on sixth-place Canakkale (7-5) on Jan. 28 in its next Turkish League match.

ROBINSON, LOWE WITH CHINA’S BAIC MOTORS: Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois, Twitter, Instagram) and opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California, Instagram), both members of the 2016 bronze-winning U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, are in China this winter playing for BAIC Motors Beijing. BAIC Motors defeated Sichuan 25-22, 23-25, 25-18, 25-23 on Jan. 21 to conclude its double round robin playoffs of the top teams. Lowe, who missed some action earlier in the playoffs due to illness, led all players with 27 kills on 48 swings. Robinson added 14 points, including a team-leading three blocks. She added eight digs and seven excellent receptions on as many chances. BAIC Motors (5-9) finished seventh in the eight team Group I playoffs and missed on qualifying for the semifinals. However, BAIC Motors was only one match win away from being in the top four of the playoffs.

AKINRADEWO WITH SWITZERLAND’S VOLERO ZURICH: Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida, Twitter, Instagram), the Best Blocker in the 2016 Olympic Games after leading the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team to a bronze medal, is playing for Volero Zurich in the Swiss League and in the European Champions League. In the Swiss League, Volero (14-0) was idle last week and returns to the court on Jan. 28 against sixth-place Edelline Koniz. Volero is the only undefeated team in the Swiss League, but is in second place as Sm’Aesch Pfeffingen I has played two additional matches and holds a one-victory margin over Volero. In the CEV Champions League, Volero (1-1, 4 points) will look to bounce back against fourth-place CS Volei Alba Blaj (0-2,0 points) on Jan. 25.

HANCOCK WITH POLAND’S IMPEL WROCLAW: Setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma, Twitter, Instagram), who played for the U.S. Women during the 2016 Pan American Cup and set the tournament record for aces in a match and tournament, is playing for Poland’s Impel Wroclaw in the Orlen Liga. Wroclaw blanked Giacomi Budowlani Torun 25-11, 25-13, 25-14 on Jan. 22. Hancock served three aces to go with a kill as she set Wroclaw to a 50 kill percent and .417 hitting efficiency (42-7-84). American teammate Megan Courtney slammed nine kills on 15 swings with just one attack error to go with 11 reception chances. Wroclaw, in second place with a 13-4 record and 42 points, will challenge 10th-place Atom Trefl Sopot (6-9, 16 points) on Jan. 29 in its next league match.

U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM OPEN TRYOUT: The U.S. Women’s National Team will hold its annual open tryout March 3-5 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The three-day tryout is expected to draw 240 athletes with hopes of earning a spot in one of the U.S. Women’s National Team programs. Athletes who have come out of the tryout include Kim Hill, the 2014 FIVB World Championship most valuable player. This tryout is open to current college-age athletes and older born in the years 1989-1999* inclusive (Women’s Junior age group athletes born in 1988 or 1999 AND NOT currently enrolled in college must be invited to attend this tryout) AND high school athletes born in 1997 or earlier. Athletes born before 1988 must contact USA Volleyball at for approval.