COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (May 16, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team kicked started its four consecutive Fridays of Red-Blue intrasquad scrimmages on May 13, and looks forward to this week’s edition at Murrieta Mesa High School (Murrieta, California) on May 20 at 7 p.m. PT. Additional details in this week’s update, along with features on Cassidy Lichtman, Christa Dietzen, Kim Hill and more.
DID YOU KNOW: Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, California), a versatile athlete coming up through the USA Volleyball High Performance pipeline and at Stanford University, joined the U.S. Women’s National Team in January 2011 as an outside hitter. In college, she transitioned to setter after being primarily a hitter and defensive specialist as a freshman. In 2016 with the U.S. National Team, she is training as a libero.
- At age nine, was told she would never be able to walk again because of unrelenting pain in her left leg. She battled through the chronic pain that she still has to manage through today.
- Has combined her passions of teaching young players the game of volleyball, connecting the National Team with club players and giving back to the community with a program she founded called “Play with a Purpose,” a series of volleyball clinics in which all money goes to benefit the Ronald McDonald House.
- Won gold at both the Pan American Cup and Pan American Games in 2015 after earning silver at the 2014 Pan American Cup.
- Named to every U.S. Women’s National Team roster in 2013, earning gold at the Pan American Cup and the NORCECA Championship, and silver at the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup.
- Earned gold at the 2012 Pan American Cup and bronze at the 2011 Pan American Games.
- Selected AVCA All-America First-Team in 2009 and 2010, capping a four-year career at Stanford
- Graduated from Stanford University in 2011 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science and followed with master of arts degree in history later in the year.
- Helped the 2007 U.S. Women’s Junior National Team to a fourth-place finish at the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship in Thailand.
- Elected to the San Diego Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005
- Mom Julie played volleyball at University of Washington.
- Started playing club volleyball at age 10 with San Diego Volleyball Club 12-1 in 2000.
- Looks up to Misty May-Treanor and Karch Kiraly as athletes who inspire her.
RED-BLUE INTRASQUAD SCRIMMAGES: The U.S. Women opened its four match Red-Blue series on May 13 at Tustin High School in Tustin, California. Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) was the leading scorer with 18 points over the course of the four sets played. Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) added 15 points, while middle blocker Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) and outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) contributed 11 points. Middle blockers Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Michigan) and Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) each charted nine points, while opposite Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) pocketed seven points. The second Red-Blue will take place May 20 at Murrieta Mesa High School (Murrieta, California) at 7 p.m. PT. On May 27, a doubleheader Red-Blue is scheduled for Santiago Canyon College (Orange, California) with the U.S. Women starting off at 6 p.m. PT with the U.S. Men scrimmaging immediately afterwards. The Red-Blue series concludes on June 3 at Segerstrom High School (Santa Ana, California) with match time at 7 p.m. Tickets ($5 per person with children three-and-under free) are available only on-site of each Red-Blue immediately prior to the match.
DIETZEN COMBINES TWO PASSIONS INTO ONE GIVING BACK PROJECT: Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania) played her pro club in Turkey this past season, but she was able to simultaneously connect her love volleyball with her passion for teaching into one project benefiting three classrooms back in the United States through the Classroom Champions program. Dietzen said “My number-one goal was to be able to give back to a classroom. Classroom Champions provides a rare opportunity to create a relationship with them beyond a one-time speaking engagement. I really wanted to be connected throughout a full school year and continue to build upon these lesson.”
HILL RETURNS TO HOMETOWN TO HEROES WELCOME: Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon), a week after winning the Turkish League playoff most valuable player honor, spent some time in her hometown of Portland before returning to training with the U.S. Women’s National Team in Anaheim. While in Portland, she took in a training session of her former club, NW Juniors, in what she thought would be a small affair. However, her former club coach, Jim Hartner, took measures further than that by organizing a last-minute reception for Hill with red, white and blue balloons, American flags and a framed photo of and jersey of Hill welcoming her back to the Portland gym. Hill told the Portland Tribune “I am seeing so man faces here that I didn’t think I would ever get to see again. It warms my heart and makes me so thankful to see these groups and the people who guided me when I was young.”
BANWARTH ON VOLLEYWOOD’S FACEBOOK LIVE: Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) participated in a Facebook Live session on volleyball blog site VolleyWood’s Facebook page on the morning of May 14.
PAN AM CUP TRAINING ROSTER: The U.S. Women’s National Team has invited 19 athletes, who are either in college or recently completed collegiate eligibility, to train and compete for a Pan American Cup roster spot, an event scheduled to take place June 30 to July 11 in Dominican Republic. Invited setters are Lauren Carlini, Lexi Dannemiller and Micha Hancock. Outside hitters competing for Pan Am Cup roster spots are Megan Courtney, Brittany Howard, Madi Kingdon, Taylor Simpson and Nicole Walch. Liberos challenging for a Pan Am Cup spot are Caitlin Nolan, Cassie Wait and Justine Wong-Orantes. Opposites competing for a Pan Am Cup spot are Haley Eckerman, Alex Holston and Nikki Taylor. Middles training in Anaheim for the Pan Am Cup are Inky Ajanaku, Rhamat Alhassan, Kelsie Payne, Taylor Sandbothe and Lianna Sybeldon. As this competition runs concurrently with the World Grand Prix, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly has named University of Pittsburgh Head Coach Dan Fisher to lead the Pan American Cup squad. He will be assisted by Heather Olmstead, Jon Newman-Gonchar and Tristan Johnson.
THREE-TIME OLYMPIC HEAD COACH RETIRING AT OREGON STATE: Taras ‘Terry’ Liskevych, who served as the head coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team for three Olympic Games (1988, 1992 and 1996), will be retiring as head women’s volleyball coach at Oregon State University prior to the start of the 2016 season. He guided the 1992 U.S. Olympic Women’s Team to the bronze medal in Barcelona where Team USA lost a heart-breaking five-set match to Cuba in the semifinal round. Liskevych was named the FIVB International Coach of the Year in 1995. He coached Oregon State for the past 11 seasons, highlighted by a 21-win season in 2014 when he was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year.