This is the release from USA Volleyball’s Bill Kaufman, as comprehensive a report on the team as you could ask for. The U.S. Olympic team includes just one libero, Kayla Banworth, and three setters, Alisha Glass, Courtney Thompson and Carli Lloyd.
USA Volleyball is proud to announce its 12-player U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team roster that will try to make history in the 2016 Olympic Games from Aug. 6-20. U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly and his staff have selected a roster with four Olympic veterans and eight players who will be making their first appearances on the grandest sporting stage. Middles Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida) and Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania), outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) and setter Courtney Thompson (Kent, Washington) return from Team USA’s 2012 Olympic Games silver-medal finish in London. Newcomers to the Olympian family are outside hitters Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) and Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois), middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio), opposites Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois), setters Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan) and Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California), and libero Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa). All told, the roster will have three outside hitters, three middles, three setters, two opposites and one libero who average 27.0 years of age. Thompson, who turns 32 in November, is the oldest member of the squad and the only player in her 30s. Lowe, who turned 23 in February and is her second year with the program, is the youngest member of the team in terms of age and national team experience. “We aspire to be a team that adds up to far more than the sums of our parts,” Kiraly said. “We are extremely fortunate to have so many great people and great players who give us so much passion and effort to this program – and we will look to honor their contributions by competing our hardest in Rio. Ultimately, we have assembled a group that we believe is capable of embracing the challenges a tournament like the Olympics will surely present.” Eight players have been designated as alternates for the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team: middles Alexis Crimes (Rancho Cucamonga, California) and Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Michigan); outside hitters Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Illinois), Megan Easy (Boston, Massachusetts) and Krista Vansant (Redlands, California); opposite Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio); libero Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, California); and setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minnesota).
Going for another ‘First’ in Rio
The U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked No. 1 in the world by the FIVB, has produced several ‘firsts’ in the current Olympic quadrennial. Kiraly took over the program in late September 2012 for his first head coaching position. In 2014, he guided the U.S. Women to their first-ever FIVB World Championship gold medal in 62 years, which also marked the Americans’ first gold medal in any of the three triple crown events – World Championship, FIVB World Cup or Olympic Games. The remaining first yet to accomplish for the U.S. Women is claiming their first Olympic Games gold medal. The squad, which has earned three Olympic silver medals (1984, 2008 and 2012), is poised to make the top podium step with a core group of veterans mixed in with five newcomers who joined the squad since 2013 and contributed heavily to the success of the squad in recent tournaments.
U.S. Women on a Roll Heading into Olympic Games
The U.S. Women, who have won six of their last eight tournaments dating back to the 2014 FIVB World Championship, just returned from Thailand where it captured the silver medal in the FIVB World Grand Prix – the premier annual international women’s volleyball tournament. Team USA dropped a five-set thriller to 2016 Olympic Games host Brazil in the gold-medal match, breaking the Americans’ nine-match win streak that included two wins over second-ranked China and a win over fourth-ranked Russia. The U.S. has now reached the medal podium in eight straight tournaments. Last year the Americans won the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix in Omaha, Nebraska, along with the 2015 Pan American Games, 2015 Pan American Cup, the 2015 NORCECA Championship. Team USA extended their tournament success earlier this year by capturing the 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament. Team USA’s only non-gold tournament since the end of 2014 was a third-place finish at the 2015 FIVB World Cup. Prior to winning the 2014 World Championship, Team USA failed to qualify for the 2014 FIVB World Grand Prix Finals week just a few weeks earlier, and that has been a turning point for the Americans in the Olympic quadrennial. “We certainly want to respond to adversity with strength and resolve,” Kiraly said. “The 2014 FIVB World Grand Prix, where we failed to qualify for the Finals Week, was a big disappointment, one of our low points. But I think that disappointment and adversity spurred us on – gave us the imperative and incentive to be better and we mounted a nice response to that in terms of the 2014 World Championship. We also had a disappointing World Cup last year. We know we were capable of finishing higher than we did. And so we are trying to use that adversity and that disappointment to make us better this year.” Kiraly said that the finish at World Cup, which served as the first Olympic qualifier held in September 2015, actually turned into an advantage for Team USA in peaking for 2016. “We didn’t plan it this way, but we got more time together by not qualifying at the World Cup,” Kiraly said. “We got an extra week and a half of training, and the great privilege of playing to qualify for the Olympics in Lincoln, Nebraska, in front of a crowd of 10,000-plus against Dominican Republic on Jan. 9 and locking in our Olympic berth. We turned that extra time into an advantage – it got us off to a better and faster start when we resumed training in May.”
Team USA Schedule in Rio
As for the Olympic Games schedule, Team USA opens Pool B action on Aug. 6 versus NORCECA rival Puerto Rico at 4:05 p.m. local time, followed by the Netherlands on Aug. 8 at 2 p.m. The Americans challenge Serbia on Aug. 10 and Italy on Aug. 12 with both matches at 2 p.m. The U.S. concludes pool play against second-ranked China on Aug. 14 at 4:05 p.m. The top four teams in the two Olympic Games pools advance to the quarterfinals on Aug. 16. The top seed in each pool will face the fourth seed in crossover competition, while a drawing of lots will determine crossover quarterfinal opponents for the second- and third-place teams in both pools. The winners of the quarterfinal matches advance to the semifinal medal round on Aug. 18. The tournament concludes on Aug. 20 with the gold- and bronze-medal matches. The U.S. Women, who have won silver in the past two Olympic Games and the bronze at the 1992 Olympic Games, have earned Olympic qualification in 10 of 12 Olympics since the sport’s introduction to the schedule in 1964. All athlete and staff nominations to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee. Fun Notes on the Roster: •Karch Kiraly is attempting to become the first person to win Olympic gold as a volleyball player and volleyball coach. He and China’s women’s head coach Lang Ping are both striving for this honor in 2016. •All but Karsta Lowe and Carli Lloyd were part of the 2014 FIVB World Championship team that won gold, the program’s first-ever in the 62-year history of the event. •The 12-player roster has representation from 10 different states (California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington). Only California and Illinois have multiple players on the roster. •The roster has three players from the University of Nebraska (Kayla Banwarth, Jordan Larson and Kelsey Robinson) and two players from Penn State University (Christa Dietzen and Alisha Glass). Other colleges represented on the roster are University of Washington (Courtney Thompson), University of Texas (Rachael Adams), University of California-Berkeley (Carli Lloyd), University of Florida (Kelly Murphy), Pepperdine University (Kim Hill), Stanford University (Foluke Akinradewo) and UCLA (Karsta Lowe). •Five of the 12 players have first names starting with “K”, along with head coach Karch Kiraly. •No you are not seeing double or thinking Carli Lloyd has switched sports. The Carli Lloyd that made the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team is not the same one from soccer fame who earned FIFA World Player of the Year in 2015. •Alisha Glass, Kayla Banwarth and Carli Lloyd were all part of the U.S. Women’s National Team in the last quad, but were not selected to the 2012 Olympics. 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team # – Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College) 1 – Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, Leland, Michigan, Penn State University) 2 – Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska) 3 – Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, Kent, Washington, University of Washington) 5 – Rachael Adams (M, 6-2, Cincinnati, Ohio, University of Texas) 6 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, Bonsall, California, University of California-Berkeley) 10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Nebraska, University of Nebraska) 12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Wilmington, Illinois, University of Florida) 13 – Christa Dietzen (M, 6-2, Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania, Penn State University) 15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Portland, Oregon, Pepperdine University) 16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Plantation, Florida, Stanford University) 23 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Bartlett, Illinois, University of Nebraska) 25 – Karsta Lowe (OPP, 6-4, Rancho Santa Fe, California, UCLA) Head Coach: Karch Kiraly Assistant Coaches: Jamie Morrison, Tom Black, David Hunt Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey Scout Coaches: Marv Dunphy, JJ Van Niel Therapist/Trainer: Jill Wosmek Elite Performance Psychologist: Dr. Michael Gervais Doctor: Dr. Andrew Gregory Strength Coach: James Stitz Team Manager: Denise Sheldon Team Journalist: Bill Kauffman
Athlete Quick Sets
Rachael Adams (Middle, Cincinnati, Ohio): Rachael Adams, a first-time Olympian, was a member of the 2014 FIVB World Championship gold-medal team as she started four of 13 matches. In the most recent 2016 FIVB World Grand Prix, Adams was selected as the Best Blocker of the tournament. She was awarded Second Best Blocker at the 2015 Pan American Games in which Team USA won the gold. Adams earned Best Server at the 2014 Montreux Volley Masters. Last International Club Team: Imoco Conegliano in Italian Serie A1 – helped team win the league title in 2015-16. Notes: Two-time AVCA All-America First-Team selection (2010 and 2011) while playing for University of Texas … Father was drafted in the fourth round of the 1978 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs … Karch Kiraly Quote on Foluke Akinradewo: “It might be easy for some to take Foluke’s game for granted, since she’s been doing it so well, for so long. We don’t make that mistake. Especially since she’s still putting in the extra work to improve every part of her game.” Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa): Olympic newcomer Kayla Banwarth, who joined Team USA in January 2011, became the primary Team USA starting libero in 2013 when she was honored with USA Volleyball’s Female Indoor Most Improved Player Award. She was named the Best Receiver at the 2015 NORCECA Continental Championship as Team USA won gold. Banwarth earned back-to-back Pan American Cup gold medals in 2012 and 2013 as the starting libero. Last International Club Team: Has not played overseas the last two seasons. Notes: hobbies include Broadway musicals and was in show choir, a capella choir and musicals in high school … served as volunteer assistant coach for the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team this past spring. Bio Karch Kiraly Quote on Kayla Banwarth: “As our libero, Kayla’s worked hard to improve and contribute to our performance in as many ways as possible. And she anchors our offense as one of the elite passers in international volleyball.” Christa Dietzen (Middle, Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania): Christa Dietzen, making a return appearance in the Olympics, is one of most overpowering middle blockers in the world. A 2012 Olympic Games silver medalist, she was the captain of the U.S. Women selections that won two golds in 2015 – FIVB World Grand Prix and NORCECA Continental Championship. She was selected Second Best Middle Blocker in the prestigious 2015 World Grand Prix. Last International Club Team: Fenerbahce in the Turkish League and European Champions League. Notes: teammates call her ‘mom’ for her experience and the way she looks out for those around her … Participated in the Classroom Champions program involving Olympic athletes during the 2015-16 school calendar while playing in Turkey. Karch Kiraly Quote on Christa Dietzen: “Christa’s story has so many special facets, two of which are in leadership and overcoming adversity. Nobody wins a tournament like the Olympics without facing down major adversity, so she’s well-equipped to play a key role in guiding us through those challenges.” Alisha Glass (Setter, Leland, Michigan): First-time Olympian Alisha Glass, who was named USA Volleyball’s Female Indoor Athlete of the Year in 2013 and 2014, is considered one of the best setters in the world. She was selected Best Setter at the 2014 FIVB World Championship as Team USA won the gold medal. Glass won three consecutive gold medals in the FIVB World Grand Prix (2010, 2011, 2012). In college she helped Penn State win there NCAA titles. Last International Club Team: Imoco Conegliano in Italian Serie A1 – helped team win the Italian League playoffs in 2015-16. Notes: coached in high school by her mom, Laurie, at Leland High School in Michigan, who has since gone on to earn High School Coach of the Year Honors … Karch Kiraly Quote on Alisha Glass: “Alisha is one of the best in the world at what she does, and she’s won at every possible level. We can’t wait for her to unleash that deep and varied skill set in Rio.” Kim Hill (Outside Hitter, Portland, Oregon): Kim hill has blossomed into an international star in a short time as she is making her first Olympic appearance. She was most valuable player at the 2014 FIVB World Championship helping Team USA to gold in her second season with the U.S. Women’s National Team after catching the eye of the coaching staff at the 2013 U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts. Hill was recently named the Second Best Outside Spiker of the 2016 FIVB World Grand Prix. Notes: While competing at Pepperdine University, she became the first and only student-athlete to make the AVCA All-America First-Team roster in both indoor and sand volleyball during the same academic year (2011-2012). Last International Club Team – VakifBank in Turkish League and European Champions League – named MVP of Turkish League playoffs after leading team to gold in 2015-16. Karch Kiraly Quote on Kim Hill: “Kim’s is a great story to inspire every junior – trying out for USA one year, helping lead us to a World Championship the next, and playing some of her best volleyball this year. And you can search hard, but you won’t find a better teammate than Kim.” Jordan Larson (Outside Hitter, Hooper, Nebraska): Jordan Larson, an outside hitter who earned silver at the 2012 Olympic Games, has developed into an international star from a hometown population of 830. She was named USA Volleyball’s Female Indoor Athlete of the Year in 2015 after a stellar performance at the 2015 FIVB World Cup. During the 2015 club season, she led her Turkish club Eczacibasi to gold in the 2015 FIVB Club World Championship and 2015 European Champions League while earning MVP in both events. Last International Club Team – Eczacibasi in Turkish League and European Champions League. Notes: teammates call her ‘The Governor’ … partner in a restaurant in Lincoln called Flatwater Bistro. Karch Kiraly Quote on Jordan Larson: “Jordan has never played better volleyball, or been physically stronger than she is right now. Combined with her vast success and experience at the highest levels of volleyball, the total package she brings for USA will be big in Rio.” Carli Lloyd (Setter, Bonsall, California): Carli Lloyd, making her first Olympic roster, was named most valuable player at the 2015 Pan American Games as she led the team to gold a month after helping Team USA win gold at the 2015 Pan American Cup. She was named Best Setter in both events. Lloyd made her international debut at the 2011 Pan American Games and aided Team USA to the bronze medal … Part of 2012 Pan American Cup team that won gold. Last International Club Team – Pomi Casamaggiore with Italian Serie A1 … Notes: Helped club team win 2015-16 European Champions League and was named Best Setter. Notes: Uncle Galen Tomlinson, who was Turbo in the 1980s television series American Gladiators, was her mentor and coach in both volleyball and track and field as a youth. Karch Kiraly Quote on Carli Lloyd: “Very few players can do what Carli has over the last couple of years: transform her mindset and transform her game. She has more tools than ever to make us better in myriad ways.” Karsta Lowe (Opposite, Rancho Santa Fe, California): Olympic newcomer Karsta Lowe, the youngest member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, was selected most valuable player of the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix, the most prestigious annual women’s international volleyball tournament, during her rookie international season with Team USA. She helped the U.S. win gold at the World Grand Prix, as well as gold at the NORCECA Continental Championship and bronze at the 2015 FIVB World Cup. Last International Club Team – Unendo Yamamay Busto Arsizio in Italian Serie A1. Notes: Lowe never made the “A” team until her junior year of high school and was a walk-on at UCLA. Karch Kiraly Quote on Karsta Lowe: “Though Karsta has only been with USA for two seasons, she’s made a big impact for USA, especially as an offensive force at the net. She’s been working hard to develop the best all-around game possible, all to make our team the strongest it can be in Rio.” Kelly Murphy (Opposite, Wilmington, Illinois): Kelly Murphy, making her first Olympic appearance, led the U.S. Women in scoring during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, her first two with the team. She tallied a team-best 157 points during the 2014 FIVB World Championship pacing Team USA to its first-ever gold medal in the event. Murphy was named most valuable player in the 2013 NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship after the team won gold. Last International Club Team – Ageo Medics in Japan V-League. Notes: Three-time AVCA All-American while playing at University of Florida as a setter/opposite playing in a 6-2 offense. Karch Kiraly Quote on Kelly Murphy: “Kelly’s teammates have a ton of trust in her and her poise. In addition, a trademark of this team is running a fast offense, and Kelly is an integral part of that, stressing opposing teams’ blocking and defensive schemes.” Kelsey Robinson (Outside Hitter, Bartlett, Illinois): Kelsey Robinson, a first-time Olympian, was named Second Best Outside Spiker of the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix that Team USA won in Omaha. She helped the U.S. win its first-ever FIVB World Championship in 2014 during her rookie international season. Robinson was the starting outside hitter in all five matches of the 2015 NORCECA Continental Championship in which Team USA won to qualify for the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament. Last International Club Team – Imoco Conegliano in Italian Serie A1 – named most valuable player of the Italian League playoffs after leading team to 2015-16 title. Notes: Robinson was selected AVCA All-America First-Team while playing for University of Nebraska in 2013, her only season with the Huskers after three seasons at the University of Tennessee. Karch Kiraly Quote on Kelsey Robinson: “Kelsey is pumped to help this team in any and every way she can, and she gives USA a ton – competitive fire, ball control, speed at the net, galvanizer under duress, the list goes on.” Courtney Thompson (Setter, Kent, Washington): Courtney Thompson, a setter who helped the U.S. Women win silver at the 2012 Olympic Games, is the oldest member of Team USA at age 31 and joined Team USA in January 2007. She started the 2012 Olympic Games quarterfinal victory over Dominican Republic and was member of Team USA’s gold-medal winning 2014 FIVB World Championship team. Last International Club Team – Rexona Ades in Brazilian Superliga – helped team win the Brazil Superliga title in 2015-16. Notes: Thompson was the focus of the documentary movie “Court & Spark: A Volleyball Documentary.” She is co-founder of the Give It Back Foundation where members of the U.S. Women’s National Team help raise funds in their local communities through volleyball clinics. Notes: She is the first female University of Washington athlete to have her jersey retired … selected ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American … class valedictorian of her Kentlake High School (Kent, Wash.) graduating class. Karch Kiraly Quote on Courtney Thompson: “Courtney’s experience as a setter, as a leader, as an emotional driver, and as someone who has never taken the easy route will be invaluable in our effort to accomplish special things in a special tournament.” 2016 Olympic Games Women’s Indoor Volleyball Pools Pool A: Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, Japan, Korea, Russia Pool B: China, Italy, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Serbia, USA 20016 Olympic Games Women’s Indoor Volleyball Pool Schedule Aug. 6 Japan vs. Korea, 8:30 a.m. China vs. Netherlands, 10:35 a.m. Brazil vs. Cameroon, 2 p.m. USA vs. Puerto Rico, 4:05 p.m. Russia vs. Argentina, 7:30 p.m. Serbia vs. Italy, 9:35 p.m. Aug. 8 China vs. Italy, 8:30 a.m. Japan vs. Cameroon, 10:35 a.m. USA vs. Netherlands, 2 p.m. Serbia vs. Puerto Rico, 4:05 p.m. Russia vs. Korea, 7:30 p.m. Brazil vs. Argentina, 9:35 p.m. Aug. 10 China vs. Puerto Rico, 8:30 a.m. Italy vs. Netherlands, 10:35 a.m. USA vs. Serbia, 2 p.m. Russia vs. Cameroon, 4:05 p.m. Korea vs. Argentina, 7:30 p.m. Brazil vs. Japan, 9:35 p.m. Aug. 12 China vs. Serbia, 8:30 a.m. Argentina vs. Cameroon, 10:35 a.m. USA vs. Italy, 2 p.m. Netherlands vs. Puerto Rico, 4:05 p.m. Russia vs. Japan, 7:30 p.m. Brazil vs. Korea, 9:35 p.m. Aug. 14 Serbia vs. Netherlands, 8:30 a.m. Korea vs. Cameroon, 10:35 a.m. Italy vs. Puerto Rico, 2 p.m. USA vs. China, 4:05 p.m. Japan vs. Argentina, 7:30 p.m. Brazil vs. Russia, 9:35 p.m. Aug. 16 Quarterfinals Aug. 18 Semifinals Aug. 20 Gold- and Bronze-Medal Matches