Pro volleyball resumes in the USA in less than three months.
— Athletes Unlimited (AU) is up first and it has announced that its next season starts October 6;
— Pro Volleyball Federation (PVF) starts in February 2024 and Omaha has a president;
— And League One Volleyball (LOVB), which starts in November 2024, has a new hire.
AU sets season, lists players
AU will play in Legacy Park in Mesa, Arizona, near Phoenix from October 6 to November 6.
The five-week season, AU’s third, in which captains choose their respective teams each week in a player draft, includes the defending champion, one player from the USA team that just finished Volleyball Nations League, and quite a few other former NCAA stars.
Defending champion Bethania De La Cruz, the Dominican Republican great, won the AU individual title last time it played. Joining her is former Stanford star and USA libero Morgan Hentz.
This will be the third AU season and all matches will be shown on ESPN platforms. The first two were in Dallas in the springs of 2021 and 2022.
As AU noted in its news release, this season will also mark the U.S. professional debut for recent college graduates Gabby Blossom (San Diego), Claire Chaussee (Louisville), Danielle Hart (Wisconsin), Sydney Hilley (Wisconsin), Katie Lukes (San Diego), Brooke Nuneviller (Oregon) and Yossiana Pressley (Baylor).
The initial roster also features five Olympians (De La Cruz, Sassá, Natalia Valentin-Anderson, Alisha Childress and Aury Cruz), and four athletes currently training with the USA national team (Hart, Hentz, Nuneviller and Kendall White).
For more about AU: https://auprosports.com/volleyball/
PVF’s Omaha franchise hires a president
The Nebraska team hired Diane Mendenhall as its president and announced that matches will be played in the CHI Health Center.
From the news release:
Most recently, Mendenhall served as Vice President for Strategic Giving with Lincoln Community Foundation, having previously completed serving 20 years for the University of Nebraska in several administrative leadership positions. These roles included 12 years in Husker Athletics, as Volleyball Coach John Cook’s first Director of Volleyball Operations, a Senior Associate Athletics Director, as well as six years leading the 25,000 member Nebraska Alumni Association as the Executive Director. Diane completed her tenure at the University by serving as the Chancellor’s Director of External Engagement. She was honored to serve two Chancellors over eight years as a member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet.
Prior to her time at the University, Mendenhall was a national consultant for an employment communications company as well as a volleyball coach at the collegiate and high school levels. A native of Ogallala, Nebraska, Mendenhall is an alumna of the University of Kansas. She was a four-year starter for the Jayhawk volleyball team and a team captain as a senior. Many volleyball fans have known her as the former radio analyst of Nebraska Volleyball for 16 years. Mendenhall and her spouse, Rich, live in Lincoln. They have a grown daughter, Ally, who was Captain of Yale University’s volleyball team.
There are also PVF franchises in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando, Grand Rapids and Columbus, Ohio.
For more about PVF: https://www.provolleyball.com/latest-news/
LOVB tabs Tom Hogan
Tom Hogan, most recently the head coach at Denver, will be the LOVB “Director of Sport for Pro.”
From the LOVB news release:
With a storied history of building record-breaking Olympic programs for the USA National Volleyball Team, and with championship professional teams internationally, including: Volero Zurich in the Swiss Professional League and Congliano Zoppas in the Italian League, Hogan will be charged with helping LOVB put all of the right pieces in place to ensure its pro league is ready for launch directly following the Paris Olympics in 2024. These responsibilities include: overseeing LOVB’s pro league’s talent identification, leading all volleyball specific programming for league competitions and training, the development of policies and procedures, recruitment and retainment of players and coaches, and more.
LOVB’s inaugural season begins November 24 and runs through April 2025. It said it will have six teams and has announced Atlanta, Houston, Salt Lake City and Madison, Wisconsin.
While AU and PVF have signed more players, LOVB has the market cornered on USA Olympians, including all three of the top national-team setters, Micha Hancock, Jordyn Poulter and Lauren Carlini.
For more about LOVB: https://lovb.com/pro-league