This is our weekly update on USA women playing professional volleyball around the world. Most of the players are former NCAA standouts:
VakifBank made quick work of Milano by sweeping the Italian side in the first leg of the quarterfinals 25-18, 25-19, 25-17. Kara Bajema had her best match of the season for VakifBank with eight kills (hitting .800) and a block. Chiaka Ogbogu had seven kills (.636) and two blocks. Jordan Thompson led Milano with 12 kills and an ace. Jordan Larson was limited to one kill while Dana Rettke had one kill as a substitute.
Novara battled past Stuttgart in their first quarterfinal matchup 21-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-23. Krystal Rivers led Stuttgart with 20 kills. Simone Lee came off the bench to have eight kills and an ace.
Imoco Conegliano was handed its worst defeat of the season when it was swept by Fenerbahce 25-19, 25-17, 25-19. Kelsey Cook had six kills for Conegliano, while Kathryn Plummer was limited to four.
VOLLEYBALL WORLD SEMIS PREVIEW: The home matches of the Champions League Volley quarterfinals brought so much intensity to the competition with a palpable feeling of how the stakes have risen immensely going into this round. In the next few days, the best eight teams in Europe go het to head one more time to decide which of them will keep a one in four chance of claiming the most coveted club volleyball trophy in the world. Click here for more from Volleyball World.
THY couldn’t hold a late first-set lead and was swept by Scandicci 27-25, 25-12, 25-18. Madi Kingdon Rishel led THY with 12 kills (.357). Haleigh Washington had a match-high four blocks and three kills for Scandicci, one match away from the final.
Chieri broke its losing streak by beating Vallefoglia 15-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-21. Annie Drews led Vallefoglia (9-14) with 11 kills and an ace. Setter Micha Hancock added two kills, two aces, and two blocks.
Milano ended Cuneo’s three-match winning streak 25-22, 25-17, 25-15. Rettke was named MVP for Milano (17-6) as she had eight kills (.615), two aces, and a block. Thompson and Larson did not play. Dani Drews had four kills off the bench for Cuneo (9-14), while Anna Stevenson-Hall had two.
Casalmaggiore earned a key victory in its bid for a playoff spot, coming back in the fifth set to overcome Firenze 25-19, 19-25, 25-21, 19-25, 17-15. Ali Frantti had seven kills, a block, and an ace for Casalmaggiore (12-11). Setter Lauren Carlini added two kills and an ace. Rhamat Alhassan had two kills and a block in the fifth set as a substitute for Firenze (9-14).
Khalia Lanier had 12 kills and Mac May four but Bergamo (11-12) got swept by Pinerolo 25-15, 25-15, 25-20.
Macerata (3-20) earned its biggest win of the season by beating Busto Arsizio 22-25, 25-20, 25-16, 26-24. Claire Chaussee was named MVP with her best performance as a pro: 27 kills (.300). Setter Carli Lloyd had two kills for Busto Arsizio (10-13).
Novara (17-6) got seven kills from McKenzie Adams and kept its bid for a top-four playoff seed alive by sweeping Perugia 25-17, 25-22, 25-14.
Conegliano bounced back to beat Scandicci 25-19, 25-17, 20-25, 25-20. Plummer had 10 kills, two blocks, and an ace. Cook added eight kills, two aces, and a block. Washington had two kills for Scandicci (18-5). Conegliano improved to 20-1 and has all but clinched first place, holding a seven-point lead over Scandicci with three matches remaining.
SigortaShop lost its second in a row, getting swept by Cukurova 25-20, 25-17, 25-22. Marin Grote led SigortaShop (4-16) with 10 kills (.500) and three blocks. Kelsie Payne had 11 kills and two blocks.
Nilufer (10-10) ended its losing streak by beating PTT 25-18, 22-25, 25-20, 25-14. Sherridan Atkinson led with 21 kills (.514), four blocks, and two aces. Brooke Nuneviller chipped in three kills in a two-set appearance.
A short-handed THY got past Bolu 25-15, 14-25, 25-22, 25-12. Kingdon was the second-top scorer for THY (14-5), ,missing two starters, with 11 kills and a match-high five aces. Tori Dixon had three kills for Bolu (2-18).
Kuzeyboru won its fourth match in a row by sweeping Ilbank 29-27, 25-23, 25-23. Annie Mitchem came off the bench to have nine kills and a block for Kuzeyboru (9-11).
Galatasaray lost to league-leading Eczacibasi 25-19, 25-23, 25-22. Logan Eggleston had five kills for Galatasaray (13-7).
Toyota Autobody Queenseis split its series in the penultimate weekend of the regular season. Queenseis was swept by Okayama 25-20, 25-21, 25-20. Danielle Cuttino led Queenseis with 19 kills. Queenseis bounced back to sweep Himeji 25-15, 25-21, 25-17 and Cuttino led again with 19 kills (.500) and a block.
JT Marvelous (22-10) lost key ground in the playoff race with a weekend split, first beating Hitachi Rivale 22-25, 25-15, 25-18, 20-25, 25-12. Karsta Lowe had 12 kills, but then her team got swept by Hisamitsu Springs 29-27, 25-21, 25-16. Lowe came off the bench to have seven kills.
Sarah Wilhite-Parsons made her long awaited return from injury as NEC Red Rockets (21-10) beat Kurobe 25-22, 24-26, 25-23, 25-23. Wilhite-Parsons not only came off the bench, she was named MVP with 10 kills (.391).
Venelles (13-11) beat Marcq en Barouel 22-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-17 to solidify its playoff position. Samantha Drechsel was named MVP for getting 22 kills and three aces. Setter August Raskie added three kills, one block and an ace.
Carli Snyder had 32 kills but TFOC handed Cannes its third loss in a row in an exciting five set encounter 25-22, 28-30, 29-27, 19-25, 15-11. Taylor Fricano led TFOC (16-8) with 19 kills and four blocks. Shannon Scully added 12 kills, two blocks and two aces. Kendall White was credited with 53% positive reception. Snyder hit .448 and had a block. Madeleine Gates added 14 kills (.478), four blocks, and two aces. Claire Felix added two kills, a block, and an ace. Setter Jennifer Gray had one kill for Cannes (12-12), in jeopardy of losing its playoff spot, sitting one point ahead of Nancy.
Beziers lost to Mulhouse 25-21, 26-24, 20-25, 25-23. Avery Skinner led Beziers with 20 kills. Blake Mohler added 10 kills and a block. Justine Wong-Orantes was credited with 70% positive reception. Setter Madison Lilley had one kill the first two sets for Beziers (16-8).
Nantes fell from first place for the first time in many weeks when swept by Volero Le Cannet 26-24, 25-17, 25-19. Taylor Mims had 13 kills and an ace for Nantes (18-6), losing for the third time in four matches.
Stuttgart has all but clinched the regular-season title after beating Aachen 25-18, 25-19, 28-26. Rivers had three kills and a block in a brief appearance for Stuttgart. Alexis Hart had six kills and two aces off of the bench. Stuttgart (17-1) needs only one point from its remaining two matches to secure first place. Setter Ashley Evans had two kills for Aachen (8-10), which lost its fourth in a row.
Schwerin won its fourth in a row by escaping Munster in a back-and-forth five-set encounter (25-19, 17-25, 13-25, 25-8, 15-13). Lindsey Ruddins had 12 kills and two aces for Schwerin (15-3). Zoe Fleck was credited with 32% positive reception for Munster (8-10).
Roni Jones-Perry helped SESC-RJ upset reigning champions Minas 22-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-22. Jones-Perry had 10 kills, two aces and a block for SESC (12-8), which is just one point behind defending-champion Minas.
NUC Viteos leads the best-of-five semifinal series 2-0 after sweeping Sm’Aesch Pfeffingen 25-14, 25-17, 25-23. Kayla Lund was the joint-top scorer for NUC with 12 kills and an ace. Madeline Haynes also had 13 points with eight kills, three aces and two blocks. Tessa Grubbs finished with eight kills, two aces and a block while Jasmine Gross had five kills and two blocks.
Caguas kept winning by topping Manati 26-24, 25-19, 22-25, 25-21. Shelly Stafford led with 17 kills and three blocks. Kayla Caffey added six kills and three blocks while Kash Williams had six kills and two blocks. Gloria Mutiri led Manati with 18 kills and three blocks. Callie Schwarzenbach had five kills, one block, and an ace. Setter Mackenzi Welsh had two kills and two aces.
Juncos earned key separation for the last playoff spot by beating Ponce 22-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-23. Setter Natalie Hayward had a match-high six blocks for Juncos to go along with two kills and an ace. Naya Gros had two kills and a block. Nia Robinson led Ponce with 21 kills and two blocks. Eleanor Holthaus had 12 kills, one block and an ace. Setter Jhenna Gabriel had 16 digs.
Corozal kept Santurce’s losing streak intact with a 25-20, 25-13, 19-25, 26-24 victory. Adanna Rollins had 13 kills, four blocks and an ace for Corozal. Ronika Stone added 10 kills and three blocks. Setter Tori Dilfer had four kills and two aces. Madi Kubik and Gina Mancuso both made their return from injury as Kubik had 12 kills and a block while Mancuso added eight kills and three blocks.
Manati upset league-leadeing Naranjito 25-14, 21-25, 25-18, 26-24. Mutiri led Manati again, this time with 18 kills and two blocks. Schwarzenbach chipped in 10 kills and five blocks, while Welsh had four kills and an ace. Lindsey Vander Weide had 11 kills, two blocks, and an ace for Naranjito (9-4). Setter Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres had four blocks, two kills, and an ace. Taylor Sandbothe was limited to two kills.
Corozal (8-5) won the matchup of the two hottest teams in the league, sweeping Caguas 25-22, 25-18, 27-25. Rollins led with 17 kills and a block. Stone added six kills and two blocks, while Dilfer finished with three kills, three aces, and a block. Caffey led Caguas (8-6) with five kills, four aces and two blocks. Williams added six kills while Stafford had five.
Santurce finally ended its losing streak by sweeping Juncos 25-22, 25-19, 25-23. Kubik led Santurce (8-4) with 10 kills, one block and an ace. Mancuso had eight kills and three blocks, while Gabby Simpson added three kills. Gros had a match-high six blocks for Juncos, while also having three blocks and two aces. Hayward had a block.
Manati ended the weekend with a sweep of Juncos 25-19, 26-24, 25-20. Schwarzenbach was the second-top scorer for Manati (7-8) with 10 kills and two blocks. Mutiri added 10 kills and a block. Welsh had eight digs. Gros had five kills and two blocks for Juncos (4-9). Hayward chipped in a kill and a block.