Women’s pro report: Frantti, Thompson lead VakifBank; Annie Drews has big week in Japan
November 28, 2023
April 25, 2023
This is our weekly update on USA women playing professional volleyball around the world. Most of the players are former NCAA standouts:
Sarah Wilhite-Parsons and NEC Red Rockets claimed the Japanese league title by beating Toray 25-23, 25-14, 20-25, 22-25, 16-14. Wilhite-Parsons was the joint-top scorer with 20 kills and four blocks as NEC claimed its first title since 2017 with the victory.
Defending-champion Stuttgart started the best-of-three semifinals with a 25-23, 26-24, 25-21 sweep over Dresden. Simone Lee was named MVP after getting 13 kills (.545) and a block. Krystal Rivers also contributed 13 kills and a block.
Lindsey Ruddins had 33 kills and hit .413, but Schwerin could not convert one of eight match points and lost to Potsdam 25-19, 23-25, 21-25, 35-33, 15-11 in the first semifinal match.
Suhl could not complete the upset in the quarterfinals and lost to Potsdam 17-25, 25-11, 23-25, 25-14, 15-12. Danielle Harbin led Suhl with 19 kills and four blocks. Julia Brown added eight kills and an ace. Setter Jenna Ewert had three kills and an ace.
Imoco Conegliano advanced to the semifinals by dispatching Busto Arsizio 25-15, 25-19, 26-24. Kathryn Plummer had three kills and two blocks and Kelsey Cook did not play. Carli Lloyd had three kills and three blocks for Busto Arsizio.
Casalmaggiore kept its playoff hopes alive by upsetting Milano 30-28, 25-18, 20-25, 23-25, 15-12 as Ali Frantti had 17 kills. Reserve Courtney Buzzerio and had two aces in a key run. Setter Lauren Carlini added three kills. Jordan Thompson came off the bench to have 18 kills and two blocks for Milano. Dana Rettke contributed three kills.
Novara advanced to the semis by sweeping Chieri 25-20, 25-22, 25-15 as McKenzie Adams had eight kills and two aces. Brionne Butler did not play in the match for Chieri.
Scandicci earned its place in the semifinals by sweeping Bergamo 25-18, 25-14, 25-14 as Haleigh Washington had five kills, three blocks and an ace. Khalia Lanier led Bergamo with six kills, while Mac May had three as a substitute.
Thompson ended Casalmaggiore’s playoff run as Milano won the final game of the series 25-21, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21. Thompson was named MVP after getting 28 kills (.511) and three blocks. Larson returned from her injury absence and had nine kills, two blocks and two aces for Milano. Rettke had three kills in a substitute appearance. Frantti had six kills and two blocks in a limited appearance for Casalmaggiore. Carlini added three kills.
THY clinched a spot in the semifinals by beating Galatasaray 25-21, 25-23, 13-25, 25-20. Madi Kingdon led with17 kills and a block. Logan Eggleston led Galatasaray with 21 kills and two aces. Galatasaray will compete in the placement playoffs to earn a spot in next season’s CEV Challenge Cup.
Nilufer claimed its spot in the placement playoffs by beating Bolu 25-14, 25-13, 19-25, 25-23. Sherridan Atkinson led with 17 kills, three blocks and an ace. Brooke Nuneviller added nine kills and an ace. Bolu’s Tori Dixon had nine kills (.692), one block and an ace.
THY (18-8) fell to Fenerbahce to complete the regular season 25-14, 25-19, 25-12 and finished in fourth place. Kingdon had nine kills for THY and played opposite.
Nilufer (15-11) ended the regular season with a 25-16, 21-25, 25-18, 18-25, 15-11 win over SigortaShop. Atkinson had eight kills and a block in two sets. Kelsie Payne had nine kills and two blocks and Marin Grote added six kills and four blocks as SigortaShop ended the season at 5-21.
Galatasaray (17-9) concluded the regular season as they beat Aydin 16-25, 25-18, 18-25, 25-22, 15-12. Eggleston had nine kills, two aces and a block.
Avery Skinner was named MVP after getting 28 kills (.423), two blocks and an ace as Beziers advanced to the semifinals with a 32-30, 25-27, 29-27, 25-21 win over TFOC. Blake Mohler added four kills while setter Madison Lilley had a kill and an ace. Justine Wong-Orantes was credited with 68% positive reception. Taylor Fricano and Shannon Scully were joint-top scorers for TFOC in the match. Fricano led with 21 kills and two blocks. Scully followed with 21 kills (.405), one block and an ace. Kendall White was credited with 81% positive reception as TFOC ended its season.
Mulhouse ended Cannes’ season 21-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-22. Madeline Gates was the second-top scorer for Cannes with eight kills, two blocks and an ace. Claire Felix had six kills, two blocks and an ace. Jenna Gray had a kill, one block and an ace. Carli Snyder did not play for Cannes.
Venelles upset Paris SC twice in five sets to advance to the semifinals. Sam Drechsel was the second-top scorer in the first match as Venelles needed to win to keep its season alive (25-19, 20-25, 25-22, 17-25, 15-11). Katelyn Evans had seven kills, two blocks and an ace after coming off the bench. Setter August Raskie added four kills and two aces. Venelles saved three match points in the second match to clinch the series (25-22, 20-25, 15-25, 28-26, 15-7). Evans had 17 kills (.484), a block and an ace. Drechsel had 11 kills and two blocks.
Nantes saw its season end by losing to Volero Le Cannet 25-22, 23-25, 11-25, 25-20, 16-14. Taylor Mims led with 26 kills, three blocks and an ace. Nantes finished without two starters who left the team and the coach was fired.
Santurce kicked off the best-of-seve semifinals series with a 23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-11) win over Manati. Madi Kubik led with 18 kills and a block. Gina Mancuso added 10 kills, one block and an ace. Audriana Fitzmorris, finished in Greece, made her debut for Santurce as a substitute and had six kills. Gloria Mutiri had eight kills and a block for Manati. Callie Schwarzenbach added six kills and three blocks. Mackenzi Welsh set for Manati and had one kill.
Santurce swept Manati in the second match 25-22, 25-16, 25-20. Mancuso was the top scorer with nine kills, two blocks and an ace. Kubik added nine kills and an ace while Fitzmorris had three kills as a sub. Schwarzenbach was the second-top scorer for Manati with six kills, two blocks and two aces. Mutiri added eight kills and an ace while Welsh had one kill and an ace.
Manati won the third match 25-20, 26-28, 17-25, 25-21,15-9 as Mutiri had 13 kills and four blocks. Schwarzenbach followed with nine kills, five blocks and an ace. Welsh added two kills and a block. Fitzmorris led Santurce with 21 kills. Kubik added 17 kills, two blocks and an ace. Mancuso finished with 13 kills, one block and an ace.
Corozal avoided the reverse sweep and beat Naranjito 25-21, 25-21, 22-25, 22-25, 15-10. Adanna Rollins was top scorer and MVP with 23 kills and four blocks. Ronika Stone added eight kills and five blocks. Tori Dilfer set for Corozal and had two aces and a kill. Lindsey Vander Weide was the second top scorer for Naranjito with 18 kills and four blocks. Shelly Stafford added 10 kills and two blocks. Setter Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres had a block and an ace.
Rollins and Corozal won the second match 20-25, 25-23, 25-20, 27-25. Rollins led with 23 kills and a block. Stone had six kills and four blocks. Dilfer finished with one kill and a block. Vander Weide had 12 kills. for Naranjito. Stafford contributed nine kills and two blocks. Ka’aha’aina-Torres finished with two kills.
Naranjito beat Corozal in their third match 25-14, 25-22, 22-25, 27-25. Vander Weide led with 16 kills, two aces and a block. Stafford contributed 15 kills while Ka’aha’aina-Torres had two kills and a block. Rollins led Corozal with 17 kills, five blocks and an ace. Stone had eight kills, one block and an ace while Dilfer added two blocks.
SESC RJ moved one match closer to returning to the finals of the Brazilian league for the first time since 2017 by sweeping Praia Clube 25-20, 25-21, 25-22. Roni Jones-Perry led with 13 kills (.357) and an ace.
NUC Viteos won its third Swiss league title in a row by winning a wild one over Dudingen in the finals series 27-25, 13-25, 25-17, 35-33. Tessa Grubbs, the league MVP, had 14 kills, four blocks and an ace. Madeline Haynes followed with 12 kills, four blocks and an ace. Kayla Lund added 14 kills and an ace. Jasmine Gross added five kills and four blocks. Setter Mita Uiato had three kills and a block for Dudingen.