U.S. Women Set Roster for Exhibition vs. Canada

  0 Derek Johnson | June 12th, 2017 | News, U.S. Women's Volleyball

About a week after the U.S. Women’s National Team set their preliminary roster for the 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix, they’ve narrowed it down to 14 for an international friendly against Canada. The exhibition will serve as preparation for the Pan American Cup from June 17-25 and later on the Grand Prix in July.

The original preliminary roster featured 21 women, as seven got cut out for this edition. The roster will be composed of two setters, two liberos, one opposite, five outside hitters and four middle blockers.

The leaders of the offense are setters Lauren Carlini and captain Micha Hancock. Carlini was a four-time All-American at Wisconsin, where she graduated from this past year while Hancock was the 2014 AVCA Player of the Year at Penn State. Both played at the Pan Am Cup last year, and although they lack a plethora of training time with Team USA, they’re some of the more experienced players on the roster.

“This is a much more thorough experience for both Lauren and Micha, along with many others in their same shoes,” U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Karch Kiraly said in Team USA’s release. “People who have never really been here before. It reminds me of four years ago when Kim Hill had never been in the gym, same with Kelly Murphy and Rachael Adams. We had a number of people who were brand new and very quickly started figuring things out. The ultimate example was Kim Hill. After just a year and half with the team, Kim led us with an MVP performance to gold at the FIVB World Championship.”

Amanda Benson and Justine Wong-Orantes don’t have much experience in the Team USA program either, as the two liberos are fresh out of college. Benson just graduated from Oregon while Wong-Orantes was a pillar of Nebraska’s strong defense until she exhausted her eligibility this past season.

The lone opposite on the roster is Liz McMahon. At 6’6″, McMahon brings plenty of size to the front line. She was one of three to make that 21-woman preliminary roster at her position and surprisingly was the only one to make it considering Kelly Murphy, who started all eight matches in the 2016 Olympics for Team USA didn’t make the cut. Then again, this might more so serve as a chance for Team USA and Kiraly to evaluate and develop some of the younger talent.

“We have some players who are taking some time off, and have earned that right,” Kiraly said in the release. “In that position, people like Jordan Larson, Kim Hill, Kelsey Robinson, Rachael Adams – this is really a big year for recharging, recovery, regeneration, both physically and mentally. As a result, it is a really exciting year of opportunity for others in that position, whether it is someone like Michelle Bartsch or Sonja Newcombe who have some experience here, or others who have had less experience such as Megan Courtney or Madi Kingdon who played at Pan Am Cup last year but who haven’t really had much experience in our gym.”

All of those names mentioned by Kiraly are outside hitters – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, who was on the 2016 roster for the Grand Prix, Megan Courtney, Madi Kingdon and Sonja Newcombe. The fifth outside hitter who wasn’t mentioned was Annie Drews, former Purdue star.

Anchoring the defensive front line will be the middles, which just like the other positions is a mix of youth and talent. Rhamat Alhassan, a three-time AVCA All-American at Florida, joins the roster along with three recent Big Ten graduates in Amber Rolfzen of Nebraska and Hannah and Paige Tapp of Minnesota.

“We have a wide variety of people here,” Kiraly said in the Team USA news. “And we are very excited about the chances for all of them. We would love nothing more than to see all of them crush it and hit and grand slam and make our choices difficult. We love to see them all develop hugely over the next few years.”

Team USA will host Canada in that international friendly at JSerra Cathlolic High School at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET) in San Juan Capistrano, California. The match will be streamed live on the usavolleyball.org home page.

“We are beginning week seven, and we are really excited,” Kiraly told USA Volleyball. “It has been a really good training block to get people more on the same page. We got to play four Red-Blue matches during that time. Now the next step is that we get to play a different country across the net. We are really excited to get after it against Canada, and a couple days later to depart for Peru to begin our first tournament of the cycle, the Pan American Cup.”

It’ll be a youth movement for the United States, but one filled with talent. It may take time for the team to gel and gain experience, but once they do they should have all the potential in the world.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for June 13 vs Canada
# – Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 – Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Penn State, Edmond, Oklahoma)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-1, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
9 – Madi Kingdon (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
11 – Annie Drews (OH, 6-3, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Maryville, Illinois)
17 – Megan Courtney (OH, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
18 – Sonja Newcombe (OH, 6-1, Oregon, Lake Arrowhead, California)
19 – Hannah Tapp (M, 6-2, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
20 – Amanda Benson (L, 5-7, Oregon, Litchfield Park, Arizona)
21 – Paige Tapp (M, 6-1, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
23 – Liz McMahon (OPP, 6-6, Illinois, Liberty Township, Ohio)
26 – Amber Rolfzen (M, 6-3, Nebraska, Papillion, Nebraska)
27 – Rhamat Alhassan (M, 6-4, Florida, Glenarden, Maryland)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Tama Miyashiro, Erin Virtue, Jon Newman-Gonchar
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans

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