Breaking Down The Americans In The Women's CEV Champions League

With the conclusion of the national team portion of the year in the fall, the world’s top volleyball players disperse around the globe to begin their professional seasons. 

Europe is a hotbed for professional volleyball, and the CEV Champions League brings together the best teams from a variety of national leagues for an epic eight-month-long competition.

Twenty-five Americans are on the roster of teams participating in the CEV Women’s Champions League, including six national teamers who led USA to VNL gold medal and fifth-place finish at Worlds earlier this year. You can see a number of your favorite Team USA athletes and former NCAA stars compete in Champions League, thanks to a new partnership between the CEV and FloVolleyball. 

Here is the list of women’s Champions League teams with Americans on their rosters.

Allianz MTV Stuttgart | Stuttgart, Germany

More American women volleyball professionals chose to play in Germany than any other country this season—43 athletes in total, and five of those women signed with Allianz MTV Stuttgart. 

Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite Parsons, the former Minnesota Gopher and 2016 AVCA National Player of the Year; Madi Bugg, the starting setter at Stanford from 2012 to 2015; and All-American former Alabama opposite Krystal Rivers join the Stuttgart roster for the first time this fall. Wilhite’s former Minnesota teammate middle Paige Tapp and Texas grad Molly McCage return from last year’s roster after leading the team to its fourth consecutive runner-up finish in the Bundesliga. 

ASPTT Mulhouse VB | Riedisheim, France

The three American athletes on the 2018-19 Asptt Mulhouse VB roster hail from some of the most storied NCAA women’s volleyball programs: outside Ali Frantti from Penn State, outside Carli Snyder from Florida, and opposite Hayley Spelman from Stanford.

Frantti comes to France after graduating last December and spending a few months in Slovenia with Calcit Kamnik Volleyball, while this season with Mulhouse marks the start of Snyder’s pro career.

Since graduating from Stanford in 2012, the 6-8 Spelman has competed professionally in Azerbaijan, Italy, South Korea, Philippines, and Indonesia. This will be her second season playing for Asptt Mulhouse in France.

Beziers VB | Beziers, France

Beziers won the French Ligue AF last season and boasts three Americans on its 2018-19 roster, which will look to defend its title and make waves in Champions League. 

Outside hitter Janisa Johnson returns for her second year in Beziers, while former Colorado setter Nicole Edelman joins the the team after winning Spain’s Superliga Femenina with CV Murillo and earning MVP honors. 

With the departure of Krystal Rivers, who earned Ligue AF MVP honors last season, Beziers picked up former USF versatile hitter Malina Terrell, who has played for the last two years in Finland.

Chemik Police | Police, Poland

Four-time All-American middle and Texas’ all-time leader in blocks and block assists Chiaka Ogbogu signed her first professional contract with Il Bisonte Firenze of the Italian league back in January, but since June, she’s been a member of Chemik Police, winners of Poland’s Orlen Liga for the past five seasons in a row. Ogbogu is the only American on the current Chemik roster, and one of just three non-Polish players.

CSM Volei Alba Blaj | Blaj, Romania

Former Oregon standout outside hitter Sonja Newcombe has lived all around the world during her nine-years-and-counting professional career. The 6-0 outside hitter landed in Romania for the 2018-19 season after stints in Puerto Rico, France, Turkey, Germany, Russia, China, Italy, and Brazil. 

Newcombe has occasionally appeared on travel rosters for the U.S. women’s national team, including for the 2017 Pan American Cup where she helped the USA win gold.

Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul | Istanbul, Turkey

National team captain Jordan Larson has been a key player for Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul for the past four seasons. During the former Nebraska outside hitter’s stint with the squad, Eczacibasi has medaled at Champions League and won the FIVB World Club Championship multiple times. 

This fall, Larson’s fellow national teamer Lauren Gibbemeyer joins the Eczacibasi VitrA squad after competing in Italy for three years. 

Eczacibasi’s roster also includes reigning World Championship MVP Tijana Boskovic of the Serbian national team.

HPK Hameenlinna | Hameenlinna, Finland

Hameenlinna enters the 2018-19 season as the reigning champ of the top Finnish league and adds Americans Mara Green and Kayla Principato to its roster. 

Green, a 6-1 middle blocker, played for Florida State from 2012 to 2016, while 6-3 lefty opposite Principato just graduated from Denver in May, leaving the program ranked in the top 10 with a .263 career hitting percentage.  

Igor Gorgonzola Novara | Novara, Italy

Reigning Italian league regular season champion Igor Gorgonzola Novara boasts some of the world’s top players on its 2018-19 roster. Not only does the team include Americans Lauren Carlini and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, who was named MVP of Volleyball Nations League, but also Italian national teamer Paola Egonu, a 19-year-old phenom who set a new World Championship record for points in a match and led the entire 2018 event with 324 total points.

Carlini and Bartsch-Hackley are both newcomers to Novara, but not to the Italia league, with Carlini spending the 2017-18 season with Scandicci and Bartsch-Hackley most recently competing for Futura Volley Busto Arsizio.

Imoco Volley Conegliano | Conegliano, Italy

Imoco won the Italian championship last season and this fall Team USA outside hitter Kim Hill returns for her second year with the club. Megan Easy, a member of the 2012 USA Olympic team, also makes a return to Conegliano, although under slightly different circumstances. 

While Hill’s star has been on the rise as a key member of the USA national team, Easy suffered a season-ending achilles injury early last season while playing for Conegliano. After a year of rehab, Easy looks to be almost back to full strength; she contributed an impressive 18 points with just one hitting error in a season-opening sweep of Casalmaggiore.

LKS Commercecon Lodz 

This season marks former Purdue setter Val Nichol’s second in Poland; however, this year the two-time All-American will wear the jersey of LKS Commercecon Lodz after spending the previous season with Impel Wroclaw. The move marks an upgrade for Nichol as Wroclaw finished the 2017-18 season ranked ninth in the Polish league and LKS Commercecon Lodz made it to the championship and finished as the runner-up.

In her four years at Purdue, Nichol twice earned All-American honors and collected four triple-doubles, the most of any player in program history.

Savino Del Bene Scandicci | Scandicci, Italy

Annie Mitchem earned the AVCA Two-Year College National Player of the Year honor in both 2013 and 2014 at Irvine Valley College before playing her final two years of eligibility at Hawaii. The versatile middle/outside then began her professional career playing for Lardini Filottrano in the Italian league during the 2017-18 season where she averaged 4.18 points per set. 

This fall, Mitchem joins Carlini’s former team in Scandicci and has already established herself as a go-to player. In Scandicci’s recent 3-1 victory over Mitchem’s former team Filottrano, she ranked second on the team with 17 points.

VakifBank Istanbul | Istanbul, Turkey

Kelsey Robinson played an important role for the U.S. Women’s National Team this summer, making the switch from outside hitter to starting libero in order to shore up the squad’s serve receive and defense. 

But if you missed seeing Robinson play an offensive role, tune in to a VakifBank Istanbul match to see the former Husker in action for her professional team, the reigning CEV Champions League gold medalists.

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