Jordan Larson Leads Stacked Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul Into Fourth Round

After three rounds of qualification, the most exciting part of the 2019 CEV Women’s Champions League tournament is poised to begin. 

The first leg of the group of stage kicks off on Tuesday, November 20, and lasts until Thursday, November 22, with all 20 teams competing. Every team will be motivated to play well, as these matches will set the tone for the five remaining legs of group stage, which runs through February. Only the top eight teams advance out of the group stage and into the quarterfinals in March 2019.

Check out the schedule below and keep reading for a few storylines you’re going to want to keep an eye on this week.


Nov. 20

Hameenlinna @ Dinamo Kazan, 10 AM CT (Pool B)

Maritza Plovdiv @ Beziers VB, 1 PM CT (Pool A)

SSC Palmberg Scherwin @ LKS Commercecon Lodz, 1:30 PM CT (Pool D)

Nov. 21

Fenerbahce SK Istanbul @ Dinamo Moscow, 10 AM CT (Pool E)

Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg @ Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul, 10:30 AM CT (Pool B) 

Minchanka Minsk @ RC Cannes, 1 PM CT (Pool C)

Savino Del Bene Scandicci @ Imoco Volley Conegliano, 1:30 PM CT (Pool D)

Nov. 22

Allianz MTV Stuttgart @ VakifBank Istanbul, 10 AM CT (Pool A)

CSM Bucuresti @ Chemik Police, 11 AM CT (Pool E)

Budowlani Lodz @ Igor Gorgonzola Novara, 1:30 PM CT (Pool C)

Americans Go Head-to-Head in Two Matches

Wednesday’s match between Scandicci and Imoco Volley and Thursday’s pitting Allianz MTV Stuttgart against VakifBank Istanbul will both feature Americans on both sides of the net. 

Annie Mitchem, a University of Hawaii grad, is with Scandicci in just her second professional season, while Imoco Volley features veteran outside hitters Kim Hill and Megan Easy. Both teams compete in Italy’s SuperLega, and Imoco is undefeated so far in league play, while Scandicci has lost just once and is fourth in the standings. The two teams have not yet played in SuperLega competition.

Five Americans will take the floor for Allianz MTV Stuttgart, which advanced into the group stage by defeating CSM Volei Alba Blaj in the third round. Paige Tapp and Krystal Rivers have played big roles for Stuttgart, contributing 18 and 14 points, respectively in the final third-round matchup. The roster also includes Americans Sarah Wilhite Parsons, Madi Bugg, and Molly McCage. 

Stuttgart’s first group stage opponent VakifBank Istanbul features outside hitter Kelsey Robinson, who played libero all summer for the U.S. women. 

SuperLega Leaders Face Qualifier Squad

Igor Gorgonzola Novara has jumped out to a quick 5-0 start in SuperLega competition. Not only does this squad have Americans Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, the Volleyball Nations League MVP, and four-time All-American setter Lauren Carlini, but also Netherlands star outside hitter Celeste Plak and World Championships leading scorer Paola Egonu of Italy. 

Novara’s opponent on Thursday is Budowlani Lodz, which won both its second round matches over Hungarian club Swietelsky Bekescsaba and then continued to roll in the third round, beating French squad ASPTT Mulhouse VB (and s Ali Frantti, Carli Snyder, and Hayley Spelman) 3-1 in Lodz, and then 3-2 in Mulhouse. 

Stacked Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul the Favorite? 

Novara’s roster is pretty impressive across every position, but there’s at least one other team in Champions League that can rival that level of talent: Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul of the Turkish League. 

The 2018 Eczacibasi squad includes Team USA captain and top outside hitter Jordan Larson; Serbian opposite Tijana Boskovic, the reigning MVP of the World Championships; American middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer; and Team Korea’s captain Yeon Koung Kim. 

In five Turkish league matches, Eczacibasi has yet to drop a set on its way to a 5-0 start and a No. 1 spot in the standings. 

Mara Green Is Thriving (And Avoiding Tuna Pizza) With Hameenlinna

Mara Green almost passed up on professional volleyball entirely. 

EIVA Notebook: Princeton Hands Mason First League Loss

Conference action in the EIVA men’s volleyball conference has hit full stride. This week, the eight teams in the league played six conference matches and a couple of non-conference contests.

Princeton Opens League Play With Back-To-Back Victories

Princeton and George Mason stand tied atop the EIVA standings with identical 2-0 conference records; however, non-conference matches continue to make up the bulk of the competition among EIVA squads. 

EIVA Notebook: Saint Francis Drops Ranked Buckeyes

Last week in EIVA men’s volleyball featured one major upset, a couple of very close calls and continued excellence from two of the league’s top outside hitters.

Star-Heavy Berlin Still Searching For Sustained Success

Heading into the 2018-19 Volleyball Bundesliga, the Berlin Recycling Volleys generated a lot of hype and high expectations. 

EIVA Notebook: Penn State Enjoys Unbeaten Week

Last week was a slow one for teams in the EIVA men’s volleyball conference, with only six of the eight teams in action and just six matches total. 

Dustin Watten: The Most Zen Man In Volleyball

It all began during one cold professional season in Finland. 

Catching Up With VNL Hero Michelle Bartsch-Hackley

Bartsch-Hackley Ignites USA Comeback Victory

To the casual American volleyball fan, it might seem like your favorite Team USA volleyball players disappear at the end of the summer, not to be heard from again until national team competition starts up again in May.

Ellie Holzman Named National Gatorade Player Of The Year

On Wednesday morning, Gatorade surprised Ellie Holzman with its National Volleyball Player of the Year award. The honor serves as the cherry on top of an incredible prep career for Holzman at Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana, and with the club Adidas WD Nation.

EIVA Notebook: Mason Shocks Ohio State, Vaults Into Top 15

As we approach the end of the first month of the 2019 men’s college volleyball season, teams are continuing to find their rhythm and negotiate the best lineups and plays.