Three events make up the triple crown of international volleyball: the Olympics, World Championships, and World Cup.
Less than a year out from the 2020 Olympics, the 2019 Women’s World Cup will take place from Sept. 13 to Sept. 28 in Tokyo, which of course also happens to be the host city for next summer’s games.
Fresh off a gold medal at the 2019 Volleyball Nations League, Team USA has arrived in Japan with the intention of winning its first World Cup title. That determination is evident in the group of 14 athletes USA head coach Karch Kiraly selected to travel to Japan for the World Cup. There’s no resting athletes or bringing young ones to gain experience. This is the A team.
“The World Cup is one of the three major tournaments in international volleyball, and it’s a title that our USA Women have just fallen short of winning in previous editions,” Kiraly said, referencing the silver medal won in 2011 and bronze in 2003, 2007, and 2015. “We’ll play 11 matches in 16 days, so our challenge is to play the strongest, most consistent volleyball we’ve played over a very short but intense period.”
Although very similar to the roster Kiraly used toward the end of the Volleyball Nations League tournament, there are a few notable changes in this World Cup group. For one, the three wunderkinds who are still in college but traveled for most of the summer with the national team—Dana Rettke, Mary Lake, and Jordan Thompson—are back with their college squads, and therefore not included on this travel roster.
Secondly, and directly related to the previous fact, Justine Wong-Orantes is back as one of two liberos on the roster, taking Lake’s place as the backup to Megan Courtney. The former Nebraska Husker has not traveled with the team for a major international tournament since the 2018 VNL; however, she did help the USA win gold at the Pan Am Cup in July where she was named Best Libero and Best Receiver.
Two names you won’t find on the 14-player roster are Carli Lloyd and Lauren Gibbemeyer, both of whom haven’t traveled with the team since Week 5 of VNL and have recently announced via social media that their time with Team USA has come to an end.
Instead, Lauren Carlini appears to have usurped Lloyd as the starting setter and will look to add a World Cup gold medal to her trophy case after quarterbacking the team to VNL gold and Olympic qualification earlier this year.
U.S. Women's National Team Roster for 2019 FIVB World Cup
# - Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
2 – Jordyn Poulter (S, 6-2, Illinois, Aurora, Colorado)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Champaign, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
19 – Hannah Tapp (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
22 – Haleigh Washington (M, 6-3, Penn State, Colorado Springs, Colorado)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Manhattan Beach, California)
24 – Chiaka Ogbogu (M, 6-2, Texas, Coppell, Texas)
25 – Karsta Lowe (OPP, 6-4, UCLA, Rancho Santa Fe, California)
Team USA kicks off the round robin competition versus Kenya on Sept. 14 (late in the evening on Sept. 13 here in the States), but the top competition for the title will likely be China, the reigning gold medalist from the 2015 edition of the World Cup and the current No. 2-ranked team in the world.
Serbia claimed a silver medal at the 2015 World Cup and is the top-ranked team in the world, but with this year’s World Cup not serving as an Olympic qualifier as it has in years past (because a country cannot host a qualifier for an Olympic Games it’s hosting) and with European Championships having just ended on Sunday, with Serbia emerging as the repeat winners, expect Serbia, and likely the other European teams at World Cup, to rest some of their major stars.
FIVB World Cup Schedule of U.S. Women’s National Team Matches:
In Hamamatsu, Japan
In Sapporo, Japan
In Osaka, Japan