American Women In CEV Champions League

Just because the summer is over and Team USA’s top volleyball players have dispersed to their various professional teams overseas, that doesn’t mean you have to go months without seeing your favorite national team athletes in action.

Many of the U.S. women’s national team players are competing in the 2019-20 CEV Champions League tournament, which began with the preliminary rounds way back in early October and will go all the way through to the SuperFinals in May 2020.

The pool play/group stage round kicks off November 19, with five pools of four teams each, and here is a comprehensive list of where you can find Americans in this year’s edition Europe’s top professional indoor volleyball competition, streaming live on FloVolleyball. 

Pool A

Eczacibasi Istanbul (Turkey)

Lauren Gibbemeyer, Carli Lloyd

Eczacibasi is one of the powerhouse teams in the Turkish league. Middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer, who this summer announced the end of her career with the national team, is in her second season with the club after helping the team finish runner-up in the Turkish league and win the 2018 Turkish Super Cup, a feat which it repeated just last month.

This year, setter Carli Lloyd joins Gibbemeyer on the Eczacibasi roster. Lloyd also stepped away from the national team midway through the summer, and she comes to Istanbul after spending the 2018-19 pro season with Praia Clube in Brazil. 

The immense talent on this Eczacibasi doesn’t stop with the Americans. International superstars on this roster include Brazil national team captain Natalia Pereira, 2012 Olympics MVP Kim Yeon-Koung of Korea, and 2018 World Championships MVP Tijana Boskovic of Serbia.

Fenerbahce (Turkey)

Kelsey Robinson

Due to luck of the draw, two of Turkey’s top teams ended up in the same Champions League pool. Fenerbahce finished third in the Turkish league last year in addition to finishing runner-up in the Turkish Cup. 

Of the five outside hitters on Fenerbahce’s roster this season, all but two are new to the team, including Team USA’s Kelsey Robinson. Previously a member of VakifBank Istanbul, Robinson had a fantastic summer with the national team, helping USA win three medals and earning Best Outside Hitter at the World Cup.

Robinson’s notable teammates at Fenerbahce include Serbian outside hitter Brankica Mihajlovic, who spent the last two seasons with JT Marvelous in Japan’s V.League where she was 2018-19’s Excellent Player and Best Outside Hitter. With Team Serbia, Mihajlovic was named Best Outside Spiker at this summer’s European Championships. 

LP Salo (Finland)

Kayla Haneline 

Filling the role of underdog in Pool A is LP Salo. This squad won Finland’s Mestaruusliiga last spring, and features one American on its 2019-20 roster. 

Kayla Haneline played for the University of Northern Iowa from 2013 to 2016 where she was a three-time Missouri Valley Conference first-teamer. After graduating, Haneline played for Vasas Röplabda in Hungary and then spent 2018-19 with LP Kangasala in Finland where she served as a team captain.

The LP Salo roster features mostly Finnish players, but in addition to American Haneline, there are also athletes from Ukraine, Croatia, and Estonia. 

*Pool A also features Budowlani Lodz from Poland, but there are no Americans on this year’s roster. 

Upcoming Pool A Matches

Eczacibasi vs. Fenerbahce | Nov. 19, 2019

Budowlani Lodz vs. LP Salo | Nov. 20, 2019

LP Salo vs. Eczacibasi | Nov. 26, 2019

Fenerbahce vs. Budowlani Lodz | Nov. 28, 2019

Pool B

There is not a single American on the roster of the teams that make up Pool B: Lokomotiv Kaliningrad Region (Russia), Nova KBM Branik Maribor (Slovenia), Savino Del Bene Scandicci (Italy), and VakifBank Istanbul (Turkey). 

However, fans of NCAA women’s volleyball will recognize Mexican outside hitter Samantha Bricio, who is in her first season with Scandicci, returning to Italy where she played for Imoco from 2016 to 2018 before spending one season in Turkey with Fenerbahce. While in college at the University of Southern California, Bricio was a three-time All-American and the 2015 AVCA National Player of the Year.

Upcoming Pool B Matches

VakifBank vs. Scandicci | Nov. 20, 2019

Lokomotiv vs. Branik | Nov. 20, 2019

Branik vs. VakifBank | Nov. 27, 2019

Scandicci vs. Lokomotiv | TBD

Pool C

Allianz MTV Stuttgart (Germany)

Jennifer Hamson, Krystal Rivers, Jenna Rosenthal 

Stuttgart has the most American players of any team in the women’s Champions League. Jennifer Hamson and Jenna Rosenthal are new to the squad this year, but Krystal Rivers returns for her second season in Germany.

In 2018-19, Rivers helped Stuttgart become the first German women’s team to advance to the quarterfinals of Champions League. She finished the competition ranked seventh among all players with 172 points.

Six-foot-six middle Rosenthal, a 2018 graduate of Marquette, played her first pro season with LP Salo in Finland before signing with Stuttgart. She spent the summer training with the national team and represented USA at the Pan American Cup. 

Former BYU First Team All-American opposite Hamson, on the other hand, played four seasons of professional basketball in the U.S. and Australia before returning to volleyball just last year, joining the roster of Wiesbaden, another German league team.

LKS Commercecon Lodz (Poland)

Nicole Edelman

Former Colorado setter Nicole Edelman made the move from Beziers, France, to Lodz, Poland, for her fourth professional season. She replaces former Purdue setter Valerie Nichol, who quarterbacked the LKS Lodz squad last year.

In last year’s Champions League, Edelman finished in fourth place in Pool A with Beziers. LKS Lodz suffered the same fate in Pool D. 

*Igor Gorgonzola Novara of the Italian League and Khimik Yuzhny from Ukraine round out Pool C, but neither have any Americans on their roster.

Upcoming Pool C Matches

LKS Lodz vs. Stuttgart | Nov. 19, 2019

Novara vs. Khimik Yuzhny | Nov. 20, 2019

Khimik Yuzhny vs. LKS Lodz | Nov. 26, 2019

Stuttgart vs. Novara | Nov. 27, 2019

Pool D

A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano (Italy)

Kim Hill, Chiaka Ogbogu

Kim Hill came to Imoco two years ago and this marks her third season with the club. The Olympian helped Imoco win the Italian league last spring and finish runner-up in Champions League. 

This season, she’ll be joined in Conegliano by national team teammate Chiaka Ogobu. Ogbogu just concluded her second season with Team USA, and it was a breakout season for the former Texas Longhorn. The middle blocker led the team with 33 blocks in Volleyball Nations League and was the World Cup’s third-best blocker overall with 32.

Imoco will once again be one of the top contenders for Champions League gold. In addition to Hill and Ogbogu, the stacked roster features outsides Indre Sorokaite and Miriam Sylla, opposite Paola Egonu, and libero Monica de Gennaro of the Italian national team, not to mention the Netherlands’ Robin de Kruijf and Polish setter Joanna Wolosz.

Nantes VB (France)

Lauren Schad, Lindsey Vander Weide

One of just two French teams in the women’s Champions League this year, reigning French league runner-up Nantes has a pair of Americans on its side. Lauren Schad, an outside hitter at the University of San Diego from 2013 to 2016, played for Chamalieres, another team in the French league, for her first season of pro volleyball before coming to Nantes last fall. 

Lindsey Vander Weide played indoor and beach volleyball for the University of Oregon from 2015 to 2019, twice earning third team All-America honors. This season with Nantes marks her first pro contract.

*Vasas Óbuda Budapest (Hungary) and C.S.M. Volei Alba Blaj (Romania), also teams in Pool D, do not have any Americans on their rosters.

Upcoming Pool D Matches

Imoco vs. Vasas Obuda | Nov. 19, 2019

Nantes vs. Alba Blaj | Nov. 19, 2019

Vasas Obuda vs. Nantes | Nov. 26, 2019

Alba Blaj vs. Imoco | Nov. 27, 2019

Pool E

Dinamo Moscow (Russia)

Lauren Carlini

Team USA setter Lauren Carlini had a great showing in the 2018-19 Champions League, contributing to Novara’s gold-medal finish. This season, however, the former Wisconsin Badger is embarking on a new adventure with Dinamo Moscow of the Russian league. 

Carlini is one of just two foreign players on the Dinamo Moscow roster this fall. The other is outside hitter Helena Havelkova of the Czach Republic.

*There are no Americans on the rosters of Pool E’s other three teams: Maritza Plovdiv (Bulgaria), RC Cannes (France), and Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg (Russia). 

Upcoming Pool E Matches

RC Cannes vs. Maritza Plovdiv | Nov. 19, 2019

Dinamo Moscow vs. Uralochka-NTMK | Nov. 21, 2019

Maritza Plovdiv vs. Dinamo Moscow | Nov. 27, 2019

Uralochka-NTMK vs. RC Cannes | Nov. 27, 2019

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