International Volleyball

USA women open Volleyball Nations League against Thailand

USA women open Volleyball Nations League against Thailand

Turkiye’s Melissa Vargas goes over Ali Frantti and Dana Rettke during the 2023 VNL/Volleyball World photo @shotbygomez

The USA women’s quest to repeat as Olympic champions begins with the first leg of Volleyball Nations League.

After a brief time together in the gym in Anaheim, the American contingent headed to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for four matches. The first is Wednesday against Thailand.

VNL rosters can include up to 14 players. For the Olympics in Paris, teams can have 12 players plus one official alternate. The USA teams will differ for each of the first three VNL segments.

USA Volleyball has yet to announce its roster, but unofficially it’s been reported that the setters are Jordyn Poulter and Lauren Carlini; the liberos are Justine Wong-Orantes and Zoe Fleck; the outsides are Jordan Larson, Sarah Parsons, sisters Avery and Madi Skinner, and Ali Frantti; the middles are Kayla Haneline, Brionne Butler, Anna Hall and Chiaka Ogbogu; and the only opposite is Danielle Cuttino.

Poulter, Wong-Orantes, Larson and Ogbogu were on the team that won gold in Tokyo in 2021. Other Olympians in the USA gym but not on this roster include setter Micha Hancock, middle Haleigh Washington, outside Kelsey Cook and opposites Annie Drews and Jordan Thompson.

Of note: Poulter will compete for the first time since complete knee reconstruction; Larson, most outstanding player in Tokyo, did not play this season and alternated between her role as an assistant coach at Nebraska and training in Anaheim; Fleck and Madi Skinner were teammates on the Texas team that won the 2022 NCAA title; and the Skinners represent the first sisters on a USA team at this level in quite a while.

The tournament begins Tuesday with four matches, Bulgaria vs. Netherlands and Italy vs. Poland in Antalya, Türkiye, and China vs. Korea and Brazil vs. Canada in Rio. Here is the USA VNL schedule with all time Eastern. All matches can be see on Volleyball World TV:

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Wednesday, May 15: vs. Thailand, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 16: vs. China, 4:30 p.m.
Friday, May 17: vs. Brazil, 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 19: vs. Dominican Republic, 1 p.m.

Arlington, Texas
Wednesday, May 28: vs. Canada, 8:30 p.m.
Friday, May 31: vs. Bulgaria, 9 p.m.
Saturday, June 1: vs. Poland, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 2: vs. Türkiye, 4 p.m.

Fukuoka, Japan
Monday, June 10: vs. France, 2:30 a.m. Tuesday
Wednesday, June 12: vs. Netherlands, 11 p.m.
Friday, June 14: vs. Italy, 2:30 a.m. Wednesday
Sunday, June 16: vs. Japan, 5:45 a.m.

The final…

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