Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Bartsch-Hackley and Carlini: Champions of European Volleyball

Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Lauren Carlini, hailing from Champaign and Aurora, Illinois respectively, led the way for Igor Gorgonzola Novara as they clinched the European Champions League Super Finals title. The victory came in a thrilling match against Imoco Volley Conegliano, a team featuring U.S. Women’s National Team members Kim Hill and Karsta Lowe. This triumph is considered the pinnacle of success in European professional volleyball.

Quick Sets

  • The U.S. Women are set to defend their FIVB Volleyball Nations Title from May 21-23 in Bulgaria.
  • Lincoln, Nebraska will play host to the U.S. Women as they face Brazil, Germany, and South Korea in their home week of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League from June 4-6.

Trivia Question: Can you remember the last time a player with remaining college eligibility competed in an FIVB event as part of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s opening week roster for the Volleyball Nations League?

Novara’s triumph in the European Champions League took place in Berlin, in front of an electrifying crowd of 9,046 spectators. This victory was particularly sweet for Novara, as they had suffered defeat to Conegliano in the best-of-five Italian Serie A1 championships just weeks prior.

Bartsch-Hackley’s outstanding performance earned her a spot in the Champions League Dream Team. She recorded 20 kills on 45 attacks, boasting a kill percentage of 44% and a hitting efficiency of .311. Eight of her kills came in the pivotal fourth set, which sealed the victory for Novara. Bartsch-Hackley also contributed defensively with a block, accumulating a total of 21 points. Additionally, she handled an impressive 40 of the team’s 76 receptions, achieving a positive reception rate of 53%. Carlini played a crucial role as well, setting up the team to achieve a 39% kill percentage. She even added two individual kills, one block, and one ace to her tally.

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Reflecting on the team’s journey, Bartsch-Hackley expressed her pride and credited their resilience after being defeated in the Italian Championship. She highlighted the strength of both teams and emphasized the importance of maintaining confidence and a determined mindset.

Lowe, initially starting as a substitute in the first two sets before taking the court as opposite in the final two sets, led the charge for Conegliano with 16 points. She contributed 12 kills on 33 swings and four blocks. Hill also made her presence felt with 10 kills on 35 swings and an impressive 65% positive reception rate on 20 chances.

As champions of the European Champions League, Bartsch-Hackley and Carlini will share in Novara’s impressive €400,000 prize, with Conegliano receiving €200,000.

Throughout the 2018-2019 season, Novara and Conegliano engaged in a passionate rivalry, with titles being traded back and forth. While Conegliano emerged victorious in the Italian Supercup, Novara secured the Italian Cup title. The head-to-head matches in the Italian Serie A1 regular season produced mixed results, with Novara winning the first encounter in four sets, and Conegliano bouncing back to win the second match in straight sets. Ultimately, Conegliano triumphed in all three matches of the Italian Serie A1 finals.

The European Champions League not only signifies the conclusion of the pro league season but also paves the way for the four American athletes who competed in the finals. Following a brief rest, they will return to Anaheim to train with Team USA and aim for a spot on the U.S. roster for the Volleyball Nations League. While a 14-player roster has already traveled to Bulgaria for the first week of the VNL, several veterans, along with other players, remain in Anaheim to continue their training.

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Trivia Answer: The last player with remaining college eligibility to compete for Team USA in an FIVB-level event was Foluke Akinradewo. She participated in the 2008 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round. Ebony Nwanebu, on the other hand, represented the team in the 2014 Montreux Volley Masters, a non-FIVB level event but one held at a higher level than zonal competitions, during her freshman and sophomore seasons at the University of Southern California.

FAQs

Q1: When and where did the European Champions League Super Finals take place?

A1: The European Champions League Super Finals were held in Berlin, Germany.

Q2: How did Novara perform in the Italian Serie A1 championships?

A2: Novara suffered three consecutive defeats to Conegliano in the best-of-five Italian Serie A1 championships.

Q3: What is the prize for winning the European Champions League?

A3: The winning team, Novara, received a prize of €400,000.

Q4: What is the next upcoming event for the U.S. Women’s National Team?

A4: The U.S. Women’s National Team will be defending their FIVB Volleyball Nations Title in Bulgaria from May 21-23.

Q5: Who was the last player with remaining college eligibility to compete for Team USA in an FIVB event?

A5: Foluke Akinradewo was the last player with remaining college eligibility to compete for Team USA in an FIVB event.

Summary

Bartsch-Hackley and Carlini led Igor Gorgonzola Novara to victory in the European Champions League Super Finals, defeating Imoco Volley Conegliano in a thrilling match. Novara claimed their first-ever European Champions League title, overcoming their previous defeat to Conegliano in the Italian Serie A1 championships. Bartsch-Hackley’s exceptional performance earned her a spot in the Champions League Dream Team, while Lowe and Hill showcased their skills for Conegliano. The next challenge for the U.S. Women’s National Team is the FIVB Volleyball Nations Title in Bulgaria. Finally, Foluke Akinradewo holds the distinction of being the last player with remaining college eligibility to compete for Team USA in an FIVB event.

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