CHAMPAIGN — Jordyn Poulter is getting another shot with the U.S. Women's National Team. The former Illinois setter was named to the U.S. roster for the opening week of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. Poulter and Team USA will open VNL play Wednesday against Belgium in Ruse, Bulgaria, before facing Japan on Thursday and capping the opening week Friday against Bulgaria. Poulter played for the gold medal winning U.S. WNT at last summer's Pan American Cup.
The U.S. won the inaugural VNL last year, with former Illini Michelle Bartsch-Hackley named the league MVP. The VNL is a 16-country league that includes 15 pool play matches for each country in a five-week period with four teams competing in round-robin play each week. The top five teams from the preliminary round will compete along with host China from July 3-7 in the VNL Final Six. The winning team receives $1 million.
Poulter just completed her first professional season with Chieri '76 in Italy's Serie A1 and will return to the team next season. Poulter joined Chieri '76 mid-year after completing her senior season with the Illini. The 6-foot-2 setter earned First Team All-American honors in 2018 and helped lead Illinois (32-4) to the Final Four.
Poulter is one of 11 former or current Big Ten players on the 14-player Team USA roster, which is drawn from the larger 25-player roster that includes Bartsch-Hackley. Wisconsin junior middle blocker Dana Rettke, the 2016 News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year, is one of three active college athletes on the roster. Other former Big Ten standouts who will represent the U.S. in Bulgaria include: Penn State's Micha Hacock (setter), Megan Courtney (libero), Haleigh Washington (middle blocker) and Simone Lee (outside hitter), Minnesota's Hannah Tapp (middle blocker) and Sarah Wilhite Parsons (outside hitter), Nebraska's Mikaela Foecke (outside hitter) and Purdue's Annie Drews (opposite).
"Last year’s first-ever edition of VNL was a huge hit with fans and teams alike," Team USA coach Karch Kiraly said. "We’re looking forward to an even-better version in year two, to learning how this youthful week one roster responds to the fierce challenges that top-level international competition will surely provide, and to laying the foundation for great development in the years ahead."