Haleigh Washington - USA middle blocker

The 2022 Volleyball Nations League start date of May 31 is certainly circled in the calendars of every player set to compete in the event. For the members of the USA women’s national team, it could even be highlighted with a golden marker.

The USA's four pool matches set to take place in Shreveport-Bossier City between the last day of May and June 5 will mark not only the start of the international season for the Americans, but also the first time they compete in front of their home fans since they won their country’s first Olympic gold medal last year, in Tokyo.

Significantly, the city located in the state of Louisiana also played an important role in the American triumph in Japan last year. It was in Shreveport-Bossier City that, in August 2019, they secured their presence at the Games by winning the Tokyo Olympic qualification tournament.

“This will be our homecoming and our first matches in the United States after the Olympics,” libero Justine Wong-Orantes said in an Instagram Live session with USA Volleyball. “Playing in front of our home fans is always amazing and getting to do so with our families and friends in attendance makes it mean even more. Most of us play overseas during the club season, so every opportunity to compete at home is very special. I’m not going to be on the court that first week, but I can’t wait to see the home crowd supporting us there and to get the season going.”

Wong-Orantes’ absence from the first-week squad is part of head coach Karch Kiraly's strategy to keep the Americans as a force in international volleyball while introducing new players to the roster. Four players who helped the team win gold last year in Tokyo – Olympic MVP Jordan Larson, legendary middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo and veteran outside hitters Kim Hill and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley – are not with the team in 2022.

On the other hand, as many as nine members of the roster will compete in the VNL for the first time in their careers including setter Jenna Gray, middle blockers Brionne Butler and Anna Stevenson, opposite Nia Reed, outside hitters Kara Bajema, Dani Drews and Ali Frantti and liberos Morgan Hentz and Kendall White.

The winners of the first three editions of the VNL, the United States will take on the Dominican Republic, Canada, Brazil and Japan in Shreveport-Bossier City.

“We are excited to return to competition and begin a new Olympic cycle, especially since we get to host the first phase of the 2022 VNL in Shreveport-Bossier City,” Kiraly commented. “We’re thrilled about the people on our roster. We’ve got a great range of experience, from Olympians to people spending their first time with our program. And finally, we’re eager to face the unknown, and see what lessons this group can gather from battling the strong teams of the world.”


American players celebrate with the fans after their victory in the Tokyo Olympic Qualifier in Shreveport-Bossier City in 2019

The additions of new faces to an accomplished core, Wong-Orantes expects, will feed the team with positive energy as they prepare for a challenging season, which will also feature the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship from September 23 through October 15 in the Netherlands and Poland.

“It’s been exciting to be in training with the new players,” Wong-Orantes added. “It’s the first year of the team ahead of the Paris Games and, as usual, there’s some turnover with some players retiring. But it’s been nice to see new faces in the gym. There are players we watched playing overseas or in college and we’re all excited to have them with us.”

All matches of the 2022 VNL will be streamed live on Volleyball TV. Don’t miss out and get your Volleyball TV Pass now!