The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team will return to Lincoln in 2018 as it hosts a four-team round-robin pod May 15-17 in the opening week of the new FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL).

Team USA, ranked No. 2 in the world by the FIVB, will host No. 7 Italy, No. 12 Turkey and No. 22 Poland at the 7,900-seat Bob Devaney Sports Center in the first scheduled international matches of the 2018 season.

The schedule:

Tuesday, May 15

Turkey vs. Italy, 5 p.m. CT

USA vs. Poland, 7 p.m. CT

Wednesday, May 16

Poland vs. Italy, 5 p.m. CT

USA vs. Turkey, 7 p.m. CT

Thursday, May 17

Turkey vs. Poland, 5 p.m. CT

USA vs. Italy, 7 p.m. CT

Ticket sales next week

Match tickets for University of Nebraska volleyball season ticket holders will go on sale Dec. 18 at 10 a.m. Tickets that remain will go on sale to the public Dec. 19 at 10 a.m. through www.huskers.com/usavolleyball or 800-8-BIGRED. All session ticket prices are $36, $66 and $96. Single-session tickets, which will go on sale at a later date this winter, will be $15, $25 and $35.

The VNL, a 16-country league for both genders, replaces the FIVB World Grand Prix starting in 2018. The VNL, a joint venture between the FIVB and IMG under its new branding, continues to serve as the premier annual international women’s tournament. The VNL is comprised of 12 core teams and four challenger teams who will compete in a round-robin format. Each country will play a minimum of 15 matches with each core country hosting at least one round-robin pod.

“Any time we get to host any part of an international competition on American soil, we're pumped because we love playing in front of American volleyball fans,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “But getting to play a preliminary week of Volleyball Nations League in Lincoln, Nebraska, with the amazing support and love that community has for our sport, leaves us ecstatic - Lincoln, can't wait to see you!”

The U.S. Women are familiar with the Lincoln community. The Americans hosted and won the 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament, an event played at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. The U.S. defeated Dominican Republic on the final night of the event with over 10,000 fans in attendance on a frigid, snowy evening in early January 2016. With that victory, the U.S. qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games where it went on to win the bronze medal with a 7-1 record.

Excited for return

“We are very excited to welcome back the U.S. Women’s National Team to Lincoln for this event, further emphasizing a passionate community that loves volleyball on all levels,” Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jeff Maul said.

“Our staff appreciates the relationship with Team USA and we are excited to showcase our facilities and our community to new visitors and athletes. Our continued growth as a sports destination will be further emphasized with this exciting event and we invite everyone to come experience the energy of volleyball at the highest level.”

Familiar faces possible

The Team USA roster could have multiple University of Nebraska players returning to their Lincoln roots for the Volleyball Nations League matches. Two-time Olympic Games medalist Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska), 2016 Olympian Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California), libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California) and middle Amber Rolfzen (Papillion, Nebraska) are all possible players to suit up for Team USA in Lincoln. The quartet were stars for Nebraska who played in front of the legendary Husker fans in their scarlet and cream uniforms.

The U.S. Women finished the 2017 season with an 18-8 record and the bronze medal at the season-ending FIVB World Grand Champions Cup. Italy finished the 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix in second place, but did not qualify for the World Grand Champions Cup. Turkey finished in 11th place in last year’s World Grand Prix. Poland, one of four challenger teams in this year’s VNL, won the second tier of the World Grand Prix in 2017.

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