Women's VNL Dream Team 2018: Where are they now?

 

Michelle Bartsch-Hackley in VNL semifinal attacking action against China, was key to USA's winning the gold medal last year. She currently plays in Italy and has already led Igor Gorgonzola Novara to their first title of the season.

Lausanne, Switzerland, February 14, 2019 - The stars who shone last year at the inaugural FIVB Women's Volleyball Nations League are gearing up for the second edition of the competition as they continue to thrill fans with their club performances before they re-join their national teams. But what are the superstars who made up the 2018 VNL Dream Team up to nowadays?

Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley was instrumental in leading USA to the title of the inaugural edition of the VNL, after twice coming back from a set down in the final at Nanjing to beat Turkey in five electrifying sets, a feat that earned her the MVP title.

This year the 28-year-old plays for Igor Gorgonzola Novara where she takes most of the reception responsibilities and has already helped the club claim the Italian Cup for the first title of the season. Novara are currently neck-and-neck with Imoco Volley Conegliano at the top of the standings in the Italian top flight Serie A1. They are also top of their pool in the European Champions League, undefeated after four matches.



Alongside Bartsch as a Best Outside Hitter at the 2018 VNL was China's Zhu Ting, the only player from the home nation in the finals to feature on the Dream Team. Now for a third season with Turkey's VakifBank, the 24-year-old MVP of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship, leads her club in both Turkey's domestic league (where they currently trail crosstown rivals Ecazcibasi VitrA) and the European Champions League (where they are undefeated in pool play after four matches).

Zhu plays alongside Cansu Ozbay in VakifBank. The 22-year-old Turkish international was named on the 2018 VNL Dream Team as Best Setter of the Final Six in recognition for her role as playmaker in the incredible feat of Turkey who came away from the inaugural competition with a silver medal.

Middle blockers of the 2018 VNL Dream Team, Tori Dixon of USA and Eda Erdem of Turkey, are also in the forefront of their respective clubs' performances this season.

Twenty-six-year old Dixon left Italy for China this year and has been leading Beijing BAIC Motors Volleyball Club, who are currently playing in the best-of-five semifinal series of the Chinese League.



Meanwhile, 31-year-old Erdem continues with Istanbul's Fenerbahce, in her 11th year with the club. Fenerbahce are currently third in the Turkish League, but are undefeated and top of their pool after four matches in the European Champions League.

Brazil's 30-year-old Tandara Caixeta, Best Opposite of the 2018 VNL, is also in China, where she led Guangdong Evergrande - though the side finished seventh in the Regular Season and are out of the Playoffs.

Suelen Pinto, however, the Brazilian 31-year-old who was libero of the 2018 VNL Dream Team, is currently in action with Dentil Praia Clube of Uberlandia in Brazil's Superleague, who are in second place in the standings chasing leaders Minas Tenis Clube of Belo Horizonte.

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