Drews, Kojima, Hoffman, Gennari, and Thater Join LOVB

LOVB StaffThursday, Mar 21, 2024





Following singings of some of the most lauded athletes in the sport, LOVB today revealed it has added some of the most buzzed about Olympic medalists, World Champions and All-Americans: Annie Drews, Manami Kojima, Claire Hoffman, Alessia Gennari, and Emily Thater to its pro roster.  These new LOVB Pro athletes will continue to help LOVB raise the bar on what to expect from game day matches, with team assignments announced later this year.

"The squads we are building at LOVB is nothing short of remarkable,” said Tom Hogan, director of sport for LOVB Pro. “Annie, Manami, Claire, Alessia, and Emily not only all embody the talent, charisma and dedication needed to build a world-class league. As we build towards the start of our pre-season, expect these incredible athletes to deliver some incredibly electrifying play.”

An opposite hitter from Elkhart Indiana, Olympic gold medalist Drews has been a member of the U.S. National team since 2017. An All-American at Purdue University, she was named the 2019 USAV Female Indoor Player of the Year, and also played on the U.S. Collegiate National team.  She has played professionally in Puerto Rico, Italy, Turkey and Japan, where she was recognized with multiple "Best Opposite" and MVP awards.

Hoffman, an outside hitter from Pleasant Hill, Oregon, is a 3x All-American from the University of Washington. Finishing an incredible sixth in UW history with 1,571 career kills, fourth with 4,258 career attacks, and fourth with 151 career aces, Hoffman was named the Best Server in the 2020/2021 Pac-12 Conference season. She has also played professionally in France. 

“Joining LOVB feels like a dream,” said Claire Hoffman. “To be able to continue my professional volleyball career in the U.S. alongside such an extraordinary group of women, and for a league that not only prioritizes its athletes, but is also dedicated to advancing the game within the U.S., is incredibly exciting. I can't wait to get started!”

Hailing from Miyagi, Japan, Kojima is a famed libero, having played professionally with the NEC Red Rockets of Japan since 2016, where she serves as captain. She has been recognized as the Best Libero at the 2013 U20 World Championships, at the 2015/2016 All Japan Intercollegiate Championship, the 2017 and 2019 VTV International Cup, the 2023 Asian Championships and at the 2023/2024 Japan V.League Division 1. 

Furthering LOVB’s international draw, Gennari is a member of the Italian National team who won gold at the 2013 Mediterranean Games, and competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics. An outside hitter from Parma, Italy, she was named the "Best Spiker" at the 2007 Junior European Championships, and has won the championship with her professional teams at the 2015-2016 Lega Pallovolo Serie A Femminile, 2016 Coppa Italia and 2018-2019 CEV Cup. 

“I’m really excited to start this new sport and life adventure,” said Gennari. “This is my first experience playing outside of Italy, and I cannot be more happy to do it with LOVB! I have heard about the great energy behind the project and I can’t wait to feel it in my own skin and bring my volleyball experience to this incredible league!”

Thater, a middle blocker from Springfield, Missouri played for the University of Missouri, where she earned the reputation as one of the program’s all-time steadiest and most productive middle blockers. By her senior year, she ranked top-five in block assists, blocks per set and solo blocks, and she's only the fourth Tiger to have 400+ career total blocks. Following her time at Mizzou, she's also played professionally in Germany and France. 

"I’m proud and grateful to be a LOVB athlete! Professional women’s volleyball finally has a home in the USA," said Thater. "I can’t wait to compete with the best in the world and continue my professional journey in my home country. What an honor!"


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