LOVB Continues Signing Spree With Additions of Grubbs, Alves, Cesar, Inoue, Palgutova and Hayden

LOVB StaffThursday, Apr 25, 2024

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LOVB CONTINUES SIGNING SPREE WITH ADDITIONS OF KEY ALVES, ANNIE CESAR, TESSA GRUBBS, MARIENA HAYDEN, KOTOE INOUE AND KARIN PALGUTOVA  

With anticipation for the league’s November pre-season debut mounting daily, LOVB today revealed the signings of six more internationally-celebrated athletes including: Tessa Grubbs, Keyla Alves, Annie Cesar, Kotoe Inoue, Karin Palgutova and Mariena Hayden. 

"As we continue to build out our rosters to ensure a killer first season for LOVB, we are thrilled to be welcoming internationally renowned talent like Tessa, Key, Annie, Kotoe, Karin and Mariena to our organization,” said Tom Hogan, director of sport for LOVB Pro. “These players have proven themselves time and again to get the job done, and we look forward to having them play on center stage in front of crowds in the United States.”

An opposite from Ohio, Tessa played for the University of Tennessee, where she was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team, and received SEC offensive Player of the Week honors three times. From there, she began her pro career overseas, playing for clubs like Nova KBM Branik, Municipal Olympique Mougins Volley-Ball, and Volley-Ball Nantes and Viteos NUC. In her 2022/23 season, she was named MVP of the Swiss League, Best Scorer and Best Server. She also achieved Best Scorer and Best Server in the 2022/23 Swiss Cup and Best Scorer in 2020/21's French Ligue A.

Hailing from Sao Paolo, Brazil, Keyla has been a standout in the sport since 2017, making Sesi Bauru U19. From there, she played professional volleyball for several clubs including EC Pinheiros and Osasco/São Cristóvão Saúde. At the South American Championship U20 2018, she was named Best Libero. She is also a member of the Brazilian national volleyball team.

From Bratislava, Slovakia, Karin is an outside hitter who has played collegiately at St. John's University where she was named to the All-Big East team four times. She is part of the Slovakia women's national volleyball team, and competed at the 2019 Women's European Volleyball Championship. She's played professionally in France and Switzerland, where she has helped lead teams to gold in French Ligue A, the 2021/2022 French Cup, the Slovakian Extraliga, the 2011/2012 and 2010/2011 Slovakian Cup and recognition at 2011/2012 MEVZA as Best Server.

“I am really happy to come back to Unites States where I lived during the college years,” said Palgutova. “I am sure that LOVB community will be a great place for me to play a high level volleyball and have lot of fun. Let's get the journey started!”

From Germany, Annie has played for German club Ladies in Black Aachen from the 2020/21 season until today, helping the club win bronze in the 2022/23 German Cup. While playing for Allianz MTV Stuttgart, Annie helped her team secure first place at German Bundesliga 2018/19, second place at the German Cup 2018/19 and second place in the German Cup 2019/20. She recently participated with Germany in the World Olympic Qualification 2024. 

"I am very happy to be part of the LOVB family,” said Cesar. “I can't wait to meet all the inspiring people who are involved in this league and get to work with them. I am excited to grow and learn, and enjoy volleyball in America."

A Libero from Kyoto, Japan, Inoue has been a member of the Japanese national team since 2021. She's most recently played professionally for Nakhon Ratchasima Huione QminC. She has been awarded a number of accolades throughout her career including Best Libero Thailand League 2023/24, MVP Thailand League 2023/24, Best Libero FIVB Grand Champions Cup 2017 and Best Libero Asian Championships U19 2008.

From Belle Plaine, Minnesota, Hayden played for UNLV, where she was named MVP, Best Outside Hitter, Best Scorer, Best Server and Best Spiker in the NCAA Mountain West Conference as she helped led her team to conference championships two years in a row. She's played professionally in Greece and France, where she has been named Best server Greek A1 Etniki 2022/23, and MVP and Best Outside Hitter at the National Invitational Volleyball Championship 2021/22. While playing professionally for Béziers Volley, her team has placed second in the French Supercup 2021/22 and bronze in the French Cup 2021/22.  

Founded in 2020, LOVB built the largest volleyball club business in the United States, in just four years, and has its pro league launching in November 2024.  LOVB has been deliberate in its approach, focusing on building from the ground-up versus top-down like other leagues. By focusing on building its club business first and then strategically choosing markets where it can tie its pro teams to its clubs, LOVB is creating a real pathway for American professional volleyball to be built from the grassroots-up, and opportunities for club players to train alongside professional athletes, a first in American sports.

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