Four Jayhawks Head to National Team Tryouts
Open Tryout Live Stream
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery, sophomore middle blocker Tayler Soucie, freshman setter Ainise Havili and freshman middle blocker Kelsie Payne will represent Kansas volleyball at the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Open Tryout at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Feb. 20-22.
Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and U.S. Olympic Hall of Famer, Karch Kiraly, will lead the tryout process that will be used primarily to identify prospective athletes for the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team. Athletes not invited to participate with the National Team may be invited to attend a second tryout as part of the U.S. Collegiate National Teams program, formerly the U.S. Women’s Senior A2 Teams, or the Women’s Junior National Team – both of which the Jayhawks have ties with.
Prior to her arrival on campus last fall, Havili was one of two setters on the U.S Women’s Junior National Team (WJNT) that won gold at the 2014 NORCECA Women’s U-20 Continental Championship in Guatemala. Kansas head coach Ray Bechard coached with the U.S. Women’s Senior A2 Teams in the summer of 2012.
“The leadership that USA Volleyball has right now with Karch Kiraly and his staff, I don’t think there has ever been a better time for the development of volleyball in our country,” Bechard said. “We feel like we have some kids in our program that could potentially contribute to that. Why not give them an opportunity to get out, be seen and play against a lot of high-caliber competition. Not only will they develop personal growth, but also some visibility for things that could develop later in their careers.”
Soucie and Dockery will each attend the national tryout for the second time, and Bechard noticed that each of them came back with an added boost to their already-potent volleyball IQ. Soucie was named All-Big 12 First Team in 2014 after leading the league in blocks (1.40), while Dockery earned All-Big 12 Second Team accolades last fall thanks to her 200+ kills and 150+ digs.
Havili set the tone in the conference with her 1,332 assists and 11.29 assists per set, both of which were the best by all Big 12 setters in 2014 and were among the top-20 in the nation. What’s more, her 1,332 assists broke the KU freshman record. She wrapped up the year on the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America Honorable Mention Team. Payne chalked up a .341 hitting efficiency to finish second in the conference, making her a lock for the Big 12 All-Freshman Team.
Selected athletes for the U.S. Women’s National Team may begin their training in Anaheim, California, as early as spring 2015. The U.S. Collegiate National Team program has three competition options: World University Games Team (June 28-July 14), Tour of China (June 12-26) and USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships (June 21-30).
For athletes born in 1996 or 1997, they will also be evaluated to earn a spot on the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team that will compete at the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship in Cyprus July 1-13 with a training block from June 14-29 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Payne’s birthday does not fall in that window, but Havili will be contending to make the WJNT roster for the second-straight season.
Selections for the U.S. Collegiate National Teams will be made by the end of March, while selected athletes to the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team will be notified by April 31 with a public announcement expected by May 7.
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