Jayhawk Trio Makes USA Volleyball Roster
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Of the 36 athletes that USA Volleyball selected to participate in the U.S. Collegiate National Team (CNT) program, three of them are Jayhawks per USA Volleyball’s announcement on Thursday. Outside hitter Tiana Dockery, setter Ainise Havili and right side Kelsie Payne will train and compete in conjunction with the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships from June 21-29 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
For the fourth-consecutive year, USA Volleyball will have its U.S. Collegiate National Team program (formerly known as U.S. Women’s National A2 Team) represented at the USAV Girls’ Junior National Championships. The Jayhawks make up 75 percent of the Big 12 Conference representation on the team, joined by Kansas State’s Katie Brand.
“To have three out of 36 be Jayhawks – that speaks well to the tryout they had first and foremost,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “The willingness shown by each of these young women to work hard on the court, make improvements and create opportunities like this for themselves is great.”
Dockery earned All-Big 12 Second Team accolades last fall thanks to her 200+ kills and 150+ digs. One of two seniors on the roster, Dockery will use the high-caliber talent around her to continue to build her already ample skill set as well as her vocal leadership.
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. Bechard coached with the U.S. Women’s Senior A2 Teams in the summer of 2012.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Bechard said. “Anytime you get out-of-season experience in a very organized, high-skilled situation with extremely good competition, it creates a good opportunity for all three of them. Not for them to get a sense of the expectations of USA Volleyball, but to also expand the level of their own game. That will be fun to see.”
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.
This spring, Payne has shifted her role from the middle blocker position to the right side. The Austin native has the toolkit and size that translates well in either position. Payne chalked up a .341 hitting efficiency to finish second in the conference, making her a lock for the Big 12 All-Freshman Team.
The coaching staff for the CNT-GJNC program will be named in the coming weeks.
After the training portion of the program, the 36 athletes will be divided into three equal teams which will compete in a round-robin event June 26-29. The round-robin event may include an additional team to increase the field to four teams that would complete June 25-29.
Earlier this month the U.S. Collegiate National Team program selected rosters to compete in the World University Games and a Tour of China. In total, 60 athletes have been selected into the CNT program, which is part of the USA Volleyball High Performance pipeline.
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