The United States volleyball circuit was well-represented by Gophers this summer as the team gears up for the 2019-2020 season.
Sophomores C.C. McGraw and Adanna Rollins, as well as juniors Regan Pittman and Stephanie Samedy, had a chance to play for USA volleyball in places like California, Italy and Japan.
For sophomores McGraw and Rollins, the experience they had overseas is something they’ll never forget.
“It was by far one of the coolest experiences,” McGraw said. “It was such an honor to be able to compete with some of the top athletes at the collegiate level. We got to meet a bunch of new players and play under a different coach, and it was just a really cool and unique experience.”
Rollins echoed this sentiment.
“It was a wonderful experience," she said. "It was my first time so it was really exciting and new, and I learned a lot from the different countries I played and the different girls I got to play with from different colleges”
For these rising stars, their experience playing with and against players across the world provided more than just a unique summer experience. It offered a chance to participate in a different kind of game altogether at times, one with different pace and styles.
In Japan, McGraw saw a game that she wasn’t quite used to back in the states, a style that taught her to get more comfortable being uncomfortable while playing.
“The Japanese game is so different than what we’re used to, so getting a different view of the game of volleyball was really valuable,” McGraw said. “One of the biggest things that the Japanese team had was their defense, they dug everything, and as a result they were super successful.”
For Rollins, the emphasis playing in Italy was all about the value of each possession.
“I just learned how much every point matters. It’s such a fast game over [in Europe] it really helped me embrace how much you have to put into every single point,” Rollins said. “I plan on taking that [mindset] into the season.”
For both players, the opportunity gave them an insight into ways the Gophers, and themselves as individuals, can improve next season.
“I’ll definitely take what I learned overseas and give it to my teammates, talk about how points matter and how being together as a team makes a difference,'' Rollins said.
“My takeaway is that I need to scrap away at balls this season, do everything I can to keep the ball off of the floor, doing the best for my team, and just getting the job done.”
The Gophers aren’t finished representing Team USA yet this summer. Former Gophers Hannah Tapp, Samantha Seliger-Swenson and Sarah Wilhite are gearing up for the Pan-Am Games in Peru on Aug. 7-11.