After helping her team reach the WAC Tournament championship game last season, Idaho volleyball player Alyssa Schultz took her talents to Denver in February, where she tried out for the U.S. Olympic team and was named as an alternate for the A2 team.
The 6-foot-3 middle blocker will be entering her junior season and has already amassed an impressive record at Idaho. She was named to the WAC All-Freshman team in 2011 and earned first-team All-WAC honors as a sophomore in 2012, hitting a staggering .340 on the season, which ranked fourth in the conference.
The A2 team is one step below the national team, but practices and plays in multiple tournaments. Depending on the situation, Schultz could have an opportunity to play and practice with the team this summer.
Schultz said playing with that many talented girls showed her what the tryout was all about.
“It was more humbling than anything, but also gives me a lot of drive,” Schultz said. “It makes me work harder here and become better and prove myself next year when I go.”
Having a crack at getting on a national team is becoming a common occurrence at Idaho. Last year Allison (Walker) Baker tried out for the U.S. national team and at the end of April, Idaho junior Ashley Christman and senior Janelle Chow will try out for the Canadian national team.
“It’s going to be another great opportunity to get better and practice with some good girls,” Christman said.
Christman said it’s going to be fun.
“There’s only 54 girls that get to go and it’s just going to be a good time playing with some talented players,” she said.
The coaching staff is all in favor of their players trying out for the national teams because it keeps them playing and helps them improve. Schultz said it’s fun to have multiple players trying out for national teams because it helps the team as a whole drive to get better.
“It’s a lot of fun to have that talent, because we can relate to what each other is doing,” Schultz said. “It gives younger kids something to work for and is just a chance to keep playing.”
While being an alternate on the A2 team is an honor, Schultz is not satisfied with it.
“I’m planning on going for the next two years,” Schultz said.
“I kind of got to network myself in with the other middles and got to see the level I need to be at and how to work and become more versatile at what I do.”
In the end, Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said it shows how good the program has become.
“It’s great, and that’s how it should be,” Buchanan said. “It’s only going to make us better and we can help some of these kids reach our goals, from playing on an internationally, or on a national team or going pro.”
Kevin Bingaman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org