Thursday, July 2, 2015

National Team | Vansant, Thompson, Miyashiro all on National Team Grand Prix roster

Three former Washington All-Americans represent USA this weekend in Turkey

former Washington All-American Krista Vansant is one of three former Huskies on the Round One USA Grand Prix Roster
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann

Three former Washington All-Americans—Olympians Courtney Thompson and Tama Miyashiro, plus 2015 grad Krista Vansant—are part of the US National Team roster for the first round of the 2015 Grand Prix.

In the first of three preliminary rounds, USA is in Ankara to face Italy on July 3 (6AM Pacific Time), then host Turkey on the Fourth of July (9AM PT), then Belgium July 5 (6AM PT).

For each round of the four-week competition, USA head coach Karch Kiraly choses 14 players from an eligible roster of 25. The three former Huskies on the Ankara roster is the most of any university.

Vansant turned heads last month when she was named the MVP in her first international competition, as the USA swept the Pan Am Cup in Lima, Peru. With the Rio Olympics barely one year away, the four outside hitter spots on the 12-member Olympic roster are still wide open, with only two players—Jordan Larson-Burbach and Kim Hill—seemingly ahead of the pack. Although Vansant has yet to play professionally (she’s signed with Zurich’s Volero club over the winter), she has a talent much in demand: good passing.

Four years ago, Thompson was fifth in the setter depth chart, but leapfrogged several teammates to earn a spot on the London Olympic roster. At this phase in the quad, it appears Molly Kreklow is auditioning to challenge the injured Alicia Glass for one setter spot, while Thompson will see competition from Carli Lloyd and fellow Husky alum Jenna Hagglund for the other setter slot in Rio.

Kayla Banwarth has been Kiraly’s go-to libero during the current quad, and Miyashiro’s chances for Rio may depend on whether USA once again takes two liberos to the Olympics. Olympian Nicole Davis is also in the mix.

The second round of the Grand Prix is next weekend in Kalingrad, where USA will face the host Russians, Turkey (again) and Serbia. The third round, July 16-18, is in Hong Kong, where USA will meet Japan, Thailand and China.

Six of the tournament’s 12 teams will advance to the final round. For the first time in 23 years, USA will host the finals, July 22-26, in Omaha. The host nation is guaranteed one of the six slots, which gives Kiraly an opportunity to take a longer-than-usual look at players like Vansant, without the pressure of Finals qualification in the equation.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

College | Stanford volleyball All-American Inky Ajanaku injured; 2015 season in question [VOLLEYBLOG SEATTLE EXCLUSIVE]

Stanford coach John Dunning says knee injury “very hard to deal with”

Stanford's Inky Ajanaku (12)
Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann
Stanford senior-to-be Inky Ajanaku—projected by many to be perhaps the best volleyball player in the Pac-12, if not the nation, this fall—will have to undergo an unspecified procedure this summer on her injured right knee.

The mishap occurred June 9, 2015, during the fourth set of a match in Lima, Peru, against Columbia. Ajanaku was playing middle blocker for the US National Team during the Pan Am Cup.

“She hit a ball and landed,” Stanford head coach John Dunning told Volleyblog Seattle during a telephone conversation this afternoon. “She hurt her right knee.”

Dunning said USA Volleyball arranged to have Ajanaku flown back to Palo Alto immediately, where she was able to see her doctor. “She has to have something fixed,” he said. “But before they can go in and fix it, they usually make you rehab. If there’s any swelling, the swelling has to go down.”

Citing university privacy rules, Dunning said he could not disclose the exact nature of the injury nor the type of procedure she’ll undergo. “I’m sure later on we’ll find out more,” he said, “and know more about what will happen with our season. But right now, (Ajanaku’s availability) is in question, for sure, because she got hurt.”

Ajanaku was Volleyball Magazine’s 2014 National Player of the Year, and a First-Team AVCA All-American in both 2013 and 2014. After reaching the Final Four last season, Stanford is considered among the favorites to return again this December. Besides Ajanaku, the team is loaded with stars, including returning All-Americans Madi Bugg (First Team), Jordan Burgess (First Team), and Merete Lutz (Second Team), among others.

Most members of the US National Team have already graduated from college. Occasionally, however, especially promising undergraduates are invited to train with the team during summer, perhaps participating in an international tournament. Last summer, former USC All-American Ebony Nwanebu injured her back while playing with the National Team after her freshman season. Nwanebu—the National Freshman of the Year in 2013—saw limited action with the Trojans last fall, and has since transferred to Texas.

When asked about the risks and rewards of undergraduates playing on the National Team, Dunning paused. Earlier this month, he said, he attended Stanford’s end-of-season awards ceremony honoring top Cardinal athletes from all sports. “And,” he said, “at least half of the athletes who were honored weren’t there because they were with their (respective) National Teams. For me, that helped me put it into perspective as to how should I feel about this.”

Even so, those feelings are still being sorted. “It’s very hard for me to deal with the fact that Inky’s hurt right now. I’m sad for her that she didn’t get more of an experience with the National Team. And that she’s having to deal with being injured right now.”

“Inky’s a very special athlete, a very special person,” said Dunning. “She has a lot of personality. She’s a strong person. She has a very close, very supportive family. She has lots of people around her that will help her. She’s a wonderful young woman. Everybody learns from all the experiences they go through. Some things are tougher than others. When an athlete is out and hurt for a while, it’s very hard. I’m sure she’ll learn from the experience. I think she will deal with it in a very mature way. And do everything she can to recover.”

Monday, June 22, 2015

College | Washington volleyball will be on the road to start & end Pac-12 season

Many Sunday matches on UW home schedule

Washington hitter Tia Scambray (20) attacks against Stanford during the Huskies' 2014 home victory
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann

The Washington Huskies will begin and end the 2015 Pac-12 volleyball season with 3 of 4 matches on the road. During the heart of conference season, the Huskies will host 8 of 12 matches in Alaska Airlines Arena.

As we previously reported, Washington will not host Utah this season, and the Huskies will not travel to Boulder, where UW has lost to Colorado the past two seasons in a row. The Buffaloes will, however, be the first Pac-12 team to visit Seattle this season.

In nonconference play, the Huskies will face nine different collegiate opponents, including Cal State Northridge twice on consecutive nights in Seattle. Washington will also host an exhibition against Bayi, a team from China. The only two nonconference teams with final 2014 RPIs under 100 are Oklahoma (26), Northridge (46) and Gonzaga (94).

On the Pac-12 schedule, UW’s home matches include one on a Thursday, one on a Friday, one on a Saturday, plus two on Wednesday and four on Sunday mornings or afternoons. Across the conference, attendance for Sunday matches has been generally very poor, especially because of conflicts with NFL games. Four home matches—Colorado, Arizona St, UCLA and California—are on the same day as Seattle Seahawks games.

The Huskies’ Pac-12 schedule also includes quick turnarounds: 3 matches in 6 days between October 2-7, and 3 in 7 days between November 12-18. Conversely, UW has a full week break between October 23-30.

2015 Washington volleyball schedule


  • Washington alum Krista Vansant, playing in her first international tournament for the US National Team, was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2015 Pan Am Cup in Lima, Peru. Vansant hit 50.7% in the tournament, as USA went 7-0, dropping only one set along the way. UW alum Jenna Hagglund was also on the Pan Am Cup roster, seeing limited duty as the substitute setter throughout the weeklong tournament. 

  • Stanford All-American middle blocker Inky Ajanaku, a senior this fall, was also on the Pan Am roster, but suffered an injury early in the tournament. We’ve made inquiries, but Stanford has not yet reported the extent of the injury, and whether it might affect her playing time this season.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

National Team | Courtney Thompson & Tama Miyashiro bringing USA Teammates to Seattle

Unique clinics launch “Give it Back” effort by American Olympians
  • Give it Back Foundation clinics | August 1-2, 2015 | Kentlake HS
    Registration opens April 15, 2015 |
  • The Volleyball Camps at the University of Washington | July 6-22, 2015 |
  • James Finley Volleyball Camps @ Seattle U | July 17-19, 2015 | 
    Nike Volleyball Camp @ Seattle U | July 20-August 2, 2015 |
  • SPU Falcon Volleyball Camps | July 19-28, 2015 |
  • Western Washington U Volleyball Camps | July 5-18, 2015 |

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sand | Washington volleyball “excited” to start sand season in Sacramento

A short season kicks off this weekend against Keegan Cook’s alma mater, St. Mary’s
  • Sat, Mar 21 | 11:00AM | vs. St. Mary’s @ Sacramento State
  • Sat, Mar 21 | 2:00PM | vs. Pacific @ Sacramento State
  • Sun, Mar 22 | 11AM | @ Sacramento State
  • Mon, Mar 23 | 4:00PM | @ Pacific (Stockton)

Have your friends discovered Volleyblog Seattle? Number of unique visits: