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.