All Points West: Big Red gives U.S. volleyball big chance
     2016-07-22      By Frank Marquez    editor@geringcitizen.com
University of Nebraska’s Kayla Banwarth, a 5-foot-10 Libero; Jordan Larson, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter; and Kelsey Robinson, another 6-foot-2 outside hitter made the 12-player roster for the U.S. Olympic Volleyball team headed for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The announcement came more than a week ago on July 12 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. For math wizards unlike myself, the Cornhuskers alumni make up one quarter of the team, which according to Head Coach Karch Kiraly represents the best chance the United States has at winning gold of any team in the past. How much of an impact they make on the floor will determine whether the former Nebraska players take the blame or do the happy dance.

“For three Nebraska volleyball players to make the U.S. team — which is currently ranked No. 1 in the world — it’s a great reflection of the commitment that Nebraska has made and the support that we give to our student-athletes,” Nebraska Volleyball Head Coach John Cook said in a released statement published in a World-Herald story.

Of course, there’s the rest of the team – no slouches by any means. Olympic veterans include Larson, middles Foluke Akinradewo, Christa Dietzen, and setter Courtney Thompson. That core of players is joined by newcomers Banwarth, Robinson, Kim Hill, Rachael Adams, Karsta Lowe, Kelly Murphy, Alisha Glass and Carlie Lloyd.

The current Olympic team brings the total to six, the number of Huskers who have mined for gold at previous Games. Past players include Nancy Metcalf (Meendering), class of 2001; Papillion-La Vista’s Allison Weston, who played for Nebraska from 1992-95; and Lori Endicott, whose jersey was retired in 1992 for a Husker career that spanned from 1982-85.

Larson, Nebraska class of 2008, played on the 2012 squad in London, which finished second best, and the 2014 federation World Champion squad. Among recent accolades, she was named the Best Spiker at the 2016 Norceca (North, Central America, and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation) Olympic qualification tournament, and the Most Valuable Player award for both the federation’s Club World Championship, and the CEV (Confederation Europeenne de Volleyball) Championship League after leading Turkish Club Eczacibasi to gold in each event.

Banwarth, Nebraska class of 2012, hails from Dubuque, Iowa, and is the team’s only libero. Among accolades, she was named the best receiver at the Norceca championship in 2015, and was the 2013 USA Volleyball Female Indoor most improved player of the year.

Robinson, class of 2013, hails from Bartlett, Illinois. She was named the Second Best Outside Spiker for 2015 federation World Grand Prix after leading the Finals in Receiving with an 80.5 percent efficiency percent.

According to USA Volleyball, the U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked No. 1 in the world by the Federation Internationale de Volleyball, has produced several ‘firsts’ in the current Olympic quadrennial.

Taking his first head coaching position, Kiraly took over the program in late September 2012. In 2014, he guided the U.S. Women to their first federation World Championship gold medal in 62 years, which also marked the Americans’ first gold medal in any of the three triple-crown events – the World Championship, the federation’s World Cup, and the Olympic Games.

The women hope to accomplish winning the elusive Olympic gold – the last first. The U.S. team earned Olympic silver medals in 1984, 2008 and 2012, and is poised to strike gold with the core of veterans mixed in with five players who joined the squad since 2013 and contributed heavily to the success of the squad in recent tournaments.

USA Volleyball also reported the U.S. Women, who have won six of their last eight tournaments dating back to the 2014 federation World Championship, returned from Thailand where it captured the silver medal in the federation World Grand Prix, the top annual international women’s volleyball tournament.

Team USA dropped a five-set thriller to the 2016 Olympic Games host Brazil in the title match on July 16, breaking the Americans’ nine-match win streak which included two wins over second-ranked China and a win over fourth-ranked Russia. The Americans have now reached the medal podium in eight straight tournaments.

As for the Olympic Games schedule, Team USA opens Pool B action on Aug. 6 versus Norceca rival Puerto Rico at 4:05 p.m. (MST), followed by the Netherlands on Aug. 8 at 2 p.m. The Americans challenge Serbia on Aug. 10, and Italy on Aug. 12 with both matches at 2 p.m.

The U.S. concludes pool play against second-ranked China on Aug. 14 at 4:05 p.m.

The top four teams in the two Olympic Games pools advance to the quarterfinals on Aug. 16.

The top seed in each pool will face the fourth seed in crossover competition, while a drawing of lots will determine crossover quarterfinal opponents for the second- and third-place teams in both pools.

The winners of the quarterfinal matches advance to the semifinal medal round on Aug. 18. The tournament concludes on Aug. 20 with the gold- and bronze-medal matches.

For TV and internet coverage, visit www.nbcolympics.com.

Without interjecting too much of my opinion, Nebraska’s program speaks for itself, and we might be hearing Go Big Red as much as U.S.A.

And I’ll be the first to lead the chant.

GBR!

Share this story on Facebook
LOGIN or REGISTER for exclusive access to premium content

Good Afternoon friend!
Recently Read Sports
1197All Points West: Big Red gives U.S. volleyball big chance
726Rubber Check Race and other wild fair fun
640Bearcats remain perfect with 28-13 win over Aurora
1092Grapplers’ fun raiser
575Early Birds catch good marks at Morrill
971People of color
1658Sky’s the Limit
535Twin City volleyball hosts finish back in the pack: Losses leave Gering in 8th while Scottsbluff wins consolation pool; Mitchell wins Morrill tourney
671Bayard's Dechant wins Class C state long jump
587Seacats prepare for Twin City meet, freshmen score well at Cheyenne
1152Bulldog boys grab 2 wins, while girls suffer losses
1152Scottsbluff man tops division at World Horseshoe Tourney
514Gering takes third at B7 Tournament: Winners in B and C advance to state tourney in Cozad
970Bulldogs shut out Red Raiders, playoff bound
1127Bearcats edge Gering teams
953Mitchell’s Lady Tigers ready to pounce again this season
1201Race across Nebr. invites ultra-runners
1085WNCC men earn win over Laramie 93-88
669Jordan and the Bearcats: A winning combination
513Bearcats post win over Sidney
Most Read Sports 2012
3777Mitchell track off to a strong start
3634Morrill baseball back in business
2931Rivals make good friends, better training partners
2845Mendoza spirit lives on in softball tournament
2496Raising the bar high
2457Gering breaks two records at Chadron: Track season gets underway at Chadron Indoor Meet
2439Kizzire and Kautz take first place
2359Gering wrestling builds on experience
2277Doing the heavy lifting
2252Bulldogs basketball ready to run Class B gauntlet
2156Gering girls’ soccer team creating team first attitude
2080Gering resident lives his dream
2012Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
1996All Points West: Time to get tough Huskers
1952All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors
1925Gering Boys’ soccer builds foundation
1921Mud Volleyball has another wildly successful year
1914New Bayard coach looks for productive season
1899Bearcat coach nears finish line
1885All Points West: Deter gave us reason to golf
Most Read Sports 2011
3777Mitchell track off to a strong start
3634Morrill baseball back in business
2931Rivals make good friends, better training partners
2845Mendoza spirit lives on in softball tournament
2496Raising the bar high
2457Gering breaks two records at Chadron: Track season gets underway at Chadron Indoor Meet
2439Kizzire and Kautz take first place
2359Gering wrestling builds on experience
2277Doing the heavy lifting
2252Bulldogs basketball ready to run Class B gauntlet
2156Gering girls’ soccer team creating team first attitude
2080Gering resident lives his dream
2012Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
1996All Points West: Time to get tough Huskers
1952All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors
1925Gering Boys’ soccer builds foundation
1921Mud Volleyball has another wildly successful year
1914New Bayard coach looks for productive season
1899Bearcat coach nears finish line
1885All Points West: Deter gave us reason to golf
Platte Valley Companies
Fresh Foods
Hale Multimedia LLC
Spectrum Photo
Kendell Henderson
= = = Platte Valley Companies' = = =
Sports Page

Check out the
Gering Bulldogs on