March 3, 2015
BOISE, Idaho - Sierra Nobley and Kaitlyn Oliver, each members of the Boise State volleyball team, participated in USA Volleyball open tryouts at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Feb. 20-22. The duo chronicled their experiences for BroncoSports.com, which can be found below.
Nobley and Oliver were two of only seven student-athletes from the Mountain West to participate in the tryout, which included more than 200 athletes from more than 90 colleges and universities.
"It was a tremendous opportunity for Boise State to have players competing at the tryout," Bronco head coach Shawn Garus said. "We've had a few individuals go over the last five years. I've really encouraged it for some of our top players, but now our younger kids are very talented. They have the physical ability that USA Volleyball is looking to have in their pipeline programs, and I look forward to sending more players in the future. They will get to compete at the highest level at this tryout and it can only make them better as individuals and better players."
Participants were evaluated for inclusion on the U.S. Women's National Team, the U.S. Women's Junior National Team and various Collegiate National Teams. Selections to the Collegiate National Teams will be made by the end of March, and selections to the US Junior National Team will be announced in early May.
"I thought Kaitlyn and Sierra excelled at the tryouts," Garus said. "I expect them to gain a lot of confidence from being able to play in that kind of environment. There were a lot of players that they didn't know and players that are very talented, and their games held up quite well.
"I feel like they got better as the weekend went on, I know they had a blast doing it and I think it opened their eyes to what they can work on in order to continue improving and to push our team to a higher level.
Kaitlyn and I had the incredible opportunity of going to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and participating in the tryout for the Women's National Team, and we were psyched about it. We arrived Friday morning and checked in, then had our first session at 2 p.m., and we really hit the ground running. The staff emphasized serve and pass to start, but the majority of the session was 6-on-6 game play. The elevation and the nonstop drills had a lot of girls struggling to catch their breath, but Kaitlyn and I were well-prepared and felt strong from the past month of training.
We had two sessions on Saturday and did essentially the same thing as Friday, and by that point all of my jitters were gone and I was ready to really compete. The staff was taking stats on every single touch with incredible efficiency, so it was important to get dig touches and swing for the kill. All of the girls there were high-quality athletes and I felt I needed something extra to stand out, so I made sure to communicate a lot with whoever I was on the court with during each drill.
Between sessions we would eat delicious food from the OTC cafeteria and at night we slept in the dorms, which were very nice and only a short walk from the gym. There were a lot of familiar faces - I found someone I went to high school with, as well as a few other players from the Mountain West.
Sunday morning was the final session and it was tournament play. I felt fresh despite Saturday's physical strain and competed hard for that last chance to impress the coaches. Overall, this experience opened my eyes to just how many terrific volleyball players there are, but also how well Kaitlyn and I competed at that level. I have such a bigger perspective now than just Boise State volleyball, or just the Mountain West, and I feel like I've added some things to my game that I can share with my team and elevate our program to its full potential.
Sierra and I had the amazing opportunity to go to the USA Volleyball tryouts. We left early Friday morning and landed in Denver, then drove to Colorado Springs where we arrived around noon. We then checked in and got a bite to eat at the OTC dining hall before our first session would begin at 2 p.m.
The first session went very well for both Sierra and I. We were able to adjust quickly to the high level of performance and I thought we mixed in well with all the other athletes. The next day, we had two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. They were both very similar to the first session. We began with serve and pass and ended with more 6-on-6 play. They switched up the wave drills slightly each time, adding a new component such as blocking instead of free balls.
I felt more comfortable the second day, because I knew what to expect. The high altitude and high level play was very hard on a lot of the athletes, but I thought our training this winter prepared us well for this, and we were able to perform at our best throughout all the sessions.
Between sessions we would eat very healthy, delicious meals at the OTC dining hall. This was the time we really got to meet the athletes and get to know them. It was really fun becoming friends with different athletes all over the nation. I saw a lot of familiar faces, mostly players from the Mountain West. After both sessions on Saturday, we were pretty wiped out, and went to bed early knowing we would have an early session on Sunday. We were up bright and early for our 7:30 a.m. session. We knew this would be our last chance to compete and show the coaches what we had.
They split us up into about 10 different teams, and we ended up playing four games before the session was over. I thought this was the most fun day because we were actually able to compete for a win. We were also able to play with the same people throughout the session, so team chemistry was built. At the end of the last session, the coaches thanked us for coming and explained to us the different teams we would be able to make. They told us it would be about a month before we knew whether we made a team or not.
Overall, this was such an amazing experience that opened my eyes to how much I can improve my own game. Being able to compete with the top athletes in the nation was so cool, and I learned so much from this experience that I will take back to our own program. It was such an honor to represent Boise state, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.