Four Rams try out for USA Volleyball program

March 5, 2013

By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Four members of the Colorado State volleyball team attended USA Volleyball’s open tryouts from Feb. 22-24 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Deedra Foss, Kelsey Snider and Jaime Colaizzi all tried out for the U.S. Women’s National A2 program, while Adrianna Culbert tried out for both the A2 and the U.S. Juniors National Volleyball teams.

USA Volleyball reported a record 247 athletes signed up to participate in the open tryouts, breaking the previous record of 207 attendees set in 2012. The participants represented 90 different colleges and varied by position: 60 outside hitters, 57 middle blockers, 56 liberos, 49 setters and 25 opposites. Snider tried out as a middle blocker, Colaizzi as a libero/defensive specialist, and Foss and Culbert as setters.

“USA Volleyball is really important to our volleyball community,” said CSU associate head coach Brook Coulter. “For these young players to go out and compete with their national team is a unique and special experience. When our girls come back to Colorado State, they can use that experience of having a higher goal and putting everything they can toward Colorado State, and then hopefully advancing further.”

Of the four players, only Snider participated in the tryout in 2012.

“Last year I went in thinking I had to make the team, otherwise I wasn’t good,” Snider said. “This year I just went in looking to have fun and improve.”

Snider, who spent the past two seasons as an outside hitter but has experimented as a middle blocker during the offseason, used the tryout to gauge where she stacked up against some of the best in the country.

“Even though I’m a new middle, I can hold my own with the rest of them,” she said. “It gave all of us a lot of confidence, and I feel like I did really well and got better, so that’s what matters.”

The U.S. Women's National A2 program is available to athletes with collegiate eligibility remaining for the 2013 season. From the tryout, a projected 48 athletes will be invited to participate in the program, which is scheduled to take place in Dallas, Texas, from June 25-July 4. The 10 days will include training and competing at the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships (GJNC).

Athletes born in 1994 or 1995, as Culbert was, were also considered for the U.S. Women’s Junior National team. That team will compete in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Junior World Championship from June 21-30 in Brno, Czech Republic.

In 2012, Brieon Paige earned a spot with the A2 program, training and competing in Columbus, Ohio. Despite placing last in pool play, her team went undefeated in the playoffs to win the competition’s gold medal. Two years prior, CSU setter Evan Sanders was selected to be part of the A2 program.

All four players saw this year’s tryout process as team bonding, as well as a way to improve for the upcoming season with so much turnover in the program after losing four valuable seniors.

“With setting, you have to adjust to each hitter,” Foss said. “This spring it has been a challenge since there’s been so much change from last year. The tryout helped me learn to adjust quicker since we switched who we were playing with each session.”

Whether the tryout leads to more time with USA Volleyball this summer or not, Coulter believe that the weekend will be invaluable for the players heading into next season.

“When you’re competing for a USA Volleyball program you have to be good all the time” said Coulter, who has spent several summers as a coach with USA Volleyball programs. “Being part of this program – whether it’s the tryout or the A2 program – will help these girls form that attitude of being the best they can be. It’s the expectation of being great all the time.”

USA Volleyball is expected to announce those selected to be part of the summer programs later this week. U.S. Women’s National coach Karch Kiraly—in addition to court coaches from across the country—evaluated the prospective athletes.

Foss, a 5-9 setter, started all 29 matches last year for the Rams and was named to the All-Mountain West team after averaging 10.74 assists and 2.20 digs per set. After just her sophomore season, Foss already ranks ninth in CSU history for career assists. Snider, a 6-1 outside hitter, appeared in 27 of the Rams’ 29 matches and averaged 1.76 kills and 2.05 points per set. Against the toughest competition, Snider rose to the occasion, registering a career-best 15 kills and 15.5 points against No. 2 UCLA. Colaizzi made an immediate impact as a freshman, starting 27 matches and finishing the season with 185 digs (1.99 per set). She recorded a career-high 14 digs against Northern Colorado in her first match at the libero position. Culbert also came in right away to make an impact as a freshman for the Rams. After sitting out the first four matches of the season, Culbert registered eight kills and 15 digs against No. 14 Tennessee in her collegiate debut. She finished the season averaging 2.42 digs per set, which ranks third all-time among CSU freshmen.