Karsta Lowe Returns
Last night at Irvine Valley College, the USA Volleyball Women’s National Team held a Red vs. Blue Scrimmage as part of an evaluation scrimmage to assist in determining the American roster for the Pan-Am Cup. There were some big college standouts competing for a spot on the USA roster which I’ll discuss later– but the the largest news of the night was the return of 2016 Rio Olympics Bronze Medalist, Karsta Lowe, who retired shortly after the Rio Olympics (View the Karsta Lowe Interview).
The Balanced Scrimmage
The format for the Red vs. Blue was an exhibition 4-set match, rally score to 25. As the night would end, the Red and Blue squads finished splitting the 4-sets with the Red Squad taking the 1st and 3rd sets, 25-22 and 25-19, while the Blue Squad took the 2nd and 4th sets 25-11 and 25-19 respectively. Key performers without any specific statistics attached are as follows:
- Lauren Carlini, Setter (6-2, Aurora, IL | Wisconsin) – Lauren ran an effective offense throwing out very hittable balls on offense, while blocking a few on defense as well.
- Simone Lee, Outside Hitter (6-1, Menomonee, WI | Penn St.) – Simone was set frequently early since both squads had difficulty passing the ball. This resulted in a lot of bail-out sets to the left pin– which were put away consistently by Simone.
- Karsta Lowe, Opposite Hitter (6-4, Rancho Santa Fe, CA | UCLA) – although some of her sets did not have the greatest location she was able to terminate effectively, while putting up a few blocks.
- Adora Anae, Outside Hitter (6-1, Punaluu, HI | Utah) – Adora was set early and often and has a whip of an arm.
- Haleigh Washington, Middle (6-3, Colorado Springs, CO | Penn St.) – got a lot of touches on attacks and had great lateral movement to her pin-blockers.
- Annie Mitchem, Outside Hitter (6-3, Friendswood, TX | Hawaii) – was a pleasant surprise of an outside attacker. Annie had a great ability to terminate the ball.
- Aiyana Whitney, Opposite Hitter (6-4, Norwood, NJ | Penn St.) – this right-hander is a great jumper with a lot of power. Hard to imagine her NOT on the roster.
- Chiaka Ogbogu, Middle (6-2, Coppell, TX | Texas) – performed great all night offensively and defensively. Incredibly athletic and challenged a lot of balls at the net defensively while being powerful on offense.
- Amanda Benson, Libero (5-7, Litchfield Park, AZ | Oregon) – consistent on serve-receive while grinding out digs all evening.
It’s not to say that the remaining players did not play well because there were some great rallies during the evening involving Molly McCage (MH, 6-3, Texas Spring, TX | Texas), Paige Tapp (MH, 6-1, Stewartsville, MN | Minnesota), Kadie Rolfzen (OH, 6-3, Papillion, NE | Nebraska) and Krystal Rivers (Opp, 5-11, Birmingham, AL | Alabama).
Essentially, Head Coach Jon Newman-Gonchar and his staff are going have a challenging time selecting players for the 14-person roster with as much talent that is in the USA gym.
*NOTE: Inactive players for the night:
- Inky Ajanaku (MB, 6-3, Tulsa, OK | Stanford)
- Brittany Abercrombie (Opp, 6-2, Carlsbad, CA | USC)
- Carly Wopat (MB, 6-2, Santa Barbara, CA | Stanford)
- Hannah Tapp (MB, 6-3, Stewartville, MN | Minnesota)
- Sarah Wilhite-Parsons (OH, 6-2, Eden Prairie, MN | Minnesota)