Feb. 20, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Setter/outside hitter Val Nichol and defensive specialist Amanda Neill will compete with some of the best players in the country for a spot on the United States National team and/or the U.S. Collegiate National teams program at the U.S. Women's National Team Open Tryouts in Colorado Springs, Colo., this weekend.
Nichol and Neill are among 248 athletes from 106 colleges and universities that are participating in the tryouts at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, Feb. 21-23.
Beginning at 4 p.m. ET on Friday, fans can watch live streaming of the tryouts here.
The U.S. Collegiate National Teams program was formerly known as the U.S. Women's Senior A2 program. In 2014, athletes may be selected to participate on one of two possible CNT programs, which are considered extended tryouts for the U.S. Women's National team.
The first program will involve a team of 12 athletes and two coaches who will travel to China for a series of training sessions and matches in conjunction with a separate team representing the Pac-12 Conference. Dates of this program are June 13-27, 2014.
The second program is slated to take place in Minneapolis from June 22 to July 1. A projected 36 athletes will be invited to participate in the program, which will include training and competition at the USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championship from June 26-30.
This is Neill's first trip to the tryouts and the third for Nichol, who participated in the A2 program in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, her USA White team won the A2 Program Tournament title, while in 2013 her USA Red team finished third.
Nichol, a third team AVCA All-America, AVCA All-Region and All-Big Ten selection in 2013, averaged 2.77 kills per set, while dishing out 6.03 assists per set, managing 1.79 digs per set and serving up 21 aces. The Academic All-Big Ten selection recorded 20 double-doubles and two triple doubles, including a 14-kill, 27-assist, 10-dig performance against No. 4 Missouri in the NCAA Second Round. The Normal, Ill., native led Purdue in kills 18 times in 2013 and in digs and blocks twice each. She posted double-digit kill tallies 16 times and double-digit digs on six occasions. The junior helped Purdue's hitters to a .250 or better hitting percentage in 15 matches, while hitting over the .250 mark 18 times as an individual, including .300 or better 15 times, .400 or better nine times and over .500 twice.
Neill played in all 35 of Purdue's matches in 2013, starting 16. She averaged 1.90 digs per set, while posting double-digit tallies in five matches. The Lafayette, Ind., native led the team in digs three times, including a season-best 16 digs vs. No. 4 USC. Neill served up 32 aces, tied for the most on the team, including a career-best three vs. Illinois and at No. 15 Wisconsin. The sophomore ranked seventh in overall aces per set (0.25) among Big Ten players, and ranked 10th in aces per set during Big Ten play (0.22).
Alumna Ariel Turner was a member of the A2 program in 2011 and 2012, bringing home a gold medal in 2011 and finishing third with USA Blue in 2012. Turner also was a member of the 12-woman USA U-23 Team at the FIVB World Championships in Mexico in October 2013. The team finished fourth in the competition.
Carly Cramer was a two-time participant A2 program participant, earning bronze with USA White in 2011 and gold with USA White in 2013.
Junior middle blocker KiKi Jones was a member of USA Red in 2012 and 2013, finishing fourth and following that with a bronze medal.
In 2013, sophomore Annie Drews was a member of the USA Blue Team which finished fourth.
The Boilermakers are set to play a four date slate this spring, beginning on March 29. The 2013 Purdue team posted a 23-12 record, including a fifth-place finish in Big Ten play and an appearance in the NCAA Elite Eight.