COLORADO SPRINGS | Jordyn Poulter is headed abroad to play volleyball again.
The Eaglecrest High School senior-to-be made the cut when a group of 18 players was pared down to 12 that make up the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team that will compete at the NORCECA Women’s U-20 Continental Championship July 6-14 in Guatemala.
The 6-foot-1 Poulter was one of two setters kept by head coach Tom Hogan after four days of tryouts at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, which netted her a third chance to play outside of the U.S. The Junior National team roster also includes four middle blockers, four outside/opposite hitters and two liberos.
“To represent your country doing the thing you love is the biggest honor any athlete can have I think, so I’m very excited,” Poulter said Sunday after the final roster came out. “I have Olympic aspirations, so hopefully I can keep going with this. I think every opportunity like this is a stepping stone to get to that, so I’m very grateful for the chance.”
In the summer of 2012, Poulter had to chance to play in Italy and Croatia as part of the European Global Challenge and last summer she helped the U-18 U.S. team that won the silver medal in the FIVB U-18 Girls’ World Youth Championships in Nakhon Ratchasiam, Thailand, earning the top setter of the tournament award.
Eight of the players who made up the runner-up squad in Thailand earned their way onto the Junior National Team, which should make for built-in team chemistry when the team plays in Guatemala.
“On and off the court, this is a group of very wholesome people,” Poulter said. “We have no egos on or off the court and all of us get along so well. I think we all come from strong clubs and strong backgrounds, so once we all come together it makes for a great team.”
One familiar face Poulter won’t have along on the trip to Guatemala is former Eaglecrest teammate Taylor Loyd, who was one of six players left off the final roster after going through the tryout process. Loyd had an advantage in that Hogan is her future coach at the University of Denver, but she also faced long odds as one of five liberos at the tryouts.
“Taylor had a strong weekend, but I just think others performed better,” Poulter said. “I think it was close. The coaching staff had to through a hard process…It’s always hard getting put in a situation like this for the first time, but Taylor handled herself well.”
Alexa Smith of Lewis-Palmer High School is the only Colorado player beside Poulter to make the roster, as Loyd and Jordan Pingel of Air Academy High School — another libero — missed the cut.
“The competition was just amazing,” Hogan said in a statement through USA Volleyball. “This was a great and fantastic training session. Every single training session was intense, competitive and extremely high level. I have been involved with a lot of these competitions and tryouts, and this was one of the best.
“The kids were great, and the level extremely high.”
The Junior National Team will train in Minneapolis June 29-July 4 before departing for Guatemala.
The U.S. has played in the NORCECA Women’s U-20 Continental Championship eight times since the biennial competition began in 1998 and medaled every time, bringing home five gold medals, two silvers and a bronze.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2014 U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Final Roster
Name (Position, Hometown, Region, Club, HS Grad Year)
Rhamat Alhassan (MB, Glenarden, Md., Chesapeake Region, Metro American VBC, 2014); Danielle Cuttino (MB, Indianapolis, Ind., Hoosier Region, Circle City VBC, 2104); Audriana Fitzmorris (MB, Overland Park, Kan., Heart of America Region, Invasion VBC, 2016); Mikaela Foecke (MB, West Point, Iowa, Iowa Region, Fusion Volleyball Club, 2015); Molly Haggerty (OH, Glen Ellyn, Ill., Great Lakes Region, Sports Performance, 2016); Ainise Havili (S, Haltom City, Texas, North Texas Region, TAV, 2014); Hayley Hodson (OH, Newport Beach, Calif., Southern California Region, Tstreet VBC, 2015); Cat McCoy (L, Southlake, Texas, North Texas Region, TAV, 2014); JORDYN POULTER (S, Aurora, Rocky Mountain Region, Front Range VBC, 2015); Molly Sauer (L, Louisville, Ky., Pioneer Region, KIVA, 2015); Courtney Schwan (OH, Milton, Wash., Puget Sound Region, Kent Juniors, 2014); Alexa Smith (OH, Monument, Rocky Mountain Region, Colorado Juniors, 2015)