Eaglecrest High School junior-to-be Jordyn Poulter is in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, representing the United States at the FIVB U-18 Girls’ Youth World Championships.
The star setter and University of Illinois commitment is among 12 players to survive two rounds of cutdowns to make the U.S. team that is among 20 squads fighting to be the best team in the world in its age group in the July 28-Aug. 5 tournament.
Poulter — who will celebrate her 16th birthday in Thailand on July 31 — made it through two rounds of cuts from a group that started at 27 players, was cut down to 16 after a tryout in Colorado Springs and then pared to the final 12 at a training camp in California.
“It is such an honor to be able to represent my country doing what I love,” Poulter said in a message from Thailand.
“This experience is unlike any other I’ve had before, the level of volleyball is so high and it’s been amazing to be able to compete against the best in the world for my age.”
Another Coloradan, Alexa Smith of Lewis-Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, also made the roster.
The 6-foot-1 Poulter plays for the Front Range Volleyball Club, as well as Eaglecrest, which she helped to a second straight trip to the Class 5A state tournament last fall. She finished 3rd in 5A with an average of 9.8 assists per set, had a whopping 70 service aces and finished second on the team in blocks.
Another player from an Aurora high school — Regis Jesuit grad Janae Hall, a current member of the Kansas Jayhawks — played on the U.S. team the last time the tournament was contested in 2011, when it took place in Ankara, Turkey. The hosts won the tournament, which had 16 teams in 2011, but has since expanded to 20.
The 20 teams are divided into four pools of five teams each, with Algeria, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Slovenia joining the United States in Pool C. The U.S. opens pool play against Slovenia on July 27, then takes on Brazil on July 28, goes against the Dominican Republic on July 29 and finishes against Algeria on July 30.
Play is scheduled for two venues, Chatchai Hall and Liptapanlop Hall.
The American team — coached by former Ohio State head coach Jim Stone — have high hopes for the 2013 tournament after a ninth-place finish in 2011.
“Our mindset for this World Championship is to win,” Poulter said. “Along the way, we want to learn from previous matches and aspire to grow every day of competition in preparation for the following day.”
The cultural aspect of the trip has also been educational experience for Poulter, who has a new-found appreciation for life back in Colorado after seeing how life is for some of the 64 million people that call Thailand home.
Nakhon Ratchasima is located about 162 miles north of the capital city of Bangkok.
“Thailand has been incredible,” Poulter said. “It has humbled me to see how some people live their lives and to see how happy these people are with so little. It’s been truly eye-opening. All the little things we take for granted in the United States are amenities here; air-conditioning, clean tap water, bathrooms, etc.”
Poulter turns 16 on a July 31, a day after U.S. libero Kenzie Maloney of Louisville, Kent., celebrates her birthday.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555
2013 U.S. GIRLS U-18 NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER
Player (Position, Grad Year, Hometown, Club, Region)
1 – JORDYN POULTER (S, 2015, Aurora, Colo., Front Range, Rocky Mountain)
2 – Audriana Fitzmorris (MB, 2016, Overland Park, Kan., Asics MAVS, Heart of America)
3 – Hayley Hodson (OH, 2015, Newport Beach, Calif., T Street, Southern California)
5 – Simone Lee (OH, 2014, Menomonee Falls, Wis., Club Fusion, Great Lakes)
6 – Molly Sauer (L, 2015, Louisville, Ky., KIVA, Pioneer)
7 – Kenzie Maloney (L, 2015, Louisville, Ky., KIVA, Pioneer)
8 – Tia Scambray (OH, 2014, Monarch Beach, Calif., T Street, Southern California)
9 – Molly Haggerty (OH, 2016, Glen Ellyn, Ill., Sports Performance, Great Lakes)
11 – Mikaela Foecke (MB, 2015, West Point, Iowa, Iowa Rockets, Iowa)
12 – Taylor Tashima (S, 2014, Wilmette, Ill., Wildcat Juniors, Great Lakes)
13 – Danielle Cuttino (MB, 2014, Indianapolis, Ind., CCVBC, Hoosier)
15 – Alexa Smith (OH, 2015, Colorado Springs, Colo., Colorado Juniors, Rocky Mountain)