Matlock, Straube Head To USA Volleyball A2
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AMES – Iowa State volleyball middle blockers Tenisha Matlock and Jamie Straube travel to Columbus, Ohio Tuesday to play in the elite USA Volleyball A2 Team Program, June 26-July 4. The players are two of 48 participants selected from a tryout pool of over 200 for this summer’s program.
“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to play at a high level,” Straube said. “We’ve been working hard in the gym and weight room and this is a chance for Tenisha and me to play against really good players and raise our level of play.”
Both players are looking forward to getting onto the court with other collegiate volleyballers from around the country but their road to the A2 Team didn’t start out on the best foot.
“Getting to tryouts [in February] was pretty crazy,” Straube said. “Our flight was cancelled and we missed our connection and the entire first day of tryouts so we were nervous, a little stressed out, going into day two, knowing we were behind.”
Once they were settled in, the group of Cyclone hopefuls, which included setter Alison Landwehr, libero Kristen Hahn and outside hitter Rachel Hockaday, got to work doing drills and working on technique.
“We were split into positions and played on different teams,” Straube said. “Tryouts were a lot of playing while probably 15 college coaches with clipboards walked around watching us play. I never knew who was watching me.”
Being under the microscope and under constant scrutiny was unnerving at times but both Matlock and Straube agree, having teammates on the court and in the gym with them did a lot to relieve the pressure.
“Having the other girls there made the situation more comfortable,” Matlock said. “Having someone else there to talk to [throughout the process] was huge. I was also able to see them compete alongside me, which was great, knowing we’re all going through this together.”
Looking ahead to the next two weeks, Straube, who enters her final season at Iowa State this year, says she is excited about getting on the court with other top players from other college programs.
“A2 is cool because you get to play with a lot of different girls,” Straube said. “I’ll get to experience different setters, which is challenging as well as fun. The whole experience is about really good volleyball.”
“I’m looking forward to playing with a lot of different players,” the Cyclone junior said. “I’m excited to play with girls who play different styles of volleyball and see how others play both from an opponent and teammate standpoint.”
Of all the players she’ll see in Ohio, Matlock says there are a few she anticipates the most.
“It’d be nice to play against some of the Texas players,” Matlock said. “They’re a big conference opponent of ours and this will give me the chance to see what I can do against their players on more of an individual level since we’ll all be playing with pieces of different teams.”
Make no mistake though; playing for the A2 Team is not about the other players in the program but about what Straube and Matlock can do for their own games.
“More than anything, I’ll be focused on what I have to do on the court during the matches we’ll play,” Matlock said. “I’m going to play my hardest in the moment and, if there is something I focus in on, it’ll be my blocking since defense is such an important part of my game.”
“It’s more about what I can do and how I can improve and not about scouting other people,” Straube said. “Our coaches do a good job of that.”
The A2 players will train at Ohio Dominican University from June 26-30 before moving over to the Greater Columbus Convention Center June 30-July 4 where they will be split into four teams of 12 and play a one-match-per-day round robin tournament that will include semifinal and final rounds.
Also going on at the convention center during the A2 tournament is the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships. Last summer, Cyclone freshmen Mackenzie Bigbee and Morgan Kuhrt won the 18U Junior National title playing for the Six Pack Club team while Andie Malloy played in the 17 Open tournament with the Skyline Juniors.