COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-- USA Volleyball added four more players to the roster that will train and compete as part of the U.S. Collegiate National Team-Minneapolis (CNT-Minneapolis) program. North Dakota's Faith Dooley was already part of the earlier 31 announced and today fellow UND senior Sydney Griffin was added to the mix.
"We knew Sydney was an alternate early on, but we had to wait to see if the Junior National Team qualified for the world championships this summer," UND head volleyball coach Mark Pryor explained. "Once the team qualified last week, I texted Sydney immediately. Sydney has been great throughout this process, and it was not an easy one, just sitting around and waiting. She has the two qualities that our staff looks for in every person we want involved with this program-- patience and persistence. Her example of showing patience without losing an ounce of enthusiasm or determination is something our incoming players can really learn from."
Griffin will be one of six setters named to the team. Joining her are Olivia Dailey (University of Kentucky), Ashley Evans (Purdue University), Monique Harris (Iowa State University), Kristyn Nicholson (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) and Taylor Tashima (Northwestern University).
The Marshall, Minn., native was the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year last season, leading North Dakota to a 26-10 overall record and the league regular season and tournament titles en route to its first NCAA Division I Tournament appearance. She became the first UND player to be named to an all-America team, earning Volleyball Magazine All-America honorable mention accolades. Griffin will enter her senior year already ranked seventh in the school history with 2,796 career assists
"For us to have two players getting a chance to train this summer with other elite athletes could be a big benefit for us," said Pryor. "I'm looking forward to seeing how Sydney competes at this level. It should be another chance to show that the University of North Dakota volleyball program is growing, and our players are able to compete with anyone.
"I'm also really hopeful that they do not put Sydney and Faith on the same teams when they divide the teams up and play. It would be really nice to see those two really competing against each other. The more these two can get out of their comfort zone during this experience, the more they will bring to the program this fall."
The CNT-Minneapolis squad, which is part of USA Volleyball's High Performance pipeline and is considered a second tryout for the U.S. Women's National Team, will train from June 22-26 at the University of Minnesota. Afterward, the athletes will be assigned to one of three 12-member teams and compete in a round-robin format at the Minneapolis Convention Center from June 27-30. The matches are being held in conjunction with the USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships under the same roof.
The CNT-Minneapolis will have Rod Wilde of Madison Elite, NC State University Assistant Coach Nicki Holmes and West Hills College Head Coach Jeff Wanderer as the program managers and administrators. The head coaches for the three teams will be UCF Head Coach Todd Dagenais, East Tennessee State University Head Coach Lindsey Devine and Trinity Western University (Canada) Assistant Coach Dennis Janzen.
Assistant coaches for the CNT-Minneapolis program are Grand Canyon University Assistant Coach Jay Van Vark, University of Kentucky Assistant Coach Lindsey Gray-Walton and University of San Diego Assistant Coach Marie Zidek. The technical assistants will be Grand Canyon University Director of Operations Rachel Ferguson and Bradley University Assistant Coach Jon Wong.
Complete USA Volleyball release here: http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2017/May/01/US-Collegiate-National-Team-Minneapolis-Program-Named