ANAHEIM, Calif. (Aug. 28, 2017) – U.S. Women’s National Team opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) has kind of flown under the radar throughout her adult playing career, first playing for the Purdue University Boilermakers and now the second-ranked team in the world on the international stage.
But after leading Team USA past fourth-ranked Brazil with a 21-point performance to open the USA Volleyball Cup in Anaheim on Sunday evening, Drews will have a hard time hiding as opponents will quickly learn who she is.
Drews powered down 16 kills on 38 swings against Brazil while adding four blocks and an ace over the course of the four sets, with final set a bonus set after the Americans won the first three sets 25-21, 25-14, 29-27. However, in the official three sets of the match, Drews was her most dominant having 14 kills on 26 attacks with just three errors to go with three blocks and an ace. And she was able to have such a break-out match on American soil with her family in the stands watching.
“I think it has been awesome,” Drews said immediately after the Brazil match. “The longer I get into my career, the more moments like this will stand out when we do get to play on American soil and have our families here. USA has been awesome about having our families able to come to practice and they are here tonight.”
Upcoming: The U.S. Women will host Brazil in the second and final USA Volleyball Cup match on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. PT at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena. Fans can bring in their ticket from Sunday’s USA-Brazil match and get a 50 percent discount to Tuesday’s match. For fans not in the Anaheim area, the match will air live on NBC Sports Network.
With her family present and a buzzing crowd estimated at over 4,000 people inside the Anaheim Convention Center Arena, Drews appreciated the energy level that helped lift the Americans over their rival Brazilian foes.
“Yeah it was really good. I think the energy was pretty good for Sunday at 4 p.m.,” Drews said.
Prior to joining the U.S. Women’s National Team, Drews earned AVCA All-America Second-Team as a senior in 2015 at Purdue, but was not a household name having to play against some of the top college players day-in, day-out within the Big Ten Conference. Earlier this year Drews helped Caguas win the Puerto Rican Superliga, which is a pro league not at the same levels as those in Turkey, Italy and other places in the world with top players making hundreds of thousands of dollars more.
When Drews joined the U.S. Women’s National Team late in May this year, she was already behind many of the players who had been in the Team USA gym since May 1 as the Puerto Rican league playoffs went through mid-May. Yet, she made the U.S. roster that competed in the Pan American Cup. Used primarily as the opposite in the double-sub with just two match starts, Drews managed to lead the Americans in scoring in three of the seven matches. The U.S. went on to win the Pan Am Cup title in Drews’ first tournament with Team USA.
However, Drews was humbled a week later as she was not chosen to be part of the U.S. 14-player roster that competed in any of the FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary rounds. Instead of pouting about not making the tournament roster, she used the time to train in the USA gym back in Anaheim to get better playing alongside a core group of Olympians working their way back into shape and other first-year players. Meanwhile, the Americans went 6-3 in the World Grand Prix preliminary rounds to earn a spot in the Finals Round.
Those extra training reps that she would not have received while on the three-week World Grand Prix trip paid off in the end. U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly added Drews to the World Grand Prix Finals Round roster, and she did not disappoint. Although the U.S. did not win either of its Finals Round matches against Serbia and Italy, Drews came off the bench in both contests to provide a huge spark. She scored 10 points against Serbia, then hammered a team-best 16 points in the loss to Italy.
Now with 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Kelly Murphy away from the team this fall as she completes her final semester at University of Florida to earn her elementary education degree, Drews will have the opportunity to impress not only Kiraly and his coaching staff, but also get on the radar for the rest of the world.
“Absolutely, I think being relied on in a bigger capacity really made a big difference in my confidence,” Drews said. “Seeing how we fare up against other teams is a really valuable experience, and I think we got that in World Grand Prix Finals Round with Serbia and Italy and today against Brazil. It really exposes some of our strengths and weaknesses, and my own strengths and weaknesses. So I am excited we got that going into Japan.”
After her 21 points in the first USA Volleyball Cup match, Drews certainly has caught the attention of the Brazilian players and coaching staff.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for USA Volleyball Cup
# – Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
3 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, California, Bonsall, California)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
5 – Rachael Adams (M, 6-2, Texas, Cincinnati, Ohio)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (M, 6-2, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
9 – Madi Kingdon (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Maryville, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Stanford, Plantation, Florida)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
29 – Aiyana Whitney (OPP, 6-5, Penn State, Norwood, New Jersey)</strong.#>
Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Tama Miyashiro, Marv Dunphy
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Hicks
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz
Mental Performance Coach: Traci Statler