Pula, Croatia – Saving its best for the last, the U.S. Collegiate National Team-Europe won the European Global Challenge on Friday evening with a 25-16, 25-23, 25-17 win over the Mountain West Conference All-Stars.
“I was really proud of the way the team came out today,” head coach Dani Busboom Kelly said. “They were very focused and played their best match of the trip on the last day. That says a lot about how the team has grown and changed over the 10 days. This team was a dream to coach because there were no issues; they were fun, everyone was really supportive, and they are all great players. Even though we didn’t get everyone in every single match, it felt like we really could have put anyone in and not miss a beat.”
The U.S. put away 40 percent of its kills and edged the MWC in kills 29-28.
It was blocking and serving where the CNT dominated, outblocking the Mountain West team 15-7 and recording 11 service aces, including seven from tournament MVP Taylor Mims from Washington State, while being aced only four times.
Mims also led the U.S. with four blocks while Iowa State’s Jess Schaben added three block points.
“The last couple of matches I feel like we really figured ourselves out and that helped me out a lot,” Mims said. “Playing with such high-level intensity and great players from so many colleges has been just awesome and brought out the best in all of us. I think it really improved my play.”
Kentucky’s Leah Edmond led the team with eight kills while Schaben added six kills. In addition to Mims’ seven service aces, Oregon’s August Raskie added two aces.
“I think we battled well,” said Raskie, who was named to the all-tournament team. “We maintained good composure throughout the entire tour. We had some ebbs and flows at the beginning of the tour but we powered through, stayed consistent and did our job. We played volleyball like we know how.”
The U.S. started Schaben and Edmond at outside hitter, Colorado State’s Kirstie Hillyer and Utah’s Berkley Oblad at middle blocker, Mims at opposite, Raskie at setter and Alexis Dirige (Washington State) at libero.