COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 29, 2019) – After taking time off from playing this summer, U.S. Women’s National Team outside hitter Kim Hill is ready to once again don the red, white and blue jersey for Team USA during the Tokyo Women’s Volleyball Qualification Tournament being held Aug. 2-4 in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana.
Hill went directly from the U.S. Women’s National Team to her pro team, Imoco Conegliano in Italy, last fall following the FIVB World Championship. She led Conegliano to the Italian Serie A1 title where the playoffs concluded on May 6. However, Conegliano’s season was not yet over as they met up with Italian rival Igor Gorgonzola Novara in the European Champions League finals on May 18. Novara, who lost to Conegliano in the Italian finals, answered by winning the prestigious Champions League finals over Conegliano.
As her pro season went deep into May, Hill was given time off from participating in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League that started May 21 and went five consecutive weeks in five different countries before reaching the Finals July 3-7 in China. The Americans captured the VNL title without Hill being called up to the roster in any week.
Hill is thankful for having that break, both mentally and physically. Yet she is ready to rejoin her teammates this weekend as they work together to gain a berth into the 2020 Olympic Games.
“Our job is just really tough because we go from our club season directly into our international team and directly back into our club season,” Hill said. “It’s kind of nonstop. These past two years were really nonstop for me, really going from one day to the other immediately. The coaches, thankfully, let me have a little bit of a breath to be at home to re-center my head and it was really amazing. It’s made such a huge difference for me and I feel ready to be back out there and ready to compete with the girls.”
As Hill rested, she followed her teammates’ successes on the court in winning the VNL tournament. She is making up for lost time as her teammates bonded on the road together for seven weeks of the VNL.
“I missed the girls a lot, so it was weird not being there with them and seeing photos of them playing and then winning which is amazing,” Hill said. “But I’m very happy to be back and very happy to be working hard with them, competing with them and getting to know the younger girls who I didn’t get a chance to know in VNL. It’s been fun.”
Hill said that the team’s successes earlier this summer with many new faces has prepared the squad for this weekend’s Olympic qualifier, while also boding well for the future.
“We’re obviously extremely deep,” Hill said. “It seems like we can put anyone on the court and they’re going to do a good job. So especially with this tournament where it’s three nights in a row – bam … bam … bam – you have to be on for every night. Our depth is going to be a key. You can get tired playing three nights in a row. I’m sure we may rotate people over the three days. It’s really fun to see the young girls and how much they’ve stepped into the role and really embraced it and are playing incredible. And then seeing it mixed with the older girls, it’s very exciting not just for the qualifier but also beyond in Tokyo.”
Hill, who is one of the veterans on the team having won bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games and MVP of the 2014 FIVB World Championship, says it is always an honor to represent the USA and wearing the red, white and blue.
“It is an honor every time we step on the court,” said Hill of her seven-year career with the U.S. Women’s National Team. “We’re doing it a lot, so I think you can get used to it at some point. But coming back every summer, the first time I put on my jersey, it still takes my breath away a little bit. It still feels surreal and I kind of can’t believe I’m here still. It’s really an honor and especially with this group having this amazing goal of an Olympic gold medal, it’s really special.”
Tokyo Women’s Volleyball Qualification Tournament Pool C
- Aug. 2: USA vs. Kazakhstan, 6 p.m. (live on Olympic Channel)
- Aug. 3: USA vs. Bulgaria, 5 p.m. (live on Olympic Channel)
- Aug. 4: USA vs. Argentina, 1 p.m. (live on NBC)
The chance for Team USA to qualify for the Olympic Games on home soil in Shreveport-Bossier City is an added bonus for her return to the court.
“It’s really special to be able to qualify here on U.S. soil,” Hill said. “It’s never easy to qualify. There’s always a lot of pressure on this tournament, but we’re excited for it. We think we have a good shot at it, and to do it in front of family and friends, it’s the first step in a big goal. It’s cool to have people alongside us for that first step.”
Hill expects that her emotions will run high on Aug. 2 when the national anthem is played moments before first serve against Kazakhstan at 6 p.m. CT.
“For sure, especially the first time in the summer I always get a little bit emotional because we’re abroad the whole year,” Hill said on whether she gets the chills hearing the national anthem on home soil. “We’re in different countries eight months of the year and we’re hearing other anthems in other languages. To come back with the USA flag on and to hear the whole stadium singing the national anthem is really incredible.”