COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 15, 2018)Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California), a 2016 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist, has elected to return to the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team after over a year away from the program to concentrate on her master’s degree at the University of Southern California.

Lowe, a 6-4 opposite, played a key role coming off the bench in the 2016 Rio Games. She provided 41 points, highlighted by a 13-point performance versus Serbia in the semifinal and 12 points against Italy in pool play.

“Although I truly enjoyed my coursework at USC, I really missed the competition in sport and physical challenge of performing athletically,” Lowe said. “I never quite found anything like the USA 6 vs. 6 practice play in my other pursuits. The contagious energy and competition is hard to beat.”

Lowe, who is expected to compete for a 2018 Pan American Cup roster spot, joined the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2015 with a bang. She played in the USA Volleyball Cup matches versus China to get her feet wet, then helped the Americans to gold at the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix. Lowe was named most valuable player in that tournament, her first in representing Team USA.

“We’re really happy to welcome Karsta back to our program,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “In her previous stint with our team, Karsta displayed the capability of developing into a world-class international opposite. Since then, she spent a lot of time reflecting on the priorities in her life, and she is now recommencing her learning and development path in the sport of volleyball.”

Lowe used input from her past teammates, and ultimately Kiraly, to make the decision to return to the squad.

“I consulted with a few past teammates and spoke with Karch at great length about my decision to return the team,” Lowe said. “Eventually, the plan was set into action. I’ve been in the gym since Friday, May 4 and haven’t looked back since. The physical training has been challenging, as expected.”

Lowe feels she still has room for growth in volleyball and looks forward to helping the U.S. Women in any way she can.

“I believe that when I left the team after the Rio Olympics, I still hadn’t reached my potential,” Lowe said. “I’d like to see how much I can improve this time around and help in any form to take the team all the way to gold in Tokyo. Of course, I have a lot of work to do to make a roster with the USA team, but I am excited and ready for any challenges that await.”

Lowe has also aided the Americans to bronze at the 2015 FIVB World Cup, followed by gold at the zonal 2015 NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship.

Prior to joining Team USA, Lowe was an American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America First-Team selection as a senior at UCLA. She was a walk-on athlete at UCLA without a scholarship, but developed quickly once in college.

Now Lowe has put college on hold for the foreseeable future, at least while she is able to compete as a world-class athlete.

“Eventually, I might finish my master’s in landscape architecture, but if I am physically able to perform at a high level of competition in the world of international volleyball, I am willing to put those plans on hold,” Lowe said.

The U.S. will compete in the 17th Annual Pan American Cup in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic involving the top teams of NORCECA and South America. Team USA will face Trinidad & Tobago (July 8), Cuba (July 9) and Puerto Rico (July 10) in Group B. The tournament concludes on July 14 with the final classification matches.

In preparations for the Pan American Cup, the U.S. will hold a Red-Blue intrasquad scrimmage on June 22 at 7 p.m. at Irvine Valley College. The match will feature players who are competing for spots on the Pan American Cup squad. Tickets are $5 at the door and available one hour prior to the match.

USA Volleyball will announce the roster for the Pan American Cup at the end of June.