MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (June 27, 2017) – Minneapolis has become the place to be for youth volleyball and aspiring U.S. Women’s National Team athletes in the first few days of summer.

The 38th Annual USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships (GJNC) has 1,264 teams competing at the Minneapolis Convention Center from June 25 to July 4 with an estimated 13,000 players, along with 3,000 coaches, referees and support staff taking part. Further, 30,000 family and friends are expected to watch the event on site with several other thousand viewers on the event live stream.

While the GJNC will crown 26 champions in seven age groups from 11-17, they will have the opportunity to watch the U.S. Collegiate National Team – Minneapolis (CNT-Minneapolis) program compete in round robin action on courts side-by-side the juniors at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The college stars will not only get a chance to shine within the USA Volleyball High Performance pipeline as a second tryout for the U.S. Women’s National Team this week, they get to serve as role models for the younger generation.

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Brittany McLean, a rising sophomore at University of Minnesota and one of 35 players who are part of the CNT-Minneapolis program, said she loves the chance to give back to the younger athletes competing in the GJNT and be a role model.

“It is always pretty fun,” McLean said of watching the Collegiate National Team program when she was playing at the Junior National Championships as a youth. “I was in that spot in my 14s (and-under) season. We just got to make sure that we are good role models for everyone. It is a cool feeling for sure. I sure hope that these girls one day are in the spot that we are in now.”

McLean, who played at the USAV Girls’ Junior National Championships every year since she was 14 with Burnsville, Minnesota-based Northern Lights Volleyball Club, remembers fondly back to her junior days. She even played in the GJNC in 2014 when it was last held in the Minneapolis Convention Center.

“It was so fun,” McLean said. “Having the home court advantage definitely was better than traveling. We got to sleep in our own beds, which is really nice. We got third that year, so all that helped out with our performance.”

McLean, who saw spot duty for the Minnesota Gophers last season with a team laden with senior starters, impressed the U.S. Women’s National Team staff at the March open tryouts where all players for the Collegiate National Team were selected. She said her freshman season at Minnesota was unreal with the talent on the squad.

“It was absolutely amazing,” McLean said. “Making it to the NCAA final four and having that senior leadership, it was really great to be in that environment with those fans and the coaching staff.”

Now McLean will get a chance to shine for the Gophers this fall, but first comes the Collegiate National Team matches June 27-30 at 5 p.m. on Court 19. Her USA White team drew the off-day on Tuesday to start the three-team round-robin, but she will have her first match on Wednesday at 5 p.m. on Court 19 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. She is excited to wear the Red, White and Blue with her Minnesota family and friends having the chance to watch her.

“I have quite a few wanting to come watch me, especially my Minnesota teammates and friends. They are all asking when I am playing. I am definitely excited to see everyone on Wednesday.”

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, trained at the University of Minnesota from June 22-26 prior to the competition matches at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

2017 U.S. Collegiate National Team – Minneapolis

Red Team
# – Name (Position, School, Height, College Eligibility Remaining, Hometown, Junior Club Team)
14 – Rachel Anderson (M, Western Kentucky University, 6-1, 2, Sturgis, Michigan, Dead Frog Far Out)
5 – Emily Butters (L, Missouri State University, 5-8, 2, Richmond, Texas, Southwest Juniors)
29 – Olivia Dailey (S, University of Kentucky, 5-10, 2, Trussville, Alabama, Southern Performance)
28 – Ashley Evans (S, Purdue University, 6-1, 1, Liberty Township, Ohio, Cincy Classics)
21 – Lauren Fuller (OH, University of San Diego, 6-3, 2, Clarendon Hills, Illinois, Sports Performance)
18 – McKenna Granato (OH, University of Hawaii, 6-0, 2, Kailua, Hawaii, Imi ‘Ike)
7 – Darrielle King (M, University of Florida, 6-3, 3, DeSoto, Texas, Texas Advantage Volleyball)
20 – Taryn Kloth (OH, Creighton University, 6-4, 2, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Kairos)
4 – Brooke Peters (L, Purdue University, 5-9, 2, Avon, Indiana, Circle City)
25 – Casey Schoenlein (OPP, Washington State University, 6-5, 1, Bellevue, Washington, Seattle Juniors)
24 – Holly Toliver (OPP, Michigan State University, 6-2, 1, Berrien Springs, Michigan, Dead Frog Far Out)
11 – Amber Witherspoon (M, Syracuse University, 6-4, 2, Chicago, Illinois, No junior club)

Head Coach: Todd Dagenais (University of Central Florida head coach)
Assistant Coach: Marie Zidek (University of San Diego assistant coach)

White Team
# – Name (Position, School, Height, College Eligibility Remaining, Hometown, Junior Club Team)
2 – Tita Akiu (L, Texas Tech University, 5-2, 2, Honolulu, Hawaii, Team Piko VBC)
34 – Sherridan Atkinson (OPP, Purdue University, 6-5, 2, Long Beach, California, SoCal Juniors)
8 – Jasmine Bennett (M, University of Louisville, 6-2, 2, Paducah, Kentucky, Western Kentucky VBC)
10 – Faith Dooley (M, University of North Dakota, 6-3, 1, Wheatland, North Dakota, Summit Junior Volleyball)
35 – Angel Gaskin (OPP, University of Maryland, 6-1, 2, Tampa, Florida, Tampa United)
33 – Sydney Griffin (S, University of North Dakota, 5-11, 1, Marshall, Minnesota, Kairos Elite)
12 – Deja Harris (M, San Diego State University, 6-2, 1, Las Vegas, Nevada, Vegas Encore)
32 – Monique Harris (S, Iowa State University, 5-9, 1, Clinton, Iowa, Iowa Select)
23 – Brittany McLean (OH, University of Minnesota, 6-1, 3, Rosemount, Minnesota, Northern Lights)
17 – Julia Scoles (OH, University of North Carolina, 6-1, 3, Mooresville, North Carolina, Carolina Juniors)
16 – Stephanie Williams (OH, University of Pittsburgh, 6-0, 3, Eastlake, Ohio, Cleveland Volleyball Academy)

Head Coach: Lindsey Devine (East Tennessee State University head coach)
Assistant Coach: Jay Van Vark (Grand Canyon University assistant coach)

Blue Team
# – Name (Position, School, Height, College Eligibility Remaining, Hometown, Junior Club Team)
3 – Brandi Donnelly (L, University of Illinois, 5-8, 1, Williamsville, Illinois, Illini Elite)
26 – Amanda Green (OPP, University of Louisville, 6-1, 3, Skokie, Illinois, Sports Performance)
19 – Leah Hardeman (OH, Coastal Carolina University, 5-10, 1, Clarkston, Georgia, Tsunami)
6 – Kirstie Hillyer (M, Colorado State University, 6-6, 3, Bayfield, Colorado, Four Corners VBC)
15 – Veronica Jones-Perry (OH, BYU, 6-0, 2, West Jordan, Utah, Club V)
31 – Kristyn Nicholson (S, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 6-0, 1, Lewisville, Texas, Texas Advantage VBC)
9 – Kelsey O’Neill (M, TBA, 6-1, 1, Skokie, Illinois, Wildcat Juniors)
22 – Alyssa Schultejans (OH, Kansas State University, 6-3, 2, Silver Lake, Kansas, Topeka Elite)
30 – Taylor Tashima (S, Northwestern University, 6-0, 1, Wilmette, Illinois, Wildcat Juniors)
1 – Brittany Thomas (L, Lipscomb University, 5-4, 1, Overland Park, Kansas, KC Power)
13 – Lynsey Wright (M, Missouri State University, 6-0, 1, Glen Carbon, Illinois, Rockwood Thunder)

Head Coach: Dennis Janzen (Trinity Western University assistant coach)
Assistant Coach: Lindsey Walton (University of Kentucky assistant coach)

Program Managers and Administrators: Rod Wilde (Madison Elite), Nicki Holmes (NC State University assistant coach), Jeff Wanderer (West Hills College head coach)
Technical Assistants: Rachel Ferguson (Grand Canyon University director of operations) and Jon Wong (Bradley University assistant coach)