ANAHEIM, Calif. (Aug. 29, 2017) – Megan Courtney has found herself with a new job description in her first full season competing with the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team.
Playing outside hitter in her first two tournaments with the U.S. Women this season, Courtney has now found herself, at least temporarily, patrolling the back row for Team USA as one of two liberos during the USA Volleyball Cup. In her first match against Brazil wearing the off-color jersey from her American teammates, she handled 18 receptions with a 56 positive reception percent and 50 percent excellent with only one error. Courtney added 10 digs in the match, second most on the team behind setter Carli Lloyd’s 13.
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. Fans are encouraged to arrive early to purchase and/or pick up tickets at will call and avoid the lines at the box office. For fans not in the Anaheim area, the match will air live on NBC Sports Network.
Courtney, who is taller than your average libero at 6-1, has taken the switch in roles in stride. She likens the libero position as half of outside hitter role so she can concentrate on the back row only.
“It has been fun,” Courtney said. “I like to think of it as half of an outside position job description. I still pass and play defense as an outside, so that is now my job as a libero – pass and play defense and kind of run the back row. It has been a pretty easy transition because it is not like I am doing anything different – just have a different color jersey on.”
The idea to transform her into a libero actually came from her success playing the back row in the FIVB World Grand Prix in her normal outside hitter role. U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly and his staff found that she was the team’s statistical leader in the back row, and wanted to try something new.
“Megan did a really nice job for us in World Grand Prix. She was our best passer statistically in that tournament,” Kiraly said. “That certainly gave us some food for thought and we are trying a little experiment and seeing how she does in the libero position.”
While Courtney enjoyed some success in her first match wearing the libero jersey for Team USA, that does not mean she will stay in that role.
“Nothing permanent or long term has been decided, but we have to learn more how she does,” Kiraly said. “We thought she did a very nice job in her first match in that position against Brazil in the USA Volleyball Cup. We look forward to learning more about her as we play a second match against Brazil and as we head to Japan for the World Grand Champions Cup.”
Playing libero is not completely foreign to Courtney. She was forced into the libero position for one match during her first professional season in Poland this past winter.
“I actually played one match professionally in Poland as a libero. We had an unfortunate injury to our libero and so I had to step in at libero for a match while we tried to find a new libero. But other than that, I have only played libero in practices when I ran out of jumps.”
While she found some success in her first Team USA appearance as libero, Courtney understands there is ample room to improve with more experience on the court and familiarization with her teammates.
“I think there are some things I did well, but I also things there are some that comes with knowing more of the position and being more comfortable around the people I am with. We have played these girls all summer, but not some of the girls who were on the court. It is new people next to you and you just have to figure out what their tendencies are and what yours are. Feel that out more and communicate more.”
Courtney said the transition to libero has been easy, including the switch in position to middle back as the libero. However, her old instincts as an outside hitter has sometimes crept into her play.
“If anything I want to pass the ball and then start approaching to hit and call something. Then I’m like wait, I can’t do that,” Courtney chuckled. “I mean it is not much of a difference. I just have to remember that my job is to pass and play defense and set out of system balls. I have done that as an outside. So I have not changing my job description that much.”
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