OKAYAMA, Japan (May 28, 2019) – The U.S. Collegiate National Team – Japan Tour (CNT – Japan Tour) played the final match of its expedition to Japan Tuesday, falling 4-1 (25-18, 20-25, 25-17, 25-19, 16-14) in a planned five-setter against the Okayama Seagulls in Okayama, Japan.

“I really liked the match we put together,” said Heather Olmstead, head coach of CNT – Japan Tour. “Offensively, we were as good as we’ve been this whole trip, they were just a little bit better. We did a good job scoring, we did a good job siding out. We struggled a little bit on the serve early and then got it going, but once again, the Seagulls put pressure on us from the service line.”

The Seagulls used a long run to claim the first set, but the U.S. bounced back in the second, going on a 5-1 run themselves and taking the frame 20-25. The third set featured long points and ended with an Okayama set victory, whereas both offenses were most efficient in the fourth. CNT – Japan Tour scored on half their swings during the frame, but Okayama took the frame 25-19 to clinch the win. Despite the U.S. taking an early 1-5 lead in the fifth, the hosts came back to take the finale 16-14 to cap the match victory.

“I think we did well today, said opposite hitter Taylor Bannister (LSU; Missouri City, Texas). “It was a slow start in the first set, but we came back and finished out that second set. Third set didn’t go as planned, but we were able to stick together in some points and areas and fix our serving as the game went on.”

As a team, CNT – Japan Tour tallied tour highs in attack points and total receptions. Their points percentage of 37 percent was the second-highest of the week, and they once again out-blocked their opponents, a feat they achieved every other match of the tour as well.

Outside hitter Dani Drews (Utah; Sandy, Utah) landed 16 kills, more than any other American during the tour, and Bannister was two back at 14. Three more – Katie Myers (Maryland; Westerville, Ohio), Heather Gneiting (BYU; Pleasant Grove, Utah) and Brooke Botkin (Southern California; Houston, Texas) – finished the match one kill shy of double-digits. Mica Allison (Illinois; White Heath, Ill.) added four points.

Botkin led all players with 50 receptions, 44 percent of which were positive. Drews added 37, 46 percent positive, and CC McGraw (Minnesota; Prior Lake, Minn.) tallied 15, 40 percent positive. McKenna Melville (UCF; Eagan, Minn.) rounded out CNT – Japan Tour’s passing stats with six, 33 percent positive.

In addition to her passing numbers, Botkin posted six blocks on the day, four more than anyone else. Myers added two, and Allison, Gneiting, Bannister, and Kenzie Koerber (Utah; Chino Hills, Calif.) stuffed one shot apiece.

The match was CNT – Japan Tour’s seventh match in seven days. The team ended with a 1-1-5 record, but their time in Japan proved beneficial in ways that that don’t show in the team’s record.

“I’m just so thankful I had this opportunity to come here and have this experience,” McGraw said. “All of us, we learned a ton. It’s a completely new game in Japan, and just having the chance to really feel uncomfortable playing and trying new things has been a great opportunity to get better.”

Even though CNT – Japan Tour is now finished, there’s still two more U.S. Collegiate National Teams that will take the court this summer. CNT –

Anaheim will begin training in late June, and CNT- World University Games will begin competition in early July.

2019 Collegiate National Team Japan Roster

Name (Position, School, Height, College Eligibility Remaining, Hometown, Youth Club)

Mica Allison (S, Univ. of Illinois, 6-1, 3, White Heath, Ill., Illini Elite)

Taylor Bannister (OPP, LSU, 6-5, 2, Missouri City, Texas, Texas Premier VC)

Brooke Botkin (OH, Univ. of Southern California, 6-1, 2, Houston, Texas, AVA of Texas)

Dani Drews (OH, Univ. of Utah, 6-0, 2, Sandy, Utah, Club V)

Lauren Forte (M, UC Berkeley, 6-3, Tempe, Ariz., Club One)

Heather Gneiting (M, Brigham Young Univ., 6-4, 3, Pleasant Grove, Utah, Club V)

strong>Saige Kaahaaina-Torres (S, Univ. of Utah, 6-0, 3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Ku’ikahi VC)

Kenzie Koerber (OPP, Univ. of Utah, 6-3, 2, Chino Hills, Calif., TStreet Volleyball)

CC McGraw (L, Univ. of Minnesota, 5-9, 3, Prior Lake, Minn., Minnesota Select)

McKenna Melville (OH, UCF, 6-1, 3, Eagan, Minn., Northern Lights)

strong>Taylor Morgan * (M, Univ. of Minnesota, 6-0, 1, Blaine, Minn., Kokoro Volleyball)

Katie Myers (M, Univ. of Maryland, 6-2, 3, Westerville, Ohio, Mintonette)

Jacqueline Quade (OH, Univ. of Illinois, 6-2, 1, Fort Wayne, Ind., Munciana Samuria)

Note: * Taylor Morgan originally selected to the roster, but pulled out of the CNT program due to injury

Head Coach: Heather Olmstead (Brigham Young Univ.)

Assistant Coach: Jaylen Reyes (Univ. of Nebraska), Krista Vansant (Indiana Univ.)

Technical Coordinator: TJ Read (UCF)


May 22

vs Nippon Sport Science University, W 3-2


May 23

vs Japan Women’s U20 Team, L 1-3

NEC Red Rockets Training Center; Kawasaki

May 24

vs Japan World University Games Team (DH)

L 1-2; T 2-2

NEC Red Rockets Training Center; Kawasaki

May 25

vs Japan World University Games Team, L 1-2

NEC Red Rockets Training Center; Kawasaki

May 26

vs Japan Women’s U20 Team, L 1-3

Japan National Training Center; Kita, Tokyo

May 28

vs.Okayama Seagulls, L 1-4