LAWRENCE, Kan. – Incoming Kansas freshman setter Ainise Havili was named to the 18-player U.S. Women’s Junior National Training Team (WJNTT) roster, announced Tuesday afternoon by USA Volleyball.
From Haltom City, Texas, Havili signed with the Jayhawks in November. A likely candidate to compete for a starting role right away, Havili led her 17U TAV Club to the National Championship last fall, earning Tournament MVP honors in the process under the direction of club coach Ping Cao. Havili is in prime position to inherit the reins from the 2013 Big 12 Setter of the Year, departing senior Erin McNorton.
“She’s pretty good,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said of his incoming rookie. “The thing about her is she’s not an overly flashy player. What I’m sure the committee sees is her consistency and ability to always deliver a hittable ball. She won’t try to be flashy with it; she makes plays and is very consistent. That makes her a valuable asset.”
The roster will be reduced to 12 players for competition at the NORCECA Women’s U-20 Continental Championship set for July 6-14 in Guatemala. U.S. Women’s Junior National Team head coach Tom Hogan and his coaching staff will have five outside/opposite hitters, five middle blockers, three setters and five liberos to select the final roster from for the NORCECA event.
“This is a great opportunity,” Bechard said. “I have experience with the USA Volleyball pipeline and I know that anytime you get the opportunity to be exposed to different levels and styles of volleyball, it will only make you a better player. This is great for her to be involved with high-caliber coaches and fellow players.”
According to the official announcement released by USA Volleyball, the training team roster has no bearings on the final 12-player U.S. Women’s Junior National Team roster, but many of these athletes have matriculated up through the USA Volleyball High Performance program.
The WJNTT, comprised of athletes born in 1996 or 1997, will hold its second tryout May 29 to June 1 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. From that tryout, the top 12 players will be selected for the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team (WJNT) that will compete in the NORCECA Women’s U-20 Continental Championship. Before leaving for Guatemala, the WJNT will train in Minneapolis from June 29 through July 4.