Oakland volleyball players try out for U.S. national teams
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Oakland volleyball players Darien Bandel, Sammy Condon and Krysteena Davis attended open tryouts March 3-5 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The trio made the journey in hopes of earning a spot on the U.S. Women’s National Team, U.S. Collegiate National Team or U.S. Junior National Team.
“I felt that I have played a long career, have built myself as a player and felt confident enough to compete with some of the best volleyball players in the NCAA,” Condon said.
The tryouts were split into four sessions: on Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday night and Sunday morning. During each session, the girls ran different drills and played in games. Approximately 244 athletes were evaluated from 81 colleges across the country.
“It was intimidating at first, seeing all these athletes that are much taller than us, which is surprising because we think of ourselves as pretty tall,” said Condon, who stands at 6 foot 1. “But it was very, very cool playing with some of the best volleyball players in Division I.”
The trip was not only about the tryouts for these Oakland volleyball players; it was also a dream that had become reality.
“Being at the Olympic Center was unbelievable,” Bandel said. “That’s every athlete’s dream growing up is to be at that kind of a level. So, to experience it for even three days was amazing.”
For Davis, the U.S. Open Tryouts were more about rediscovering her confidence as an athlete.
“I’ve struggled with confidence in high school because I was behind a middle hitter that . . . made one of the teams last summer for the Olympic team,” Davis said. “I was always behind her, so I never had that confidence all through high school. To get that back, to know that I was good enough to go to these tryouts, was pretty cool.”
While in Colorado Springs, Condon, Davis and Bandel not only competed with the other volleyball players, but also grew close to some of them.
“We met two girls that are actually in our league, and we ended up becoming really good friends with them,” Bandel said. “That was really awesome, meeting girls from other teams, becoming friends and playing with them.”
As the girls wait to hear back about the results, they know they left everything they had on the court.
“Coach Karch [Kiraly] was talking all weekend about emptying the tank and just leaving it all out on the court, and that’s what I feel like I did,” Davis said.
Results on who made the national teams’ rosters will be announced by the end of March.