Drops of Ink

LHS grad lands a spot on the U.S. Collegiate National Volleyball Team

Photo courtesy of Greg Loika

Photo courtesy of Greg Loika

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From March 2-4, the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was full of athletes hoping to make the United States Women’s National Volleyball Team. Among these players was LHS alumna Morgan O’Brien, a current freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

O’Brien was one of 240 athletes nationwide who tried out for the team, according to Team USA Volleyball’s website. All 240 of them will be bidding for spots not only on the Women’s National Team, but for positions on both the domestic and international U.S. Collegiate National Teams.

“It takes a certain type of player to thrive in [this] environment,” University of Illinois Head Volleyball Coach Chris Tamas expressed over email. “Besides her skills as a player, Morgan has a lot of mental attributes that will allow her to excel at a high level. She is calm under pressure and plays her best in big moments. She had a great tryout and was one of the top liberos in the gym during that weekend.”

Although this was Tamas’ first year coaching at University of Illinois, he is no stranger to the sport; in fact, he played for Team USA Volleyball for five years and was the one who suggested O’Brien, along with two other players at U of I, try out for the team.

“After our season, we had an end-of-season meeting [and] he told me he wanted to send me to this tryout because of my skills and the fact that I’m young and it would be good to have this experience as well, and I said yes,” O’Brien shared in an interview over the phone.

Throughout high school, O’Brien earned numerous awards and recognitions and even broke some records. Among the more notable ones included an LHS school record for digs as well as being named a two-time Daily Herald/Lake County All-Area team member.

O’Brien plays the position of libero, a player who specializes in defensive skills. Prior to high school, she had played as an outside hitter on her club team, Sky High. However, upon coming to LHS, Head Varsity Coach Greg Loika moved her into the role of libero. Mr. Loika was contacted for the purpose of this article but was unable to interview. O’Brien was a four-year varsity starter at the libero position for LHS.

“[Morgan] is a tenacious player. She has great speed and quickness and she reads the game well, which is very important in our sport. She also has a great touch and is an excellent passer and defender. Most liberos are good at one or the other, but she is good at both,” Tamas said.

O’Brien, who will be majoring in elementary education, played libero in her freshman season on U of I’s team, which, according to her, is a rare occurrence at a Big Ten school. Although she was one of the youngest on the team, she enjoys the group of girls she gets to work with.  

“I love being with the team, all the travel, all the fun. My team is so close; I’ve never had a closer group of friends,” O’Brien said

Results were released on April 10, where it was announced that O’Brien was to be a member of the U.S. Collegiate National Team that plays in Detroit.

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LHS grad lands a spot on the U.S. Collegiate National Volleyball Team