Among 218 women’s volleyball athletes from 88 colleges, 28 players were selected to the U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Team — Anaheim roster for a five-day training session in June.
Of 56 outside hitters, former Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy standout Kayla Lund was chosen to further up her game when she was selected to Team U.S.A. after a three-day tryout in early March.
Lund, a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, joined Panthers coach David Fisher on the national team trial that stretched between June 23-28. At the event, Lund was exposed to other national team coaches, the Pan American U.S.A. team and the senior Women’s National Team.
It was an incredible learning opportunity for Lund, who came into the camp open-minded to the national team exposure that will help develop her athletic abilities.
“It was basically coming in every day and wanting to learn from the best of the best and to try to be the best that I can be,” Lund said. “This is such an amazing opportunity and such an experience for me to grow and learn, so I just really wanted to have the mindset to go in and be a complete learner of the game.
“I felt so blessed and grateful to be there. I really wanted to take the opportunity of this honor and be completely open to learning and getting better.”
The day-to-day schedule started with about two hours of training, with a focus on serving, receiving and rotating. The athletes spent the next hour observing the senior national team practice, and then took part in a question-and-answer session. A break for lunch came after, then another training session took place before dinner.
“For the national team, I think the key for her will be to keep developing as a passer and a defender,” Fisher said. “There have been multiple girls that have made it to the Olympics that have come through the collegiate national team. It’s been really advantageous for USA volleyball to have a big pipeline, so it’s definitely an honor for Kayla to be chosen for.”
In four seasons at Flintridge Sacred Heart, Lund totaled 2,023 kills, 948 digs, 273 assists, 178 blocks and 175 aces. The CIF Southern Section Division I first-team honoree and three-time Mission League Most Valuable Player recorded 555 kills, 348 digs, 251 assists, 81 aces and 38 blocks in her senior season.
Lund enjoyed a breakthrough sophomore year at Pitt this past season, ending with 387 kills, which ranked sixth in the Atlantic Coast Coference. She was second on the team with 2.64 digs per set and finished with a team-high 38 aces, which was second-best in the ACC.
The three-time ACC Player of the Week helped Pitt to first its first outright ACC championship and second consecutive conference title. The No. 12 Panthers made their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance and defeated Iona College in the first round before falling to Michigan in the next round.
Lund completed her sophomore campaign earning All-ACC first-team and All-ACC academic team honors. She was also selected to the All-East Coast Region first team and was named American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America Honorable Mention.
“She definitely belongs in that group,” Fisher said. “When we had her in our inner-squad scrimmage, she scored the most points and arguably was the best player on the court. I think it was, hopefully, a good experience for her.”
Fisher has instilled most of the Team USA system into the his Pitt team. The national team training was very similar to what Lund was used to at Pitt. Lund was the only Pitt team member to join the national team.
“It was really cool to being able to see the connection that Fish preaches at Pitt and being able to go to Team USA and see the things they are doing and how similar it is to what we are doing,” Lund said. “That’s just the culture that Fish has created at Pitt. Working to be the best so every day we are training to be the best and that’s what I’ve learned throughout this week.
“I saw what USA was doing because Fish has ties to Team USA and Coach Karch Kiraly. He uses those to teach us to do our best. He’s totally an individual as a coach so he has his own twist on things and that’s the great coach that he is. It was a really cool opportunity for me to see him doing what he does best in his environment.”
On the final day of the trial, the collegiate team was split into two squads, Red and Blue. Lund played for the Red team.
The Red team won.