In February 2018, coaches from around the country were sending players to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to try out for Team USA.
Every season, USA Volleyball sends a college team on a foreign tour, and redshirt freshman middle blocker Katie Myers had her sights set on making it.
There was one problem: Myers was coming off knee surgery — her second-straight season with a season-ending injury — and she wasn’t back in volleyball shape.
“She really wanted to go to this, but there was no way that during that time of her rehab, she could do it,” head coach Adam Hughes told Testudo Times. “I remember texting her and saying, ‘Next year, you’re gonna go. You’re gonna make something. You’re gonna make one of these groups.’”
Myers fully recovered in time for the 2018 season and had a major impact, finishing third on the team with 210 kills and also leading the Big Ten with 53 service aces.
Her goal was still to make Team USA, so when February 2019 came, Myers wasn’t about to wait any longer for her opportunity. In late March, the 12-player roster was announced and she made the cut.
“Going into the trial, it was a goal of mine to make one of those teams,” Myers told Testudo Times. “I’m glad I was able to do that.”
She became the first player to represent Maryland for Team USA, and what better place to do it than Japan, much like her teammates Erika Pritchard and Jada Gardner did, representing the Big Ten.
“I thought it was huge for our program, just getting national recognition, and hopefully, it made some girls on our team realize people are noticing Maryland volleyball,” Myers said.
With all of the setbacks Myers has had so far in her career at Maryland, the honor was well-deserved.
After Myers’ injury ridden seasons in 2016 and 2017, Hughes believed the redshirt sophomore deserved the honor even more so.
“For someone who’s gone through so many small setbacks with a knee injury and how hard she’s worked in her rehabilitation, it’s a really good story for feeling good about what she made and what she did for herself,” Hughes said.
The tour lasted from May 19-30, and Myers and the team traveled across Japan, playing six matches against some of the best teams in the country.
Myers said she was able to learn quickly from the different playing styles of the Japanese teams because the game in Japan was much different than back in the states.
“It’s really fast. They’re really good at defense,” Myers said. “It forced me to change my game a little bit and learn quicker.”
On top of that, she brought a few pointers from what she experienced back to College Park to implement into her own game.
“Just sell out. Every ball has a life, especially on defense,” Myers said of her biggest takeaways. “It’s not my specialty, being a middle blocker, but when I do have that rotation in the background, I’m just gonna try my hardest to keep the ball up if it comes to me.”
Myers has taken those pointers to heart as a team captain this season, evolving into one of the best and most efficient hitters on the team and the second-best blocker in the nation.
“She’s a driven person to begin with and she made a commitment to being all-in, and she’s done a really good job with that,” Hughes said. “She’s starting to see the results. She’s also realizing how some of the fine details can make a huge impact. She’s made a lot of progress. That’s a credit to her commitment to the process.”