July 12, 2013

Many athletes share the dream of one day representing their country on the international level. Few, however, see that dream come to fruition.

Recently two members of the Ohio State women’s volleyball family received the opportunity to compete and train under the direction of USA Volleyball. Former Buckeye Kristen Dozier has been training alongside the U.S. National Team with hopes of earning a roster spot for upcoming tournaments, while rising senior Kaitlyn Leary recently spent time with the U.S. A2 program.

A member of the Buckeye squad from 2006-09, Dozier has played overseas in Spain, Israel, Puerto Rico and Germany following her time in Columbus. Although extensive traveling has always prohibited Dozier from attending the national team’s open tryouts, head coach Karch Kiraly awarded her a special chance to play for her place on the team.

“I wrote an email to the coaches and told them about my interest,” Dozier said. “They told me to send a video and then responded with a `we’ll see.’ A month later, I was invited for a tryout.”

Since her initial tryout, Dozier has been training with the team under the assumption at any time her number could be called to play for Team USA in tournament action.

“Every tournament can have a different roster, so there is a chance every time,” Dozier said. “A little less than 30 of us are training and 12-15 players make the roster per tournament.”

Team USA currently holds a record of 4-0 this season. The squad most recently acquired gold at the Pan American Cup after defeating the Dominican Republic in three sets. The next major tournament scheduled is the FIVB World Grand Prix, which will kick off Aug. 2 in Campinas, Brazil. Other tournaments in which Dozier could earn a roster spot include, the NORCECA Continental Championships, Sept. 16-21, and the FIVB Grand Championships, Nov. 12-17.

During her time at Ohio State, Dozier picked up Honorable Mention All-Big Ten accolades after starting all 35 matches her senior season. A native of Sandy Spring, Md., she also led the Buckeyes in blocks with 104 during her senior campaign.

Leary, on the other hand, elected to spend a week of her summer, June 25 – July 3, with the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Senior A2 program in Dallas, Texas. Alongside 47 other student-athletes from around the country, Leary trained for six days before competing against other A2 program teams and the top four Premier Volleyball League (PVL) teams in a tournament.

The U.S. Senior A2 contingent was divided into four equal teams before entering pool play. After being chosen to rep Team White, Leary found herself in the position to compete with some familiar faces; most notably former Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert.

“I was honored and beyond excited to be selected to play on Mike Hebert’s team,” Leary said. “Mike is legendary in the volleyball world and has had many years of success. He is a renowned coach and it was an honor to be able to have this experience.

“There was a total of five Big Ten players on my team,” Leary continued. “It was awesome to be able to play with them. There were two players from Wisconsin, setter Courtney Thomas and outside Ellen Chapman. There also was Purdue’s libero Carly Cramer and Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski. It was great to get to know these girls on the same side of the net.”

Putting Big Ten rivalries aside, Leary and her teammates from Team White advanced to the championship match of the WNTA2 Tournament to take on Team Gold. Played at the Dallas Convention Center, Team White took down Team Gold 24-26, 25-12, 25-23, 25-21. In the match, Leary contributed seven points on seven kills.

“The ending of this experience couldn’t have been more perfect,” Leary said. “All together it was such an amazing experience and I am so grateful for this opportunity. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of coaches and players.”

Leary will return to Ohio State after putting together a breakout junior season in 2012. The Parma, Ohio, native concluded her campaign ranked second on the team with a 2.90 kills average, totaling 359 on the year. She received All-Big Ten honorable mention honors after recording 18 double-digit kill matches, including 15 against Big Ten competition, over the course of the season.