Feb. 28, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina volleyball student-athletes Aubrey Ezell and Mikayla Shields will compete this weekend for a chance to represent their country as well as their school. The duo heads to Colorado Springs for a three-day tryout for the U.S. Women’s National Team, with placements on Collegiate National Team and the U.S. Junior National Team also up for grabs.
“We’re excited for the opportunity, it’s going to be a really good experience for both of them to go and train with some of the best players in the country,” said head coach Scott Swanson. “There’s nothing that can replace the experience of playing against top-level talent who will challenge you to be at your best. A lot of good things can come from this, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Ezell, who just finished her sophomore season with the Gamecocks, will try out as one of 55 liberos for the weekend. Shields, a freshman, is in a pool of 31 opposite hitters.
“For Aubrey, who’s making the transition from setter to try and become our libero, it’s going to be an eye-opening experience to watch and train with the best in the country and learn what makes them great, because we’re really thinking she’s going to be that type of player,” Swanson said. “For Mikayla, she’s such a physical presence at the net, even as a freshman, and a chance to match up with great players across the net will help her develop even more as a hitter and blocker.”
The two are the first Gamecocks to compete for a spot on a national team since current assistant coach Shonda Cole trained with the national A2 Team in 2005 and 2006 and participated in the 2005 Pan American Games and World Grand Prix. They are also two of just 245 athletes at the tryouts, representing 82 college programs and 10 high schools.
The tryouts for the national team are broken into four sessions from March 3-5: Friday from 4-10 p.m. ET, Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday morning from 9:30-12:30. Athletes can be selected to train with the national team in the spring, the collegiate national team on one of two foreign tours this summer, or — for Mikayla specifically – the junior national team for a summer tournament in Minneapolis.
Ezell already ranks in the program’s top 10 for career double-doubles, assists per set and aces per set, and has not missed a single game in her first two seasons with the team. Shields is coming off one of the best freshman seasons in program history, culminating with a spot on the AVCA All-Region honorable mention team. She led the team with 341 kills (3.25 per set) and hit .308, shattering the program’s freshman record for hitting percentage in the rally-scoring era.
- Live Stream begins Friday, March 3 at 4 p.m. ET through this link.
- U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly will direct the tryouts.
- USA Volleyball will use #USAVtryout as the event hashtag for photos, notes, quotes and stories posted to its social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat under the handle @usavolleyball.
- Gamecock fans can follow Aubrey and Mikayla’s weekend, specifically, on the team’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.