The first weekend of this month, a trio of Pepperdine Waves women’s volleyball players vied for a chance to serve, set and spike for the red, white and blue.
Waves Hana Lishman, Shannon Scully and Tarah Wylie were among the top college volleyball players in the country who participated in the March 1-3 United States Women’s National Team tryouts in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Scully, 20, a sophomore outside hitter, said being on the floor with the nation’s top volleyball talent was a cool experience.
“Yeah, there were people scouting you, but I didn’t feel like there was pressure,” she said. “It was just having fun and competing against the best girls in the country.”
The three-day tryout, held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, featured 215 players from 88 universities across the nation taking part in various drills and scrimmages, all for the chance to be selected for either the U.S. Women’s National Team or the U.S. Collegiate National Team. Forty-five of the players tried out for the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team that will compete in the 2019 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championships.
For Lishman, it was her third national team tryout in three years, while it was Wylie’s second. The two, along with former Wave Jasmine Gross, participated in the event two years ago together. Lishman took part in camp a year ago also.
Lishman said her previous forays into the U.S. Volleyball event helped her prepare for this year’s, the main thing being the advice USA women’s volleyball coach Karch Kiraly gives all the players before each volleyball audition: “Just do good.”
“I really like that, because going into tryouts, you feel like you need to be perfect all the time,” Lishman said. “He’s telling us, ‘We aren’t looking for perfection. In this game of volleyball, you will make mistakes. Just do good. Play to the best of your abilities.’ It lifted the weight off my shoulders.”
Wylie said she was more comfortable at this month’s tryouts than the 2016 version.
“The first time I went, I didn’t know what to expect—what the layout was. They use different balls than what [we] use at Pepperdine,” she said. “I felt more comfortable this time around. Just having that experience. You don’t have the nerves. It was more enjoyable this time around.”
The tryout’s returning Waves helped ease Scully, a first-time participant, into the event.
“We told her what to expect,” Wylie said.
The Pepperdine three were part of the group that took part in the camp’s first session. That allowed the trio to get any nerves they may have had out of their systems. The Waves trained separately the next two days of the event. They were roommates. Lishman said she Wylie and Scully would motivate each other whenever they were in the room together.
“We talked through it and pumped each other up,” she said. “We just went in there and gave it our all every single practice.”
“Having that support system there was just awesome,” Wylie added.
The tryout opportunity came five months after Pepperdine’s 2018 season ended in the second round of November’s NCAA Championships. The Waves finished last season with a 22-9 record, and with a bevy of returning players are doing spring practice sessions in preparation for the 2019 campaign.
Scully, an honorable mention All-West Coast player at the end of last season, said she was happy to be invited to the tryout. She said it was cool to see players from teams the Waves play against in a different environment. Scully said that while growing up most volleyball players dream of playing for Team USA.
“You always look up to them and hope you will get there one day,” she said. “Going into the training center was an amazing experience. Just to be trying out was surreal.”
The Waves already have a presence on the National Team roster. Professional volleyball player Kim Hill, a 2012 graduate, won a bronze medal with the squad at the 2016 Olympic Games and a gold medal at the 2014 World Championships. She also helped the national team win a bronze at the 2015 World Cup.
Lishman said Hill’s presence on the squad is a point of Wave pride.
“I get to say I go to school where Kim Hill went,” she said.
The three Waves all believe they played well at the tryout. Wylie said she wants one of them to get picked for a national team squad.
“I hope one of us gets to represent our school,” she said.