Jordan Larson was the first pick in Athletes Unlimited League
DALLAS, Texas, February 25, 2021 - Athlete Unlimited’s inaugural
volleyball season began on Tuesday night with the first official
draft. The teams picked will play together for the first weekend
of the season, before new teams are selected again next week.
The four captains for the week are middle hitter Lianna Sybeldon
(Purple), libero Tiffany Clark (Blue), middle blocker Ali
Bastianelli (Orange), and outside hitter Aury Cruz (Gold).
Sybeldon had the No. 1 pick and chose outside hitter Jordan
Larson. With the first pick, Sybeldon had the luxury of knowing
she had at least one guaranteed team member.
“I met with [Larson] before the draft and told her that she’s
who I’m picking,” Sybeldon said. “I then met with my coach and
[Larson] helped with the strategy of it.”
Larson won a D1 NCAA championship with the University of
Nebraska in 2006 and is a two-time Olympian for Team USA,
winning silver in 2012 and bronze in 2016.
Larson hit .500 with 21 kills on 68 attempts in the first three
scrimmages. On top of her impressive offense, Larson helped her
teams defensively by getting 25 digs and 5 blocks.
For her first pick, Clark chose opposite Ebony Nwanebu.
Bastianelli picked outside hitter Bethania De La Cruz, an
Olympian from the Dominican Republic. De La Cruz was a first
round round pick in both of the scrimmage drafts.
Cruz, who was a Team Gold captain for the two scrimmage drafts,
stuck with her strategy and selected a setter as her first pick.
Tonight, that setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson – a familiar pick
to Cruz from Monday’s scrimmage draft.
Seliger-Swenson had 21 assists in Monday’s match, with Cruz
earning six of those kills.
“As the week has been going, I’ve just been seeing and
experiencing players,” Cruz said. “Yesterday, I saw how [Seliger-Swenson]
was running the games, but now it’ll be totally different
because we have a week to prepare.”
Cruz’s next pick was opposite Willow Johnson, the captain of
Team Blue for Monday’s scrimmage and Cruz’s teammate from the
first two scrimmage matches. For the scrimmages, Johnson hit
.269, getting 30 kills on 78 attempts. Johnson has proved highly
effective at earning kills from the back row thus far.
Cruz was allotted back-to-back picks with the new draft order
for volleyball. On odd numbered rounds, the order is Purple,
Blue, Orange, Gold, while Gold, Orange, Blue, and Purple is the
selection order for even numbered rounds.
Sybeldon’s second pick was Karsta Lowe, another member of the
USA’s national team and a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist. Lowe hit
.328 on the weekend with 71 attempts and 27 kills.
Despite not picking a setter until the sixth round, Sybeldon was
able to secure a solid choice with Kaylee Manns. Manns was named
best setter in the Norwegian League and Philippine SuperLiga
In Athletes Unlimited Volleyball, players earn points from their
individual performances and their team’s wins. For each set won,
a player will earn 40 points. Players will gain 60 points for a
match win. Match wins are based on the total number of
cumulative points from the three sets, not the number of sets
won. If the teams tie on overall points, they will play a set to
five to determine a winner.
The teams will have the next four days to practice together
before the opening matches on Saturday night, where Team
Sybeldon will take Team Bastianelli, and Team Clark will face
Aury Cruz, Samantha Seliger Swenson, Willow Johnson, Symone
Abbott, Molly McCage, Molly Lohman, Erin Fairs, Erica Handley,
Katie Carter, Kristen Tupac, Kristy Wieser.
Ali Bastianelli, Bethania De La Cruz, Brie King, Nomaris Vélez
Agosto, Cori Crocker, Holly Toliver, Sherridan Atkinson, Lindsay
Stalzer, Sheilla Castro, Amanda Peterson.
Tiffany Clark, Ebony Nwanebu, Valerie Nichol, Leah Edmond,
Taylor Morgan, Taylor Sandbothe, Cassidy Lichtman, Taylor Bruns,
Erica Wilson, Ci Michel, Sareea Freeman.
Lianna Sybeldon, Jordan Larson, Karsta Lowe, Lauren Gibbemeyer,
Deja Mcclendon, Kaylee Manns, Alex Holston, Kelly Hunter, Nia
Grant, Dalianliz Rosado, Odina Aliyeva.