Originally published August 7, 2017 at 05:00a.m., updated August 6, 2017 at 09:22p.m.
By Tony Burns
Anna Williams, a junior at West Side Christian, has her first high school volleyball practice today. She can tell her teammates plenty of stories about her eventful summer.
Williams just returned from a week-long training session in the USA Girls Selection National A2 Invitational Team High Performance Program. The seven-day 2017 USA A2 Invitational featured 128 athletes and was held in Colorado Springs.
"When we first got there, they congratulated us on making the A2 program and they told us only 10 percent who tried out, out of the 40 tryouts in the nation, made it," said Williams. "It was a lot more intense than last year, that's for sure."
The 6-foot-1 setter went to an A3 training program in Las Vegas last year. The A2 program was two days longer and just a bit more serious.
"We had three two-hour sessions each day. And then in the evening, we had a classroom session for another two hours. So, it was a total of 42 hours all week," she said. "I learned a few different techniques because some coaches tell you one way, some coaches tell you another way. So, I learned a few new techniques and I learned about nutrition and leadership."
The first four days consisted of training in position-specific areas. After that, the players were split into teams for training before ending the week with a tournament.
"We did positional training the first day. So, all the setters trained for a little bit. The first two days was actually positional training," she said. "I feel like I did pretty good. There was a lot of real good competition. Some of them have already committed. I know one girl has committed to Creighton. Another one has committed to Iowa State. So, they had a lot of really good setters.
"The altitude was pretty rough. The first few days was the hardest. I had to sit out, actually, one of the sessions because I was feeling really, really weak, like I was going to pass out. The trainer checked my oxygen levels and they were low so I had to sit out one session. But, after that, I was good."
According to Williams, the most difficult times came off the court.
"We had a break in between sessions. Just getting back to the dorms and resting a little bit. Probably the hardest part was getting back up and going back to the gym and practice again," she said. "There was one gym we had to practice in, it was actually down a mountain. It was a Christian school, Colorado Springs Christian School. And, we had to practice at that gym. One of the hard parts was walking down that mountain to get to the school and then walking back up and having to do that three times a day, every other day."
Altitude adjustments and mountain climbing aside, Williams felt the week was quite productive.
"I definitely got a lot more reps in. It was a lot of fun working with different players from across the nation and setting different tempos because the game is a lot more fast," said Williams. "I'm definitely looking forward to next year. I didn't want to leave. It was very, very helpful."
Before the trip to Colorado Springs, Williams attended a one-day setter's camp at the University of Kentucky. She said the camp went well although it didn't produce the results she wanted.
"I was interested in going to the University of Kentucky. I talked to the coach a little bit and they aren't looking for a 2019 setter. They've already signed someone," she said. "Yeah, I was a little disappointed but that's O.K. I'm actually now talking to a school in Troy, Alabama. My A2 coach has a lot of connections and he told me he would help me out some. He knows this coach from Troy University. I've talked to them a little bit so that could be an option."
Considering she still has two years left in high school, Williams probably won't be short on options before she graduates. She plans to stay in the USA Volleyball High Performance Training Program and hopes to, perhaps, advance to the A1 division next summer.
For now, she said she's looking forward to being a Lady Warrior again.
"We start practicing (today)," she said. "I'm looking forward to it. I'm interested to see how we do this year."
West Side Christian's SCA Jamboree is scheduled for Aug. 19.
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