Catching up with Morgan Hentz as new AU volleyball groups picked for Week 2

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Willow Johnson ideas throughout first-week AU motion/Jade Hewitt, Athletes Limitless

The draft for Week 2 of Athletes Limitless’s volleyball season successfully dismantled the purple gang that terrorized its competitors within the opening spherical, spreading the wealth of its seven starters among the many league’s 4 groups.

The juggernaut crew within the purple jerseys assembled by captain Leah Edmond to kick off AU’s five-week schedule produced all 4 of the captains, that standing having been decided by the gamers who completed 1 by means of 4 on the leaderboard.

In a format that shuffles its squads weekly, exterior hitter Edmond, OH Alli Linnehan, libero Morgan Hentz and setter Sydney Hilley morphed from Week 1 teammates to the opposition. After the draft performed on Tuesday, Edmond had retained reverse Genesis Collazo, Hentz would proceed to defend behind center hitter Jenna Rosenthal’s large block, and Hilley might keep linked with center Danielle Hart, her school mate at Wisconsin.

Odds are lengthy that any of the 4 new lineups will match Group Edmond’s first-week outcomes, a uncommon 3-0 file in matches and 8-1 mark in units that generated 500 out of a attainable 540 “group factors,” 60 for every aggregate-score match victory and 40 for every successful set.

Week 2 schedule

Athletes Limitless’s second-week round-robin will likely be held Friday, Sunday and Monday, with 5 matches streamed on ESPN+ and the nightcap on Monday aired on cable ESPNU. All occasions are Jap:

Friday, October 13
Group Hentz vs. Group Linnehan, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Group Edmond vs. Group Hilley, 9:30 p.m., ESPN+
Sunday, October 15
Group Hilley vs. Group Linnehan, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Group Hentz vs. Group Edmond, 9:30, ESPN+
Monday, October 15
Group Hilley vs. Group Hentz, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Group Linnehan vs. Group Edmond, 9:30 p.m., ESPNU

The factors issue

The group element had such affect on the leaderboard that the highest scorer in particular person “stat factors,” explosive veteran Dominican exterior Bethania De La Cruz, who tacked on 100 “MVP factors,” might climb no larger than seventh, slotting behind the 4 Week 2 captains, plus Collazo and Hart. Thus ended De La Cruz’s file streak of 10 for sporting an AU captain’s mantle that dated to the inaugural 2021 season.

Hentz parlayed 500 group factors, 321 stat factors and 60 MVP factors to a third-place end on the leaderboard, changing into the primary libero to qualify as an AU captain by means of its scoring system that’s weighted towards pin hitters and setters. She was seventh in factors general as a rookie in 2022, when she was honored as defensive participant of the 12 months. The previous Stanford three-time All-American set the league file for digs in a match with 25 on the primary day of the 2023 competitors at Legacy Park in Mesa, Arizona.

“The group Leah put collectively had very nice chemistry and communication, which made everybody’s lives simpler on the courtroom,” Hentz instructed us. “We actually centered on our serve-pass sport in addition to protection. Our blockers did a unbelievable job all through all three matches of placing up such a strong block that it simply made it really easy for our defenders to learn the attackers. I additionally favored it that if we didn’t win some extent, we moved by means of it fairly rapidly. We didn’t maintain on to that final level, we have been about what’s in entrance of us.”

Hentz was so intent on the duty at hand that she “didn’t even notice I used to be that prime up the leaderboard till after our final match.”

“Every time I’m enjoying with AU, I strive arduous to not have a look at the leaderboard,” she stated. “I’m simply making an attempt to win (whereas) having enjoyable on the courtroom with my pals. What’s vital to recollect about AU is that you simply earn essentially the most factors by means of successful. As a result of our (first-week) group had a lot success, it put me in an excellent place to turn out to be a captain.”

Hentz’’s draft technique

Hentz had the second choice within the draft and snapped up De La Cruz, the 2022 AU factors champion, after Hilley made exterior Claire Chaussee the primary decide. Chaussee, the previous Louisville star, made her AU debut and he or she completed eleventh within the standings, whereas compiling 31 kills with 12 errors on 89 makes an attempt, a .213 hitting share.

“I used to be undoubtedly stunned,” that De La Cruz was there, “and really feel fortunate that she’s on my group as a result of she’s a unbelievable participant,” Morgan stated. “As a libero, I do nothing for the offense. So I actually wanted to go for some sturdy attackers first, and construct round it from there. Getting two outsides was my first precedence.“

Accordingly, Hentz tabbed rookie exterior Brooke Nuneviller, the previous Oregon star who’s from Phoenix, within the subsequent spherical, seventh general, in no small half due to the familiarity issue.

“Brooke and I have been within the national-team health club the final two summers,” she stated. “I like the best way Brooke performs with quite a lot of coronary heart, extraordinarily scrappy, and he or she’s an incredible passer. Betty is a unbelievable passer, too, so they need to complement one another rather well.”

The 6-foot-5 Rosenthal was picked up within the third spherical (tenth general) after Hilley had taken Hart, her former Wisconsin teammate, off of the board with the earlier decide.

“Jenna did an superior job for us in Week 1,” Hentz stated. “She’s only a massive presence on the web. Jenna will get her arms in the appropriate place, however she’s additionally extraordinarily offensive and might actually terminate.”

The setter place was stuffed subsequent when she chosen veteran Natalia Valentin-Anderson, who was lauded by Hentz “for the vitality she brings,” and her management expertise.

Hentz was extremely reluctant to make any predictions on how the group she crafted would possibly fare, noting the rarity of match sweeps on this format and that AU competitors may be, “a set-to-set form of factor.”

“I’m wanting ahead to connecting with my group increasingly more,” she stated, “after which bringing our greatest in the case of Friday.”

Different highlights of the Week 2 draft noticed reverse Willow Johnson (15, 17 and 18 kills in her opening-week matches) taken No. 3 general by Linnehan, who added slick veteran setter Nootsara Tomkom (sixth general and one of many first-week captains) within the second spherical and center Ali Bastianelli (eleventh general) within the third. Hilley snagged dynamic pin hitters in Chaussee and high-flying Yossiana Pressley (fifth general) plus Hart. And with the fourth and fifth general decisions, Edmond opted for expertise in setter Alisa Childress and center Molly McCage.

Rookie center Anota Adekunle was injured early in her first match final week and is out for the season, so the draft numbered 43 gamers. On Thursday, Athletes Limitless signed center Blake Mohler and she’s going to be part of Group Linnehan as its eleventh participant. The 6-foot-2 Mohler was a collegiate standout at Purdue, final enjoying there in 2019.

The rosters are on the finish of this story.

Morgan Hentz/Jade Hewitt, Athletes Limitless

A future on house courts

Hentz, 25, has performed one season {of professional} volleyball abroad (with a group in Dresden, Germany, in 2020-21) and was frank in saying that she has no want to try this once more.

“I wasn’t joyful abroad,” she stated. “I’m rather a lot happier once I keep within the States, nearer to household and pals. I simply wasn’t joyful being so far-off. The chance that Athletes Limitless supplied within the U.S.(in 2022), I took benefit of that. I discovered my love for the sport once more.

“I simply figured that, for me, enjoying within the U.S. is simply much more enjoyable. Truthfully, liberos don’t make a lot cash signing contracts abroad. So I may be extra financially steady staying right here as nicely.”

After the brief AU season, Morgan has signed to play for the Atlanta Vibe within the startup Professional Volleyball Federation. A few of her Vibe teammates will embrace Edmond, Linnehan, Bastianelli, Adekunle and Shelly Fanning.

Representing the red-white-and-blue in main worldwide competitions, even the Olympics, stays a chance for the 5-foot-9 Hentz, who has been within the health club with coach Karch Kiraly’s USA national-team program in 2022 and 2023. She and Justine Wong-Orantes have been the 2 back-row specialists when the USA clinched its 2024 Paris Olympics bid final month.

“I’ve actually loved my time with the nationwide group and I really feel as if I’ve grown rather a lot, purely by enjoying in opposition to the very best on the earth,” she stated. “It’s such an honor and an enormous, large alternative.

“It’s a year-to-year factor for me. I’m simply making an attempt to have enjoyable with it, and if I’m nonetheless given the chance to be within the U.S. health club, I might like to be there. But when they’re stepping into a special path, then I perceive. The U.S. has so many gifted gamers, a humiliation of riches, and that call actually is as much as the teaching workers.”

Week 2 rosters



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