AU volleyball: Pink-hot Hentz has a crew that includes Dixon, Nuneviller, Betty


Tori Dixon absolutely expects Bethania De La Cruz to do “Betty issues,” which means that although the famous person exterior hitter might be obtainable for less than the final two of three matches in Week 4, that’s unhealthy information for the remainder of Athletes Limitless.

Tori Dixon/AU picture

Dixon, the veteran center hitter with in depth expertise on the USA nationwide crew, was taken in Spherical 3 of the fourth-week volleyball draft by captain Morgan Hentz, who tabbed rookie exterior hitter Brooke Nuneviller within the first spherical and snapped up De La Cruz within the second, sixth total.

Why would Betty, the defending Athletes Limitless factors champion and arguably the very best participant within the league, have lasted till the third spherical in AU’s “snake” draft format? On the ESPNU broadcast Monday, when phrase filtered down that De Le Cruz might be drafted, however wouldn’t return from her responsibility with the Dominican Republic’s nationwide crew in time to play in Friday’s match, TV pundit Kevin Barnett flat-out predicted that she nonetheless can be the primary participant chosen.

Maybe the prospect of her lacking a match, forcing a crew to play short-handed, scared off the opposite Week 4 captains.

However not Hentz, who got here in with the posh of a private 9-0 document by the primary three-fifths of AU’s five-week season. Morgan additionally had first-hand data of what the complementary OH mixture of Nuneviller and Betty may accomplish collectively throughout an undefeated Week 2, and may need figured on the worst, because the late, nice Meat Loaf sang, that two out of three ain’t unhealthy.

De La Cruz was No. 1 on the leaderboard in Athletes Limitless’s non-traditional scoring system after two weeks, however stands No. 5 after per week away, which ought to present the 36-year-old veteran with oodles of incentive to make up misplaced floor.

“Betty is Betty. I don’t know whether or not she will get again all the best way to No. 1 (in a single week, whereas lacking a match), however she goes to do Betty issues,” Dixon predicted. “Betty goes to get her factors.”

Athletes Limitless’s fourth-week round-robin might be contested Friday, Sunday and Monday at Legacy Park in Mesa, Arizona. 4 matches might be streamed on ESPN+, and the nightcaps on Sunday and Monday will air on cable ESPNU. The captains this week are Hentz, Leah Edmond, Sydney Hilley and Alli Linnehan. The complete schedule is under:

Week 4 schedule

Friday, October 27
Workforce Linnehan vs. Workforce Hentz, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Workforce Edmond vs. Workforce Hilley, 9:30 p.m., ESPN+
Sunday, October 29
Workforce Hilley vs. Workforce Hentz, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Workforce Linnehan vs. Workforce Edmond, 9:30 p.m., ESPNU
Monday, October 30
Workforce Hilley vs. Workforce Linnehan, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Workforce Hentz vs. Workforce Edmond, 9:30 p.m., ESPNU
All occasions Japanese
(The rosters for every crew may be discovered on the finish of the story.)
Bethania De La Cruz in first-week Athletes Limitless motion/AU picture

Pins with pop … and extra

The burning query heading into Week 4 is: Can Hentz proceed to take the remainder of Athletes Limitless prisoner? Whereas firmly establishing the libero place as an element within the captaincy, primarily due to the essential “win factors” she has amassed, the previous Stanford three-time All-American has performed nothing however win, win, win by three weeks, going 3-0 as a key member of Edmond’s first-week crew and 6-0 on the helm of her personal groups.

Hentz went out on a limb (form of) by drafting De La Cruz. The opening match of the third-week slate on Friday towards Workforce Linnehan is perhaps problematic, however as soon as Workforce Hentz will get Betty aboard, the percentages seem stacked towards the opposition. The opposite exterior hitters drafted by Hentz have been Brazilian Sassa Gonzaga, who primarily has seen back-row responsibility for her groups, and Lindsay Stalzer, an AU veteran with restricted courtroom time in 2023. They determine to be within the crosshairs in Friday’s opening match.

“Brooke and Betty, these have been nice selections for Morgan,” stated Dixon, who appeared happy as punch to have been picked to play with Hentz, not towards her as within the season’s first three weeks, when she spoke with Volleyball Journal. “You’ve got the very best of each worlds. You’ve got the strongest passer (in Nuneviller) after which the strongest attacker (in De La Cruz).

“Betty is simply such a improbable attacker, with comparatively low errors, which is basically necessary on this league and, truly, simply essential, interval, when it comes to volleyball. So with that combo, although Betty isn’t going to be right here on Friday, we’re going to be hopefully simply effective. After which Betty could make her presence identified on Sunday and Monday, and make up for these misplaced factors within the final two matches.”

What shouldn’t be missed within the huge image is the frequent denominator in an undefeated document towards elite skilled competitors with totally different teammates every week: The defensive prowess and flooring management of libero Hentz.

“Morgan is so, so spectacular,” stated Dixon, 31, who has performed towards the very best liberos on the earth as a long-time member of the USA nationwide crew and in elite leagues abroad. “Her protection is loopy. She’s profitable on a regular basis right here in AU, so clearly she creates some actually good crew chemistry.

“Defensively, she is insane. She digs the whole lot, which is one thing each crew is conscious of. The mindset has been, ‘OK, career-low makes an attempt for Morgan,’ the place we’re consciously attempting to maintain the ball away from her.

“I’m actually excited to play along with her as a center blocker, as a result of realizing that there’s a participant who will dig each ball behind me provides me that freedom to leap and dive in, make these huge strikes. She’s going to cowl my butt if a hitter does beat me in a seam. It’s improbable to have the liberty to dam what I see and browse.”

The remainder of the story

AU’s factors system favors gamers who can rack up kills (beneath league guidelines, as in worldwide play, liberos don’t even serve), but Hentz sits No. 2 on the general leaderboard regardless of a “stat factors” whole of 737 that ranks ninth. In a sport during which the “first contact,” incessantly is the determiner of success or failure, Morgan has been instrumental in conserving her squads on level.

“Passing-wise, Morgan’s groups have been ‘in system’ loads,” Dixon famous. “As a center blocker, I get stoked about that since you all the time are going to have the chance to assault the ball. I’m actually enthusiastic about taking part in with Morgan. She’s performed an outstanding job and has actually made her presence identified defensively. I’m simply hoping to maintain this profitable streak going for her.”

Dixon was chosen eleventh total, six spots larger than in any of the earlier three drafts, after a extremely productive Week 3 that noticed her be voted MVP1 and MVP2 in victories by her crew. Hentz then selected reverse Saskia Hippe, the German veteran who performed at an uber degree (with an MVP1 match after a 15-kill efficiency) when teamed along with her and Nuneviller in Week 2.

“I’m right here, too, blocking balls, hopefully,” Dixon stated, in what might be an understatement of her position on a doubtlessly dominant squad that features veteran setter Alisha Childress.

In the meantime, three different groups will look to strip the “0” from Hentz and her crew.

For the third consecutive week, rookie exterior hitter Claire Chaussee was the general No. 1 choice within the draft, taken by setter Hilley. These two had a extremely efficient connection in Week 2.

Veteran center hitter Molly McCage, who got here off of a big week during which she had two MVP1s and an MVP3, lasted till the No. 2 choose, tabbed by Linnehan. The “wraparound” fourth and fifth total picks within the snake format by Edmond have been setter Natalia Valentin-Anderson and outdoors hitter Lindsey Vander Weide. That represented a big uptick within the inventory of Vander Weide, who had gone twentieth, thirty first and 14th within the earlier drafts.

Week 4 rosters

Facilitator: Dave Rubio
Leah Edmond, OH
Natalia Valentin-Anderson, S
Lindsey Vander Weide, OH
Ali Bastianelli, MB
Génesis Collazo, OPP
Kaz Brown, MB
Kendall White, L
Symone Abbott, OPP
Ray Santos, S
Maria Schlegel, OH
Danielle Hart, Center Block*
Danielle Hart is inactive however will obtain Workforce Edmond’s win factors.
Facilitator: Kayla Banwarth
Morgan Hentz, L
Brooke Nuneviller, OH
Bethania De La Cruz, OH
Tori Dixon, MB
Saskia Hippe, OPP
Blake Mohler, MB
Alisha Childress, S
Sassá Gonzaga, OH
Lindsay Stalzer, OH
Marin Grote, MB
Gabby Blossom, S
Facilitator: Brandon Directo
Alli Linnehan, OH
Molly McCage, MB
Nootsara Tomkom, S
Willow Johnson, OPP
Karis Watson, MB
Katie Lukes, OH
Nomaris Vélez Agosto, L
Taylor Bruns Tegenrot, S
Shelly Fanning, MB
Nia Parker-Robinson, OH
Erin Gala’s, OH
Facilitator: Stephen Gbur
Sydney Hilley, S
Claire Chaussee, OH
Yossiana Pressley, OH
Jenna Rosenthal, MB
Aury Cruz, OH
Emma Willis, MB
Kayla Caffey, MB
Deja McClendon, OH
Nia Reed, OPP
Nicole Edelman-Cagliari, S
Amanda Benson, L



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