May 9, 2018
LINCOLN, Neb. - Purdue volleyball alumna Annie Drews and the U.S. Women's National Team, ranked second in the world, open the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League May 15-17 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln. The United States will have its seven active Olympians all back on the court together for the first time since earning bronze at the 2016 Rio Games.
The seven Olympians will form a solid core for the 14-player Volleyball Nations League roster which will compete at the Devaney Center on the University of Nebraska campus. Team USA hosts No. 22 Poland on May 15, followed by No. 12 Turkey on May 16 and No. 7 Italy on May 17. All three USA matches are scheduled for 7 p.m. CT after the conclusion of the non-USA match at 5 p.m.
Drews and Olympian Kelly Murphy will serve as the two opposites on Team USA's roster. Drews hasn't competed at the Devaney Center since her time as a Boilermaker. Now she's looking forward to competing with the crowd cheering for her rather than against her.
"I have played in the Devaney Center a couple times in college," Drews said. "I have won there, and lost there. I will say this, it is an intense environment. It is super fun, really loud. Nebraska is known to have loud and proud fans."
The FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) is in its first year replacing the long-standing FIVB World Grand Prix. The VNL has five consecutive weeks of preliminary round matches where 16 teams play in one of four round-robin pools each week around the world.
Per FIVB regulations, the roster can be changed each week of the preliminary round so long as the players were listed on the 21-player expanded roster. Each country must declare its 14-player roster two days before the start of each week's round-robin competition.
Team USA finished the 2017 season with an 18-8 record in which many first- and second-year players saw success with expanded playing time. The U.S. did not play a single match with all seven of its returning Olympians on the roster as many took time off early in the season, while other veterans took additional time off during the season-ending tournament.
In her rookie season with USA a year ago, the all-american appeared in 55 sets for the United States and terminated 164 of her 381 attempts with 57 errors giving her a .281 hitting percentage and a 2.98 kills per set average. She complemented her scoring efforts with 23 blocks and six aces as well. While enjoying her success with Team USA.