SE: Brand Set to Compete with Collegiate National Team

Rising K-State volleyball senior Katie Brand received some exciting news earlier this spring.

Following a stand-out performance at the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts earlier this year, the setter from Grand Island, Nebraska, was named to the U.S. Collegiate National Team’s 12-player roster that will tour China later this month.

Brand, a two-time American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America Honorable Mention recipient, is one of just three setters in the nation on the CNT-China roster that will train and compete in a series of matches from Shanghai to Beijing from June 18-July 1. The team, which is part of USA Volleyball’s High Performance pipeline, will have a short training period, June 18 and 19, in Los Angeles before heading to Shanghai from June 21-23, followed by Nanjing from June 23-26, and Beijing June 26-July 1.

A two-time All-Big 12 First Team selection, Brand is among the Big 12’s top setters and has helped K-State reach the NCAA Tournament in the last two seasons thanks to 3,518 career assists and 51 career double-doubles, marks that are among the top-10 best in Wildcat history (sixth and third, respectively). She is slated to enter the 2016 season as the Big 12’s active leader in career assists.

Looking forward to her upcoming trip, K-State Sports Extra caught up with Brand.

Sports Extra: What was the emotion like when you found out you’d been selected to compete with the USA Collegiate National team in China?

Katie Brand: It was very exciting… very, very exciting. The whole USA tryout process was so much fun. Every year we go, whatever team we’re with, we always come back saying what a great experience it is to compete in that gym with others who are trying to make the USA team and how great it is to be playing on that high level of competition. So anything that can extend that experience further, especially getting to play with the best of the best from that gym now, it’s amazing. I was super excited to hear that I’d be going to China; it’s going to be an amazing experience.

SE: How have you been preparing for the upcoming trip?

KB: Well, I was at home for break this past month, but our strength coach gave us workouts, so I’ve been doing those and staying in shape. I’ve been playing a lot of volleyball with my sister, too. Now I’m back (at K-State) for a few weeks, training with my team and in the weight room again until I leave.

SE: What will your schedule with CNT-China look like?

KB: I honestly don’t really know exactly. I know we’re going to LA for a couple days to train as a team before we go to China, then when we get there, we’ll be in Shanghai for a few days. Then the actual tournament is going to be played in Beijing the last six days we’re there.

SE: Do you know any of your teammates?

KB: I do, actually; I know most of them. It was fun because as the tryouts progressed in February you kind of started to get a feel where you were and where you were going because they narrowed the courts down further and further. The last day, there were only 12 of us on the top court, and most of those girls are all going on this trip, so I actually got to play with them for a day.

SE: What are you looking forward to the most?

KB: The past years seeing other teams doing this, I think I’m just really excited to build those bonds and relationships with my new USA teammates. That’s just something that goes along with spending 11 straight days with anybody, then getting to compete with them, learn more about them and how they play. That will be really fun, interesting and exciting.

I’m excited to compete, too. When I went to Russia (with K-State in 2013) it was fun to see how different teams from other countries played, and how different their systems are sometimes. They’re just so creative in the way they play. In the U.S., we get so used to our style, but you get to see there’s another way to play volleyball, so it’s going to be fun to compete against that again.

SE: Finally, what do you think will be the most beneficial part of this experience?

KB: Over the past two years I stayed in the U.S. and played with a lower USA team, and I gained so much experience in the short week or two I was with them. The level of experience and the level of competition they’re playing at, it helps you to eliminate errors because your errors are just magnified when you’re competing at that level of play. So going to China, I know it’s going to be the same thing. I know everything is going to be magnified and I’m going to be playing under a little bit more pressure and a little bit more stress. You don’t always get that over the summer because you’re not playing other teams and you’re only practicing with your team. So going somewhere where it’s really going to put some stress on my skills and on me as a player, it’s going to be huge. I just think it’s going to help me so much in a short amount of time and I hope I come back just feeling like a different player.

U.S. Collegiate National Team for the 2016 Tour of China
Name (Position, School, 2016 College Year, Height, Hometown)
Katie Brand (S, Kansas State University, Sr., 6-1, Grand Island, Nebraska)
Kaz Brown (MB, University of Kentucky, Jr., 6-4, Waterloo, Iowa)
Abby Cole (MB, University of Michigan, Sr., 6-5, Grand Haven, Michigan)
Audriana Fitzmorris (OPP, Stanford University, Fr., 6-6, Overland Park, Kansas)
Ainise Havili (S, University of Kansas, Jr., 5-10, Fort Worth, Texas)
Morgan Heise (L, SMU, Jr., 5-6, Hempstead, Texas)
Madison Rigdon (OH, University of Kansas, So., 6-0, Pflugerville, Texas)
Jenna Rosenthal (MB, Marquette University, So., 6-6, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin)
Tia Scambray (OH, University of Washington, Jr., 6-0, Dana Point, California)
Courtney Schwan (OH, University of Washington, Jr., 6-1, Auburn, Washington)
Alexa Smith (OH, University of Colorado, So., 6-1, Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Jordan Thompson (OPP, University of Cincinnati, So., 6-4, Edina, Minnesota)