College roundup: BYU's Jennifer Hamson earns a spot on USA Volleyball's A2 squad

Deseret News

Published: Monday, March 26 2012 11:54 p.m. MDT

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Volleyball announced Monday that BYU opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson was selected to the 2012 U.S. Women's National A2 Team Thursday after attending the U.S. Women's National Team Open Tryouts in February.

The 6-foot-7 sophomore from Lindon, Utah, participated in the tryouts Feb. 10-12 in Colorado Springs, Colo. The tryouts fell during a bye week in the basketball season, allowing the dual-sport athlete to participate.

"Jennifer has a wonderful opportunity to go and compete this summer for USA Volleyball," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "This is an opportunity that doesn't come along every year especially considering Jen's basketball schedule. She was excited when she looked on the calendar and saw that she would be able to tryout and is even more excited learning she will get to compete this summer."

In 2011, Hamson led the women's volleyball team to a 21-9 record. She averaged 3.94 kills per set and ranked No. 22 in NCAA Division I women's volleyball for points per set with 4.88. Her performance earned her All-America Honorable Mention, as well as All-Pacific Region.

Hamson recently returned from a contest against DePaul in the first round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament in which she scored a career-high 21 points. She also helped the BYU women's basketball team to its first conference championship title in 10 years and a second-place finish in conference play.

The open tryouts included both graduated and college-eligible athletes, with graduate athletes selected for the U.S. Women's National Team and college-eligible athletes selected for the U.S. Women's A2 program.

Training for the 48-member U.S. Women's A2 team begins June 26 at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio. The team will be divided into groups of 12 athletes. The 12-member squads will compete against each other in a round-robin tournament June 30 to July 4 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Following round-robin play, a semifinal and final round will be held.

Coaches for the U.S. Women's A2 program include Northwestern's Keylor Chan, San Diego State's Deitre Collins-Parker, Georgia Tech's Tanya Johnson, Cal State Northridge's Jeff Stork and fellow West Coast Conference member Pepperdine's Nina Matthies.

In spring competition, the BYU women's volleyball team defeated Utah Valley in a four-set match, capturing all four sets. The team went on to defeat Utah in five sets last Friday. The Cougars dropped the first two sets, but came back strong in the final three to defeat the Utes 3-2 (16-25, 27-29, 25-18, 25-23, 15-11).

Cougar Nation has two more opportunities to see Hamson and the team, with BYU traveling to the Utes' home court for a tournament Saturday, which begins at 9 a.m., and hosting UVU April 6 at 2 p.m. on Elaine Michaelis Court.

"Our spring has been moving along great," Olmstead said. "We like the improvement and attention to detail the girls have right now. It's been nice to compete a bit with local schools and see our progress. This spring is unique in that we will be participating in a foreign tour. Travelling to Brazil and Argentina will grant us extra competition time and team bonding time as well."

3 AGGIES QUALIFY FOR GYM REGIONALS: Three Utah State gymnasts were selected to compete in the NCAA North Central Regional Championships, held on Saturday, April 7 in Salt Lake City, announced Monday by the NCAA.

Senior Rebecca Holliday, sophomore Paige Jones and freshman Sarah Landes will all be competing in the all-around.

The North Central Regional Championships are hosted by the University of Utah, and action will get underway at 6 p.m. (MT) at Utah's Huntsman Center.

"We're very excited to have three individuals qualify for regionals," USU head coach Jeff Richards said. "It's great that we're competing at Utah. It's close to home, and we're familiar with the arena and the crowd. I know the girls will be excited to compete in that great environment but know what to expect and what to do to focus on their gymnastics."

Six teams, five all-around competitors (who are not on a qualifying team) and one individual event specialist per event (who has a minimum RQS of 9.4) were named to each of the six predetermined host sites.

Utah State ended team competition on Saturday, hosting the Western Athletic Conference Championships, where the Aggies placed fifth. USU is ranked No. 46 in this week's rankings and only the top 36 teams advance to the NCAA Regionals. This is the fifth year in a row and sixth in last seven that USU did not qualify for regionals as a team, but the Aggies have sent at least three individuals in each of the last five years.

WILLARD NAMED PITCHER OF THE WEEK: BYU's Delaney Willard has been named Western Athletic Conference Hitter of the Week,. This is the second honor of the season for Willard.

Willard, a senior right fielder from Camarillo, Calif., hit .444 with a double, three home runs and seven RBI as the Cougars went 4-0 on the week, including a series sweep of New Mexico State. For the week, she posted a 1.556 slugging percentage and a .615 on-base percentage.

CUTHBERTSON NAME PLAYER OF THE WEEK AGAIN: Southern Utah shortstop Bo Cuthbertson earned his second consecutive Summit League Player of the Week award Monday after posting impressive numbers to help the Thunderbirds to a 3-1 record last week. The reigning Summit League Player of the Year went 4-for-4 with two home runs and a double for five RBIs and three runs scored as SUU was narrowly edged at Kansas. The T-Birds then recorded a three-game sweep of Chicago State as Cuthbertson drove in three more runs and went on to post a .600 (9-for-15) batting average for the week and collect another double on his way to a 1.133 slugging percentage.

3 STRAIGHT PITCHERS OF THE WEEK FOR DIXIE: Dixie State College freshman southpaw Jason Holmes has been selected as the Pacific West Conference Pitcher of the Week for his two quality starts over the past week. He becomes the third consecutive Red Storm pitcher to garner the league honor — following Sam Friend and Mike Dedrick. Holmes posted a 2-0 record with a 1.80 ERA in two starts while striking out eight in 10.0 innings of action. He allowed two earned runs and scattering nine hits. He tossed 5.0 innings in 4-1 win vs. Hawai'i Hilo on March 19 and followed by throwing 5.0 innings in 18-4 win vs. Art U on March 23.

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