Secret Behind the USA Women Volleyball Team Historic Triumph in the Tokyo Olympics Revealed

Women’s volleyball has grown to become an incredibly popular sport in the country.

While newly launched leagues have helped to spread more craze about volleyball in the country, it’s the collegiate scene that solidified its status as a fan favorite. And it was this focus on NCAA volleyball that helped Team USA clinch uncharted bounty at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The 2024 Paris Olympics are just months away, and the USA’s women’s volleyball team has already qualified for the coveted tournament. While the nation is bracing up with hopes for another podium finish at the French capital, here’s what made things click the last time around.

Team USA reaped the benefits of NCAA players in the Olympics.

A recent social media post highlighted Team USA’s strategy for the last Olympic Games that made sure, for the very first time, a gold medal in volleyball was brought home from the Far East. The post by the official NCAA Twitter account revealed that almost all the members of the team that headed to Tokyo were acquainted beforehand, making their synchronization in the national squad all the easier. “From college courts to Olympic gold!“, reads the caption of the post, before elaborating, “Fun fact: 100% of the amazing @TeamUSA women’s indoor volleyball team competed collegiately before clinching victory in Tokyo“. But what is the big deal in that?

The deal was, it improved their spirit as a team and coordination big time. The understanding between setter Micha Hancock and middle blocker Haleigh Washington was made smoother thanks to the two being long-time collegiate teammates at Penn State. On the other hand, liberos Jordan Larson and Kelsey Robison took a cue from their days as Nebraska Huskers to make sure their national squad also made the most of their understanding of each other’s mindsets while in action.

The duo’s in-state rivalry with Nebraska also helped them have proper knowledge of how their national teammate Justine Wong-Orantes liked to play as a libero and made it easier for her to settle into her role as well. The rest of the team also had their own NCAA stories to chronicle as players from Stanford, Purdue, Illinois, and Cincinnati came together to clinch the first gold for the US in women’s volleyball. And it looks like they’re once again en route to repeat the feat.

The US women’s volleyball team qualified for the upcoming Olympics last year when they triumphed over Germany at the FIVB Road to Paris Olympic Qualifier, in Poland. The team finished at the top of their group and qualified for their 11th Games. Wong-Ornates, Larson, and Robison will all return to Paris with the hopes of following up on their last feat.

Among them, Larson put a hold on her Pro career to focus on the Olympics. At 37 years and 9 months, (in July 2024), if she makes it to the team, she will be the second-oldest female indoor volleyball player in Olympic history. On the other hand, Haleigh Washington will look to make her mark once again, this time with fellow Penn State player Ali Frantti. Purdue’s Annie Drews will also make a comeback after the last Olympics with her collegiate teammate Ashley Evans.

Two University of Wisconsin volleyball stars Dana Rettke and Lauren Carlini will also lend their expertise to the national team together, Kathryn Plummer and Morgan Hentz will bring to the table their impeccable coordination gained through several seasons at Stanford. With the team brimming with top talents, Team USA’s Olympic dreams once again look bright as they muster the courage to defend their first Olympic gold in women’s volleyball.