Hawkeye Trio Participates in USA Team Tryouts

March 4, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Three members of the University of Iowa volleyball team — Erin Leppek, Alex Lovell, and Bethany Yeager — traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo., to participate in open tryouts for the U.S. Women’s National Team, U.S. Women’s National A2 Program and U.S. Women’s Junior National Team. The tryouts took place Feb. 22-24, in Sports Center II at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

“Being at the Olympic Training Center was great,” said Leppek. “The girls there are some of the best in the country, and competing with them can only make you a better player. The whole experience is something I never imagined myself doing, and playing on the same side of the net with some of the other Big Ten girls was a nice change.”

Leppek, a sophomore, earned Iowa’s Most Improved and Academic Excellence Awards this season, while also being named Academic All-Big Ten. The native of Rochester Hills, Mich., played a career-high 29 matches, posting career-bests in sets played (81), matches started (16), kills (69), digs (21), total blocks (42) and points (93.5).

“Playing at the Olympic Training Center was an amazing experience,” said Lovell. “Being surrounded by so much talent motivates you to really push yourself. It was cool playing with people that are usually on the other side of the net during the season. Overall, I really enjoyed myself out there, and I definitely want to go back next year.”

Lovell, a sophomore, finished the year with a team-high 382 kills, the most in a single season since Catherine Smale posted 441 in 2005. The Leonard, Mich., native was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Oct. 8 for her efforts in Iowa’s road victories at Indiana (3-1) and No. 12 Purdue (3-0). It marked Iowa’s first Player of the Week honor since Sept. 18, 2006, when Melanie Meister received the recognition. It was also the Hawkeyes’ first weekly honor since Christina Meister was tabbed Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 7, 2009. The Leonard, Mich., native equaled junior Rachael Bedell with a team-best 37 kills in the two wins, hitting a team-high .297.

Yeager, a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, has started every match of her Hawkeye career (95) and has played in 347 out of a possible 348 sets. One of three team captains, she has led Iowa in digs in each of her first three seasons, Yeager, a junior, became the 14th Hawkeye in program history to surpass 1,000 career digs in Iowa’s season-opening sweep of Chicago State. The junior registered a match-high 21 digs in the win. Yeager registered a team-high 20 digs on Oct. 13 against Wisconsin to pass Kari Hamel for fifth all-time in program history with 1,388 in her career. On Oct. 21 at Northwestern, Yeager turned in 11 digs to become the fifth Hawkeye in program history to eclipse 1,400 career digs. The Brenham, Texas, native finished third in the Big Ten in digs (4.48/set) and sits fifth in program history with 1,522 career digs. She moved up nine spots on the all-time list during the season.

Throughout the tryout process, USA Volleyball will be identifying prospective athletes for the previously mentioned programs. Those not selected to the National Team may also be considered for an invitation to the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Senior A2 Team; and/or U.S. Women’s Junior National Volleyball Team program and its various programs.

The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Program is available to athletes who have concluded their college eligibility and who wish to be invited to be a member of the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team on a full-time basis.