July 5, 2012
By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations
COLUMBUS, Ohio—Given the chance to showcase her talents on a national stage, Colorado State senior Brieon Paige excelled, helping her team to a gold medal in the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball A2 Tournament. The competition took place June 26-July 4 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, in conjunction with the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships.
“It was such a great experience,” Paige said, “and it made it that much better coming out on top. It was hard both physically and mentally, but I cherished every moment of it and would definitely do it again.”
After four days of training at Ohio Dominican University, the 48 selected athletes were divided into four teams. Paige’s team, USA White, dropped all three matches during pool play and entered the semifinal round as the last seed. However, given a fresh start, USA White responded with a 3-1 win over top-seeded USA Blue (25-16, 20-25, 25-22, 25-14). Paige and her teammates followed that win up with another upset, this time a 3-0 triumph over USA Gold (25-22, 25-22, 25-23) to take first.
“We had a really good team, we just had to put it all together,” Paige said. “It’s hard sometimes when you have so many good players on a team because everyone tries to step up. We emerged in those last two games. It just shows what we can all do in each position by working together and working hard.”
Paige started each set during the semifinal match and was fourth on her team in total points (6), in addition to recording a block. She again was solid in the finals, posting five points and a block in two sets.
“It was great to train with all of the other coaches and learn from them,” Paige said. “There were a lot of Olympic athletes there. Them talking to us and mentoring us was such a good experience, because a lot of people don’t get that one-on-one time with Olympians.”
Paige, who hails from Sacramento, Calif., was originally invited to compete with USA Volleyball after earning one of the 48 roster spots during an open tryout in February. The tryout featured 207 hopeful participants, and took place at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Athletes in college with collegiate eligibility remaining for the 2012 collegiate season not selected to join the U.S. Women’s National team were eligible for the U.S. Women’s A2 program.
While she worked hard on the court—training twice per day during the camp’s first several days—the athletes also gave back by volunteering.
“We went to the third-largest Ronald McDonald House in the nation,” Paige said. “We visited the whole facility and met some amazing kids. It was great to see that girls like us could put such a big smile on their faces.”
The experiences both on and off the court made it a memorable week for Paige.
“The girls I met will probably be some of my best friends for life,” she said. “This is definitely something I’ll always remember.”
Paige enters her senior season in hopes of a fourth consecutive Mountain West title and trip to the NCAA tournament. As a junior in 2011, she led the Mountain West with a .333 hitting percentage. She also ranked seventh with 1.02 blocks per set in addition to averaging 2.16 kills per set. Paige earned all-MW honors for her production on the court.
“I learned a different side of competing,” she said. “Seeing how all of the girls have different ways of fighting and overcoming obstacles, I was able to see competing in a new light. This experience makes me want to work so much harder and not be a taker, but to give to my team.”