Bethania de la Cruz (81) takes a swing during an Athletes Unlimited volleyball match.
Athletes Unlimited’s volleyball professional league debut week generated excitement in the sporting world across the globe. With professional volleyball now a reality in the United States, fans are focusing their attention on the unfolding drama going in to the second week of play. As Week 2 approaches, they eagerly anticipate a roster shakeup that is one of Athletes Unlimited’s hallmark innovations.
Athletes Unlimited’s unique player-scoring system produced four new team captains, all coming from the outside and opposite hitter positions. Leading scorer Jordan Larson heads the pack, followed by Karsta Lowe, Leah Edmond and Bethania de la Cruz.
During this week’s draft, all four captains doubled down on pin hitters with their first-round picks. Symone Abbott (Team Lowe) and Ebony Nwanebu (Team De La Cruz) turned heads as first-round selections after impressive debuts on the court.
As the draft continued, there was a distinct divergence where captains prioritized their selections. De La Cruz went for a balanced attack, filling out every position before getting to a second outside hitter. Edmond waited until the sixth round to select an opposite hitter, while Lowe picked up two middle blockers before selecting a setter. Larson went for offense as well, nabbing setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson in the second round, and held out on her libero selection until the ninth round.
Now with one week of play under their belts, fans will be interested to see which selection strategy could set the blueprint for captains to follow the rest of the season. Edmond, who was a 2019 AVCA All-American at Kentucky, is the youngest of this week’s four captains. Accelerated into a leadership role from her outstanding play during Week 1, Edmond wanted to select players whose styles would quickly mesh during their few training sessions.
“My big draft strategy was choosing players first that compliment how I want to play, and also people that compliment each other,” Edmond said. “I don’t want a bunch of different hitters; I want people to run kind of the same offense.”
There was additional movement in the overall roster pool for the second week, as middle blocker Ali Bastinelli returned from the inactive list. The league picked up setter Kylie Pickrell and middle blocker Briana Holman, while outside hitter Cassidy Lichtman and setter Valerie Nichol were marked as inactive. Click here to view the complete rosters for Week 2.
League play continues Saturday March 6th p.m. EST, streaming live on via Athletes Unlimited’s social media platforms. It is the first of three streaming matches this weekend, as the other three will air as via cable on CBS Sports Network and Fox Sports.
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