AMES, Iowa – Although they’ve played together for at least a year now, the Cyclone trio of Mackenzie Bigbee, Kristen Hahn and Victoria Hurtt found new appreciation for each other while participating in the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Senior A2 Program and returns to Iowa State with new individual skills and motivations heading into the 2013 season.
“Playing against Hurtt and Hahn was fun,” said Bigbee, whose Gold Team defeated Hahn and Hurtt’s Blue Team in the A2 tournament semifinals. “Playing against them let me experience their talent from a different view and made me appreciate having them as teammates even more than before.”
The Blue Team duo, which has played together at Iowa State for two seasons already, solidified their trust in each other as they adjusted to new players around them.
“Hahn and I worked really well together,” Hurtt said. “I trust her and she trusts me in our abilities, and it was definitely a plus for the team.”
“Playing together did have a slight twist to it with new teammates and [a different] coaching staff. It definitely proved how much trust we have in each other as teammates, although we may not have realized it since we are always playing together. We could rely on each other to have each other’s backs and could count on one another when we needed some help or strength to push through during a game.”
The players were challenged by the coaches they worked with at the A2 program, taking in advice they will strive to incorporate into their games when they return to the Hilton Coliseum court in the fall.
“This experience definitely taught me that everyone is good and the only thing that sets the good players apart from the best players is being consistent and doing the little things that no one else wants to do,” Hurtt said. “I have to put in the extra time and make sure I do the little things so I can be the best player I can be.”
Former collegiate volleyball coach and student-athlete Ruth Nelson was the head coach of the Blue team and asked each of her athletes to give a short motivational speech to their teammates, driving home what Hahn says is her biggest lesson from A2.
“I think I learned most about being a better teammate and how to communicate effectively,” the senior Cyclone said. “Our coaches stressed communication and feedback. Each player was always allowed to give input and encouraged to participate in discussion and communication. Ruth pushed me to find ways to challenge my teammates during games and figure out ways to get each player to play to the best of their ability.”
Hurtt and Bigbee, who have turned in solid numbers during their time at Iowa State, will have two and three seasons, respectively, to incorporate the lessons of this summer into their collegiate games. The reigning AVCA Central Region Freshman of the Year, Bigbee broke a Cyclone freshman record last season with 26 kills at Illinois, and Hurtt led the Cyclones on the season with 21 matches of at least 10 kills on her way to an AVCA All-America honorable mention.
The confidence and experiences each of the Cyclones gained during the eight-day A2 stint will drive them when they take the court this fall, aiming for an eighth-straight NCAA Tournament bid and a shot at Iowa State’s first-ever Final Four appearance.