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Abby Gilleland (middle) and Kelly Lamberti (right) pose for a picture off the floor while overseas this summer.

Volleyball: Bobcats represent OU internationally

Voleyball players Abby Gilleland and Kelly Lamberti played against each other on national teams this summer overseas.

This summer, a pair of Ohio volleyball players traveled to eastern Europe for a week, and though for some it may have been a vacation, it was a business trip for senior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti and junior setter Abby Gilleland.

Lamberti competed for the U.S. Collegiate National Team while Gilleland played for the Bring It Promotions Adidas Midwest U-22 Team. Both teams were a part of the BIP/USA Volleyball Global Challenge, in which teams made up of American collegiate volleyball players traveled to Europe to face competition from both club and national teams.

The girls traveled through Montenegro, Slovenia and Venice before ending up in Pula, Croatia, where the final tournament was held for the event.

For Lamberti, the road to Europe started in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she competed against players from across the country to earn a spot on the team. The American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American was the only player to make the roster from a mid-major school.

Gilleland, on the other hand, gained the opportunity through a local club coach she knew near her hometown of Bull Valley, Illinois, who was looking to form a team from the area that would work well together.

Coach Deane Webb saw the trips as great opportunities for the pair to hone their skills against some different competition.

“Every experience is different; it’s its own experience,” Webb said. “In this case, it was very unusual that they ended in the same tournament and ended up playing each other, which is even more unusual. You go across the world and you play someone that you have played with a long time.”

Lamberti’s team prevailed in the matchup of the two Bobcats’ teams winning the game in straight sets en route to a 4-2 record for the U.S. Collegiate National Team. BIP Adidas Midwest U-22 Team —Gilleland’s team— finished the week with a record of 3-4.

Both players took away different experiences from competing abroad when it comes to the way volleyball is played internationally, as opposed to collegiately.

“Over there, you learn a lot about the difference between American cultures of volleyball versus other cultures and how they handle themselves in different aspects of the game that we don’t necessarily concern ourselves with here,” Gilleland said. “They do very much so over there.”

While Gilleland learned about Europe’s different approach to the game, Lamberti tried to use it as an opportunity to improve as a player.

“I learned to be a better passer, especially watching foreign teams because their passing was perfect all week,” Lamberti said. “It was ridiculous to watch.”

For Ohio as a whole, it will be looking to Lamberti and Gilleland —the past two MAC players of the year— for leadership this season as they traverse a tough non-conference schedule. The Bobcats are the only team in the NCAA with two conference players of the year on their roster, and their experience will hopefully rub off on all players on the team.

Webb is looking for a more aggressive style of play, but consistent at the same time, which he says both players saw plenty of while in Europe.

“When you have a 25-year-old international on a team that can do both: be aggressive and consistent at the same time,"  Webb said. "Those are good lessons that they can learn and bring back to our team.”


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