APSU Sports Information
Clarksville, TN – While most college students will take their Spring Break to, well, take a break, Austin Peay State University volleyball junior setter Kristen Stucker will at least start her Spring Break under the microscope of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s coaching staff and evaluators.
You see, Stucker was one of 234 athletes from 89 colleges and universities across the nation to be invited to the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts which will be held March 2nd-4th at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
More impressively, she was one of just 43 setters to receive a coveted invite to the tryouts.
Ultimately, the open tryouts will allow USA Volleyball to find athletes to fill spots on both the U.S. Women’s National Team and its U.S. Collegiate National Team Programs. However, Stucker also sees it as an opportunity to grow in her role as the Governors setter
“More experience setting different players is always helpful,” said Stucker. “Especially since we’re losing a couple of key pieces of our offense with Ashley (Slay) and Christina (White) and we’re having some freshman coming in. Any experience I can get setting different players and playing at a higher speed and also playing in a pressure situation, going somewhere like that [the U.S. Olympic Center], is always a good experience.”
Stucker will join Austin Peay volleyball alumnae Lauren Henderson as an invitee to the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryout. Henderson was a part of the 2014 event and her experience as related to head coach Taylor Mott helped influence Stucker’s decision.
“I saw [the invitation] as an opportunity to go and I talked to coach about it and what Lauren thought of the experience,” said Stucker. I then thought what other chance are you going to have to go to the Olympic Training Center. I’m excited to have the opportunity to be coached by some of the best coaches in the country and play with some of the best players in the country.”
The invitation to the open tryout is the latest chapter in a whirlwind collegiate career for the Johnston, Iowa product. As a sophomore and in her first season as the Govs full-time setter, Stucker helped engineer one of the greatest year-to-year improvements in Division I history, leading the Govs to a 24-win campaign after a 10-win season the year before. She was named the Ohio Valley Conference’s Setter of the Year following that season.
But Stucker’s junior season has been filled with one accolade after another. First, she was named one of six OVC Scholar-Athletes of the Year – the most prestigious award bestowed on OVC student-athletes. Then she won an unfathomable 10 OVC Setter of the Week awards in a season that lasted just 12 weeks. Of course, she won her second-straight OVC Setter of the Year honor, becoming the first athlete to win the award twice during their careers.
All of those honors came while Stucker helped lead Austin Peay to its first 30-win campaign in program history and its second OVC regular-season title. The Govs then piled on more hardware with Stucker at quarterback, winning the OVC tournament title, becoming the first APSU volleyball team to win both the regular-season and tournament titles in the same season.
And now Stucker has an opportunity to hone her craft as one of the best all-around setters in Division I. And that is a prospect that should have the rest of the league and the nation a tad bit worried as Stucker peers into her crystal ball at the upcoming 2018 volleyball season. One which has her excited for the opportunity.
“We’re obviously going to be a different team but I believe we have a lot of potential and a lot of talent coming in,” said Stucker. “I’m looking forward to having a different type of team that’s going to stretch each of us individually. Losing a personality like Ashley we’re going to have to find a new chemistry to our team. I’m excited to see what happens.”
The U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts can be seen TeamUSA.org website (http://bit.ly/WNTTryout) beginning at 3:00pm (CT), Friday. Stucker will participate in the Blue Wave which begins action at 7:10pm (CT).