Fundraiser to send two players to USA Volleyball tryouts

Former outside hitter Izzy Rapacz and freshman defensive specialist Averi Salvador will try out for Team USA in March.

Freshman defensive specialist Averi Salvador (left) dives for the ball as senior outside hitter Izzy Rapacz watches during the Owls’ 3-0 win against Houston on Oct. 27 at McGonigle Hall. | CHIA YU LIAO / FILE PHOTO

The volleyball program is raising money with the crowd-funding platform OwlCrowd to send two of its athletes to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to try out for USA Volleyball.

The team has already raised 60 percent of its $5,000 goal. Money raised from the campaign will cover this year’s and next year’s cost of sending athletes to the tryout, coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam said. Freshman defensive specialist Averi Salvador and former outside hitter Izzy Rapacz will represent Temple at the tryout from March 2-4 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

This marks the second straight year Temple will send an athlete to the tryouts. Last year, Rapacz was the lone Temple representative out of 238 high school and college athletes. Rapacz, who played her senior season in 2017, will share a room with Salvador at this year’s tryout.

“We can both get a lot out of something like this,” said Rapacz, who earned two first-team American Athletic Conference honors during her career. “For me, it helps me as I want to further my career and play professionally after college. At this tryout, I get to make some connections and get to show my talents alongside of some the nation’s best.”

Rapacz is eligible for the U.S. Women’s Senior National Team, a squad to be filled with players who’ve completed their college eligibility and want to play for Team USA full time.

Salvador is eligible for the three U.S. Collegiate National Teams. One team will play in Asia in May, one will play in Europe in July and one will play in Detroit from June 22 to July 1.

“Averi has gotten off to an amazing start to her career,” Rapacz said. “She plays fast and smart, and for her to go against some top-level competition, it will only help her to start tapping into her full potential of being one of the better players in the nation by the time she is an upperclassman.”

Ganesharatnam also sees the tryout as a chance for Salvador to grow as a player especially because she is key for the program’s future. Salvador played all 30 matches, made six starts and averaged 1.94 digs per set in 2017.

The volleyball program announced its OwlCrowd campaign on Twitter on Jan. 18. A total of 12 donations have amounted to $3,000, as of Monday. The campaign will be online until Feb. 18.

Last year, the program ran an internal fundraiser to send Rapacz to the tryout, Ganesharatnam said. About $1,200-$1,500 covers the cost of one person’s entire trip, he said.

Ganesharatnam hopes reaching the fundraising goal would kickstart an effort of sending athletes to Colorado for “multiple years down the line.”

“This is something we wouldn’t hesitate to get involved with year in and year out,” Ganesharatnam said. “With Averi being a freshman, she is obviously set up to attend for a few years down the line. But whether it is Averi or another athlete, we would love to be able to represent Temple at an event like this.”

During the first two days of the tryout, the athletes will rotate through drill stations for coaches and scouts to evaluate their talent.

On the final day, each athlete will be placed on a team for a tournament, bracket-style competition, Rapacz said.

“I am ready to have some fun this year,” Rapacz said. “I will definitely be more comfortable this time around, and I feel confident in my ability to play good volleyball and really make this experience benefit me now and in the long run.”

Rapacz believes having Salvador with her this time will enhance the experience for the two.

“Last year, I went a day early to make sure to meet my roommate and the other athletes,” Rapacz said. “Now I am rooming with Averi, so we don’t need to try so hard to be comfortable. We will both be there for each other and doing things with a friend is always going to make things better as a whole.”

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