March 28, 2012
From Lehigh Sports Media Relations
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh volleyball sophomore libero Rachel Charles has been selected as one of 48 scholar-athletes to participate in this summer’s U.S. Women’s National A2 Team Program. Training begins June 26 at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus while the matches will be held June 30 to July 4 during the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships (GJNC) at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
“It’s such an honor to be selected to the US National Team,” said Charles, a native of Farmington Hills, Mich. “I’m proud to not only represent Lehigh, but the entire Patriot League. It’s something I’ve been working towards for years and I’m very excited to be given this opportunity to show how hard work pays off. Being chosen for the A2 Program is a tremendous opportunity for me to be playing with the top 48 players in the country.”
During the pre-tournament training session, the 48 athletes will be divided into four teams of 12 players that will play one match per day during the GJNC. All matches will be A2 competing against each other in a round-robin format followed by a semifinal and final round.
The 2012 U.S. Women’s National A2 Team program was selected through the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts held Feb. 10-12 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
A record 207 athletes participated in the tryout. Athletes in college and with collegiate eligibility remaining for the 2012 collegiate season not selected to join the U.S. Women’s National Team were eligible for the U.S. Women’s A2 program.
In addition to the new competition format, the U.S. Women’s National A2 Program expanded from 36 players to 48 players in 2012. The 48 U.S. Women’s National A2 Team Program players hail from 34 different collegiate programs. The A2 program includes eight liberos, 12 middle blockers, 14 outside hitters, six opposites and eight setters.
“I think it’s a great recognition for Rachel because she is a great player and she really elevates the level of play on our team,” said Lehigh head coach Bob Bertucci. “The fact that she was able to perform well enough to make the A2 Training Program is really an indication of the quality of players we have on our team and in the Patriot League.”
Charles was named the Patriot League Libero of the Year after ranking second in the league with 4.31 digs per set. Charles finished in a four-way tie for the most digs in a match this season by any Patriot League player with 32, which she accomplished in a four-set victory over Princeton September 17th. The 32 digs was also a career high for Charles.
Charles also led the league and ranked #4 in the Nation in aces per set (0.53). She had 55 on the season and tied her career-high with six in a five-set win over Lafayette on October 7th.
She was the fourth Mountain Hawk to garner the League’s top defensive award and first since Emma Melendez was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.
Charles helped lead Lehigh to a 19-10 season and a 10-5 record in league play to qualify for the Patriot League tournemant for the second time in three years and first under first-year coach Bertucci. The Mountain Hawks had some stand out performances during the season including handing eventual Patriot League champion American its lone league loss of the season and its first-ever three-set loss in a regular season match since the Eagles joined the Patriot League in 2001.
Coaches selected for the 2012 U.S. Women’s National A2 Team Program are Northwestern University’s Keylor Chan, San Diego State University’s Deitre Collins-Parker, Georgia Tech’s Tanya Johnson, Pepperdine University’s Nina Matthies and Cal State Northridge’s Jeff Stork. One additional coaching position will be filled at a later date.
Charles will be playing alongside and against some of the best players in the nation including 2011 AVCA First-Team All-Americans Natalie Hagglund (USC) and Ariel Turner (Purdue). The full list of 48 is available here: usavolleyball.org/news/2012/03/22/48-athletes-selected-for-u-s-womens-a2-program/47347