Bergren, Napper Wrap Up Competition with USA Volleyball
July 11, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky volleyball players Morgan Bergren and Jackie Napper each competed with USA Volleyball in the U.S. Collegiate National Team last month in China and Minneapolis, respectively.
Bergren was one of 12 players selected to compete during a 10-day tour in China, where the U.S. Collegiate National Team played seven matches against the Chinese Junior National Team and Chinese professional teams. Napper was on one of three collegiate teams to compete in Minneapolis in conjunction with the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships.
“It was an awesome experience,” Bergren said. “What was cool about it was we all got along really well, we were able to mesh on and off the court, it was really fun. We had a great coaching staff as well.”
Napper was one of 36 players selected to compete in Minneapolis, where her team of 12 went a perfect 3-0 against the other two collegiate teams.
“It was a really cool experience, because I got to compete against not only some of the best in the nation but also players that we’ll be playing this fall,” Napper added. “I got to see up close athletes from other schools that we compete against.”
For both Bergren and Napper though, the opportunity to wear the red, white and blue “USA” jersey was something special. Both in Minneapolis and China, they not only were representing Kentucky, but their country as well.
It’s a memory they soon won’t forget.
“We walked into the gym and people were oohing and aahing,” Napper said. “Everybody was looking up to us, wanting autographs and pictures, it was really cool. It shows me that I have to work really hard to represent my country and my school. I’m thankful to my coaches at UK for giving me that opportunity.”
“The first day we got the USA jerseys was fun,” Bergren recalled. “We all put them on and took pictures, it was so cool and humbling to see “USA” across your chest. It was really neat to be able to play for your country and I really enjoyed that a lot.”
As Napper prepares for her senior season and Bergren readies for her junior campaign, the experience of competing with some of the nation’s best collegiate players, and with different coaches, is something they will be able to bring back to UK as the 2014 season begins next month.
Bergren, being a setter and coming off of UK’s own trip to China in May, was named captain of the Team USA squad. While she did not see a lot of playing time, the leadership role she took one will be a valuable asset to her UK teammates.
“I was chosen as captain, so having a lot of responsibilities while not getting a lot of playing time and still impacting the team and being a leader really helped me. Being able to communicate with everyone and reach everyone on a personal level was great.”
For Napper, her coaches emphasized serving and passing, similarly to what was highlighted on UK’s trip to China a month earlier. Her time with Team USA was another opportunity to hone those skills with a new set of coaches and players.
“My coaches’ main emphasis was serving and passing,” Napper said. “He said if you win the serving and passing battle, you’ll be successful, and that’s one of the things when we went to China, Sandy, who went with us, said we had to be better servers, and that showed in Minneapolis. Bringing it back to Kentucky, we need to make sure we’re dominating other teams in the serving and passing battle. We’re pretty good at it, but we can get better.”
The trip with Team USA was Bergren’s second trip to China in a month’s span after going with her UK team at the end of May. The two trips provided two unique opportunities and allowed her to take something out of each trip.
It also further emphasized that being a UK student-athlete, the experiences are second-to-none.
“Going back to China twice in one summer, I’m glad I went,” Bergren said. “The first time, with my team was so much fun, I got to learn a lot. The second trip I got to enjoy it and not worry about things. Nothing caught me off guard, I knew what to expect. It was a blast. UK is incredible in the opportunities that we get, it’s outstanding and a really neat place.”
Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the Kentucky volleyball team and all 22 varsity sports. For additional info on the volleyball team like Kentucky Volleyball on Facebook or follow the team on Twitter at @KentuckyVB.