NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Last year she was somewhat of an unknown quantity. This time around Lipscomb’s Carlyle Nusbaum has a reputation to live up to this weekend.
Nusbaum, a senior outside hitter on the Lipscomb volleyball team, has returned to Colorado Springs, Colorado for open tryouts for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Friday was her first day of workouts. The tryouts continue through Sunday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
Last year she was just another player ready to give it her best shot. She was rewarded with a spot on the U.S. Collegiate National Team that played this past summer in the European Global Challenge in Croatia. Now there are heightened expectations for Nusbaum from the coaches and staff at the tryouts.
“This year I would say is different because I have put a little bit more pressure on myself,” Nusbaum said. “Last year I had no idea what was going on so I was just playing to play. This year I'm playing for a goal.”
Her goal is to be named to a national team again. She enjoyed her time with the team both in workouts and in competition in Europe.
Nusbaum made a lot of friends last year. One of the highlights of this weekend for her is the opportunity to see many of her teammates again.
“The girls and I still talk weekly,” Nusbaum said. “I'm really looking forward to seeing my teammates from last summer and making more friends.”
Nusbaum also learned a great deal about what the life of a professional volleyball player might be like, especially when competing on the international level.
“I learned so many details about playing professionally that I wouldn't have known unless I had gone,” Nusbaum said. “The biggest take away from last year was the friendships that I made and the information I learned about playing overseas.”
Last year Nusbaum was joined at the tryouts by teammates Brittany Thomas and Lauren Anderson. This time around Nusbaum is by herself.
The biggest difference is she was invited to the tryouts this year. She was rewarded with an invitation based on her performances this past summer with the U.S. Collegiate National Team and her play for the Bisons volleyball team this past fall where she earned her second ASUN Player of the Year Award in a row.
There are 234 athletes from 89 colleges and universities competing this weekend. Sixty-two of those players are outside hitters.
Nusbaum isn’t taking anything for granted. The players participated in one session Friday with two scheduled in the morning and afternoon on Saturday and one on Sunday morning.
“One of the toughest things about this tryout is definitely the amount of play the weekend includes,” Nusbaum said. “It's nonstop for three days.
“The other thing would be that there are hundreds of girls trying out for 50 spots. So it can get pretty competitive in there.”
Nusbaum has been working to refine her skills in an attempt to once again stand out in the crowd.
Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal thinks Nusbaum simply needs to concentrate on the skills that garnered the attention of the selection committee last year.
“Unfortunately, there is probably more pressure on her,” Rosenthal said. “You want to go in and treat it like it is something new in some regards. From our standpoint as a program we want her to go there and play as hard as she can, have as much fun as she can and see what comes from it.
“She wants to see if she can take it to the next level. I don’t think she has to really do anything different than what she did last year. She passed the ball exceptionally well and she has proven herself as one of the top attackers in the country.”
However, both he and Nusbaum agree there is always room for improvement.
“This year I am more focused on my serve receive and defense,” Nusbaum said. “Brandon and I have talked a lot about how it all ties together. The better my defense is the better player I can be.”
Rosenthal rates the opportunity to compete for a spot on one of the U.S.A. teams as a highlight for any athlete.
“It is exciting,” Rosenthal said. “To have someone looking to represent the U.S.A. is something really special. She is with an elite group of players. It is a question of whether she can continue with the performances people have come to expect from her.
“One of the questions she had to answer last year was could she do this against top level competition. She has proven that she can and she done it against all kinds of competition.”