Thursday, September 21

Volleyball players invited to try out for junior national team

Freshman quick hitter Nick Vogel and two other UCLA men's volleyball players were selected to try out for the U.S. Men's Junior National Team.

Freshman quick hitter Nick Vogel and two other UCLA men's volleyball players were selected to try out for the U.S. Men's Junior National Team. Michael Chen

Three UCLA freshman men’s volleyball players’ offseasons just got a little busier.

Nick Vogel, Thomas Amberg and Kyle Caldwell were recently named to the 19-player U.S. Men’s Junior Training Team. Coaches will narrow down the 19-player squad and eventually name a 12-man roster for the international competition.

The three Bruins were all selected to train for a spot on the junior team that is comprised of the top college freshmen and sophomores in the country.

Caldwell, who competed with the Men’s Junior National Team last year, will have to sit out this summer’s competition because he plans to attend summer school the duration of the training and the tournament.

Vogel and Amberg, however, said they are excited and fully committed to training with the squad; if named to the final roster, the former high school teammates will attend the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball World Championship in Pune, India, from July 31 to Aug. 7.

“This is my first year, so I don’t really know what to expect,” Vogel said. “It sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun, a great opportunity to see different parts of the world and play different teams, see different nations play.”

Among the other players selected, 13 came from other teams in the Bruins’ conference, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Many of the opponents who posed the biggest obstacles this past season for UCLA will be training alongside Vogel and Amberg, who were both consistent quick hitters for the Bruins.

“It’s awesome to be named among those players,” Amberg said.

In his first international competition, Amberg echoed Vogel’s uncertainty about what to expect.

Leading the coaching staff for the junior national team is Brigham Young coach Shawn Patchell. Amberg said there are advantages to playing under a different coach.

“I personally think that playing under as many different coaches as possible is the best way to get better,” Amberg said. “Each coach has his own opinion, and getting a whole different little “˜coachy’ tidbit from each person helps.”

UCLA coach Al Scates added that the most vital thing his star freshmen will be gaining is experience facing fierce international competition.

“We have some of the best young players in the country,” Scates said. “I think we’re winning some national championships with these guys.”

Needless to say, both Amberg and Vogel look forward to the experience they will gain this summer. Both freshmen had significant roles for the Bruins this past year.

“It’s great that they have a year of experience already,” Scates said. “These guys are going to be a force in the near future.”

AMBERG TO SWITCH BACK: Amberg will be playing outside hitter next season, Scates said.

Amberg, a high school outside hitter, had to switch to quick hitter this season because of a season-ending injury to the team’s projected starting quick hitter, sophomore Wes Dunlap.

VOGEL GETTING INDIA PREVIEW: Vogel said that for several years he and his father have been planning to travel to India, and Vogel is hoping to get a preview of the country during the tournament.

“It’s not quite the same trip I was planning with my father,” Vogel said. “But it will be a good little preview of what I’m going to get to see. I’m hoping we’ll have some free time so I can walk around, take some pictures and feel out the culture.”

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