Utah outside hitter Kenzie Koerber said she would “cherish” her experiences as part of the US Collegiate National Team squad after a tour of Japan left her ready to find her best form for the Utes this season.
Alongside Utah team-mates Saige Ka’aha’aiina-Torres and Dani Drews, Koerber’s most impressive performance of the 11-day tour came in a 3-1 defeat to Japan’s Under-20s side, in which the US CNT players came up against high quality opposition.
Koerber led the US attack, landing 12 kills with a .348 attack efficiency, showing the threat she can pose when Utah’s season gets back underway in August.
“They dug almost every ball that we hit and made a very little amount of errors,” Koerber told the Utes official website.
“We definitely learned a lot from their style of play. Japan was full of many new memories and experiences that I will cherish forever. I met so many lifelong friends and will forever be grateful for those 11 days.
“It was a great learning experience and we were able to see how disciplined the Japanese are in all aspects of the game.”
Koerber landed 264 kills and 108 blocks in the 2018 Pac-12 season and became the 13th player in the Utah programme history to be named an All-American.
Utah ended the regular season with a spectacular run of five wins from their last six games to finish T-6 and qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
There they were beaten in the round of 32 by tournament hosts BYU, but Koerber has not forgotten the spirit that helped to deliver the kind of displays Utah will hope to emulate in the new campaign.
She told the Salt Lake Tribune: “Last year was pretty incredible. We had about six games left in conference play and we weren’t winning a lot. We were basically told we have to win the next six games in order to make the tournament.
“Something clicked in all of our minds that we wanted to make the tournament. It was honestly amazing that we just pulled out six wins straight.
“Then we went to the tournament and lost in the round of 32 against BYU but it was an incredible comeback from the beginning of our preseason.”