Olympians Bethania De La Cruz and Karsta Lowe, along with rookie Leah Edmond rounded out the top four of the Week 1 standings
By Alex Holmes
The first week of the Athletes Unlimited Volleyball season is in the books and Jordan Larson finished on top of the leaderboard with 1021 points through the first three matches. Rookie Leah Edmond made an impressive professional debut, earning 756 points for third place in the overall standings. Karsta Lowe (875 points) and Bethania De La Cruz (750 points) joined Larson and Edmond as the top four leaders and secured their spots as team captains for Week 2.
Through its unique, player-centric scoring system, Athletes Unlimited Volleyball allows players to earn points for winning sets, the overall match, and for individual stat lines. Larson and the Purple Team, captained by Lianna Sybeldon, went undefeated through their first three games. Brie King’s Orange Team finished 2-1, while Tiffany Clark’s Blue Team earned a 1-2 record. Aury Cruz’s Gold Team went winless over the opening three matches.
Outside hitter De La Cruz, an Olympian from the Dominican Republic, led all players with 352 kill points for the week. Setter Brie King led the league in assists and recorded 110 points from her passing. Middle blockers Cori Crocker and Molly McCage went one and two in earned block points. Nomaris Vélez Agosto, a libero from Puerto Rico, had the most digs over the first three games and earned 190 points from her defense.
At the end of each match, members of The Unlimited Club voted for three players who they felt had the best performances. Players who were voted MVP 1 for each game earned 60 points toward the individual leaderboard. Larson led all players with two MVP 1 performances and was named MVP 2 in her third match. Sheridan Atkinson, Bethania De La Cruz, Leah Edmond, and Karsta Lowe also earned MVP 1 accolades. Players named MVP 2 earned 40 points toward the leaderboard total and MVP 3 athletes earned 20 points.
Following the conclusion of the week’s final match, the four new captains drafted their squads for Week 2. With the first pick of the draft, De La Cruz (Purple Team) selected opposite hitter Ebony Nwanebu. Finishing the week at no. 11 on the leaderboard, Nwanebu was a two-time MVP selection and earned 312 kill points, which was third best in the league.
Edmond (Blue), a University of Kentucky alum in her first season of professional volleyball, selected Aury Cruz as the No. 2 overall draft pick. Cruz‘s volleyball career spans 25 years and her experience should complement Edmond’s youth very well.
Larson (Gold) will remain teammates with middle blocker Lianna Sybeldon, a formidable duo the rest of the league will face once again in Week 2.
Karsta Lowe (Orange) and Lauren Gibbemeyer will also be teammates for a second straight week. The two made a great offense-defense pairing at the net last week. Lowe recorded the second most kills in the league and Gibbemeyer had the third most blocks. The full Week 2 rosters are available here.
The second week of action will feature clashes between former teammates and will force new teammates to develop team chemistry over a span of four days. This is just one of the ways the league’s unique model is innovating in the sports world, and adding new elements to a well-known sport. Athletes Unlimited Volleyball is the only professional women’s indoor volleyball league in the United States and continues action through March.
Week 2 begins this Saturday, March 6, at 6 P.M. EST with Team De La Cruz taking on Team Lowe. Following the first match, Team Edmond will battle Team Larson at 8:30 P.M. EST. The week’s first two matches will stream live on Facebook, Twitter, AUProSports.com, YouTube, and Twitch. A complete schedule for Week 2 is available here.