Bethania De La Cruz Shines in Week 2 of Athletes Unlimited Volleyball
Jordan Larson remains on top of the overall standings
By Alex Holmes
Bethania De La Cruz earned a league-best 920 points as her team went undefeated in Week 2 of the Athletes Unlimited Volleyball season. Jordan Larson maintained her top ranking on the overall leaderboard, where she is joined by De La Cruz, Leah Edmond, and Ebony Nwanebu as the captains for Week 3.
Athletes Unlimited, the only professional women’s indoor volleyball league in the United States, completed its second week of games Monday night. De La Cruz captained the Purple Team and they won all three of their contests. Larson’s Gold Team played in two of the season’s most competitive matches yet. They won their first two matches by a cumulative three points before losing to De La Cruz’s team in the Week 2 finale. Edmond’s Blue Team finished with one win and two losses, while Karsta Lowe’s Orange Team finished the week without a win.
The league uses a unique scoring system that gives players the chance to earn points toward the overall leaderboard by winning sets and matches, as well as through individual statistics.
Nwanebu, who was De La Cruz’s first pick in the Week 2 draft, made one of the biggest jumps on the overall leaderboard to secure a spot as a team captain for Week 3. She finished the first week in eleventh place on the leaderboard and moved up to fourth place after earning 860 points in Week 2.
Six different players earned MVP 1 honors this week. Nwanebu, Willow Johnson, and outside hitter Aury Cruz were each named MVP 1 for the first time this season. Larson led all players with a total of 140 MVP points, after being named MVP 1 once and MVP 2 twice over three games.
Lowe, a Team USA Olympic bronze medalist, recorded the most kills in Week 2 and earned 424 points from kills alone. Larson and De La Cruz tied for the second-highest amount of kills and each recorded 320 stat points from their heavy hitting.
Setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson was a key asset to Larson’s Gold Team. She led the league in assists and earned 112 stat points setting up her teammates to score. Her impressive Week 2 campaign was highlighted by her 41 assists dished out in her team’s opening win against Team Edmond.
On the defensive side of the net, libero Kristen Tupac led the league in digs and earned 225 stat points in doing so. Middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe, the all-time block leader at Ohio State University, recorded the most blocks in Week 2, adding 108 points to her overall total.
Patterns began to emerge in the season’s third draft, with captains reselecting former teammates they paired well with during the first two weeks of competition. Nwanebu, captain of the Purple Team for Week 3, selected outside hitter Cassidy Lichtman as the first overall draft pick. Lichtman and Nwanebu were teammates during Week 1.
Edmond, who stayed at No. 3 on the overall leaderboard and will once again captain the Blue Team, chose veteran Aury Cruz as her first pick in the draft. Edmond selected Cruz as her first pick in last week’s draft too.
Bethania De La Cruz opted to go with the same setter for Week 3 and chose Kelly Hunter. The two were a successful offensive pair last week—De La Cruz had the second most kills thanks in large part to Hunter, who had the second most assists in the league.
Larson’s selections included setter Brie King and middle blocker Molly McCage. King and McCage played together in Week 2 and are a threatening offense-defense duo. McCage is second overall in blocks and King is second overall in assists through the first two weeks. Complete rosters for Week 3 are available here.
The inaugural season of Athletes Unlimited Volleyball is approaching its half-way point. After Week 3, there will be only three more weeks until the first ever Athletes Unlimited Volleyball Champion is crowned.
Week 3 action begins Saturday, March 13 at 5 P.M. EST with Team Nwanebu taking on Team De La Cruz. Team Edmond will play against Team Larson at 8 P.M., and both matches will air live on FS2. A full schedule for Week 3 of the Athletes Unlimited Volleyball campaign is available here.