Allison makes final roster cut for U20 United States national team

Allison makes final roster cut for U20 United States national team

AGUASCALIENTES, MEXICO — When Mica Allison earned a spot on United States volleyball's Under-18 national team last summer, she admitted it was a bit of a surprise.

One year later, Allison had a shot to land on the U-20 roster.

"I'd be pretty disappointed if I didn't make it this year," Allison said.

No issue there.

Allison was among those to survive the cut, and the former St. Thomas More setter began her latest international tenure Monday at the NORCECA Women's U20 Continental Championship in Mexico.

The Americans knocked off Puerto Rico 3-0 in their opening match at the tournament on Monday and outlasted Cuba for a 3-2 victory on Tuesday.

"I feel very blessed to have an opportunity like this," Allison said prior to leaving for the tournament. "And I like making my parents and teams proud."

The recent STM graduate was referring to both the Sabers, with whom she won a Class 2A state championship in November, and the Auburn Tigers.

Allison arrived at Auburn in January for early training ahead of its 2018 campaign.

Allison is fully entrenched in the college volleyball scene after an early high school graduation, but she has no trouble making some time to represent her country.

Even with her history on the national volleyball stage, Allison felt the pressure during workouts at the Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"I know I was really nervous at the tryouts," Allison said. "I was nervous knowing these girls are the best of the best in college, and I was just a little freshman."

Allison's impact was far from small, though, Even after slotting into a right-side hitter position on last year's U-18 squad, she was able to find a home among this U-20 team in her natural setter role. It's appropriate, considering Allison tallied 328 kills, 216 digs and 398 assists while handling setting duties for the state-champion Sabers.

That said, competition was fierce for national-team roster spots. But all who vied for a space respected what those around them were trying to accomplish.

"I feel like the girls on this team are super good teammates," Allison said. "We're trying to build each other up and want the best for each other."

Allison harbors similar sentiments for her new college pals at Auburn. She described her first spring conditioning process as "very good," though she was caught off-guard by how much she missed Champaign initially.

"When I actually did get (to Alabama), I was very homesick," Allison said. "I came back for spring break and realized people move on, things change. I went back, and it felt like home."

Before Allison can don the Auburn orange and blue this fall, she'll suit up in American colors for another NORCECA preliminary bout today versus Guatemala. It's not yet clear which foe the U.S. will face in Thursday's quarterfinals, but the Dominican Republic is the reigning titlist and could meet the U.S. in this year's championship showdown.

Regardless of how matchups pan out, Allison is going to enjoy her second ride with a U.S. program.

"I was able to play really well because there was a super high level (of competition) at this tryout," Allison said. "I feel cool playing with the best of the best."