After their final season of collegiate eligibility winds down, top volleyball players often start to consider playing in a professional league overseas. They disperse to all corners of the globe looking to extend their playing careers and perhaps work toward the national team and Olympic glory, or maybe just finally play for a paycheck. Here are some of the stars from the 2013 NCAA seasons who have recently signed professional contracts.
Chris Austin, the star setter from UC Irvine’s 2013 national championship team, tried his hand on the pro beach volleyball tours last summer, earning a 17th in the AVP Salt Lake City event with Danko Iordanov, before signing with Rantaperkion Isku, a professional indoor team in Tampere, Finland.
Tori Dixon’s first professional gig took her to Azerbaijan where she plays middle for Rabita Baku with fellow Americans Kayla Banwarth and Cursty Jackson. The former Minnesota middle blocker and 2013 First Team All-American holds the career hitting-percentage record at her alma mater (.369).
Puerto Rico, often the destination of first-year pros, welcomed former Missouri star Lisa Henning to its volleyball league earlier this year. The First Team All-American outside hitter played her first match for the Indias de Mayaguez on Jan. 25.
After her college career ended with a three-set loss to in-state Pac-12 rivals Washington, Washington State setter Camryn Irwin began planning her transition to the professional ranks. By playing in exhibition and exposure matches around Europe in January, Irwin was picked up by ASKO Linz-Steg, a team in Austria. The 5'11" setter plans to return to WSU in the fall to complete her degree.
Almost immediately after winning an NCAA national championship with her Penn State squad, Deja McClendon shipped off to Azerbaijan to play for Igtisadchi, a professional team based in Baku, the country’s capital. In an interview with World of Volley, McClendon expressed satisfaction with her first pro gig, but regrets being separated from her favorite American snack, Rice Krispies.
Maurice Torres, who finished his college career at Pepperdine last spring after tallying an impressive 1,300 kills and 500 digs in four years, has already played for two professional squads since leaving the States. He began his pro career at Italy’s Top Volley SRL, and in December he moved to Montpellier Volley U.C. in France.
Originally published in May 2014