Kelsey Robinson, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter from Bartlett, Ill., was recently named to the USA Olympic team. Robinson has trained with the USA national team since 2014, was an AVCA All-American, Big Ten player of the year at Nebraska, and was named second-best outside spiker in the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix.
We caught up with Robinson shortly after the Olympic announcement.
VBM: Congratulations on being named to the Olympic team. How did that feel?
“I woke up this morning, and saw that everything had been released, and it really didn’t feel real. Then I saw a text from Courtney Thompson and just started crying.”
“I don’t think anyone really realizes how deep the competition is in our gym. How many girls cycle in over a four-year period. To be a part of it is super humbling.”
VBM: What lessons did the team glean from the Grand Prix (losing to Brazil in the final)?
“It’s about finding our edge, and finding who we are as a team. It’s obviously not the result we wanted, but I think our team responds to failure really well. In 2014, after a loss in Grand Prix, we ended up winning the World Championships. This gives us things to work on. We have training blocks coming up to really get better in those areas and get after it.”
“We have to own our speed, and own who we are as a team. I don’t think it’s anything that other teams are doing to us, we need to be great on our side of the net. Everybody individually has two or three things to work on that will make us so much stronger as a team.”
VBM: What is your role?
“I am the eyes of the team as an outside hitter. From my perspective I can see what the hitters have open, what angles they need to take, what the liberos need to see on defense, and bring a ton of energy in when I come in to pass and play defense. If I can come in and scoop a couple of balls and turn them into points when I’m in, it gives our team so much more of an advantage. I’m almost a special teams/utility player, being ready to play outside, go in for passing, or to be a serving sub, whatever is asked of me on that day; being ready to go and being prepared.”
VBM: What is the personality of this team?
“We’re really fun; we keep it light. We’re always dancing and singing, making jokes and have a really great dynamic. It’s awesome to be a part of; it’s very much a family. Every night someone is on the court, and everyone is backing them up. It’s really cool to be a part of; we find joy in the success of the team.”
VBM: What are the team keys for the Olympics?
“Our keys are serving tough, and putting teams out of system. We pride ourselves on our passing ability,managing our team, and being in system on our side all the time. When those things are going, we’re really, really good.”