Monday, 27 May 2024

Jayhawk Feels at Home at Open Tryout

At the 2016 U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryout, Kelsie Payne found herself in a new environment, away from her home in Kansas. However, she also felt a sense of belonging at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Being surrounded by familiar faces and competitors made the experience enjoyable for her.

The tryout was intense, featuring top teams from the elite eight and final four. It was a thrilling opportunity for players to reunite and showcase their skills. Payne, a 6-foot-3 opposite from Austin, Texas, played a vital role in the Kansas volleyball team’s incredible run to the semifinals of the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship.

During the regular season, Payne, a sophomore at the time, shattered the Kansas volleyball program record for kills in a season. She also led the Big 12 Conference in kills, proving her prowess on the court. In the NCAA tournament, Payne consistently led the ninth-seeded Jayhawks in scoring, including their quarterfinal upset against top-seeded Southern California. Both Payne and her teammate Ainise Havili, a setter who also participated in the Open Tryout, were honored as the first Jayhawks ever to be named AVCA First Team All Americans.

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The journey in 2015 was a significant accomplishment for the Kansas volleyball team. Payne expressed her excitement about their achievements and the records they broke. Building upon the success of last year, they eagerly anticipated the upcoming season and aimed to surpass their previous accomplishments.

Reflecting on their performance in the NCAA tournament, Payne attributed their success to a higher level of trust and camaraderie among the team members. The players developed strong friendships off the court, which positively impacted their on-court chemistry. Each player embraced their role and contributed to the best of their abilities.

For Payne, the 2016 Open Tryout marked her second participation in the event. She had always aspired to pursue a volleyball career beyond Kansas and saw this tryout as a stepping stone towards her goals. Her immediate objective was to earn a spot on the College National Team, with her long-term ambition being to turn professional after college. The ultimate dream for Payne would be to represent her country in the Olympics.


Q: How far did the Kansas volleyball team go in the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship?
A: The team made it to the semifinals of the championship.

Q: Who were the first Jayhawks ever to be named AVCA First Team All Americans?
A: Kelsie Payne and Ainise Havili achieved this honor.

Q: What factors contributed to the Kansas volleyball team’s success in 2015?
A: A higher level of trust and camaraderie among the team members, along with everyone embracing their roles, played a significant role in their success.

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Q: What are Kelsie Payne’s goals for her volleyball career?
A: Payne aspires to represent the College National Team and eventually play professionally. Her ultimate dream is to participate in the Olympics.


Kelsie Payne’s journey from Kansas to the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryout in Colorado Springs exemplifies her dedication and passion for volleyball. Her achievements with the Kansas volleyball team and her aspirations for the future demonstrate her determination to succeed. Payne’s story serves as an inspiration for young athletes who dream of making an impact in the volleyball world.