For most college students, summers are spent working, eating good food, or enjoying the sun and the beauty of the outdoors. Swap working for playing volleyball, and that’s exactly how junior outside hitter Leah Edmond spent her summer – except she was in Europe.
In March, five Wildcats, including Edmond, were selected to various U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Teams. Edmond and teammate Avery Skinner were selected to the CNT-Europe, coached by Louisville head coach Dani Busboom Kelly. The team landed in Italy on July 5 and competed in the Global Challenge in Croatia during July 10-13.
This wasn’t Edmond’s first time representing her country in a different nation, as she was selected in 2017 to the FIVB Women's U20 World Championship team, which was hosted in Mexico. The 6’2 hitter says the two experiences were similar, and that playing outside of the U.S. is a lot different.
“It’s a whole different style of play, like a lot of people there are smaller so it’s not as physical as here, so you have to be smarter about plays,” Edmond said. “They’re going to pick up your tips, they’re going to pick up things a lot easier, so you can’t get as mentally frustrated and that was a big thing that our team focused on.”
Edmond mentioned how much she enjoyed her time in Croatia and added how beautiful the country is. She was there during the World Cup while Croatia won, and said “it was the coolest thing to experience.”
“We were there during the World Cup, so when Croatia won, that was incredible to see like just fireworks and cars honking and just so much screaming,” Edmond said. “And I am a real big history person too, so seeing like the really old buildings and churches and coliseums, it was so cool, and the food was of course amazing.”
Back in March when the players were first selected, Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner called the opportunity “outstanding,” and was excited to see his players progress and get better while overseas.
“We don't take the USA invitations for granted, and our players will take full advantage to develop their game,” Skinner said.
Edmond looks to use her CNT experience to help her team this season, and said during media day that Kentucky’s competitiveness makes the team special. She said that even in the smallest and most simple of drills, the Cats are being extremely competitive, and that it’s nice to see everyone pushing each other to be the best they can be.
After coming off a 2017 season in which they went 29-4, won a share of the SEC Championship, and made it to the Elite 8 for the first time in the modern era, the Cats' goals are to the make it to the SEC tournament again and make it deep into the bracket, Edmond said. Last season, Edmond averaged 4.53 kills per set, which was second in the SEC and 14th in the nation.
“It’s nice to be recognized nationally now, but we still got to focus on what we want to accomplish,” Edmond said.