Hardeman, CNT Blue Win Collegiate National Team Program Tournament
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - The U.S. Collegiate National Team-Minneapolis program concluded this past weekend at the Minneapolis Convention Center with CNT Blue taking the championship by winning two matches on the final day after losing both its pool play matches.
After defeating CNT White 22-25, 25-15, 23-25, 15-13, 15-13 (fourth and fifth sets shortened due to time constraints), CNT Blue used the momentum in the championship match to edge previously unbeaten CNT Red 20-25, 26-24, 25-23, 24-26, 15-13 behind the stellar play of outside hitter Leah Hardeman (Coastal Carolina, Clarkston, Georgia) and setter Taylor Tashima (Northwestern University, Wilmette, Illinois). Hardeman notched a tournament-best 29 points with 25 kills on 46 attacks, two aces and two blocks. Tashima set CNT Blue to a 47 kill percent and .340 hitting efficiency (67-18-144) while adding one kill.
Hardeman said her training in Minnesota with the U.S Collegiate National Team has helped her with her aggressiveness on the court, something she will take back to Coastal Carolina for her senior season.
"I definitely learned a lot from the USA training," Hardeman said. "I definitely decided to get that deep shot in there, and I will take that back with to Coastal Carolina. Having tough aggressiveness -- I was a rock and I am going to take that back to Coastal Carolina as well."
Hardeman entered the CNT program from a non-Top 5 conference, but that did not stop her from taking in the experience and playing as she did when evaluated for the program this past spring at the U.S. Women's National Team Open Tryout.
"I am super excited to be here," Hardeman said. "I am excited to play alongside with all these athletes. It is the first time I have been here, and obviously my last time as I will be a senior next year. I am excited to come and so excited to be picked to play along with all these other great players. I would definitely recommend other players to come if invited."
The CNT-Minneapolis squad, which is part of USA Volleyball's High Performance pipeline and is considered a second tryout for the U.S. Women's National Team, trained at the University of Minnesota from June 22-26 prior to the competition matches at the Minneapolis Convention Center.