Sterling, Va. — Just one week after the USA celebrated its birthday, Potomac Falls High School graduate Holly Carlton had another reason to celebrate the Stars and Stripes. On July 11, Carlton was named to the 2017 US Women’s Junior National Team which will represent the United States at the 2017 FIVB U20 World Championship.
“I’m extremely excited for this opportunity,” the 6-foot-7 Carlton said. “The tryout was a tough week of competition and training, but I’m really excited and looking forward to playing hard and representing my country in Worlds!”
After helping the US to gold at the U20 PanAm Cup, Carlton earned a tryout with the junior national team, earning one of the twelve spots on the roster.
“The PanAm Cup was my first experience with international volleyball so there were definitely some surprises. The style of play is different from country to country and there is a factor of travel and culture that plays a role in international competition,” Carlton said. “I was grateful for a spot on the roster for the PanAm Cup because I felt more prepared for Worlds having one international tournament under my belt.”
While style of play and team composition might change, high-level competition is nothing new for Carlton. After leading her hometown Potomac Falls Panthers to a VHSL 5A state championship game appearance in 2015, Carlton took her talents to the University of North Carolina, where she red-shirted her freshman year in 2016. Along with Loudoun County High School graduate Taylor Borup, the Division I Tarheels won the ACC regular season title, posted a 29-4 record, and finished the season ranked No. 6 in the country.
“First of all, I would argue that Conference 14 was one of, if not the best conference in the state in my years at Potomac Falls so playing against the best competition in my area was a huge part of my growth as an athlete and as a volleyball player,” Carlton said. “And secondly, playing for coach Linda Lachey-Helms at Potomac Falls and having her wisdom, guidance and encouragement throughout my high school career means so much to me and has definitely helped my development as a player and a person.”
For Team USA, Carlton will develop under head coach Laurie Corbelli, who will lead Carlton and co. into battle on July 14 against Brazil to start the World Championship.
“This team is an extremely competitive group in terms of individual athletes,” Corbelli said. “They are physical and play very high. Our passing has improved a ton. It is reassuring to know it is as good as it is, because once we get a good first contact, our hitters have a hay day. Offensively, this is a very strong group.”
Following their pool play match with Brazil, Team USA will take on Cuba on July 15 then Serbia on July 16 in Boca del Rio and Cordoba, Mexico, in hopes of advancing out of Pool C.
“Playing for Team USA means a lot to me,” Carlton said. “It is incredible to think about my journey through volleyball and something that started off in my life as a hobby has now taken me to an amazing university, and has now given me opportunities to travel to different countries and, most importantly, to represent my country.”