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Leland’s Alisha Glass shines on international stage

By: Steve Vedder, September 17, 2016, 9:18 am

Leland – Alisha Glass has no problem with a hazy future.

The former Leland High School and Penn State volleyball star was disappointed with the United States’ bronze medal finish at the Rio Olympics, but she said the overall experience was one of the highlights of a long career with USA Volleyball.

"It definitely wasn’t what we wanted," said Glass, a setter who has played with the national team in nearly a dozen international competitions. "We had gold medal hopes, but we fought hard. We only lost one game, but it was to the wrong team. But we showcased who we were as a team and we felt good about being successful."

The United States went 5-0 in pool play, beat Japan 3-0 in the quarterfinal, but lost 3-2 to Serbia in the semifinals. The U.S. topped Netherlands 3-1 for the bronze medal.

Glass, named Michigan’s Miss Volleyball in 2006 while at Leland, said every player recovers differently, mentally and physically, from the highest level of volleyball competition. Among the places the 24-year-old Glass has played with USA Volleyball are Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and Turkey. Glass spent some time helping her mother Laurie coach Leland’s volleyball team before going home to Orange County, Calif.

"For me, it’ll be nice to just decompress, rest and recover," she said. "It’s not a letdown in any way. It’s different for each person. Some go on to something else quickly, others take time off at home. It’s different for everyone."

Glass said she’s in no hurry to determine her future. She may choose to coach or go back to school. Or she may decide to keep playing either with USA Volleyball or continue a professional career that’s included stops in Brazil, Poland, Turkey, Puerto Rico and 2½ seasons in Italy.

"I might decide I would lose my mind without volleyball," she said. "It’s up in the air, but I’m excited to see what comes next."

Laurie Glass said it’s no surprise that her daughter has become a volleyball star. She remembers making an off-handed remark to someone about what a left-handed setter needed to do to become successful. Before she knew it, her daughter was practicing those drills on her own. Laurie Glass also remembers watching her 10-year-old daughter at a Michigan State camp fervently practicing jump/serve drills which coaches had just taught her.

"She was always fascinated by the game has always wanted to become better," Laurie Glass said. "She’s always practiced not for show or accolades, but to get better. It’s been all her."

Glass said she’s loved playing for the United States all over the world. Among her favorite stops have been playing in Italy and Turkey. She said the experience peaked at Rio, where crowds grasped talented play regardless of the country.

"It’s amazing to travel the world and represent USA. It’s not something everyone gets to do so I’m fortunate to see these places and cultures," she said. "Places like Italy and Rio have fans who are so invested, who are up to date (in knowledge). They understand the sport. As a player that’s what you like. There’s booing or cheering, but it’s a fun environment."

Glass it’s hard to compare the professional vs. amateur volleyball experience. As an amateur, she played on last year’s U.S. team that won the FIVB World Cup and NORCECA championships and was third at the Pan-American Cup.

"When you’re playing professionally, you see a lot of counties where volleyball is a little different," she said. "It’s a cool experience, but it’s nothing like building a program where you’ve played two or three players together. It defines who you are as a team."