One-on-one, with Leland’s professional athlete
Alisha Glass, former Leland and Penn State volleyball standout, returned from Poland last week with her jersey and medal from winning the Plus Liga playoff championship. Glass, who celebrated her 24th birthday on Friday, left this week for California to begin training for the Olympic team.
The Enterprise’s Mike Spencer sat down with Alisha to discuss her entry into the professional world of sports, hopes for the Olympics and her visit to
Alisha Glass came home last week to visit family and friends, celebrate her 24th birthday and relate her recent volleyball achievement via Poland.
The Leland native left this week for California to begin work on her most coveted dream — making the Olympic team.
“Now it’s all about making the Olympic roster and being one of the top 12-14 players that go,” said Glass, who took time away from her birthday on Friday to talk about her recent past and future. “There’s nervous excitement and I think that’s healthy.
Glass is eager to start the process, which begins in earnest on May 1.
“I’m looking forward to the competition,” she said. “I’m looking forward to battling to try and represent our country.
“I think I have a good shot at it, but I think everyone has to think that.”
Glass wasn’t in the mix for the 2008 Olympics, but the 6-foot setter put herself in a good position to be at the 2012 Games in London by making the U.S. national team last year.
“Being on the national team is an advantage,” Glass said. “The fact that I have been competing with them and making rosters definitely helps me.
“It gives me an edge over someone who may not have had those opportunities.”
Glass followed up her national team experience by helping Poland’s Atom Trefl Sopot win the Poland Plus Liga playoff championship on March 27. Atom Trefl Sopot won the title with a 3-1 series victory over Bank BPS Muszynianka Fakro Muszyna.
“I am really happy with winning the league especially because it showed perseverance on our part,” said Glass, noting the professional team had complications on-and-off the court. “We just didn’t quit or throw games and get mad and show it.
“We just played volleyball and fought hard to win every match we could. It was a reward for the sacrifices we made.”
In the clinching match, Glass set up the team to a .44 kill percentage and also scored three points. But she recalls little about the match.
Glass spent most of the match trying to overcome vision problems after getting hit in the eye with the ball early in the first set.
“It was pretty bad,” she recalled. “I couldn’t see anything that was down to my left.
“It was pretty blurry and it wouldn’t stop watering.”
Glass told her teammates it was OK, but she had trouble tracking high balls.
“I was dealing with that and wanting to win at the same time,” she said. “By the end, I didn’t care how I played.
“I don’t remember so much about the match other than we got through it.”
Glass said the pro championship will have a special place in her heart, next to the three consecutive national championships she won at Penn State.
“In the scheme of things, the national championship is bigger because you’re together as a team a lot longer and you know the players more,” the two-time, first-team All-American said. “This was personal energy and about bettering yourself for the nationals.
“There have been greater championships won, but I’m happy with this one.”
Atom Trefl Sopot beat a team which was first in the regular season and had dominated them.
“They were the stacked team, a lot of money, a lot of great players and a lot of their Polish National team players,” Glass said. “No one really thought we had a chance.”
Glass’s team lost the first match in the series, but won the second on the road.
“We turned it around by winning at their place and we knew if we got the next two, we had it,” she said. “A 10-11 hour bus ride was motivation enough to win this.”
Glass said her team played from behind a lot in Poland.
“When we were ahead in matches, we would lose the lead,” Glass said. “We let them come back.”
In the final match, her team rallied in the fourth set from a 13-10 deficit to win 15-13.
“It’s amazing that we could have done that,” she said. “So in the fifth set, it was ‘How about we not get down’ and just try to win it.”
Glass, who lived in Sopot on the Baltic Sea, said the Polish language was a barrier. But she really liked the city.
“There were a lot more Englishspeaking people there than we thought there’d be and it was very European,” she said.
The winter, which is usually harsh, was a record-breaking mild one, she added.
Glass, who has an agent, was paid well to play in Poland since Thanksgiving.
“It’s more than an entry level fulltime, year-round job,” she said. “And I’m doing it in six months.
“It’s good money.”
Glass didn’t say what she was making, but said the top women in the game can make $500,000-600,000. A decent male player makes about $800,000.
Glass, who has an option to play with the Sopot team next season, isn’t sure how long she’ll be a professional volleyball player.
“My focus is the Olympics,” Glass said. “After this Olympics, I’ll decide whether I want to go to the next one. If I don’t make it, that will be a whole 'nother motivator.
“But it would be hard to turn down the pro money if you were healthy and you loved it. I’ll play as long as it makes sense.”
Glass was able to share the Poland Plus Liga title with her mother, Laurie Glass, who flew in for the final two matches.
“The timing was perfect,” Glass said. “It was great. It was such a celebration because it was in a brand new sports hall so it was their first win.
“The first thing I had to do was find my mom in the sea of people. It was awesome that she could be there and for me to give her a hug.”