2014-01-02 / Sports

Leland’s Glass celebrates a very good year with family

By Mike Spencer
Of The Enterprise staff

ALISHA GLASS of Leland sets a ball for a teammate in U.S. women’s volleyball team action in 2013. ALISHA GLASS of Leland sets a ball for a teammate in U.S. women’s volleyball team action in 2013. Leland’s Alisha Glass was home for the holidays for the first time in a while.

Although the stay was brief for the Olympic volleyball hopeful, one night and part of Christmas Day, it was still long enough to celebrate a memorable 2013 volleyball season with family.

Glass, a 25-year-old setter with the U.S. women’s volleyball team, was named the USA Volleyball Female Indoor Athlete of the Year on Dec. 11.

“It was wonderful to be able to make it home for Christmas,” said Glass, who quickly got back on a plane to Istanbul, Turkey, where she is playing professionally this winter. “It’s been way too long since I’ve been able to be here for Christmas.

“I really wanted to stay at least through New Year’s, but every little bit counts.”

Glass added that it was “hard to say goodbye,” after the family’s annual Christmas Eve gathering, gift exchange and brunch on Christmas Day, but she had no qualms about saying goodbye to the snow.

“It was so good to see everybody’s face and be able to hug and simply spend time just being around them,” she added. “It was really good for the soul!”

Glass said she was “surprised,” to receive USA Volleyball’s top award.

“There are so many talented players in the gym,” said Glass, who led Leland to the state volleyball title in 2006 and then helped Penn State to three straight NCAA titles. “I felt like we had a strong year as a group.

“We had our ups and downs, but we established a foundation and I’m really happy about where we’re going with it.”

Laurie Glass, Alisha’s mom and former coach, was also pleased with her daughter’s effort.

“I think this honor is a tribute to her dedication to USA Volleyball and her willingness to take on the leadership role,” Laurie Glass said. “Alisha works hard, plays harder and this is a just reward.

“Alisha exemplifies what it means to be a great teammate. This is truly a remarkable achievement for someone from this small town in northern Michigan and I am exceedingly proud.”

Glass, an alternate on the 2012 Olympic team, said 2013 which is “Year one of the quad,” was a get to know each other year.

The U.S. team took sixth at the FIVB Grand Prix, silver at the FIVB Grand Champions Cup and gold at the NOCECA Championships.

“We got to know our coaching staff and we got to put down the roots for what we want to take place in the next three years,” Glass said. “We wanted a better finish at Grand Prix finals, but I think we learned a lot about ourselves throughout the entire five-week tournament.

“We were definitely very happy with our Norceca win considering it was on U.S. soil. All in all, it was a strong first year.”

“Our program’s biggest theme for 2013 was the commitment to learn, to grow and to pursue mastery relentlessly, and to support others doing the same; Alisha embraced and exemplified those notions,” said Karch Kiraly, the U.S. women’s national team head coach. “In competition, she played a major role in leading our young group to battle — and to a series of hard-fought wins — against the world’s best. Alisha was a big reason why USA got off to such a strong start in the new Olympic cycle.”

Glass was named best setter at two of the three tournaments, but deferred the individual credit to her teammates.

“It’s definitely about having great teammates,” said Glass of being named best setter. “The award is a statistics based award and it means that my teammates passed well and my hitters put the ball away.

“I’m grateful for the honor but it really reflects the team effort more than anything.”

Glass started 28 of 31 matches at setter with a 10.22 assist average. She added set averages of 0.50 blocks (third on team among those with 40 percent of sets played), 1.85 digs and 0.88 points. She helped Team USA compile a 41.7 kill percent and .281 hitting efficiency for the season, which is impressive considering 84.3 percent of the team’s kills (1,291 of 1,531) were from non-Olympians and several had not played an FIVB-level event.

Glass was home a couple times in the past year. During a return trip in September, school officials retired her Leland jersey and put them in a trophy case with her Penn State and USA jerseys.

“I think it’s an amazing honor for the school to want to imprint a memory by placing my jerseys in a showcase,” she said. “The honor goes both ways.

“I’m so happy to call Leelanau County my home. Leland Public Schools was a huge part of my journey.”

Glass is back in Istanbul, ready to resume action with Fenerbahce.

“All is well in Istanbul,” Glass said. “The team is doing well and I’m really happy to be part of a club with such a far reaching network.

“It has many sports, many supporters and its family feel reminds me of home.”

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