Pac-12 announces 2014 All-Star Team to tour China

Eric Evans

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - The Pac-12 Conference announced today plans to send another all-star women’s volleyball team to China in June of 2014. Among the early commitments are OREGON head coach Jim Moore, USC All-American Samantha Bricio and the Ducks’ Amanda Benson, a member of the Pac-12 All-Freshman team.

The tour to China is the next step for the Conference in its long-term Globalization Initiative. Started in 2011, the Pac-12 Globalization Initiative was designed to proactively promote the member universities through student-athlete exchanges and sport. Additional Pac-12 student-athlete tours to China as part of the initiative will be announced in the coming months.

The 12-member summer all-star volleyball team will include a player from each of the Pac-12 institutions. The team will play at least six matches while in China from June 17-27 against Chinese professional club teams and the Chinese Junior National Team. In addition to the matches, the student-athletes will enjoy cultural and sightseeing visits to Shanghai, Beijing and other Chinese cities. Last year’s all-star team made historic visits to the Great Wall, Forbidden City and other attractions.

“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to coach some of the nation’s best collegiate volleyball players while spending time in a place where there is so much excitement and support for the sport,” said Moore, who led UO to the NCAA Championship match for the first time in the program’s history and was the 2006 Conference Coach of the Year. “We’ll play some very talented competition and it should be a great experience both on and off the court.”

It will mark the second-straight year the Pac-12 sends an all-star team to China. Last year’s squad also faced some of the best teams in China over a 10-day period, and participated in several cultural exchanges.

Facing international competition is not new for Pac-12 players and teams. In addition to international play like the Olympics, four Pac-12 women’s volleyball teams hosted the Jiangsu Volleyball Team from Nanjing, China, one of the leading professional volleyball teams in China, for matches during the 2012 season. The Pac-12 has also recently organized foreign tours to China over the last several years, including sending UCLA and Arizona State men’s basketball teams, and the California women’s basketball team.

“It is an honor and such a privilege to be chosen for the Pac-12 All-Star Team. I look forward to representing USC, my teammates, my coaches, and the Conference when we visit China,” said Samantha Bricio, a 2013 second team AVCA All-American and the 2012 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and a native of Mexico. “I'm very excited to get to know the other players from around the Pac-12, to experience a new culture, and to get to play volleyball with and against some of the best players in the world.”

The Pac-12 has a storied history in women’s volleyball with 14 NCAA titles, the most of any Conference. This success extends across the Conference with seven different Pac-12 teams advancing to the national semifinals since 2001, and all 12 earning NCAA Tournament bids since then, as well. The Pac-12 also features the nation’s best players with 11 earning AVCA All-America honors this season marking 12-consecutive years the Conference has had at least eight or more student-athletes selected. In addition, the last three AVCA National Player of the Year has been a Pac-12 player (the 2014 honoree will be announced later this week).

The student-athletes on the tour represent Pac-12 teams that distinguished the Conference during the 2013 season with a league-record nine NCAA Tournament bids, the most of any conference in the country. The University of Washington has advanced to the national semifinal game to marking the fourth-straight year a league squad has advanced that far. This season, eight of the 12 league squads earned top-25 rankings at least once, while two different teams earned a No. 1 national ranking (USC and Washington).

The full 12-member squad and coaching staff will be announced at a later date, as will a detailed tour and competition schedule.

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