Monday, 11 December 2023

International Volleyball

AU volleyball: Red-hot Hentz has a team featuring Dixon, Nuneviller, Betty

AU volleyball: Red-hot Hentz has a team featuring Dixon, Nuneviller, Betty

Tori Dixon fully expects Bethania De La Cruz to do “Betty things,” meaning that even though the superstar outside hitter will be available for only the last two of three matches in Week 4, that’s bad news for the rest of Athletes Unlimited.

Tori Dixon/AU photo

Dixon, the veteran middle hitter with extensive experience on the USA national team, was taken in Round 3 of the fourth-week volleyball draft by captain Morgan Hentz, who tabbed rookie outside hitter Brooke Nuneviller in the first round and snapped up De La Cruz in the second, sixth overall.

Why would Betty, the defending Athletes Unlimited points champion and arguably the best player in the league, have lasted until the third round in AU’s “snake” draft format? On the ESPNU broadcast Monday, when word filtered down that De Le Cruz could be drafted, but would not return from her duty with the Dominican Republic’s national team in time to play in Friday’s match, TV pundit Kevin Barnett flat-out predicted that she nonetheless would be the first player chosen.

Perhaps the prospect of her missing a match, forcing a team to play short-handed, scared off the other Week 4 captains.

But not Hentz, who came in with the luxury of a personal 9-0 record through the first three-fifths of AU’s five-week season. Morgan also had first-hand knowledge of what the complementary OH combination of Nuneviller and Betty could accomplish together during an undefeated Week 2, and might have figured at the worst, as the late, great Meat Loaf sang, that two out of three ain’t bad.

De La Cruz was No. 1 on the leaderboard in Athletes Unlimited’s non-traditional scoring system after two weeks, but stands No. 5 after a week away, which should provide the 36-year-old veteran with oodles of incentive to make up lost ground.

“Betty is Betty. I don’t know whether she can get back all the way to No. 1 (in one week, while missing a match), but she is going to do Betty things,” Dixon predicted. “Betty is going to get her points.”

Athletes Unlimited’s fourth-week round-robin will be contested Friday, Sunday and Monday at Legacy Park in Mesa, Arizona. Four matches will be streamed on ESPN+, and the nightcaps on Sunday and Monday will air on cable ESPNU. The captains this week are Hentz, Leah Edmond, Sydney Hilley and Alli Linnehan. The full schedule is below:

Week 4 schedule

Friday, October 27
Team Linnehan vs. Team Hentz, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Team Edmond vs. Team Hilley, 9:30 p.m.,…

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