Penn State alumnae Haleigh Washington and Megan Courtney played integral roles as the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team secured an automatic bid to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo this past weekend.
The former Nittany Lions helped the U.S. go 3-0 in the Pool C Qualification Tournament in Bossier City, Louisiana, with wins over No. 23 Kazakhstan, No. 16 Bulgaria, and No. 11 Argentina. The U.S. squad entered the event as the third-ranked team in the world.
“It feels amazing,” Washington said. “There was a point where I was on the floor, and I was in this moment where I was ‘we are playing to go to the Olympics right now.’ That’s what this match meant. It is surreal. It is amazing. I am excited for the next grind and going to Tokyo.”
The U.S. posted a 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-23) win over Argentina in the final match on Sunday to clinch an Olympic berth. Washington contributed five kills on 11 attacks, two blocks and two aces, while Courtney was unofficially credited with a 50 positive reception percent on 26 chances and added 11 digs.
“I mean we talk about it all the time,” Courtney said. “This was our big goal for the year. VNL win was good, but our main tournament was focusing on the Olympic qualifier. We took care of business although it wasn’t easy, teams definitely give it to us. We had to earn it. Just really excited for this team’s opportunity to play in Tokyo.”
Team USA’s victory over Kazakhstan came in straight sets on Friday, and they added a thrilling come-from-behind win in five sets over Bulgaria on Saturday. Washington chipped in five kills on nine attacks, four blocks and an ace for 10 points against Bulgaria. Courtney provided 25 receptions and nine digs.