Kullerkann helped Estonia advance to the FIVB Third Round for the first time in the country's history.
Feb. 21, 2014
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ATHENS, Ohio – Ohio University redshirt junior Liis Kullerkann (Keila, Estonia) competed with the Estonian National Team this January in the third stage of the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship qualification process. The team was unable to advance to the playoffs, which will happen in May for the teams that qualified.
The Estonian National Team’s journey began last spring when they posted a 3-0 record to advance out of first round pool play and into a berth in the third round. It marked the first time in Estonia’s history that the national team has advanced to the third round of the World Championship.
Estonia’s National Team’s run for the World Qualifiers came to a halt in the third round where Liis says they competed against the best of the best.
“We played against World-Class teams that were just so good compared to our little nation. We didn’t win or get to advance, but we got really good experience there. It was a lot of fun.”
So what was training for Worlds really like? OhioBobcats.com sat down with Liis to find out more.
On training for the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship:
“Literally, the second day I got home (for Christmas break), we started two-a-days. We had a morning ball-control practice, where we didn’t do a lot of jumps. We just served and did some hitting from the ground. Then, in the evening we had a two-hour practice where we did some drills and different kinds of exercises to work on jumping and blocking. So, for 11 days or to about the end of the year, we did that. I only got one day off for Christmas and that was it.”
“Then, on January 1, we flew to Azerbaijan and stayed there for like five days.”
On adjusting from American to European volleyball: “It’s actually quite different. Here in Ohio, I play right side, which is like an outside hitter; but in Estonia, my coach wants me to play middle. But international volleyball is much slower compared to United States collegiate level volleyball. So, being a middle there was much easier than being a middle here. I didn’t mind being a middle there because I had time to block, I had time to do more things than I would playing that position here. That was a positive adjustment.”
“But then there were some things that you can do here that would be errors or mistakes in international volleyball. So, I got called on those a couple of times, and that was kind of frustrating. But I figured that was going to happen.”
On her teammates: “I’m starting to get used to them, because my first time playing was in the spring of last year. So, now I’m starting to understand how they are as teammates, how I should act around them, how to be the best teammate for them and how to make them perform better. So, I’m starting to get used to them.”
“I think we have a long ways to go, but I think we’re getting better. I definitely like my Estonian team.”
On her favorite part of the whole experience: “I liked the fact that we got to play against World-Class teams and Word-Class players. It was interesting to see how they played and what level they were at.”
On the privilege of playing for a national team: “For being on the Estonian national team that just came together in summer 2012, it’s a huge deal that the Estonian Volleyball Federation even found the money for us to do it. It’s a huge privilege and honor for us and for the country to trust us to succeed. As a small country, we don’t have a ton of money to throw around.”
On what she took away from the experience: “I got to see some world class teams, especially in Azerbajian. I was able to see how good you can be. I know what I need to strive towards being if I want to become a good professional player and have a good volleyball career in the future.”