Europe athletes of the week
Last week: Ryan, a senior team captain, scored five service points and had five kills as the Wildcats completed an unbeaten regular season, but coach Peter Nagafuchi cited Ryan’s leadership and defensive prowess as the keys to Saturday’s straight-set victory over Marymount, 25-9, 25-21, 25-16, and a five-set slugfest over American Overseas School of Rome, 25-13, 25-19, 20-25, 17-25, 15-9.
Both matches were played in Rome.
“The last set against AOSR,” Nagafuchi said by telephone on Monday, “he saved us with good receiving and blocking. We kind of got cold feet after winning the first two sets, but Mark came on strong defensively to finish up the game. He’s a good defensive player.”
Ryan, in his third season with the team, contributes intangibles to the cause, his coach added.
“He leads the team very well,” Nagafuchi said. “He helped us make sure that everyone did his job.”
Next up for Naples is the Mediterranean Regional tournament in Aviano, where the Wildcats are the defending champions.
Last week: Jackson, a senior setter, helped the Saints close out an unbeaten season with straight-set victories Saturday at Vicenza over the host Cougars and Milan. The Saints downed Vicenza 25-8, 25-16, 25-10, and beat Milan 25-8, 25-12, 25-10.
“At Aviano, I teach the team concept … each player is there to make the others around her better,” coach Hans Hillestad wrote in an e-mail. Jackson, he said, is that kind of player.
“She is a true setter,” he added, “taking what the team offers her, the pass, and makes it better, the set, so that the whole team looks good.”
Jackson, he said, “is well on her way to two school records: assists per set and serve percentage. We record true assists, only those that lead directly to a point, and she has almost five per set. Serving, she has made all but three all season. Over 98 percent are in play. Lindsey is the player I want to touch the ball when the match is on the line.”
— Selected by Stars and Stripes staff