AVCA Honors Academic Excellence

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. - The American Volleyball Coaches Association has named several Arizona volleyball programs the recipients of the 2003-04 AVCA Team Academic Award.


Odeen Domingo
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 23, 2004 12:00 AM

No, this isn't happening.

Sweat dripped off Reid Priddy's skin and onto the hardwood court like rainfall, his hopes of qualifying for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games going with it.

It was the NORCECA Olympic Qualifying championship match in Puerto Rico and the U.S. National Volleyball Team was down 8-5 to Cuba in the deciding fifth game. First to 15 and win by two for a ticket to Athens. One mistake means one point. There is no next year. If Team USA loses, it doesn't just go home, it stays home. Try again in 2008.

Reid Priddy

But Priddy, a former Mountain Pointe player and 1996 graduate, had waited long enough. He helped Team USA fight from behind to take a 14-13 lead.

On the ensuing play, Cuba's right-side hitter spiked the ball into Priddy and teammate Tom Hoff's waiting arms for the block. The ball fell on Cuba's side of the court. Priddy fell on his knees and on his back.

Hello, Athens.

"I still remember the play," said Priddy, 26, "I was losing my balance and I was laying there for a while. I was relieved it was over. I'm so excited we're going to Athens to do what we've been working for the last four years. People don't understand how hard it is to qualify for the Olympics."

Priddy moved to Chandler with his family from Orlando his sophomore year in high school when Mountain Pointe started a volleyball program under coach Fred Mann. Priddy helped Mann build a dominant volleyball program, winning the state title in its second year of existence. Priddy then played at Loyola Marymount University, where he earned numerous All-America honors before playing professionally in Austria and as a starter on Team USA since 2001.

Priddy, who said he isn't worried about a terrorist threat in Athens, now lives in Colorado Springs, where he trains and practices in the U.S. Olympic headquarters. He said he signed a one-year contract to play professional volleyball in Italy after the Olympics and then there is a good indication he will come back to the States to join the AVP Beach Volleyball Tour.

But right now, his focus is all on Athens.

"I try to keep my mind on if we can play and reach our potential - not necessarily something spectacular but if we play as good as we can play, I'll be incredibly satisfied," Priddy said. "But we are all thinking medal. We're not just playing to get into the Olympics. And we're not just happy to be there. We're playing to win."

Priddy's mother, Sharon, said she still wasn't sure if her son was going to the Olympics after the qualifying victory even though he has been a starter on the national team for three years. But when he was officially named to the team, it finally became a reality.

"Now you could say he's officially a starter on the team," she said. "Now it's starting to hit. Where are we staying? What are we going to wear? Is it hot over there? It's starting to sink in."

Also see this article on: