Iowa's Annika Olsen prepares to serve the ball during a volleyball match at the Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 3 , 2016. Iowa defeated Oakland 3-0. (The Daily Iowan/Ting Xuan Tan)

Annika Olsen joins overseas Big Ten volleyball tour

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In addition to leading the volleyball team and the Big Ten in average digs per set, Annika Olsen has been selected to represent Iowa in the Big Ten Volleyball Foreign Tour, which runs Saturday through June 28.

By Megan Sprengeler | megan-sprengeler@uiowa.edu

The volleyball season doesn’t officially start until mid- to late-August. But for one Hawkeye, competition this summer is alive and thriving.

Annika Olsen has been chosen as one of 14 student-athletes to represent the Big Ten in the volleyball foreign tour, the league office has announced.

Olsen was the only volleyball player chosen to represent Iowa.

This select group will travel to the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Italy, and Austria during June 17-28.

The tour opens in Prague with two matches against Prague’s National Team over the course of the first three days. The group will then travel to Slovenia to compete against the Slovenian Junior National Team with possible matches against either the Slovenian National Team or the Croatian National Team.

The team will end its run in Italy against either the Italian Junior National team or the Italian National team.

Aside from the competition, the group of student-athletes will be given the opportunity to be a part of community-service initiatives, study foreign languages with locals, and, of course, see the sights of some of Europe’s most historic cities, including Vienna, Maribor in Slovenia, and Venice and Milan in Italy.

The Big Ten named Maryland’s Steve Aird head coach of this year’s volleyball foreign tour.

Aird is the fourth head coach in Maryland’s program history. He joined the Terrapins after leading Penn State to its sixth national title in 2014.

“I am excited and proud to be part of this tour,” Aird said in a release. “The volleyball will be elite, and we will be pushed by some of the best teams in the world. I am certain that our athletes will represent the Big Ten Conference the right way. I would like to thank the University of Maryland and the Big Ten Conference for their support and the opportunity.”

A member of the incoming senior class in the fall of 2017, Olsen started every match for two-consecutive seasons. The Johns Creek, Georgia, native racked up a perfect 65 matches over the past two seasons.

In the fall of 2016, she led the Hawkeyes with 445 digs while also collecting 72 assists and 13 service aces throughout the season. Olsen led the Big Ten with 4.75 digs per set on average.

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