Mayer Lutheran’s Tjernagel to be a part of USA’s Junior A1 team

For a volleyball player, there’s a lot of dreams and goals that come along with the game. Winning a state title in high school, playing collegiately, and many more.

For Mayer Lutheran’s Olivia Tjernagel, she already has two of those locked up. Tjernagel, who will be a senior this coming fall, already has two state titles on her resumé, and has committed to play Division I volleyball for the University of Northern Iowa. If that’s not enough, the highly-touted player is taking another big step forward to help her case another dream of hers.

“I am more than excited to head down to Florida to compete with Team USA this summer,” Tjernagel said. “I always dreamt when I was a kid about being able to play in the Olympics someday, and now this is just one step closer to achieving that dream of being in this pipeline. Ultimately, I am super excited to be able to play with, and against many other talented and gifted athletes. This will be a very fun experience for me, and I wouldn’t be able to be where I am today without all my teammates and coaches you have pushed me along the way and have always supported me.”

A year ago, Tjernagel was selected as an alternate for the USA Junior A1 team. Although she passed on the opportunity, her hard work and success on the court this season earned her a spot. Going from being an alternate to making the team this year has Tjernagel even more excited knowing the hard she’s putting in is paying off.

“Last year I was offered an alternate position for this team,” Tjernagel said. “This year, I have now made that team. Knowing I improved over the year has brought me so much joy. It shows me that I have worked hard in everything to achieve this goal of mine.”

It wasn’t an easy thing to accomplish to seal her spot on Team USA. With tryout locations across the country, Tjernagel endured a four hour tryout that consisted of just about anything you could imagine.

“There are about 30-plus tryout locations nationwide for both boys and girls,” Tjernagel said. “The tryout session lasts four hours, and during that time, they split you up into your position that you wish to tryout for. You work on some designated skills for that position, and then you play some 4-on-4 games, and ultimately, scrimmage in the end with 6-on-6. This is all done while USA selected coaches are critiquing you.”

With her spot solidified on the team, the next step for Tjernagel is to go to Fort Lauderdale. Starting July 13, Tjernagel will head down the train with the other girls who made the team as well as compete against other teams.

“Now that I was selected for the team, I will fly down to Florida from July 13th through the 23rd and train with other girls who have also made this team for the first half that I am there,” Tjernagel said. “Then the second half I am there, we will be competing against other teams from both the U.S. and around the world. It will be exciting, because the main court of the event will be livestreamed. This will give my extended family an opportunity to watch.”

While this is the first step of Tjernagel’s Olympics dream, she also realizes this is a great opportunity to improve her game even more. With more than a week to train and compete, she’s going to soak it all in.

“I am hoping to be able to improve my skills and knowledge for the game as I play with Team USA for 10 days,” Tjernagel said. “I hope to meet many new people and be able to become friends with them. I also hope to be able to bring back to school some of the drills we did over there. This is just the beginning, and with having the dream of being in the Olympics one day, being part of the USA pipeline is just one step closer to achieving that dream.”

With one more season left in her high school career at Mayer Lutheran, Tjernagel knows how this experienced will help her get ready even more for her final season as a Crusader.

“I know that playing for Team USA will help to prepare me for my senior season,” Tjernagel said. “I will be able to bring back good drills that we could possibly use at practices. With being able to play at such an elite level with Team USA, it will help me with the overall quickness of the game.”

Playing for Team USA will also help her get ready for the game at the college level.

“Playing in college is the next level past high school, but on a more elite scale,” Tjernagel said. “USA HP does just that. It helps to find those elite players with that same potential to compete at that level. “

As exciting as playing for Team USA is, Tjernagel is also chomping at the bit to get her senior season of high school going. In three seasons at the varsity level, she’s played in three state tournaments with two state titles. With one season left, Tjernagel is not shy about wanting to make it 4-for-4 on state tournament appearances, and sees it as the perfect way to wrap up her impressive high school career.

“I am so excited for my last school season,” Tjernagel said. “I know every single one of us want to make it back to state again this year. There are three of us (Claudia Stahlke, Riley Corrigan, and Tjernagel) on the team who would share that 4-for-4 experience. I know all three of us for sure have this in the back of our minds to make it back for the fourth year in a row with being on varsity all four years. Not to mention a great experience for our whole team, our school, and our communities, because they all support us.”


The Olivia Tjernagel File

Freshman Year

- Class A State Tournament All-Tournament Team

- MSHSL Class A State Tournament Champion

Sophomore Year

- Herald Journal All-Area VB 1st Team

- MN River Conference Honorable Mention

- MSHSL Class A State Tournament Champion

- Breakdown Sports USA Volleyball Top 75 Juniors to watch in 2018

- Breakdown Sports USA Volleyball Class A All-Breakdown Team

- Breakdown Sports USA Volleyball Section 2A All-Section Team

- Named as an alternate for the 2018 USA Women’s Junior A1 National Program

- Breakdown Sports USA Basketball top 75 Juniors to watch in 2018

- Breakdown Sports USA Basketball All-Section Team in 2018

- – made the 2017 Soph 79 List

- – made the Club Ball – Class of 2020 Watch List

Junior Year

- Committed to play D1 volleyball for University of Northern Iowa

- Class A All-State First Team selection

- MN River Conference All-Conference selection

- MN River Conference All-Conference Most Valuable Player

- Set MSHSL state record for total blocks in a single season with 165

- Class A State Tournament All-Tournament Team

- Made the 2019 USA Women’s Junior A1 National Program team

- Herald Journal Volleyball Player of The Year


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Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports

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