Playing a sport after college is easy if that sport is basketball, football or baseball provided that the athlete is good enough to play at the next level, of course.
The same can't be said for volleyball. There are few professional opportunities beyond college for people like Kiana Rogers and Sydney Anderson. Those two have played for a lifetime, crossed paths with each other at BYU and Utah respectively, gone on to standout collegiate careers and pursued the game post-graduation
But they never became friends and never found the time to hold more than a passing conversation until this weekend. They've always been competitors. Now they're teammates.
"We played against each other for a while," Rogers said. "She went to Utah, and Nebraska, and I've always respected her ability. She's always been an incredible setter, a great volleyball player. I've always looked up to her, and this weekend has been a great chance to learn from someone I've always respected. We've become pretty good friends."
The two play for Utah Unity, a Premier Volleyball League team created for players like Rogers and Anderson who want to stay in the game. The Unity is a professional team representing the Intermountain Region of USA Volleyball.
The Unity have been ultra-successful this weekend, advancing to the semifinal round and finishing fourth this weekend out of 12 teams. Unity is expected to play a full tournament schedule next year, although details are still being worked out, according to spokesman Kraig Williams.
For Rogers, who had been out of volleyball competitively for the past year, this tournament offered her the chance to reconnect to the game she loved.
For Anderson, who played professionally in Puerto Rico, competing in the United States again is something she cherishes.
"The competition is great," Anderson said. "The tournament is so fast, everyone is a great player. We were here for a week and then we started to play right away."
On the surface, Anderson and Rogers shouldn't be friends. In addition to playing for rival schools, before Anderson transferred to Nebraska, where she went on to become All Big-12, the two play the same position, setter.
But the two have always kept an eye on one another and have always respected each other's talent. When learning that they would be teammates for the first time in their careers, their reaction was pretty much the same:
"I felt that I had to be really good if I wanted to earn some time," Rogers said.
"You would think with girls that things would be kind of catty," Anderson said. "But we all want to win. We have all grown up and are in the next levels of our lives. So there wasn't any of that at all."
The two found time to talk to each other off the court, about their interests, about playing for different schools.
They also compared notes and made each other better, if only slightly, in just a small amount of time. The result was a team with two setters more than capable of running the Unity offense. Both players, in their senior seasons, led their respective schools in assists. Both in college were good defensively, coming up with digs and service aces.
"Our goal this weekend was for us to win matches," Rogers said. "It was great no matter who we put in, because whoever was playing was good enough to help us win. It was such high competition for us. We all respected each other because we were all really established. This is probably the most positive team that I've ever been on."
About Kiana Rogers
2010 • Led BYU in assists as a senior with 1,147 and service aces with 32. â¦ Finished second on the team with 306 digs.
2009 • Saw action in all 29 matches and 107 of a possible 110 sets as a junior. â¦ Compiled 1,017 assists for a team-leading 9.5 assists per set average.
2008 • Played in every possible match and set as the starting setter for the Cougars as a sophomore. â¦ Averaged 10.14 assists per set, ranking third in the Mountain West Conference.
2007 • Split time at setter as a redshirt freshman appearing in 14 matches for the Cougars. â¦ Named to Academic All-Mountain West team.
About Sydney Anderson
Played in Stuttgart, Germany, and won the German Polka Finals.
Played in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, for one of the top teams in Puerto Rico. Finished top four, leading the team to the semifinals.
2010 • 2010 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Finalist. â¦ Finished career at Nebraska with 3,332 assists, fourth-highest in Husker history. â¦ Helped Nebraska finish fifth nationally at 13.9 assists per set. â¦ Key part of Nebraska making the regional semifinals of the 2010 NCAA Tournament before being upset by Washington.
2009 • Named to All Big-12 and All-Central Region teams as well as Third-Team All-American. â¦ Selected to the NCAA Omaha all-regional team as Nebraska made it all the way to the regional finals in the NCAA Tournament. â¦ Averaged 11.53 assists, .77 kills and 2.45 digs per set.
2008 • Started in her first season at Nebraska piloting the Huskers to 31 wins and a berth in the NCAA semifinals. â¦ Honored as a Second-Team All-American by the AVCA. â¦ Named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and First-Team All-Big 12. â¦ Averaged 11.6 assists, 2.05 digs and 0.53 blocks. â¦ Nebraska finished as national semifinalist before bowing out to eventual Champion Penn State. â¦ Named to Seattle All-Regional team.
2006 • Started college career with Utah leading the Utes to a Mountain West Conference regular-season title. â¦ Awarded Mountain West Conference Setter and Freshman of the Year. â¦ Averaged 12.45 assists, 2.77 digs and 0.76 blocks per set. â¦ Utah made the second round of the NCAA Tournament by defeating Michigan State.