(CBS Local Sports)– Professional women’s volleyball is coming to CBS Sports Network this weekend with the introduction of a brand new league called Athletes Unlimited Volleyball. The five week competition takes place in a bubble in Dallas, Texas and features over 40 of the best volleyball players in the world.
After a successful run with Athletes Unlimited Softball in the summer of 2020, the same concepts of players picking up individual points, switching teams each week and coaching themselves has been applied to indoor volleyball. The scoring system allows players to earn and lose points individually based on how they do and how their teams perform. The top four point leaders each week will be captains and select their teammates.
Deja McClendon is one of the players participating in the inaugural season of Athletes Unlimited Volleyball and she is extremely excited for the competition to begin this weekend.
“This is just a really cool environment. We have 44 girls who are pro athletes and it’s all in our hands,” said McClendon, in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “We have the ability to choose how we want to play and who we want on our teams. It’s been a really cool environment to start something new. This idea of us not having coaches and instead having facilitators is completely new. Then there is the scoring system with individual stats based on stats and that changes the whole level of the game.”
McClendon will be playing on Team Sybeldon, which is led by captain Lianna Sybeldon. The former Penn State Nittany Lion was one of the best college volleyball players in the country during her time at Happy Valley. She led her squad to two national titles and has since played volleyball as a pro all around the world.
“A lot of the girls who have been playing internationally never really dreamed that we could play pro here,” said McClendon. “It’s surreal to us and it’s also amazing that we’re going to be playing in front of our families, even though it is going to be virtually.”
One of the other great things about Athletes Unlimited Volleyball is that each player has picked a cause that she will spotlight and raise awareness for during the season. It is Black History Month and McClendon is honored to have the opportunity to shine a light on the great Black athletes all across sports.
“When you look at Athletes Unlimited, they’ve done such a great job in highlighting our Black voices,” said McClendon. “We have softball, volleyball and lacrosse and a lot of these sports are predominately white and they found a way to really incorporate us as players and have really put our voices out there. I’m really thankful to them for doing that. This is part of the reason why I play and continue to play. Volleyball hasn’t brought me just this career. It’s allowed me to go all over the world and create a confidence in myself and create value in myself. Can we grow the sport and can we continue this. We really want to see this grow.”