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18/12/2014 10:24
Getting to know: Double world champion Jordan Larson-Burbach
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Istanbul, Turkey, December 18, 2014. Jordan Larson-Burbach is a double world champion. She indeed achieved this feat in a memorable 2014 where everything got started in spring as she and her former team Dinamo KAZAN won both the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League and the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship. A few months later she was a member of Team USA that won gold at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014, a historic feat for the USA Volleyball family. Larson then moved to Istanbul for the 2014-2015 season joining the ranks of Eczacibasi VitrA and was recently interviewed on NTV Spor by a former player of that same club, Burcu Hakyemez Dal.

Let’s start from the very beginning: how and when did you start playing Volleyball?

My parents put me in different kinds of sports right from childhood. But at the end, I had to focus on one sport and when I was 12 years old they asked me if I would like to go for Volleyball or not and I said yes… There was a competition running at that time, I went for a try and then I committed myself entirely to Volleyball.  However, in high school I still ran track and played basketball but Volleyball was my focus.

There have been many changes since the start of your career. You started as setter, then played as middle blocker and finally – as of now – outside spiker. So how did you end up playing in this position?
In my first team I was the tallest player and they chose me as their setter.  Since I was too athletic, they then shifted my position to middle blocker. Since I am able to attack, block, defend and set, I ended up playing as an outside spiker. Among the various roles I had to fulfil, I think the most difficult was the middle blocker. I was so confused and running around in circles. But as an outside spiker I feel very comfortable at the moment. I like to show all aspects of the game on court.

In Europe the system is so much different than in the US, especially in Turkey. You grow up in high schools and then continue in college and there is no professional league. So how come the US national team can be so successful?
I don’t know but I guess we go all over the world and have the chance to see different types of Volleyball. Turkey is different than Russia. Getting that experience and other situations helps us to prepare. Coming back home and focusing on what other teams are doing helps us achieve better results.
 
What happened in this year’s FIVB World Grand Prix and what did you change in your team for the World Championship?

The Grand Prix was not what we wanted but we had three weeks after the Grand Prix before the start of the World Championship. During that time we focused on what went wrong in the Grand Prix and what we could do to become better. We focused on playing as a team obviously, fixed our system to play better against strong teams. Our coach Karch Kiraly, being a world and Olympic champion, just knows everything about the game. He showed us what to do and we achieved the maximum result. I still can’t believe it. It is still shocking me to be world champions. It was just a team effort. We had some injuries during the period of the Championship but everybody stood up and we supported each other. I am grateful and happy to be a part of that.

During the time-outs, you have a different system. The player on your position comes next to you and tells you what to do. One coach focuses on attack, the other one on defence. How does this work?

It is a difficult question to answer. Sometimes when you are on the court, you don’t see a lot of things like when you attack you do not see where the defence is placed. So the girls who are standing on the side gives us some feedback. Karch is addressing some things and his assistant coach tells us what kind of defence should be done. So basically, Karch splits the time-out into two and gives the feedback that we need.

Last season you were in Russia and Turkey’s fans could follow you at the Final Four tournament of the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League where this country was represented by two teams, VakifBank and Eczacibasi VitrA. And you won the final match against VakifBank delivering a very good performance. You were chosen as the best blocker of the Final Four. How did you decide to leave Kazan and move to Eczacibasi VitrA?
It was a hard decision to move. We had been living for five years in Russia playing for Dinamo KAZAN. It was awesome and they were just very good for me. I had a great experience but I wanted to try something new. I am very excited to be here. The weather is nice and everything went well so far. I am just very grateful to Eczacibasi VitrA for bringing me here. I am excited to see what we can achieve with this team at the end of the season.



When we look at Eczacibasi VitrA, you started really good. In previous years the team faced difficult times because of injuries. Last year also your teammate from the US national team Christa Harmotto Dietzen was here and the fans really liked her. But she had a serious injury on her knee and left earlier. You started with a win against VakıfBank and you won all of your Champions League matches so far. How is the team and the atmosphere? How is the new coach?
It is good. Everyone deserved me a warm welcome when I came. Obviously there is a new coach, a new system. So I am trying to learn what he wants and to understand the girls. Although I came late, everything went well so far. We had a couple of tough games but we played well with a new team. In the new system, the more we play, the better it goes I guess. We already laid the foundations for this.

What is Larson’s motivation and inspiration behind this success story?

My family and being surrounded by people I love. And of course passion for the game, I love playing, I love competing. I love to get to know the girls, I can’t remember of each game specifically as the time goes by but I remember the relationships I have built over the course of the years. I think that’s the most important thing for me.

You played Turkey’s national team many times and now you are standing on the same side of the net with many Turkish national team players. What were you thinking about them when you crossed their ways and which are your impressions now?

I never thought anything negative but I was waiting for an opportunity to play with them. Everybody is very nice and very helpful to me. They have excellent Volleyball skills and they know what they are doing. That’s awesome.

Since you came late to Istanbul after the end of the World Championship, you haven’t been here for that long. What are your first impressions about Istanbul?
I love the weather and people are very nice. Whenever we go somewhere, somebody speaks English. It is fun to know new people. But the traffic is kind of mind blowing. I live in Anaheim with the national team and it is close to LA. We also have traffic there but this traffic is not something you can’t even compare with it. It is just unbelievable. But overall it has been a great experience so far.

How do you spend your time when you are not busy with Volleyball?

I like to go out for dinner, relax at home, watching movies, shopping; but of course this happens only when I have some free time.  

Did you have any chance to try Turkish cuisine?
I tried a couple of things, more desserts like baklava. The girls always push me to try this and that…

News nr. 7984 of 19894
18/12/2014 11:45:00
Official website of women’s European Championship now online!
18/12/2014 01:28:00
Lokomotiv BAKU edge Red Stars to move on to CEV Cup quarter-finals
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