Global Challenge Blog: Wrapping Up a Great Experience
July 28, 2008
PULA, Croatia - Our final match of the European Global Challenge was against the Italian Junior National Team. Although they were younger than us, the Italians boasted at least five players that were over 6 foot 2, including a few that were probably 6-5 or 6-6.
Until our match against Pula, playing time had basically been split evenly during sets between all players. However, our head coach, Rob Patrick, kept the same lineup the entire quarterfinal match against Pula. So during our match against the Italian Youth National Team, the other players who had not played the day before played this match (therefore I did not play).
Set one went to the Italians, mainly because of their very strong outside hitting and a key hitter that played outside/right side. Like all other European teams that we had played, the outside hitters' sets were very high, and they didn't let anything fall.
With a few minor adjustments, we won the second set. Although they made us work hard for our points, our aggressive serving, blocking, and more consistent hitting allowed us to claim the second set.
It came down to the third and final set to determine the bronze medal for the Global Challenge. It was a back-and-forth game nearly the whole time, and seemed that both teams were being challenged in different ways, finding ways to score against two completely different systems of play. We fought hard until the end, but eventually the Italians' aggressive playing finished us off to claim the bronze medal.
Even though it was disappointing that we didn't come home with a medal, the whole trip was such an incredible experience. The USA/BIP Development Team only had 3 practices together, and by the end of the tournament it seemed as though we had been playing together for years. Seeing a very different style of play in the European teams allowed me to expand my volleyball IQ and hopefully my skills. All in all, it was a once in a lifetime trip!
Thanks for your support, and I will talk to you when Illinois State's preseason starts in a little over a week!