U.S. Women's National Team Journal with Joan Powell
July 4, 2008 * Taipei * FIVB World Grand Prix
Just when I was feeling that no one except my family and a couple loyal referee buddies were reading my journals, I found out that Tayyiba’s mom is faithful reader!!
It seems Tayyiba was talking to her mom while we are in Taipei and her mom asked, “So you bought a new purse, huh?” Tayyiba was shocked that her mom had this information; when asked how her mom knew, her mom replied, “Joan’s Journal.” AH OH!! So Mom Haneef, really, the matching wallet barely fits into the new Gucci handbag AND it was duty free and on sale. I think that is what Tayyiba wanted me to report.
Last night I watched Serena at Wimbledon and just when they drug out the tarp due to rain, I decided to turn in for the night. My doorbell rang and it was our two guides. It seems that the organizers said that we could not have snacks. After the 11:30 scheduled lunch, we were leaving at 1:10, play, participate in opening ceremonies, scout and then come back to the hotel for dinner. I asked if I could speak to someone.
They took me to the workroom; the interpreters explained our predicament and request. They had to call the Secretary General – what? He okayed it and the snacks will be at the sight when we arrive – sweet!!
Game Day in Taipei
Breakfast early and an early departure for the competition hall for training. Everyone was feeling “Game Day.” It was a typical hour and half of training and back on the bus to lunch. Left the hotel at 1:10 p.m. for our 3 p.m. rematch with Poland. Again, Poland is still shy a few stand-outs, but they cannot be overlooked.
There is no warm-up gym for the teams, but there is a basketball court for the teams to stretch and ball handle prior to the match. The USA contingency was in the area first. The ceiling-high scaffolding that was present during a previous training was still in the middle of one of the team’s area. Naturally, the U.S. group took the other half of the gym. When Poland arrived for warm up, they came down the stairs and right back up and began stretching in the hallway. They got a hold of some of the organizers and the floor mopping crew and their sponsor came down, released the brakes and moved the scaffold to the side. By the time they finished cleaning the debris from the floor, it was time for pre-match protocol. Poland was not happy.
The little disturbance, plus the fact that we beat them 3-0 in front of their home crowd, the Poles were fired up to say the least. Coupled by our errors in passing, serving and hitting, Poland pretty much owned us in set 1 with a score of 20-25.
In set two, Robyn replaced Berg at the helm. Kim Willoughby continued to start over Kim Glass, with Logan Tom, Danielle Scott-Arruda, Tayyiba Haneef-Park, Heather Bown and Davis as the libero, to round out rotation 1.
This set was quite different; the USA team led the entire set. Three changes: Kim Glass for Logan Tom, Kristin Richard served for Heather Bown and victory for USA – 25-23.
The Americans continued to improve their game and the scores. Third set started the same crew, with Glass in for Tom; we win again, 25-19.
The Polish team became very frustrated; the coach began to clear the bench as the U.S. team crushes the Poles 25-19, with a little action from Foluke Akinradewo. Everyone played – a total team effort.
Opening Ceremonies was slated between matches. The teams marched out, were introduced and then the dignitaries spoke. Following the ceremony, an outstanding cultural drum ensemble entertained the small crowd. Two colorful red dragons entered the court and performed – two men were inside the dragon, one smaller guy on the shoulders of an older, stronger man.
Then a gorgeous white, trimmed in pink and lavender dragon appeared. The animation was amazing. The head of the dragon was manipulated by a man standing on his feet while, the rest of the body was controlled by a guy hunkered over. The mouth opened and the ears moved.
After getting oriented with the crowd, they began to attempt a balancing act atop a five-foot wooden, bridge-like platform. It was amazing to watch them leap and land gracefully with such synchronization.
Prior to returning to the hotel, the team grabbed their snacks and began watching Italy and Turkey warm up. Tom Hogan went out and got pizza for the group – a power walk back from the local pizzeria as dinner was still piping hot. What a treat!!
From the looks of things, we have our work cut out for us. Italy won the first, Turkey surprised the Italians in the second and Italy took the third 30-28. According to the website, Italy won the match with a 25-23 score in the fourth.
Hi to my 93-year-old mother who had a medical procedure today. I got to talk to her this morning after she returned home – hang in there Mom and I love you!!!
Team Leader, U.S. Women's National Team at World Grand Prix