U.S. Women's Junior National Team Journal with Hayley Spelman and Katie Slay

July 26, 2008, 6:04 p.m. (ET)

NOTE: Hayley Spelman (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Katie Slay (Raleigh, N.C.) are members of the U.S. Women's Junior National Team competing in the 2008 NORCECA Women's Continental Championship at Saltillo, Mexico.

July 25, 2008

Hello USA Volleyball fans, this is Hayley and Katie! Today we got to sleep in until 9 am. At breakfast, the entire team was really looking forward to playing Mexico. Since Mexico is the host team, they have the fans that fill the entire gym. A true home court advantage.

We headed off to practice after breakfast. We had a really good practice and helped us get ready for the match. We focused on defense. Since Mexico doesn’t have a lot of height, we knew they would have great ball control. We would have to match that to win the game.

At lunch the fruit was really good. We all enjoyed the mangos, especially Hayley. She said they were the best mangos she has ever had. Also one of the chefs had cut a watermelon in half and made a ship. He used the skin of the watermelon as masts and even engraved a volleyball into the top flag. Then he used bananas as waves. It was really cool.

While we were getting ready for the match, the coaches had a lot of advice for us. They said the crowd was going to be so loud that we wouldn’t be able to hear them from the bench. So the only way to keep them quiet was to go out right from the start, stay ahead and win the first game.

The whole team was pysched to get going and we followed through with the game plan. Throughout the match, the team did very well and did not let the crowd get into our heads. After a while, the crowd’s drums, horns and boos while serving took no affect on us. Of course, we did have some fans. Cheering for us were some of the team’s parents and even our translator and Canada’s translator wore USA shirts the whole match.

We beat Mexico in three and played our best match so far in this tournament. After the match, we were bombarded, surprisingly a lot of fans. There were so many people blocking the doorway that we had to have our translator help clear a pathway. We went to dinner and then off to bed very satisfied with the way we played today. Tomorrow we play Cuba so wish us good luck.

Hayley and Katie