Jake Gibb Blog - Croatia!
Wow it's just how I remember it....cold and rainy. Rosie and I played our very first FIVB event here in Croatia 2 years ago and took a 25th. That's right a 25th. Our worst finish ever together and it happened to be our first World tour event together. It was brutal really because that 25th kicked us into the country quota and put the team of Dax Holdren and Sean Scott in the main draw as the 3rd USA team. I remember leaving this place maybe the most disappointed I had ever been in my volleyball career. I had worked so hard the year before with Stein to get solid into the main draw and Sean and I threw it away in 1 tournament. Just ask my wife Jane and she'll vouch for me not coming out of my house for 3 days wondering what happened. For those that don't know, the FIVB allows 4 USA teams in any 1 event. 3 are in the main draw and the other 1 team has to come through the qualifier, even if they are a top 24 team in the world. If there are more than 4 teams that come over for an event than the USA teams have to play in a country quota match where the winner gets rewarded with a spot in a gnarly qualifier with some really good international teams. For example Sean Scott and Nick Lucena flew over to Italy last week just to play Casey n Furby in a country quota match and then had to go home without a pay check and worse not playing another international team. The system is brutal and in my opinion flawed....why not play that country quota match at home in the USA and save the losing team time and money. Anywho, you can now see why I was so bummed to have taken a 25th two years ago because I had all that country quota fun a head of me. Well it's been 2 long years since then and a lot has happened. The next FIVB event was Gstaad Open and we got a Wild Card in and we took a 5th which put us back in the main draw and we haven' t relinquished that spot since. We are now trying to secure a spot in the 2008 Olympics. Phil n Todd have locked up the 1st spot and we are in a battle with Stein/Mike and Casey/Furby for that second spot. We might not find out until July who will get to go to Beijing. Whoever goes will represent us well I truly believe, so enough of that. A quick note on what we've been doing the last 3 weeks. We left the Cuervo final in Huntington and went straight to the airport to fly to Praque. Praque was unbelievably beautiful and is one of my favorite cities in Europe. It helps that we won the event, but I think I would feel that way regardless. We had a great dinner on Sunday night on the river over looking Charles Bridge. It was a moment. Then we were off to Abruzzi, Italy. Great low-key little beach town. We loved it there and ate some of the best food I've ever had. Why can't anyone in the US make a pizza like that??? I guess it's the same reason Hamburgers suck outside the US. We finished with a 9th. Hard to swallow after our 1st in Praque. After spending a few days in Rome, we came to Croatia late last night and I'll let you know if this place grows on me by the end of the week. I doubt it. Can't wait to get to HotLanta!