Leaving San Diego, Arriving in Thailand

July 03, 2009, 10:20 a.m. (ET)

June 30, 2009

Our day begins at 8:30 a.m. in San Diego. We are all ready and packed to start our journey to our destination, Thailand. It’s a two-hour drive into LAX, and most of us are using the two hours to make friendship bracelets and take small naps.

The U.S. Girls' Youth National Team leaving San Diego for the FIVB Girls' Youth World ChampionshipAs we arrive to the airport we get ourselves organized for check-in, and as we wait we weigh our bags and begin scrambling to reorganize our suitcases so we stay under the weight limit. After making it through security we can finally breathe. We have 30 minutes to buy some food before we start boarding our 11-hour flight into Tokyo. The thought of being on a plane for 11 hours and only getting five hours of sleep on the flight made our eyes pop.

Melissa had an entire schedule planned out for us to get on Thailand time as quick as possible, which required us to sleep five hours on the first flight, no sleep during our two-hour layover, no sleep on the second six-hour flight, and finally we’re able to get some rest on the three and a half hour drive to the hotel. It was quite a day.

We arrive at our hotel around 3:30 in the morning and we are exhausted. All of us crashed at the sight of our beds. But that wasn’t even the hardest part of the day. We were scheduled for a scrimmage with Slovakia later that day and to be honest the conditions made it very difficult, especially because it was our first time doing some activity in a new setting and we were traveling for a good 24 hours. The gym has no air condition and barely any circulation is going through the gym. During warm-ups we felt as if our legs were being pulled down by sand bags and half way through our match the air around us began to smell like smoke, which was unpleasant. However, the conditions were not going to prevent us from giving a good effort.

First game got off to a rough start; Slovakia won 19-25. Second game we handled them pretty easily; 25-14. Third game was tight but we were not able to close it out; Slovakia won 23-25. It was a good challenge for us to face a good high tempo team that was going to force us to defend and rally.

The first time I played Slovakia was back in January during the winter when 12 girls went to Europe to represent the USA GYNT in a tournament. I had a pretty good idea of what Slovakia was going to bring to the court, they were good servers and attackers, and I remember that they challenged us back in January. This time around facing their tough serve sand attacks seemed much easier than it was back in January. I was much better prepared to face their style of play and tempo. Playing internationally the first time around isn’t easy, but it is true that practice does make a huge difference and it’s a process.

So far the experience is going great. A lot of new challenges are coming our way including cultural differences. And by cultural differences I mean the food. For lunch yesterday we spent most of the time trying new things that were really good and some that were far from what we are use to; however, it is all part of the experience and I can’t wait for what’s to come.