By Jordan Pingel | Aug. 04, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

The 2012 U.S. Girls’ Youth National Volleyball Team (GYNT) is slated to compete at the 2012 NORCECA Girls' Youth (U-18) Continental Championship being held Aug. 5-13 in Tijuana, Mexico.

August 10, 2012

Stephanie and Carli- Today we woke up and ate breakfast at 9am. We used to wake up around 8:30 and get ready for breakfast until we realized we have no one to impress and craved more sleep. 8:30 turned into 8:50 and now we just roll out of bed and go. Some girls even sleeping in their practice clothes to save extra minutes in the morning.

Before breakfast Tia Scambray, Savannah Rennie, and Louisa Schirmer were all getting ready quickly. I (carli) struggled to even walk by our bathroom because of the smell of our trashcan inside it. Our garbage was a combination of rotting bananas, half-filled drinkable yogurt containers and other random items to combine into a smell of pure waste. Louisa was a champ and brought the garbage outside holding her nose and trying to keep her face away from it. Savannah Rennie and I thought because the source of the smell was gone we could use the bathroom. That was not the case, because the smell was lingering. It ended up with both of us on our balcony gagging.

Now that is a great thing to experience before eating. It was a normal breakfast eating the usual pancakes and fruit. I (carli) eat fruity pebbles every day that Denise bought me at the store. Practice was hot as always but we put in a lot of hard work and the sweat marks through our light pink shirts were a combination of the heat and high level of play we were practicing at. After practice mostly everyone showered and then sat outside the room to get wifi. We found we spend most of our free time sitting outside getting wifi or playing ping pong (courtesy of Taylor's mom bringing us paddles).

Stephanie is getting the whole team hooked on country and even teaching us how to line dance. Those of us from the north are getting very educated on such activities! Carli has another ping pong match scheduled tonight with the Dominican Republic coach and is practicing with us to get ready. We ate lunch at 2pm which consisted of chicken, other meat, potatoes and rice. We (Carli and Stephanie) feel like we could take all the white rice we’ve ever eaten in our entire lives and the amount consumed during this trip would be much more. Most of the stuff we are eating we wouldn't have tried if we were in America with more options. However since we've been here were trying many new things and turning out to enjoy a lot of them. For example I (carli) haven't eaten lamb before and to my surprise it's my new favorite thing for dinner here!

After lunch we went to a scouting meeting to figure out how we are going to beat Puerto Rico. During the meeting we heard the loudest thunder that silenced the room and made Tia Scambray basically cry. I think it was such a surprise to everyone because this is the 10th day we have been here and we haven't even seen a cloud in the sky. While we walked back to our rooms there was a few rain drops felt but it passed rather quickly. We had an hour to kill after the meeting before we had to go to the gym. We all went back to our rooms and got our electronics and headed out our doors to the hallway where wifi is available. The worst thing in the world happened! The wifi disconnected. It was quite a sad picture seeing 12 girls out in the hall all starring at their phones, laptops, ipads and i-pods just pressing the refresh button hoping the internet will come on. We retreated to our rooms in disappointment hoping to later find connection.

Our game against Puerto Rico was intense and they are an amazing team. We played well but still look to improve tomorrow for the gold medal match. However, to qualify for the World Championships is awesome! We all hope to improve and make the team again next year so that we can compete in Thailand for USA on a world stage. As of right now we are trying to get lots of sleep, and going to dream of winning gold tomorrow! Let’s go USA!!!!

August 8, 2012

Savannah Rennie- Today was day 6 of the youth national volleyball trip to Tijuana, but it was the first day of the NORCECA tournament! Tia and I woke up went to an early breakfast that consisted of delightful pancakes and eggs with ham. After the delicious breakfast as a team we walked to the gym to have our hour of serve receive practice. It's nice to touch some balls in the morning to feel ready to play in the afternoon. We prepared for our game at 3 o'clock against Costa Rica by relaxing, sending e-mails to family and friends, and watching some of the Olympics. The US is doing so well in London - we hope to represent for our country at least that well here in Mexico!

As this was our first official international FIVB match, everything was really exciting for us leading up to the match. Standing behind our flag as our anthem played, I was so proud to be here, playing for our country. Costa Rica is a smaller team and we served tough, earning 18 aces for the match. We played consistently and everyone on the team had an opportunity to contribute to the win. We swept Costa Rica in 3, putting our first W under our belts.

After our match we went to glamify ourselves for opening ceremonies in our sweats and polos. The ceremonies went well, but everything was in Spanish so we had a little bit of trouble understanding what was going on. After the officials all spoke, a Mexican dance group entertained the crowd. The 7 oclock match started right after the ceremonies so we stayed to watch and scout Mexico, who will be our toughest opponent in our pool. We are optimistic about playing them, but we will need to play well and together to win the pool.

At the end of the day, we all went back to the dorm lobby and talked with the team from Mexico to test our Spanish out. We embarrassed ourselves a tad but in the end we learned some Spanish and taught them some English. We are prepared for tomorrow's match against Guatemala and ready to put another W in the books. Go USA!

Savannah Rennie

August 5, 2012 by 

Luisa Schirmer- 

We had breakfast as usual at 8:30 and then started the day off with practice on the competition court.  The gym that we have been playing in has transformed from just three plain volleyball courts into a decorated stadium. Huge bleachers line one side of the main court and banners hang from walls around.  Seeing groups of people test out the scoreboard and timeout buzzer on the court1 gets us even more excited for the competition in two days.

As a reward for having a great practice, we got the rest of the day off. The first place we went to was a nearby grocery store. Players loaded up on any snacks and sports drinks we could find. Later that night instead of eating at same cafeteria food for dinner we went to Applebee's.  They thankfully had a few English menus which made picking our a meal way easier. You would not believe how fast some of us ate our food; we were not only starving, but also hungry for some new food.

Late that night we played some games with the Mexican teams training here. First we played tunnel tag. The game was so intense that we could not stop huffing and puffing.  Next we played hide and go seek. We were playing inside the gym and the turned off the lights. Some of us even screamed because the Mexican players told us of stories of ghosts who live in there at night. It was a great way to " break the ice" between us and the Mexican team because now we are good friends.

New teams are arriving every few hours like Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. We are so excited to be able to be here and play all of these teams! We are pumped for the tournament! Go USA!

Luisa Schirmer #9

August 5, 2012 by Taylor Tashima- Our trip to the NORCECA Championships in Tijuana, Mexico all started when we met up at the airport in San Diego. Luisa Schirmer missed her flight connection though, and we had to wait 7 hours until she could fly in. We did a lot of team bonding activities like hand games and cards. A handful of people passed us in the airport and asked us if we were the Olympic team since we were wearing our USA jackets. We also took pictures with a couple little kids!

Luisa finally arrived, and we took two vans across the border into Tijuana. The facility we are staying at is really nice! We need to remember not to drink the tap water though since our bodies aren't used to the bacteria. The Dominican Republic and Mexico are also training with us right now.

After checking into our rooms, we had a quick meal and headed straight for the gym to practice. We got back to our dorms around 10pm and got a good nights sleep.

We went down to breakfast at 8:30am the next morning, where they served artichoke omelets, pancakes, beans, oatmeal, cereal, and lots of fruits. We trained for two hours and focused on serve-receive, serving, and hitting high. During our downtime, Simone Lee took a nap and the rest of us played Catch Phrase. We were all laughing so hard from the game that we accidentally woke up the Dominican team! We also watched the Men's National Volleyball Team play Brazil in London. Members from the Mexico and Dominican team crowded around the TV too and cheered for Brazil, while we were rooting for USA of course. Savannah Rennie cheered extra loud every time Matt Anderson got a kill! USA pulled out the game in 4, beating Brazil.

We finished off the day with another two-hour training session and dinner. Our teammate, Hayley Hodson, arrived at the complex tonight. She flew in straight from the Olympic games, where she cheered on Misty May and Kerri Walsh in beach volleyball. Can't wait for another full day of practice tomorrow!

Taylor Tashima

August 4, 2012 by Jordan Pingel-Today was the second full day at the High Performance Training Center here in Tijuana, Mexico.  This site is really cool – there are so many athletes training for their respective sports here, hoping to someday compete for Mexico in the Olympics.  There are Olympic banners all over, and it’s so cool to know that all of us on the US Youth National Team have Olympic dreams for the United States like the athletes here have to compete for Mexico.  Being here for NORCECA during the Olympic Games is a really special experience.

We started off this morning with a small breakfast and then we headed over to the gym to scrimmage the Dominican Republic team.  This is the same team that Carli, Simone, and Courtney played at the High Performance Championships, and that team won the silver in the International Junior Division.  We played hard at our first match as a team but lost 1-2.  They are a very skilled team but we are all excited to get a rematch during the tournament and take home a victory! 

After the scrimmage we all changed into our matching sweats and took a little bus to a hotel near the Training Center.  The three National Teams training here prior to the tournament, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and USA, were all invited to a press conference for the welcoming of the NORCECA’s beginning.  The important people of Mexico talked about the schedule and about the event itself.  After the conference we took a team picture in front of the NORCECA banner and we got to enjoy some delicious snacks and Fanta.  Then, we took the bus back to the training center and stopped into the Comidor to have some lunch – yes, more food!

As we were relaxing in our room after lunch, we found out we would be scrimmaging Mexico in the evening.  Our team went to the gym early to stretch and get prepared for the match.  After about an hour of practice, the service whistle blew and we competed hard to beat Mexico 2-1.  After  a cool down stretch and icing, we all headed over to dinner where we enjoyed another awesome meal.  After showering, we spent some time relaxing in the dorm common room, where some of the members of the Mexican Youth National Team laughed at us as we played some funny games.  Our team has bonded so well together and we all seem to know each other really well from playing together this year and training together over the years.  We have met many new friends already and the tournament hasn’t even started yet!  We talked to some of our new friends from Mexico and we’re planning on hanging out and sharing some games with them tomorrow.  But we’re keeping our eyes on the prize – this is all about volleyball and Team USA, and we can’t wait for the tournament to start on Monday!

Jordan Pingel