By Rob Browning, Team Leader for U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team
Pan American Cup * Lima, Peru
June 15, 2013
Because we were one of the top two teams after the first round we were awarded a bye through to the semifinals. While most teams played yesterday, USA and Dominican Republic were off for the second consecutive day. The day consisted of a video session and practice for the team, and scouting the quarterfinal matches for the staff. Reed, Tom and Joe scouted the Argentina v Cuba match, which Argentina won in 3 close sets. Karch and I met them at the later match to scout Canada v Brazil, which Brazil won in 5. So we play Brazil tonight after the Argentina/Dominican match.
Argentina's victory over Cuba was huge for them. They haven't beaten Cuba often, if ever, and to beat them in 3 was a big deal. That win qualified them for next year's World Grand Prix.
Bummer Peru didn't make it into the final 6. They are wildly popular down here--paparazzi popular--and the venues sell out when they are playing. The best they can finish now is 5th place.
Peru's a big city with a less-than-satisfactory public transportation system, so it has problemas con el tráfico. Part of the problem is that many of the people driving are insane. Right hand turns from the center lane are not only common, it is expected. In fact, turn whenever you want from wherever you want--it's a rite of passage: quinceañera, graduate from high school, vote, turn from one of the center lanes. Once you have reached those milestones you are ready for bigger and better things, like college, a job, and going the wrong way down a one-way street.
Like many big cities, traffic is so bad that people make money selling goods (just about anything) and services (window washing). You can buy accessories for your phone, candy, drinks, toys, parakeets, real estate, etc. There are also performers juggling, dancing...one-act plays. I think I saw one guy open a checking account from his car.
The most important standard feature for any vehicle is the horn. If yours doesn't work you might as well stay home. At first I thought the people honking were all people I knew, so I waved at everyone who honked. Turns out they honk to get their way through traffic. My favorite is when they honk at the person in front of them for stopping at a red light. But they also frequently honk for no apparent reason at all. If you don't like the car next to you, you honk. See a bird, honk. I think some people have their horn set for "intermittent" and it just honks itself.
If They Only Knew
The best moment of the day occurred when we walked out of practice yesterday and there were a bunch of moms playing volleyball on a cement court outside. Two little girls were playing pepper off to the side, so Karch went over to them and joined in. If they only knew... See the video below.
Brazil has big sponsors and host some of World Grand Prix, so they don't have to qualify. Therefore they often send a B team, or as is the case this year, their Junior National Team. The girls are 17-19 years old, but they are good, and it's Brazil, so our team is fired up!