U.S. Women's Junior National Volleyball Team Blog

June 19, 2013, 1:08 p.m. (ET)

Blog for 2013 U.S. Women's Junior National Volleyball Team

Links to Player Blogs on College Sites: Sarah Burrington - Chanell Clark-Bibb - Allison Palmer (Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4)

by Sarah Burrington * June 30

Playing during our last match today wasn't as emotional as expected. We didn't play like it was our last, we just played like we wanted to win. And we did, in straight sets. Everything came together. We had "flow" and we were aggressive on our side. So our final record, including scrimmages, is 6 wins and 3 losses. It's a shame that all of our losses were in pool play because we weren't able to compete for a higher ranking the rest of the week. But the other teams won fair and square and we respect that. Now we just have things to learn from and a hunger for a higher ranking in the following years.

It's the final count down. We leave at 5 in the morning, so we packed this afternoon. (Mom, you might want to buy extra detergent today because my laundry load is the size of Mt. Everest.) We will drive to Vienna, fly directly to JFK, and then I will say my goodbyes before my connecting flight home. Please wish me luck as my layover is only an hour and I know that customs isn't the fastest line in the airport.

After an early dinner, we watched the final matches. Brazil finished in third place, Japan finished in second place, and China won the title. They deserved it- China didn't lose a set the entire tournament. Can you imagine how strong their mentality must be? The closing ceremonies were special. There were podiums, red carpets, medals, trophies, roses, the raising of flags, and a light show- the whole shebang. The hotel tonight is crazy. Teams are trading shirts and chanting their country's name from floor to floor. Hopefully we can catch a nap before 5 am.

I am so thankful to have played for this USA team. What an opportunity it was to compete internationally, represent the United States, and visit the beautiful country of Czech Republic. Thank you for reading along these past two weeks, your support is appreciated! Go 'Noles! Now all I want when I get back to Florida is a big and juicy American burger...

by Rod Wilde * June 30

We defeated Puerto Rico in straight sets today to close out the tournament with a 4-3 record. Once again we came out with a good focus and dominated the net. We were able to use every player and got contributions from all of them. While it was not ultimately the place where we wanted to be, in the final results we got better each time we went on the court and made strides with each player. We will finish up tonight by watching the finals for the bronze between Brazil who lost in straight sets to China and Italy, who lost in four to Japan. Then it will be the championship match between China and Japan. Both matches should be very exciting and another great learning experience for the players. Tomorrow we are up for a 6:30 am bus trip to Vienna for the flight home. It has been a great pleasure to work with this staff and group of young ladies as we learned firsthand what it takes to be able to compete at this level. I know all of us will take home a lot of great memories and learning experiences from the trip. For the final time on this trip I will leave you with a GO USA!!!!

by Rod Wilde * June 29

We put together a complete match against Nigeria today. They are a very young team, but we didn't let down and play at their level like sometimes can happen. I got to use all of the subs extensively including starting them in the second and third sets. We had talked about playing with total focus and even when the subs came in there was not a drop in intensity or focus which was very good to see. They are learning everyday more about how the international game is played at a vastly different level than anything that they have seen or played. Unless they have been here before with the Youth National team, it is all so new to them. Since only three were on the Youth team, there has been a lot of opportunity for learning throughout the tournament. We will be going over and watching Brazil versus China in the first semi final and then Italy vs Japan in the second one. Again, more learning. Now if we can finish out the tournament by beating Puerto Rico we will come out with a winning overall record. Go USA!

by Sarah Burrington * June 28

We played against Thailand today. They were definitely shorter than us... but they ran a very quick offense and were extremely scrappy. So we blocked low over the net to defend the quick attacks and kept hitting aggressively. With a couple of smart plays and that oh-so-contagious USA pride, we pulled another victory!

We celebrated while enjoying our delicious lunch- a potato and broccoli quiche. This afternoon we took a trip back to the arena to watch China and Russia in the nail biting semi-finals. China came out on top with their ball control and wicked serves.

Tomorrow we play Nigeria at 10. That's 4 am in Florida... You don't need to wake up to cheer us on. We have it covered. :)

by Rod Wilde * June 28

We were able to hold down an energetic team from Thailand after a sluggish start. We went through some rough stretches in our passing which has been our nemesis throughout the tournament. We will play Nigeria tomorrow at the same time and then finish with Puerto Rico the day after, that at the early match time of 9:30 am here in Czech Republic.

I was able to use all of the players which was a good thing since some of them have not seen a lot of court time. Hopefully we can get a good start against Nigeria so I can get those player on the court more.

The upset of the day was Japan sweeping Turkey 3-0 in the quarterfinals. We are going to go watch Russia against China at 5:30. We are still learning as a group and seeing those two styles of play going against each other is one way to keep the team doing that. You are either getting better or worse. You don't stay the same!

by Sarah Burrington * June 27

"P" is for Prague! It was the most beautiful city I have ever seen. There were stone roads, cafe's at every corner, and colorful buildings with intricate doors, windows, and roof top pinnacles. Most of the roads were not straight and definitely were not laid out on a grid-like pattern so I lost my sense of direction a few times, but that's why the view on every road was so spectacular! I could see not only the buildings surrounding me and the ones peeking out at odd angles behind them, but also a clock tower or church spire on top of the whole scene. They seemed to be looking down at me and over the rest of the city square.

We walked up to this castle fort on a hill that overlooked all of Prague and visited the church there. The sun shined through the stained glass windows as if they were magnifying glasses, amplifying the vivid colors to even the deepest corners of the church.

We spent some time on the Charles Bridge which crosses the Vltava River that runs through the middle of the city. There were paintings for sale, caricature artists, jewelry stands, and statues to rub for "good luck". But none of these things could distract me from the view of the rushing river beneath me and the hills and structures that bordered it. I did not fight the urge to stop and stare in awe with a dropped jaw!

The gelato stands eventually found our team, tired and vulnerable, and took advantage. But I, instead, tried a "trdelník" which is this sweet pastry made from dough wrapped around a wooden stick for cooking, topped with a sugar and walnut mix. I remembered hearing about them on the travel channel so I had to try one!

I heard a rumor that Hitler spared Prague from Nazi bombings during World War II because it was so beautiful... Apparently everyone agrees.

(I looked it up. Prague was bombed in 1945 by Americans but it was a navigation accident.)

by Rod Wilde * June 27

All the teams had the day off so we took the ladies to Prague so they could see what a beautiful city it is. There were five members of the Mexican delegation that rode the train with us. There were three players and two staff members. They basically joined our group since we had our guide Robin with us and they did not know where they were going. After coming out of the church we noticed the players standing alone in the square. We went up and asked where the coaches were and they had no idea. We asked them if they wanted to stay with us and we would make sure that they got home OK. After a brief discussion they agreed to go with us. I asked one of our staff members to stay with them for the last 45 minutes when we let everyone go on their own to shop in the city center. We were to meet at a statue just up the street from the train station to get everyone together before boarding. Nate speaks good Spanish so he went with the three girls from Mexico. We got all the American players and staff to the statue on time but Nate and the Mexican players were no where to be found. We only had about 10 minutes before the train was scheduled to depart and they still were not there so we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were not going to make our train and would have to take the next one an hour later. Robin checked his phone and Nate had texted him that they were already at the station and had somehow missed us at the statue. We got everyone up and took off running to try and make the train. We got the last group on just as the doors closed. There were a lot of very sweaty people that got onto that train but we made it. We never did find the Mexican coaches.

by Allison Palmer * June 26

Today we had the day off. We worked out in the hallway doing yoga, wall sits, aerobics, and some dancing! Later we went laser tagging! It was so fun! The coaches played on one team while us players were split up into three teams. The coaches dominated the first round. Nate, our stat and video guy got MVP. The games got intense. I have a few more bruises from it.

Afterwards Coach Blaine treated the team to gelato. When we got back to the hotel, Robin wanted another pancake party. Coach Charlene and some of the girls made scrambled eggs with avocado, banana pancakes and chocolate chip pancakes. The team was not that hungry for dinner after that feast.

After dinner, we studied film on Thailand, who we play on Friday. Thailand plays a unique style of volleyball that we have not yet played against. It includes a very fast offense with many combination plays. It'll be a fun challenge to compete against them.

Tomorrow we have another day off so the team is going to spend the day exploring and touring around Prague! With two days of no matches I'm getting antsy to play again. I can't wait for Friday's match. Go USA!

Hallway workout:
The Team

by Allison Palmer * June 25

Yesterday we played Russia. Russia came out with tough serves. It wasn't until set three where we gained momentum. We lost in three sets. We were all very disappointed. Now we will be competing against Thailand, Nigeria and Puerto Rico for 17th place. Although we are not in the top half playing for a medal, the team is still here to represent USA and we are determined to win our next few matches.

During the match, a few of the boys who work during the matches sweeping the floors between plays were sitting with our parents cheering us on. The team took pictures with them afterwards. I am now Facebook friends with them and one of the boy's profile picture! It's fun having local fans.

Tattooed up ready to play
Love them!
The boy's new prof pic :)
Our biggest fans:

by Rod Wilde * June 26

Today we had Charlene lead a yoga stretching exercise in the hallway of the hotel. Merete couldn't do a full stretch because the ceiling was only 8-6.

by Sarah Burrington * June 25

There's not much to say today. We lost our match against Russia. The parents were loyal fans though, still blowing their homemade noisemakers and chanting "USA" even after the last point. We also had some of the Czech court sweepers from our match yesterday that came back to cheer us on in the crowd. They wanted pictures with us and gave every one of us a hug after the match. Our coach wanted us to play with "aggressive composure" but our aggressiveness wasn't all it could have been. An extremely disappointing loss, it was. But whatever the results, we are here to represent USA volleyball and we will continue to do so proudly in our next few matches coming up.

Here's to a new pool of opponents and the opportunity to fight until the very end...

-Sarah Jane

by Sarah Burrington * June 24

Sleeping in until 9:00 this morning was just what our team needed! Besides collapsing on the floor after breaking my chair (which was falling apart *before* I sat on it), we were physically healthy and alert from the night's long rest. This match against Mexico was the most important match yet, and we all knew it.

The usual pre-match rituals ensued: light snack, bus to arena, locker room pep talk, warm up, national anthem, etc. We opened up the first set with 20 ties and 7 lead changes with Mexico! That's quite an exciting game of volleyball as we only play to 25 points. That final score of that set was 29-27. Pushing for points when the other team has the set point advantage is tough stuff, but we pulled out a win despite the challenge. We lost some momentum in the second set, ending 19-25, but we collected ourselves before the third and refocused on our goal... We won that set 27-25 and finished the match at 25-22, claiming victory! Feel free to chant "go USA!" as many times as you want.

Debriefing after the match, the best play of the match award was given to Amber. It was game point of set three when she stuff blocked Mexico's outside hitter straight to the ground. The ball bounced inside the court line before the hitter and our two blockers even landed on the floor. Now that's a rock solid block... A photographer wanted a picture of some of my teammates' nails- decked out in red, white and blue nail polish of course. I guess our patriotism was a good luck charm for us!

As far as standings go, tomorrow's match will make us or break us. If we beat Russia, we will advance. If we lose in three or four sets, we will not. So I propose that you all paint your nails tonight to help us out. What do you say? ;)

After watching Russia lose to Brazil this afternoon, we had a much anticipated dinner-with-the-parents trip. Robin picked out the PERFECT place for us all to share a Czech meal- in a tower restaurant overlooking the city! Since we were 15 floors up, the enormous windows allowed us to see a 300 degree aerial view of all of Brno. It was absolutely breath taking. For dinner, we had duck, beets and potato dumplings. It was so great to celebrate our first win with family, food and a magnificent view.


by Nicole Edelman * June 23

It’s nearing the end of the day and it was our first day off so far in tournament play. We had an early practice and watched tons of film! Being a visual person, I learn so much from watching myself play since what I feel may be different from what I’m actually doing.

Although we lost in three to Brazil, we played much better and fought harder as a team. This momentum should help us a lot in our match against Mexico tomorrow!

After each match I realize how much I truly love playing international teams since the game is so much bigger and more advanced. It challenges me to be a better athlete and a better teammate, and as a collective group we are getting so much better.

We also had time to go to the store today and I stocked up on chocolate to bring home for friends and family in the states since the chocolate here is so good! I’ll keep you updated on how the game goes tomorrow! Go USA!

by Sarah Burrington * June 23

Our team had a day off from matches so we only watched film and practiced this morning. We worked mostly on blocking. With these international teams hitting extremely hard cross court, it is important for us blockers to position our hands in specific places that limit the hitter’s options and thus funnels the ball to our defenders to dig up. We also spent time on serve-receive. These countries we are playing have tough serves that can force us to be “out-of-system,” so it is also imperative for us to prepare for them. These are a few things that will help us beat Mexico tomorrow!

We enjoyed a trip to the grocery store this afternoon. It was only a 10-minute walk and it was a gorgeous view. Some of the hills peeked out from behind the blue and red colored buildings that are scattered at various elevations throughout Brno. There was also a light breeze to accompany the blazing sun. When we arrived to the store, I think our team gathered most of the fruit that was displayed and wiped clean the nutella shelf. It is safe to say that our wallets had a nice exercise. We thought it was about time for them to start working hard, too.

Later, Robin wanted to make some American pancakes. He proudly stated, “I am great cook.” So four of us went with him to the store again and purchased the supplies for what we now call “Robincakes”. In the checkout line, he pretended to be an American… mission not completed. Back at the hotel, the whole team gathered in one common room only to realize that we didn’t have measuring cups. So we improvised and made some fantastic tasting Robincakes- I’ll bring back the recipe with me!

At dinner after our individual film sessions, we looked up the final results for the day. Bulgaria has lost twice while Brazil and Russia are at 2 wins and 0 losses. This means that there is still a lot of room for us to move on but we must “do work” on Mexico come morning. Russia defeated them in four sets today so we are also planning on a big sweep to put us in the running... We must win. And we welcome the grind. www.youtube.com/watch?v=so0qslHYJpw.

by Allison Palmer * June 23

Yesterday, we played Brazil. We lost in three sets, but we played much better as a team compared to the match against Bulgaria. Every match and every set we improve. I'm looking forward to competing against Mexico on Monday.

I really like playing with this group of girls and playing for these coaches. Each team I've played for is different and I serve a different role whether it is playing a different position or providing the team a certain personality. For this team, I try to be loud, energetic and encouraging. I call every USA huddle as loud as I can! My goal is to make the team believe that we can and we will win. I've been constantly taking cough drops because by the end of the tournament my voice is going to be gone.

My teammates are amazing. I am playing with the top players from my age group. Just by playing with them I improve. Similar to the Arizona State volleyball program, my USA coaches focus and study film on ourselves and our opponents. At this high international level of play, small details win or lose a match and film helps to identify exactly what we need to do to win. Today, we did just that. After practice this morning, we watched film on Mexico's rotations.

After lunch, we broke up into groups by position to study film on ourselves from last night's match. We have another film session on Mexico after dinner tonight. By watching so much film, our coaches give us every answer to the test before we've taken it. Because of the thoroughness and relentless effort of our USA coaching staff, we know and have practiced exactly how we need to play to defeat Mexico. Now all we need to do is execute the game plan as best we can.

Today was our day off. Tomorrow versus Mexico we will have fresh legs and renewed energy. Let's go USA!!!

by Sarah Burrington * June 22

This morning after practice, some Czechs asked to take pictures with us. They were extremely sweet and wished us luck by saying "we are holding our fingers and feet for you!" Apparently, this is the Czech interpretation of our "crossing my fingers" expression! Absolutely adorable- loved them. :)

We were served crepes with chopped fruit for the filling at lunch time. The crepes were thicker than the ones in America; we almost thought they were pancakes.

We arrived early to the arena before our match so we watched Turkey play Italy. It was a nail bitter going to five sets. Turkey took the lead early on and swept away the Italians to take the match. After that thriller, our team was pumped to prove ourselves against Brazil. We played much better than yesterday, but not nearly up to the potential that we have. Thus, our scores improved from set to set and from yesterday, but we still did not pull out the big "W". Tomorrow on our day off from matches we can rest mentally and physically in the hopes of being fresh and ready for a win against Mexico. Please hold your fingers and feet for us! :)

After the match, we spent some time with the parents that traveled with us. Although my parents didn't make it out, I was adopted by my great friend, Jordan Burgess, and her family. Her parents and twin brother are like a second family to me as we were best friends from our club volleyball team in high school. My mother actually sent my camera and a letter to me by way of the Burgess family (thanks again Mom!).

I am going to sleep tonight with this quote in my head... “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached (are not being reached), don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” -Confucius

-Sarah Jane

by Allison Palmer * June 21

It's game day! My parents got here last night. It was so good to see them and give them huge hugs! My mom is so thoughtful that she put together USA goodie bags for the whole team - luggage name tags with quotes on it, a mini USA flag, red white and blue bubble gum, hair ties and tattoos! I gave them to the team at breakfast to pump everyone up for the big day.

After breakfast we watched film on Bulgaria's rotations as a refresher. We practiced at a new gym today. We worked on defending Bulgaria's tendencies in each rotation. Instead of normal looking ball carts, the balls were in shopping carts. On a side note, the team is really enjoying the colder weather today.

We had lunch back at the hotel then each of us buddied up and did a mock post-interview of defeating Bulgaria. We wrote down each other's responses so that we can read them before the match tonight. It definitely put me in the mindset that beating Bulgaria is the only acceptable outcome and that we must be relentless to make it happen.

It felt unreal getting ready for the game putting on my USA jersey with my name on the back. I feel honored to be given this opportunity to represent my country. Before the match, there is strict protocol: going to the locker room, then practice courts, how we walk onto the court, pictures and so on. Each team's national anthem also plays. The whole team sang ours proudly. It's such an incredible feeling to be in a USA jersey singing the national anthem with our parents watching in the stands. Half the team has family that came to support us.

We fought hard throughout the match but Bulgaria ended up winning the match in three sets. We returned to the hotel showered and changed for dinner. The tournament people wash our jerseys and socks for us after each match. At dinner, I had fish and they brought out the whole fish...tail and head and all the bones still in it! Some of the team was grossed out by it but it still tasted really good :)

After dinner, we watched film on our match to figure out how we can play better for tomorrow's match against Brazil. We are resting up for the rest of tonight preparing for tomorrow. Go USA!


by Allison Palmer * June 20

It's back to business today. After an early breakfast, we had practice working on our strategy to defeat our first opponent, Bulgaria. Everything is becoming more official now. We were shown to our locker room for the competition and after practice, a photographer took a team photo. Some of the players also got interviewed. On our way back to the hotel we stopped at the local grocery store for fruit and snacks. They sell most of the same foods that are in grocery stores back home except with different names.

The team is feeling more comfortable conversing with Czech people and using their money system. The only word I know still is how to say thank you but it's a start!

Once back at the hotel it was a quick turnaround. I had time to hang up my wet laundry to dry and then went to lunch. During our meals, music plays in the background and most of the songs are surprisingly in English. Today we sang along to Britney Spears! At lunch I saw and waved to one of the friends I made from the Youth World Championships two years ago in Turkey. She's on the Italian team.

After lunch, it was back to the gym to scrimmage Nigeria. Each country we have seen play or scrimmaged has a unique style of play that we must adjust to. We won all three sets then took pictures with the Nigerian team. They are all so friendly. We shared a bus to return to the hotel and got to talk with the Nigerian players and coaches. It's nice how even though our teams are competing against each other we can still be friends. I hope to get to know some of the other countries' teams.

We are now just relaxing, listening to music and hanging out until dinner. Robin stayed to chill with us and we taught him a few card games. We also watched part of the first Star Trek movie. After dinner we started watching film and preparing for our second opponent, Brazil. The tournament starts tomorrow and we are ready to compete! Go USA!

by FIVB * June 20

The FIVB produced a quick video interview with Jordan Burgess and Nicole Edelman, who are two of the 12 U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team members competing in the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Women's U-20 World Championship in Czech Republic.

by Rod Wilde * June 20

We just got back from the scrimmage with Nigeria. The buses were running a little late so we only were able to play 3 games. They were a scrappy little group and kept the ball in play. There were several rallies where they made us handle the ball several times and work on our transition game, which was good for us. I like the way we are able keep the middles involved and use them all the way along the net. If we can pass and handle the ball well enough to use them, we can be pretty effective. We will start looking at Brazil tonight so we can get familiarized with their players. Then a short training session tomorrow and prepare for the match with Bulgaria. Again, if we can pass and get the middles involved, I like our chances. It will be good to play a match that counts for something! Looking forward to seeing this group in the arena.

We needed to stop and get a few things so we created quite a stir at the local store. The girls were all over the fresh fruit. We will be meeting Nigeria for some games later today. We don't know how good they, are but at least we will get a chance to work on some things that we have been working on in practice. Can't wait to get on the court tomorrow for the real thing.

by Allison Palmer * June 19

We have the day off today from practice. In the morning, we had our typical breakfast then the team met in the lobby with all of our luggage to move to our new hotel. The bus was a little late so we played some epic card games: Egyptian rat screw, BS, go-fish and speed. The new hotel is closer to the gym that we practice and play in. I thought our original hotel was nice, but the new one was even better! Each room is apartment style with one bedroom, shower, living room and a full kitchen! A couple of the rooms have washing machines too.

Once settled into our rooms, we had lunch- salad, soup, chicken kebabs and a pastry- a similar meal provided by our previous hotel. Each team eats in the same place and has a long table with their countries' flag on it. Robin now joins us for meals. It's fun getting to talk to him learning what it's like as a university student in the Czech Republic.

Since we don't have practice the coaches are taking us downtown to shop. We took the trolley. We definitely do not blend in with everyone in USA gear and not to mention how most of the team is over 6-foot tall with one 6-8 girl. Robin is also repping USA in tshirts the coaches gave him. While walking around downtown we found a fountain the locals use to cool off. We took our shoes and socks off and joined them! It felt so good in the 85 degree heat.

We went to an exchange place to get Czech money, koruna. The exchange rate is 19.2. The team was stoked that there was a gelato place right next door. They have smurf gelato here! It's bright blue and no one could figure out what it tastes like. We walked to the "green" square where there is a farmers market selling fresh fruits, veggies and flowers. The team split up and wandered in and out of stores. I went to a sports store and a cute, tiny boutique selling trinkets, jewelry, purses, sun dresses and scarves. The vendor lady did not know much English so we communicated through numbers on a calculator and hand motions. She was so nice that she gave all of us a free trinket after a purchase. Hanging around downtown Brno was so fun and definitely a successful shopping and site seeing experience!

We returned to the hotel and by this time most of our friends from home were awake. Everyone was on their phones calling, texting, snapchatting and face timing. Later we had dinner and watched film on Bulgaria. We are just relaxing the rest of the night. I'm excited to practice our game plan for Bulgaria tomorrow morning. Have a great day everyone! Go USA!

by Sarah Burrington * June 19

Team USA had a busy day in Brno, Czech Republic! This morning was the big hotel switch that I mentioned earlier. It wasn't more than 20 minutes from where we were staying before, but now we are closer to the venue that we will be competing in. Our hotel room keys are attached to pretty metal pawn pieces from a chess game. I am not sure if it is a Czech tradition or just a distinct feature of this hotel...

We bought tickets for a tram ride into town today. Loads of people jumped on and off at each stop; apparently it is a main form of transportation here- definitely provides a much better view than subways can! We were already sweating by the time we hopped off, but our guide, Robin, led us straight to a refreshing looking gelato stand to cool off. So many different choices! I tried a scoop of the cookie flavor.

There were a few churches that we peeked into and they didn't disappoint: intricate carvings on the walls in between statues, angelic paintings on the ceilings, and a colossal pipe organ. You could easily spend hours and hours admiring all of it. I now have a fierce desire to visit the Vatican some day.

We found the building where Mozart played his first recital. In front of it was a fresh fruit and vegetable market that we scavenged through. Robin said that they call it the "green market square" but our team decided to rename it "the Mozart square". Obviously, the Czechs agreed to start calling it by its new official title...

Clothing stores, jewelry boutiques, soccer shops: you name it- we visited it. I have already purchased and written out my postcards so be on the look out! I think that our team eventually mastered the exchange rate by the end of the day.

Now that the other international teams are scheduled to arrive by tonight, the dining room should be an interesting place to be in the morning. Can you say hello in Egyptian, Nigerian, Italian, Turkish, and Brazilian?.... No, I can't either.

-Sarah Jane

PS Check out some pictures (4) below from our trip today... Pretty peaks, tram ticket, church altar, waiting for tram.


by Rod Wilde * June 19

Today was moving day for us and arrival day for most of the remaining teams. Because the buses were all being used to transport teams from the airport, we were not able to arrange for any practice today. We will have a short practice tomorrow morning then in the afternoon we will scrimmage against Nigeria. They are one of the teams from the crossover pool we will have the potential to play after the first round so it will help us to get some info on them.

The afternoon was free so I had the assistant coaches and interpreter take the players for their last trip into town. We had not made it there when any of the shops were open so they got to shop for some souvenirs for the family and get that off their to do list. Now it is all focus and preparation for the tournament.

by Sarah Burrington * June 18

The team had a short serve and serve-receive practice this morning. We fixed a few things and worked on consistency. This was in preparation for our scrimmage against Peru in the afternoon. We met them at their home arena so we had a new court but we adjusted easily.

It was a great opportunity for us to let go of the jitters, see how we match up against an international team, and execute the art of adjusting to your opponent's game. For Peru, specifically, we made some changes in our blocking positions and our defense aligned to compliment them.

Our team captured straight wins for a solid 4-0 match. The middle of each set was fairly close but we pulled ahead towards the end for scores of 25-19, 25-23, 25-20, and 25-18. This seems to be promising, but we all know that there must be a continuation of improvement if we want to have hopes of advancing in the tournament...

What wins the dish of the day? The soup served for lunch was a mouthwatering, tomato-based noodle soup. It was more delicate than thick American tomato soup, yet it still had a more distinct taste. The two inch spaghetti noodles were a surprise when we dipped our spoons to the bottom where they were hiding.

Tomorrow we are taking over the city shops with our crisp and eager euros...

by Rod Wilde * June 18

The USA Junior National team scrimmaged against Peru today. The US won all 4 games by scores of 25-20, 25-23, 25-19, 25-20. Most of the players had plenty of playing time including at least one start for all of the players that were able to compete. The team was lead by captain, Jordan Burgess with a .320 hitting percentage and 10 kills. Kierra Holst came off the bench with 5 kills on 10 swings with no errors. Holst also contributed on the serving side by hitting a number of tough jump serves that keep the Peruvian passers off balance.

We needed this competition today. We have been working hard in our own gym but needed to see the team in a competitive situation. The Peruvian team forced us to make adjustments as the game progressed. I thought the team did a good job of making those adjustments and this allowed us to come out with the win.

The USA opens tournament play on Friday when they met Bulgaria. Following this match the U.S. will compete against Brazil, Mexico and finish pool play with Russia. The top four teams from the pool will move into the top part of the playoffs.

We had a bus run a little bit late this morning so the girls broke out the cell phones and started playing electronic charades. Pretty entertaining!

by Rod Wilde * June 17

Here is the group in front of a statue and fountain directly in front of the first concert hall that Mozart ever performed in. He was only 8 years old when he had his concert in the building to the left of the statue. We took the girls on a long walk to get them out and loosen them up after the long flight. We took a hike up a big hill that has a castle on top. The castle was closed but we were able to walk out to the walls and look over the whole city. The hotel is very nice and the food is good so we are off to a great start. We have a training time tomorrow at nine am and are trying to set up a scrimmage with the Czech team sometime in the afternoon. Tuesday we are going to scrimmage with Peru and hopefully Italy on Wednesday.


by Rod Wilde * June 16

This picture was taken as we boarded the bus to take us to Montreal for our flight to Munich. It was so cute when one of the players that had never traveled outside the US said "I can't believe I am in Canada. This is so cool!" I just thought to myself "Just wait, it is going to get a lot cooler!"