Day 7, June 14, 2005
USA "White" (Kevin/Santiago’s Team) vs. ARG YNT in Paraná
By Rachel Dyer (BYU)
This morning we drove for about five hours to a city called Paraná. It’s a charming town close to the water with good shopping and friendly people. Most of us slept almost the entire time on the bus because we were up so late last night. After our matches yesterday, we met the Argentine teams for dinner and ended up dancing with them late into the night. Last night was probably the first time we really bonded with the Argentine girls. It has been hard to communicate with them because very few of us speak Spanish, and they speak very little English. Luckily, dancing does not require a ton of communication. We had great time laughing and showing off our moves until soon, even the coaches from both teams were out on the dance floor. It was obvious that dancing is a huge part of the culture here in Argentina, and it was very fun to have them share that with us.
When we arrived in Paraná, we had some time to kill before our game. Our hotel is located right in the main square in the town center where there are many shops and things to see. After exploring for a little bit, we met and drove the short distance to the gym for our match against the Argentine Youth National Team. After traveling with the Argentines and playing them so many times, you really learn to respect them as people and players. They are a very talented team and play very well together. Especially after spending time with them last night, it feels like we are playing our friends. We are very competitive on the court and obviously want to win, but we don’t harbor any negative feelings towards the other team. We are grateful for the challenge they present to us every night when we play them and always wish to come out on top. Tonight we were unable to do this. We lost a hard fought battle 15-25, 25-14, 25-21, 19-25, 17-19. It has been frustrating for us as we have come so close to beating them many times, but tonight we all agreed that we are improving. It has been difficult for some to be flexible and open to new coaching as well as adjusting to teammates we have never had before. However, over the course of the past couple of matches, our team is discovering each of our individual roles that we play in order to have success. Sydney and Emily have stepped forward as our team leaders and do a good job of keeping us focused and also keeping our energy levels appropriate. The rest of us are doing our best to make plays and do our jobs consistently. We have found that as we do this, we will be successful on the court.
As a team, we are looking forward to playing the Argentine team again. We are confident that we have the ability and the talent to beat them, and now we have developed a system to do it. We are also looking forward to spending some time sightseeing and shopping tomorrow with the Argentines here in Paraná.
Maybe we will learn some more Spanish from them that will help us get around here in beautiful Argentina!
Day 7 continued
USA "Red" (Tom and Mark’s Team) vs. ARG National "B" Team
By Rachel VanMeter (Illinois)
There was another victory for the USA Select Red team tonight, and this time in front of about 1200 people at the Club Estudiantes de Paraná Hall in the beautiful city of Paraná (~150,000 people). We won our match in 3 games and played quite possibly the best we have played this whole trip. Lindsey Stalzer
(Bradley) played an incredible match in the middle, hammering the slide time and time again. She has really come through for us on this trip as an automatic point when she gets set! Renata set a great match and was finally able to connect with all the hitters consistently.
It really was really obvious that we are finally coming together as a team.
Tonight we were able to stay in system consistently with some great passes from Karen and Joanna. But it was the out of system plays that made a huge difference tonight. We gained some chemistry in this aspect of the game, by turning broken plays into good swings.
It was truly a great match for us and a wonderful feeling to win in three. It is clear that our team is making gains and adjusting to playing with new players and coaches. This trip our team has had our patience and flexibility challenged greatly. We have had many late nights and very early mornings, as well as many long hours on the bus traveling from city to city. But this will only make us all stronger people and better players. Lindsey and I traveled last year with BringItUSA to the Spring Cup and realize that playing overseas is mostly about patience and flexibility. We are trying to help the other girls to relax and just enjoy the opportunity to be in Argentina.
After the match we had a really nice dinner at the athletic club with the Argentines. Rachel Dyer and I sat with many of the players and talked about studying in the U.S., and compared our lives and habits. It was really great to learn about their culture and bond with the Argentines on a different level than before. It is also entertaining to try to communicate when we don’t speak the same language. So I feel like our teams are really starting to enjoy and take advantage of the wonderful opportunity to be in Argentina. We are learning what life is like outside of the states.