|USA Junior A2 Women's Volleyball Team
Journal Entry #1: Days 1 and 2, July 15 and 16
By Kristin Hoffman, Northern Illinois University
During practice on our first day in Europe, I remember saying to my
teammate, Hillary Trebels, University of Virginia, that I couldn¹t believe
we were actually in Europe. We are nearing the end of day two, and this trip
couldn¹t have been more amazing than it's been thus far!
When people say the flight to Europe is long, they truly mean that.
Apparently, I was thinking 9 hours from Atlanta wouldn¹t be that long. But
trust me, it is. Luckily, the movie 17 Again was playing, so I watched that
with my family who is here with me on the trip. I worked on some of my
summer school homework, played Hearts with my dad, sister, and cousin, and
attempted to sleep. That was the interesting part. I could not get
comfortable on the plane. I am definitely buying a first-class ticket if I
ever come back to Europe! The lack of sleep on the plane would catch up to
Of all places, our team met at the McDonald¹s at the airport in Zurich. I
feel so fortunate to be playing with girls from all over the country, and
from some of the top programs in the nation. From Clemson to a future player
at Texas, it has been unbelievable to play with my new teammates. Everyone
is so friendly, and we are all here to play our best volleyball possible.
After our team was all together, we got on a train ride to our training
facility in Zuchwil, Switzerland. The train ride was about an hour and a
half, and once we got to the station, we walked around for 30 minutes or so.
We walked down the cobblestone roads, took pictures of the gorgeous
flowerboxes that lined the windows, and embraced the picturesque mountains
in the background. Europe is different than any place I have ever been. It¹s
We checked into our rooms and ate lunch. The time change is about 6 or 7
hours for most of us. We were eating lunch here in the middle of the early
morning at home. I am finally now used to this time, I think. As long as I
think about the time it is here and not worry about the time at home, it¹s
We practiced once on day one. During our first practice on the second day,
we scrimmaged against the BIP/USA Development Team. It was a challenge to
learn how to play with a new group of girls, but it¹s something that we have
slowly been learning how to do. At our first practice, we did mostly ball
control, with a little hitting. Later on in the day, we focused on hitter
coverage and free ball chances. Hitter coverage and working on free ball
plays really helped us earlier tonight when we played the Swiss National
One of the "non-volleyball" activities we have done was to go swimming at
our facility. There are on-site outdoor and indoor swimming pools, including
slides and diving boards. We had a blast! My team is actually swimming again
while I am writing this. It is so nice to be able to have some time to hang
out together. Our coaches have been really nice about letting us do other
things while we have been here, as well.
With all our luxuries in the United States, one thing we are all missing
here is air conditioning. It sounds ridiculous and selfish (which it is,),
but wow, we are so spoiled at home. Being here has made me appreciate all
the amenities we have back home. Then again, there are so many things here
in Europe that are very special, too. The people have been more than
welcoming to us, trying their best to make us feel comfortable while we are
Today was our first match against the Swiss National Team. For not having
played together for more than a day, I would say we did very well at times.
We now have a better feel for how we play individually, and hopefully, we
can bring that with us tomorrow to play better as a collective group. Set
one started off very well. It was relatively close, until we let them get on
a long run. We struggled in one rotation, which allowed the Swiss team to
rally off a large string of points. Second set was kind of the same. We let
the Swiss team score multiple points at one period of time, simply digging
ourselves a very big hole. Sets three and four were much better. We played
more consistent and with energy we had yet to play with. We looked more
composed and comfortable, and making better decisions and some great
defensive moves. Big sparks were Maile Scarpino, headed to Hoffstra
University next month, coming in with a lot of defensive energy, and Kelli
Stipanovich, University of Arkansas, with strong serving, rallying off a few
aces to give us a large lead and eventual win in set three. The set was
close for the first half of the fifth set. It wasn¹t until we switched sides
once the Swiss were up with 8 points, that they finished off the match.
Number 11 on their team was a huge asset for them. She jumped very high and
at points was hitting over our blockers. We now know more about the Swiss
team, who their big hitters are and how we can gain momentum for ourselves.
We hope to play better tomorrow morning against them.
I think our coach Eric said we might have time to explore a little tomorrow,
between our match and practice later at night. I am looking forward to
seeing more of what Switzerland is like and interacting with the people.
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