Aug. 7, 2013
Redshirt-sophomore Katelyn Kinghorn recaps her recent trip with USA Volleyball as a member of the Intermountain Volleyball Association Team for the 9th Annual European Global Challenge in Pula, Croatia.
By Katelyn Kinghorn
Having the opportunity to compete in Europe with other NCAA Division I athletes, three Croatians and one Slovenian was amazing! Never had I done something like this before, let alone traveled over seas. We were coached by Jerry Hulla who is currently an assistant coach at Bemidji State University.
Once I arrived in Venice, Italy, I met up with two other teammates who were traveling from the United States as well. From Venice we went straight to Maribor, Slovenia, where we stayed for the next four days. The hotel had two volleyball courts where we practiced and had practice matches against Slovenia, Hungary, and a Czech team. The room I stayed in with five other girls was enormous. Imagine a giant living room space with six beds, three on each side and couches and a television in the middle with plenty of free room. We had a long hallway, in this hallway there were two big shower rooms and two bathrooms, or as they call them water closets. That took some getting used to.
On the third day in Maribor we were able to go site seeing in the city of Bled, Slovenia. While we were there we swam in the lake and enjoyed the scenery of a big church located in the middle of the lake surrounded by water, and a castle on the mountaintop above. Some of the girls and I decided to eat in Bled. We saw an authentic "Mexican restaurant" and decided to give it a try. Thinking all of the food was going to be Mexican we opened the menu to find pictures of pasta and salad, with a few Mexican dishes listed. Instead of choosing from the Mexican dishes I ordered lasagna. The picture of the lasagna got the best of me and I just couldn't help myself. If you wonder if it was any good, it was amazing! Pretty much the best lasagna I've ever eaten.
Early the next morning of our last day in Maribor we left for Pula, Croatia, by bus. It took us 6 ½ hours. The Hungarian team we had played for one of our practice matches paired up with us on the bus, not a single seat on the bus to spare. Everyone was anxious to get off the bus and go stretch their legs once we arrived in Pula. What better way to do this than to go swimming in the Adriatic Sea, it was absolutely gorgeous! The salty, clear, blue seawater felt amazing!
The opening ceremonies were on the same day of our arrival in Croatia, it took place in Pula. All of the teams were introduced one by one with music going and people dancing and cheering. Afterwards we were able to do more site seeing and shopping. When we were walking around people were pointing at us and whispering. I assume it was because of the height of my team...and we may or may not of been taking voluminous amounts of pictures every twenty to forty feet.
The next morning in Pula the European Global Challenge was underway. My team's first match was against the same Hungarian team we rode on the bus with. It was different playing teams from other countries. They each have their own unique way of warming up and cheering. We swept Hungary in three sets.
Later that evening we played against Falconara from Italy. They were a very competitive team. The first two sets we were able to win by two. The third set we ended up losing by two. For every set won, one point is given. Our total for the first day was 5/6. We were all feeling pretty good about going into the next day except for our setter who unfortunately hit her head going after a ball playing against Falcanara. Come to find out she had suffered a concussion. Our backup outside stepped up to set for us and did a decent job.
For the second day of competition we played Vasas Budapest. Losing the first set we came back and won the next two, making our total points 7/9. We finished the first half of the tournament ranked fourth out of 11 teams heading into the second phase of the European Global Challenge.
Starting the second phase of competition we where matched up to play Falconara, this time without our setter. The games went to best of five for the second round of competition. Falconara won the first two sets. Battling back we took the third, but they won the fourth.
Since we lost to Falconara we played Vasa Budapest again playing best out of three. We lost the first two sets both 25-23. My team ended up sixth out of 11 teams. We had so much fun playing together and cheering each other on. I was happy that we were able to work well with one another and compete at a high level. In the end, Falconara won the championship against another team from the U.S.
The following morning of the last day of competition we went to Venice by bus to spend our last day, this time sharing the travel bus with a team from Jamaica. The ride to Venice as beautiful! We shared pictures, jokes, and laughter on the bus, laughing until our cheeks hurt from smiling. Venice was absolutely amazing! The architecture of the buildings and the waterways channeling through is definitely a site one must see.
I will never forget the memories and friendships made with my teammates. Getting to know girls from another part of the world was great. They were able to show us the ins-and-outs of different things from their countries. I played with fun girls and amazing athletes. Having the opportunity to play volleyball in a different part of the world and having a blast while doing so is something I will never forget!