Redemption

A tough 5 set loss yesterday to the Blue team puts us in a position to be hungry for a win. Our bodies are fighting through the training and we are pushing the limits to see how far we can go in order to win. This loss doesn’t put us out of contention for a gold medal though! We have another match at 4pm against the Red team today. Ready to work out there!

It’s been so much fun playing in front of the kids, ran into a few Buckeye fans, and loved talking to the teams that medaled. The girls are so excited to be at Junior Nationals and play volleyball. It’s been an awesome experience thus far!

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An Afternoon of Fun

Settled down at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. Feels great to have plush pillows, a comfy bed, secure wifi, and a hot shower. Yes, first world problems folks.

Truly enjoyed my stay at the University of Minnesota, but I am thrilled to be on the verge of competition.  We have tomorrow off to practice twice and scout the Red and Blue teams that are playing tomorrow.  I’m mentally prepared and ready to go.

Our coaches surprised us with a wonderful afternoon and evening at the Mall of America.  We went on a caption scavenger hunt, having to create scenarios that suited phrase the coaches gave us, and then race to present a picture of us acting out the phrase at a specific meeting location.   We had diner at Dick’s Last Resort, and my dad happened to be in town, so it was awesome to see him for a bit.

Headed to the lobby to do some homework and then sleep in a bit before kicking it in gear all day tomorrow!

-say hello to TEAM USA WHITE

-say hello to TEAM USA WHITE

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-Maryland and Ohio State...repping the Big Ten

-Maryland and Ohio State…repping the Big Ten

-mall of America

-mall of America

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-Dinner (uh oh)

-Dinner (uh oh)

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Pay It Forward

Today we travel to the convention center, not to practice, but to inspire. Not to go through the motions, but to change the next generation of volleyball players. Not to hang our heads in defeat after an error, but to glorify another opportunity to succeed. I am so excited and blessed for the chance to inspire thousands of young girls and they walk the same journey I did, just a few years ago. All of the would give anything to be in our shoes right now, it’s our time to show them how much we appreciate their support and to make their dreams realistic. The youngsters aren’t that far away from this level age wise, it’s the mentality to believe they can be on the same court one day that must be instilled in them today.

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-How will you pay it forward?

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Team WHITE 👏👏👏

Teams were announced late the night before last, and I’m on Team White! We scrimmaged yesterday against Teams Red and Blue, beating both groups twice. Still so much to work on, I know we will be focusing on serve receive and defense for sure. Our team has several offensive strengths, including dynamic setters, vocal liberos, and plenty of tall hitter/blockers that fly in the air.
Uniforms and backpacks were distributed…make sure you look for #19 (That’s me!!!). Today we transition to the Hilton Hotel, visit the convention center for the first time, and get situated for competitions to start tomorrow. Apparently it’s freezing in the center, so I’d better bundle up (thank you USA for the awesome yoga pants)! We have practice til noon and then my team is leading the baggage transportation efforts to downtown. 💪💪
Might get to see my dad today, as he is traveling to town just for the day. But, our coaches also have a surprise team activity in store for us tonight…maybe the Mall of America?!?!
I had a small bout of food poisoning, so I had a rough morning yesterday. Glad to be feeling a bit better, but my stomach still needs to settle down. All packed up and ready to head to the gym for another day of hard work, not to mention watching the soccer team duel Germany in the Rio World Cup. Go Team USA!

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OOS Stands for “Out of System”

All too often in the highest level of volleyball we find ourselves, offensively, in an out of system position. This means that someone other than setter takes the second contact, or the setter is (bump) setting from a not-so-ideal position on the court. The key to making your approach most effective is getting preferably behind, but at least parallel, to the individual making the second contact. You have to give them a larger window of opportunity to set within while also giving yourself generous court space to adjust your attack approach. Quickly transitioning off the net and setting your feet for your attack takes a lot of energy and explosive movements off the court. The positioning of the hitter is the key part, excluding the actual set itself.

This morning’s session covered out of system set up and attack, as well as defending it. Plenty of reps, communication between hitters and various individuals stepping into the setting role as needed. We are all working so hard and looking forward to moving over to the hotel and convention center tomorrow night to begin the competition series.

Following this afternoon’s session, the coaches will host a draft to pick the Red, White and Blue teams. Rosters will be posted either tonight or tomorrow morning, and we are all anxious to find out who will be our new teammates. The convention center is ready, Championship Court #7 is calling, and Team USA is ready to take Minneapolis and take care of business. Get ready, the college girls are hungry to compete in front of a raucous crowd!

-Championship Court #7

-Championship Court #7

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Down, Set, DEFENSE!

Breaking it down for defense. Poised and ready for action.  Holding that position this afternoon for 3 hours was a grueling workout on the legs.  Thank goodness for squat days in the weight room.  Getting down and dirty digging every ball in pursuit of running the offense.  That’s what defense is all about.  Plenty of ball control drills to warm us up, followed by intense offense vs. defense drills.

Had a hearty dinner of chicken, mashed potatoes and the biggest salad I could fit on my plate….since salad is my favorite food (yes, weird I know).  Another day of training in the books, but I’m looking forward to “game night” team bonding activities tonight.

Getting to know your coaches, staff and teammates outside the lines of the court is just as important the dynamic relationship while you play.  The true built off the court can almost be more important as knowing, without communicating, that your teammates are there for you.  Discovering character and personality lead to a tight bond that no opponent can break down.  Teams crack from what Mike Hebert calls “The Triangle of Doom,” involving 3 key elements: Lying, Drama, and Whining.  Take a step back and look at your team as a whole and yourself individually.  Where is the trust?  Do you speak using “hey you” or do you genuinely converse on a first name basis.  It’s the purpose with which one communicates that makes the ultimate difference.  Secondly, beyond the communication, is it effective?  Meaning, are we gossiping about who should and shouldn’t see playing time, whining about the tough drill the coach is drawing on the board, or lying about the number of punishment reps we had to do simply because we think team punishment when and individual commits a wrong is stupid?  Think about your mentality and what you bring to the table: do you break the triangle of doom, or do you break down your team?

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