July 13, 2016
Boise State junior Sierra Nobley is in Croatia with coach Shawn Garus and the MW All-Stars. Following is a BLOG where she talks about her and the team's experiences in Europe.
In Chronological Order
July 5th | Travel Day to Europe
I am officially on my way to the 2016 European Global Challenge! I'm looking forward to meeting the rest of my team when we all arrive. I connect through Frankfurt and arrive in Austria tomorrow afternoon, and then we will drive to Slovenia to start training. I'm most excited for the adventure of exploring these countries, but also for the incredible competition we will experience and getting to play the same game that I love in a completely different atmosphere. I'm looking forward to getting on the court and loosening up after my long flights. My goals for this tournament are to embrace the challenge of competing with girls with whom I've never played, and also to rise to the challenge of high-level international ball and improve my game for this coming fall. Also, I'll make sure to take in the wonderful sights of Europe and come back with a ton of great memories with my fellow Mountain West representatives.
Wish me luck, and look forward to some pictures of my travels!
July 7th | Maribor, Slovenia
We I have arrived safe and sound in Maribor, Slovenia, where we will stay for a couple days to practice. Today was a blast. We all finally met and had our first practice together, everyone is super excited to be here. We practiced for an hour and a half, then headed out to eat lunch. We took a ski lift up a hill and ate at the top, then to get down the hill we took the Alpine Slide! Each person sat in a little seat attached to a metal rail and slid down the hill, twisting and turning and going fast. Then later in the evening we played a match against a Slovenian club team and got experience with the international ball and with each other. Tonight we ate dinner in downtown Maribor and explored the city. All in all, an awesome first day of the Global Challenge.
July 8th | Day Two in Europe
Today we had a match against the Chinese Junior National Team. It was fantastic competition and really friendly before and after the game. We exchanged pins with them and took a group picture. Playing against them was a challenge because they were so physical and had a fast offense. They also served really aggressive. Our team is gelling well and getting more solid in serve receive as well as blocking. We are going to be ready for the Global Challenge by the time we get to Croatia.
Before our match we had a morning practice and then walked around downtown Maribor and ate lunch at a pizza place there. We also ate gelato and visited a famous winery by the river, home of the oldest vine in history! Tomorrow it's a short practice and then off to spend the day in Bled, Slovenia, which has a beautiful lake and an island with a castle on it! Can't wait.
July 10th | Lake Bled and the Opening Ceremonies
Just got back from the opening ceremony in Pula, Croatia. They introduced each team competing in the Global Challenge and took their picture with their country's flag. There are teams from Italy, Russia, China, Slovenia, Hungary, and the United States.
It was a warm day, and we spent the better part of this afternoon in the Adriatic Sea, swimming and floating. The salt content is so high that you can just float without any effort! It was crystal clear and turquoise and absolutely gorgeous.
Yesterday after practice we drove to Bled, Slovenia, where there is a huge lake with an island in the middle, and we all took a boat out there and then jumped in the lake. It was the perfect temperature and tons of people were paddle boarding and kayaking on the water. Breathtaking!
Tomorrow we will play our first pool play match at 10 am against an Italian pro team, then another game against Russia in the evening. Wish us luck! We are excited and ready to compete!
July 11th | European Global Challenge Begins
Team Mountain West comes out on top! Today we played two matches, one against an Italian team and another against Russia. It was a blast, and we are playing well together.
The Russian style of play is very serious, which we found interesting. Tomorrow we will play our last pool play game against a Hungarian team, then we'll be seeded for bracket play. Between matches we are free to explore, go to the pool or the sea, or whatever else we want! Tomorrow we don't play until 1 (p.m.) so we plan to walk around the city and see the famous amphitheater.
July 12th | Undefeated After Two Days
We beat Hungary in our final pool play game, so we had a bye for the first round of bracket play. So... We went to the sea! We drove up in vans and then hiked across the rocks to a place where we could jump off a cliff. Some of us, including me, jumped off the one that was 30 feet high! Then we swam over to this cave which we had to swim underneath a rock to get into, and explored inside. Coolest experience I have ever had!
We also walked downtown in the morning and saw the Pula Arena, an amphitheater built in 27 bc that is still standing!
Tomorrow morning we play an American team in the quarterfinals, then if we win we will likely play China for semis tomorrow night. The finals are scheduled for Thursday, so let's go Mountain West!!!
July 16th | Final Entry
Our semifinal game against China (Wednesday, July 13) was a heartbreaker, but they were by far our favorite team of the tournament. We played Thursday (July 14) morning against Slovenia and stole the match in a tight third set, winning it 19-17! We received bronze medals and I was named all-tournament.
The U.S. College National Team took the championship over China and then joined us in Italy on Friday. We spent the whole afternoon in Venice, walking around checking out souvenirs and seeing the famous San Marco Square, which was gorgeous. There was a graduation going on so it was packed! My favorite part of Venice was the old architecture and the fact that every windowsill has flowers in it.
Overall, I had an amazing experience at the Global Challenge. I made friends with my "rivals" in our conference and we played so well together after only a week of knowing each other. I experienced all the highs and lows of being in a foreign place, but none of the discomforts outweighed the sights, adventures, and high level of volleyball. My favorite part was playing against China because they were such good competition but they were also sweethearts and we made friends with them all!
I would definitely recommend this tournament to everyone. It is by far the coolest trip and tournament I've ever been a part of and I'm so proud to represent Boise State on such a global stage. Can't wait to be home and compete in Bronco Gym this fall and bring the experience I've gained playing international ball.