Global Challenge Blog: Meeting a Russian Legend
July 21, 2008
PULA, Croatia - Greetings Redbird fans!
Each time our team plays together, we become more comfortable and gel as though we've been playing together for years. We traveled to Ljubjana (the capital of Slovenia) and played another "friendly" match against the Denmark Junior National Team, where we won all four games. After the match, we drove two hours to Pula, Croatia and finally reached the hotel around midnight.
The next morning, we played another friendly match against a Russian team, and again, won all four games. It was pretty neat to play that team, because a very famous Russian man, Nikolai Karpol, watched our match.
Nikolai Karpol is one of the most famous, winningest and most controversial volleyball coaches in the world. Many years ago, he would take Russian players to train in Siberia, where for about 10 years, they would be dominated and trained into the ground. Even though it seems harsh, it was still a better situation for the girls than living in Russia.
He was the reason why Russia had the biggest, most talented women's players. They were the volleyball powerhouse of the world for quite a long time. Even though he didn't understand what we were saying, we all introduced ourselves and took a picture with him.
For the rest of the afternoon, we went to the gorgeous white rock beach on the Adriatic Sea. In the evening, we had the opening ceremonies for the tournament, the Global Challenge. The festivities were held in the city center where there was beautiful, old, stone architecture and lots of little shops and cafes. The tournament includes 16 different teams from nine countries, and each team was introduced while walking across an old stone building with Roman columns.
We played our first match of the tournament this morning against a team called OK Galeb from Montenegro. The match was best two out of three, and we swept the match in two games. The rest of the day will be spent site-seeing and exploring the beautiful city of Pula until our second match tonight at 7 p.m (Croatian time of course!).
More to come! Thanks for supporting this great experience!