Global Challenge Blog: Bronze Medal in Sight
July 23, 2008
PULA, Croatia - Hello again Redbird fans,
Going into tonight's match, we knew we would be playing a good team, but we were still shocked. The team from Pula, Croatia boasted two members that play professionally. By far, they had the most incredible outside hitter we have seen in the tournament, and quite possibly the best outside hitter that I have ever played against. Coupled with that, they had great blocking and a very scrappy defense, led by a libero that kept everything off the ground.
We fought hard in sets one and two, but all the assets that I mentioned above were too much for us to handle. In order to put them out of system, we needed to serve very aggressively, which we did not do well enough in those first two sets.
However, we bounced back in sets three and four, picking up our intensity, serving, passing, defense and mental game. Instead of trying to power through the block (which proved next to impossible in the first two sets), our hitters used a variety of tips, roll shots, and hard hit angles to score points.
With their best outside hitter out of the game (we think because of an injury), and a few more of their best players being taken out (including their setter) we finished sets three and four with wins, forcing the match into a decisive fifth game.
Unfortunately, Pula raised their level of play tremendously with tough serves and their best outside hitter going back in the match with some great swings. The aspects of our game that we performed well in sets three and four were not as good in set five. Pula ended the 15-point fifth set, and advanced to the final match Thursday at 7 p.m.
On the other side of the bracket, the Maribor team that we had lost to in pool play beat a strong Italian Youth National Team. Therefore, the championship match tomorrow will be between Pula and Maribor, while we will contend for third place at noon against the Italian Youth National Team. Although we were all disappointed to lose a five set match, the coaches and players were all proud of the way we fought back from a two-set deficit to bring the match to five sets.
We want to end the tournament on a high note, and we have every intention of bringing home the bronze medal!!!