World University Games Blog: Day 7

Taylor Johnson

July 10, 2013

Editor's Note: This is the fifth entry in the World University Games Team Blog for K-State Volleyball. The Wildcats are representing Team USA at the Games in Kazan, Russia. Photos, Blogs and Videos will be posted throughout the 10-day trip from the team. Today's blog entry is written by junior Taylor Johnson.

July 10 - Taylor Johnson

For some the day started off with those feeling the jet lag waking up before 5:00am and eating breakfast while others kept hitting their snooze to sleep in. It was a day of treatments as well as a quick serve and pass at the Moskva volleyball complex. The European manager and staff of the complex said, "We missed you Americans, you are all so nice." From here we left for the athletes’ village. We finished our morning watching film on Russia and a great highlight video made by Coach Grove on our game against the Czech Republic. We had some time to relax and catch up on some homework. Eat, sleep, play volleyball held true another day, as we were off to eat as a team. The team has been very good at trying the different foods but I think McDonald’s won our team over today. By 6:40 we were all ready for the big game vs. Russia at St. Petersburg. Coaches told us that the game would be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The Russian volleyball team is very physical and they have a lot of experience at the pro-level. Our game plan was to just have fun, compete, and learn from the experience. Our goal was to make sure if the Russians scored they had to earn them. The environment was amazing, as the crowd really got into each play. The first set began slowly but we found a way to rally back to a score of 25-16. The second set was crazy; Chelsea Keating and Dakota Kaufman really got us going. I think we surprised the Russian team with our play of the second set compared to our first. There was a point in the game where the crowd actually became quiet as our team was on fire. Everyone was playing well together and the bench was even told to sit back down from the up ref because of our excitement. It was a battle to 25 but with a few errors we couldn’t seal the deal, but proud of our 25-23 finish. We wanted to take our momentum from game two into the third. We started a little slow again but got going towards the end to finish 25-19. We were proud of our efforts and think the game will only help us grow and improve for the upcoming season. The front row was very big and our team found a way to keep it away from the block, which will help us when we play big physical teams like Texas.

We were able to have a little fun after the game. We went to post-game and then explored the athletes’ village. The village had big white tents one with a dance floor, neon game room, oriental lounge, and a red lounge area. The dance floor was entertaining for the USACATS. We also met up with the Men’s USA volleyball team; we chatted about our competition and our standing in the games. We brought the dance party to the main area of the village under all the flags of the countries participating in the games. The volleyball teams were able to attract a few other people and experience other cultures dancing styles. It was a fun-filled day with an experience we will never forget.

We are excited to have a day off and support the teams who have been so kind to support us. I’m personally blessed to share this world-class student-athlete experience with a great team. We not only get to represent Kansas State University and the Big 12, but our friends, family and our country. We get to learn and communicate with other countries, play the sport we love and ultimately get to improve and make memories we will never forget. Who doesn’t like to say "U-S-A" out of a huddle?!

Taylor Johnson