Editor's Note: This is the ninth 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 trip from the team. Today's blog entry is written by Associate Head Coach Jeff Grove and Assistant Coach Jeff Hulsmeyer.
July 14 - Jeff Grove & Jeff Hulsmeyer
Things are winding down for the 2013 Universiade in Kazan, Russia. Most sports have finished already with closing ceremonies set for Wednesday night. Due to some obligations with camp, we will not be able to attend that, but I've heard that once you have experienced the opening ceremonies, you want to keep that as your memory and that the closing never lives up to its predecessor. Today the Cats/Team USA were able to sleep in and get rested for a big day with our final match of the tournament against China. China surprisingly underachieved at this tournament after winning a medal in 2011. Brazil and Russia (the other medalists in 2011) will play for the gold medal tomorrow night and I honestly can't see Russia losing as they have loaded up a team of professionals. We felt very well prepared going into the China match but one of the things you have to be able to do at this level is to adjust when your opponent adjusts. We were a little slow to do that today getting down 0-2, but the Cats fought back. We played a very solid game on both sides of the ball and won game 3, but could not sustain it for game 4. Our team is learning valuable lessons about how small the "margin for error" is when you play teams at this level and those lessons will help us when we get back into the Big 12 this fall. One of the things our team has mentioned is how fun and challenging it has been to play against different styles of play from the taller more powerful Russians to the smaller and quicker China team we played today. From a coach's perspective, there was no way to fail coming to this tournament. We realized early on that we were the youngest team in the field and had the least experience in international play, but as long as we approached this with a growth mindset, there will be things we can take away from it no matter what the match score.
After our China match, Coach Hulsmeyer and I were fortunate enough to attend the men's semifinals with Poland barely beating Ukraine in five sets and Russia getting by a pesky Japan team that was undersized but fought hard. The men's volleyball tournament here is played at an extremely high level with most of the players having played professionally for several years at least. The matches were entertaining due to the sheer power and athleticism of the athletes and the quickness of the Japanese team. I could watch that type of high level volleyball all day long if given the opportunity.
Tomorrow we are looking forward to another full day of some sightseeing, going to the Kazan Kremlin and other notable places in Kazan. It should provide an eye opening experience as we get out of the village and see some of the rich culture and history of this Russian city. Then after a final team meal in the dining hall, we will prepare for checkout from the village and for the long trip back to Manhattan.
I can't believe we are down to our last day of competition. It's been such an outstanding experience on and off the court. Our Russian hosts have put on quite a Universiade, and the thousands of volunteers have been so helpful in getting all the teams moved to their different venues. It is a massive undertaking with all the sports going on at once and I can't thank them enough for the wonderful experience they have given us here in Kazan.
We started the morning with film of our last opponent, China. As a coach we spend a lot of time going over our opponent and with only one day to prepare, we were up late again breaking down film, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I do things for the offensive side of the ball so I scout our opponents serving, defense, and come up with a game plan of attack. We went over it at 11a.m. and then off to our pregame meal at the dining facility. It was 1:40 or 13:40 as they say internationally when we left for the 3 p.m. match. The team played well but gave up a few too many runs to a very solid China team. After losing the first two, we won the third set but game up short of forcing the match into the fifth set.
Overall from a coaching experience this has been wonderful for our team to play against such high level players, several professionals, and see what the best teams in the world are doing. On my side of the ball offensively we are replacing a lot from last season and the matches we played in over here will give us a huge boost as we come back in the fall trading in our red, white, and blue, for the Wildcat purple and white.
After the match Jeff Grove and I watched the semifinals of the men's volleyball tournament, Russia against Japan. It was a very competitive match going four sets with Russia having too much firepower for Japan with their great ball control and defense.
The team settled into the village to relax a little before we have a day or touring and then beginning the long trip back to Manhattan. This has been something I'll never forget and I look forward to being back on Manhattan soon.