Aug. 5, 2009
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
When you travel to Europe, maybe losing your luggage and dealing with late flights is to be expected. Hey, it's foreign soil. No Southwest Airlines. However, for Lobo volleyball players Ashley Rhoades and Allison Buck there was a peculiar twist to their lost bags and late flight.
One of their flights was late because the vehicle carrying their luggage plowed into the front of their plane. In the commotion that followed, the luggage handlers forgot to load the bags.
"It was kind of odd," said Buck. "We were told our plane was late and then later we found out the luggage cart ran into the front of the plane and dented it. I guess they had to wait to make sure everything was okay and then we found out they forgot to put the luggage on the plane. What`s the chances of something like that happening?"
Said Rhoades: "We were stuck wearing the same clothes for a couple of days. When we got to the hotel, we had to ask for toothbrushes, shampoo, things like that."
The good news is that the plane -- dents and all -- took off and landed safely and eventually the BIP/USA Development team and its luggage were united. The better news from this European volleyball experience is that the BIP/USA Development team featuring Rhoades and Buck went 8-0 in the 2009 European Global Challenge in Pula, Croatia to win the team title.
The team was coached by Colorado State's Tom Hilbert. Elyse Glab of Northwestern was the tourney MVP and was joined on the all-tourney team by Northwestern's Naomi Johnson. The two Lobo sophomores-to-be were the fifth Lobos to go on this tour. Rose Morris went in the summer of 2008 and Jeanne Fairchild and Gayle Tripp made the journey in 2007.
"Our goal from the beginning was just to play hard and have fun," said Buck. "I don't think the purpose of the tournament is necessarily to win, but we are all competitive people and you are out there to play well and play hard. And it never hurts to win."
Said Rhoades: "The first couple of days we were killing most of the teams. We got pushed more at the end, but we went undefeated."
Actually, Rhoades and Buck's team never lost a game in rolling to the team title, which was quite a feat for a team comprised of 12 collegiate players from ten U.S. colleges.
"I think our team chemistry really helped us," said Buck. "Our team got along really, really well which was great, but it also helped us win the eight games. I think the best thing for me playing with so many different girls was I had to be very verbal in the backcourt. I think I learned a lot about communicating on the court."
Buck also learned a little bit about the importance of communicating off the court. In this case in Croatia, Buck and her teammates' inability to communicate led to a long walk back to their hotel.
"We were out one night in Pula and it was getting a little dark," said Buck. "We decided to take a bus back to the hotel, but we weren`t sure where the bus stop was. We finally sat down where we thought it was."
But after a while, when no bus came to the stop, the girls tried to ask some of the Croatians walking by where the bus stop was located. "We were trying to find some younger people who spoke English," said Buck. "But we couldn`t find anyone. We finally just walked back to the hotel. It was about a 25-minute walk."
Rhoades said the trip was "lots of funs" with only a few wrinkles: like a few days without a change of clothes, and a couple of bad choices off the menu.
"I went over there with an open mind, but the food was interesting," said Rhoades. "There were some things I would never try again like this meat & pasta thing I ate in Croatia. I`ll never touch that again."
Said Buck: "There was this dumpling & pasta thing I ate in Croatia that I loved. They eat a lot of salad over there, too. I don`t think I ever ate that much salad before in my life.
"I loved pretty much everything I ate over there and I didn`t get sick or anything."