ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico volleyball team sent three members with the Mountain West All-Star squad to play in the Global Challenge 2014 in Europe. Assistant coach JJ Glavan, Cassie House and Julia Warren were three of 15 members of the MW All-Star team and bring back great experiences for the program.
The three flew out of the Albuquerque airport on July 7th, making their way to Europe. A slight delay in New York put them a little behind to London and the three missed the first training session due to catching an extra flight. But they caught up with the rest of the team and had three practices before they started play. Glavan was pleased with how well the team chemistry was from the get-go. “It was great from the start. I really felt comfortable with the staff and the players throughout the whole tour.”
House and Warren also were excited to get to know the other players in the conference. After being enemies on the court last fall, it didn’t take them very long to become friends. “We all meshed really well in terms of becoming friends right away,” said House. “It took us a few games to begin meshing well together on the court, but once we did, we did very well.”
Although with just three practices together, it did take a little bit of time to get their groove going on the court. “We gelled nicely together for having only three practices,” said Warren.
The MW squad ended up finishing third at the Global Challenge. The tournament was mixed up of six European teams and six American teams. Before they went to the Global Challenge, the team gained more international experience by playing a mixed junior national team, the Slovenian National Team and the Croatian National Team.
“The level of play was very high,” said Glavan. “It took some getting used to with the international ball, but you quickly learn how much ball control a quality team needs at the international level.”
At the Global Challenge, they played the Russia Junior National Team in the first round of pool play and lost in three games. The MW bounced back in its second game of pool play, beating an Italian club team in three games. In the final game off its pool, the team beat a local Slovenian club team in three games to tie for second in the American Division and earned an automatic quarterfinal match due to beating the Collegiate National Team on point differential.
In the quarterfinal match, they played against NCVA (Northern California Volleyball Association) and won, putting them in the semifinal match against the Slovenian team they had played previously in pool play. The MW lost in a five game set. Their last match was for third or fourth place against the Adidas Midwest and they won 2-1 in the three set series, finishing third.
“The teams we played were very talented at serving a very aggressive ball,” Glavan said. “We were able to play a faster tempo than the European teams which gave us a little edge of the teams we played.”
Volleyball wasn’t the only thing on the agenda for the squad, sightseeing and food was a daily regime. The team went hiking, shopping, swimming, ate at local restaurants and explored each of what the cities had to offer. Some of the highlights were swimming in the Adriatic Sea, cliff jumping and seeing the city of Bologna. “We took so many pictures,” said Warren. “The pictures did not do any justice to what we saw. We did everything you could do on this trip and we took full advantage of our free tim.”
The three brought back a lot of memories but also great experience to the program and their teammates and other coaches.
“I feel more confident in what we are coaching and being able to coach the girls at a high level,” said Glavan.
“We got to play against some amazing international players and play full games,” said Warren. “It helped our conditioning and also our skills. We have shared this experience with our whole team and are telling them stories of everything we did. This has motivated us to start the season already. We are ready to get games going and have a great 2014 season.”
The New Mexico team will kick off the 2014 season on August 29 with a doubleheader against Seattle U and the 2013 NCAA Runner Up Texas. Tickets are now available at the ticket office in The Pit.