Johnson was asked by Tim Kelly, the director of the Bring It Promotions Organization, to play with the BIP USA Volleyball Team at the Global Challenge 2014. She was originally an alternate for the A2 Collegiate National Team which she ended up meeting with them and the Austin Jrs. 17s team later on.
The journey began on July 8 when she anticipated flying overseas by herself but was surprised to see her future teammates on the same flight to Venice, Italy. The team practiced together once when they first arrived in Venice and then drove to Maribor, Slovenia for another two hour practice. The teams training days consisted of practicing for an hour and half in the morning and then playing later that day either in the late afternoon or evening.
Johnson gained experience from many international squads, including the Croatia National Team, Hungarian National Team, US Midwest BIP team and the Russian Junior National Team.
“The international teams played a little different than the US teams,” said Johnson. “US teams play a faster paced game, where Europeans play a higher slower game. They also are very good serving teams and have good serve receive, which all American teams struggle with. We had to adapt quickly and serve tougher, and learn to quickly pass better if we were going to have a change of being the international teams.”
When a team is put together randomly and players don’t know the other players on the team, it is hard to get a rhythm going on the court. Johnson said that this wasn’t the case for the team she played with. “I think this is one of the best teams I have played with during college tours outside of UNM volleyball. Everyone instantly got along and we all had fun playing and hanging out together on and off the court.”
In the past Johnson was always one of the younger ones on the team but this summer she stepped into a leadership role on the court. Something she will bring to her teammates is the leadership aspect but also her improved knowledge of the game and court awareness.
Just like House and Warren, Johnson’s experience wasn’t just about volleyball. Being a tourist was in the daily schedule. “We did some sightseeing around the city of Maribor, and walked around the little resort area near our hotel. In Croatia, during our down time, we would either head to the hotel pool or go down to the back, which was about two minutes from our hotel. We also walked around the city and went to Pula’s coliseum.”
Johnson has many favorite things about the trip. “Sightseeing, making new friends, learning from different coaches and improving my game to help have a success season this year.”
The 2014 New Mexico volleyball season is just a little over a month away. The squad will kick off the season with a doubleheader on August 29 against Seattle U and 2013 NCAA Runner Up Texas. Tickets are now available at the ticket office in The Pit.