Hannah Johnson- University of New Mexico
Wednesday was our last match of the A2 program, and of course my Red team ended up having to play Chantale's Blue team for the Bronze medal. My team was out for revenge after we lost to them in five sets the first time.
When game time rolled around, in the words of my teammates we were "hungry, hungry for a win." We made sure to fill our "stomaches" and ended up beating Chantale's team in in four sets (3-1) to win the Bronze match. We then watched as the White and Gold team played for Gold and Silver, with the White team prevailing.
After both matches all 48 participants and 12 adult supervisors rode the DART- (Dallas train transportation) to Dave and Buster's where we had a final team meal. It was a great time to let loose, have fun, play some games, and visit with girls we had made strong friendships with over the past week.
I have been honored to have been able to be apart of the A2 program. I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls. I made many new friendships, and I wouldn't have wanted to be on any other team.
I would like to personally thank my Red team coaches, Bill Neville and Ashley Allen for making this a wonderful experience and giving us valuable information that helped improved our volleyball skill/ knowledge.
I would also like to thank the University of New Mexico volleyball staff Jeff Nelson, Lisa Beauchene, Ben Wallis and Becky Walters for sending me to participate in the A2 tryouts and allowing me to come to Dallas. Without their time and dedication I wouldn't have been able to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Being able to play with such talented athletes has definitely helped me improve in all aspects in the game of volleyball.
I can't wait to bring, what I learned from this experience, back to UNM and help make the 2013 Lobo volleyball season a successful one. Thanks for all your support while Chantale and I were in Dallas. GO LOBOS!!!!
Day 7-8, July 1st and 2nd
The past two days have been full of volleyball. We've been practicing in the morning and playing in the evening. My team battled hard against the Gold Team and White Team the past two days but ended up on the short end of the stick.
We will be playing the Blue (Chantale's) team for the Bronze Medal tomorrow. Tomorrow is the last day of the A2 program, and both matches should be fun to watch as everyone will be playing their best for a medal.
Day 6- June 30th
This morning my team took a break from volleyball and did a little sightseeing. We went to Dealey Plaza where John F. Kennedy was assassinated. We saw the window Lee Harvey Oswald was in when he assassinated President John F. Kennedy and then walked around the memorial and saw the two infamous "X's" where Kennedy was shot. I'm familiar with the assassination but never understood the significance of the grassy knoll. But while touring around the memorial, there is a supposed conspiracy where there were actually two shooters, Oswald in the window and another shooter behind the fence on top of the grassy knoll. During Kennedy's autopsy there were two entrance wounds that didn't match up for one bullet to pass through. Which raises question, where there two shooters? What I found interesting was the street wasn't blocked off, it was a regular street where cars drove over the X's. I thought for some reason it would be a huge memorial with the road blocked off and everything.
After we walked around Dealey Plaza we headed back to our hotel, and grabbed our gear to head to the convention center for our 3 pm match. We played Chantale's team and took them to 5 but ended up losing in the 5th set 12-15. All sets were close. Tomorrow we will play our last round robin match against the gold team before tournament play.
As of now all four teams are 1-1 having lost and won a match. Tomorrow will be interesting as we will all be trying to get a 2-1 record and get the No. 1 seed for the tournament.
Day 5- June 29th
The Competition has begun!
Our team got to sleep in a little this morning. We had breakfast and got ready to head to the convention center.
We had a short pass and serve practice at 12 pm and then hung around until the first match between Team Gold and White began.
My team, Team Red, scouted the match to prepare ourselves for when we have to play both teams. It was a competitive match showcasing a lot of talented volleyball.
The first match went to 5 sets, and the gold team ended up winning. After the game was over, we started warming up on the court.
Our game also went to 5 sets, which shows that all four teams are all equally competitive!
There was incredible defense, phenomenal setting, amazing blocks, and fanatic kills in both matches.
Tomorrow I will be playing Chantale Riddle (UNM) on the Blue team. This will be a fun game, as two Lobos battle against each other.
Day 4-June 28th
It's Game Time! We practiced with our teams in the morning, packed our bags, and transferred from UTD to the Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Dallas. We checked into our rooms, and then headed to the Convention Center where we had a short practice.
While we waited for our time on the A2 court to open. Some of my teammates and I walked around and spectated around the courts. I saw New Mexico club teams there and also some Washington /Oregon club teams I remember competing against when I was playing.
During our practice, it was open to the Public and many teams sat around our court and watched in ahh as they observed the A2 teams practicing.
Tomorrow, my team, Team Red, will have a practice from 12:30 to 2:00 pm and our first match will be against Team White at 5:30 pm. I can't wait to start pool play and compete against the other teams.
See complete schedule and rosters for the WNTA2 tournament here.
Day 3- June 27th
Today we found out what we have all been waiting for... Our team we were placed on. There are four teams, Red/White/Blue/Gold. Each team has two setters, two liberos (defensive specialists), three outsides, three middles, and two opposite (right side) hitters. I was placed on the Red team. My coaches are Bill Neville and Ashley Allen, which I might add are both from my home state of Washington. I have a great group of girls on my team who are all very talented. The girls consist of Rainette (Mita) Uiato (Setter, Hawaii), Kori Moster (Libero, Michigan State), Caitlin Welch (Libero, Louisville), Casey Hinger (Middle Blocker, Cal State Northridge), Kierra (Kiki) Jones (Middle, Purdue), Courtney Windham (Middle, North Texas), Kathleen (Kat) Luft (Outside, Loyola Marymount), Shar (Tai) Manu-Olevao (Outside, Hawaii), Chelsey Schofield (Outside, Utah), Moneshia (Mo) Simmons (Opposite, Clemson), Valerie (Val) Nichol (Opposite, Purdue).
During the morning session we sat down with our newly formed teams, learned a little bit about one another and listened to our coaches as they told us what they expected of us and what they wanted us to gain from this experience. After we had our meeting, we finished up by working on serve receive rotations.
In the afternoon session we had an hour and a half practice. We worked on running our offense and Coach Neville and Coach Allen, wanted the setters to start making connections with our hitters. We worked on running different set plays through free ball transition. At the end we played an organized chaos drill, which were three girls on one side of the net playing against six girls on the other side of the net. The girls who only had three on the court had to run down balls and try and score against the 6-person team, and defend against them with no block. It was definitely chaotic, but fun at the same time.
After practice all the girls and coaches sat down and had a Q&A with the Head Coaches, (Bill Neville, Ruth Nelson, Mike Hebert, and Andy Banachowski) where anyone could ask them about anything relevant to volleyball. The coaches talked about what they looked at the most when watching a player, and it wasn't talent, it wasn't pure skill, they look at passion, competitiveness, they looked at players who still had the energy and drive in the 3rd or 5th set of a game tied at 14-14. The coaches also talked about stories of coaching in college or internationally, and Ruth Nelson talked to us about how fortunate we are of how much USA Volleyball has grown. She was telling us how in 1975 the first USA Volleyball gym was funded and all the players worked two to three jobs, went to school, on top of practicing eight hours a week, 7 days a week. They didn't get gear like we received upon accepting the invitation to participate with the A2 program; they had to pay their way for living arrangements, etc. But she stated how we should be grateful for how far volleyball has come and to celebrate where USA Volleyball is today.
Tomorrow will be our last day practicing at University of Texas at Dallas. We will be practicing in the morning and then all of us will be shuttled to the Sheraton where we will be staying until the end of Junior Nationals. We will have a short practice in the Dallas Convention Center tomorrow evening. I have enjoyed my time here at UTD, and am excited to start competing with my team in the Convention Center.
Day 2-June 26th
Today was the epitome of the phrase "Eat, Sleep, Volleyball." Our day started off by waking up at 7:30, eating breakfast, practicing, eating lunch, taking a nap, practicing, eating dinner, and everyone heading to there rooms to catch up on Summer School homework or sleeping.
During our two practice sessions today, we had a three-hour practice in the morning, and a three-hour practice in the afternoon. In both practices, setters worked on learning the different names of sets the coaches would like us to run and to find a connection with all the hitters here. The last half of both practices setters picked players to be on their team and we played 10-minute games. The competitiveness definitely came out when we were battling it out for "Little" and "Big" Points (little points were winning a rally, big points were winning three consecutive rallies.)
Tomorrow we will mostly be like today, with two practice sessions, but tomorrow evening we will be informed on what team we were placed on, who our coaches will be and who will be on our team. I'm enjoying my time here and can't wait to finish up practicing and start competing at Junior Nationals.
Day 1-June 25th
Today has been full of filling out paperwork, getting gear, settling into the dorms, and meeting some great volleyball players and coaches from all across the country.
The day started out by arriving at the Albuquerque Sunport Airport at 5:45am, to catch our 6:45am flight to Dallas. We landed in Dallas around 9:30 and waited for Tom Pingel the Director of USA Volleyball to pick us up and take us to the University of Texas-Dallas where the A2 team will be practicing. We were one of the first groups of girls to arrive and had to kill time until 4:45 when the A2 program would officially start. Chantale Riddle and I used our time wisely by taking...a nap. When 4:45 rolled around, a mass of (tall) girls in red t-shirts were waiting in the dorm lobby ready to head over to the Dining Hall for Dinner. We enjoyed a nice meal and then anxiously walked over to the gym.
At the beginning of practice the Assistant and Head Coaches introduced themselves. (Head Coaches Andy Banachowski, Mike Hebert, Ruth Nelson and Bill Neville. Assistant coaches with the WNTA2 program are Ashley Allen, Linda Hampton and Marci Sanders.) Tom Pingel gave us a little background on how privileged we are to play for some very decorated coaches. He made sure to mention that our four Head Coaches have all coached over 35 years and combined they have had over 3,100 wins. Now that's impressive. After introductions, we got down to business. Practice consisted of warming up with a partner (stretching, peppering, etc.) working into doubles play, and then transitioning to 3 on 3, 4 on 4, 5 on 5 (BONGO was the drill name), and then we finished off with a little bit of serve and pass.
Overall today was a success. There are very talented girls here who are going to be fun to play with and against over the next week. I'm excited to be apart of this experience and can't wait to see what the rest of this trip has in store.