June 24, 2006
Prague, Czech Republic - The 14-day European trip for the Stanford women's volleyball team is rapidly coming to an end and thus far, the Cardinal is 4-1 in matches against some of the top teams in the European sector.
Stanford has been to the countries of Italy, Slovenia, Austria and the Czech Republic in what has turned out be a tremendous experience for the team, the coaches and the support staff.
Monday night, Stanford plays perhaps its best opponent when the Czech Junior National team provides the competition. The Czechs are a very strong team and will be among the top teams at the European Junior Championships in September.
The Czechs will be competing in preliminary pool play with Belgium, Belarus, Croatia, France and Italy. Stanford played the Croatians and the Italians on this European trip. The Czechs qualified for the European Championships based on the strength of the team and their first place showing over the Netherlands, Hungary, Germany, Slovenia and Israel.
Stanford opened European schedule on June 16 with a 25-14, 25-15, 20-25, 25-21 victory over Lido di Ostia in Rome, Italy. Foluke Akinradewo led Stanford with eleven kills while Kristin Richards added ten kills and six digs.
The following evening in Rome, Richards tallied 17 kills in leading Stanford to a 25-20, 25-22, 25-23 victory over AS Fidia Roma.
The third match in three days saw what has been the most competitive match thus far. Playing in Nocera Umbra, Stanford scored a hard-earned 18-25, 25-23, 25-23, 21-25, 15-13 victory over a very strong Italian Junior National team.
Richards, Akinradewo and Nji Nnmani combined for 37 of Stanford's 48 kills. Stanford hit .313 as a team.
A tired but determined Stanford team played its fourth match in four nights and scored a 25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 25-15 victory over Teodora Ravenna in Ravenna, Italy. Akinradewo led the Stanford attack with 16 kills and ten digs. Erin Waller, Lizzie Suiter and Nji Nnamani each added ten kills. Stanford collected 55 kills in 100 attempts.
Stanford's first loss came on June 21 in Maribor, Slovenia, as the Croatian Junior National team scored a 25-19, 28-30, 21-25, 25-27 victory over the Cardinal. Richards had 14 kills while Jessica Fishburn collected 13 digs.
Pictures of Stanford's trip to Europe are also available at www.bringitusa.com/stanford2006
Here is the remaining schedule for the Stanford Cardinal:
Sunday, June 25 - All day sightseeing in Prague
Monday, June 26 - Match vs Czech Junior National team
Tuesday, June 27 - Depart Czech Republic for home
Today's Daily Diary (for June 24) was written by Franci Girard:
"After climbing to the top of a thirty foot pole and allowing myself to free fall on a rope swing at the top of a mountain in Slovenia, the team was allowed a day to just chill. Most of us woke up in the morning and headed for another hotel with hopes of jumping in the pool and using the spa. Erin (Waller) and Bryn (Kehoe) were able to get much needed massages while the rest of us sat poolside taking in the sun. I laid out for the first time in my life while Nji (Nnmani) and Foluke (Akinradewo) hung out in the shade. We then enjoyed a delightful lunch and headed straight for the complex that we played in the day before to hop on the Internet. Overall it was a relaxing day.
Next we headed to Vienna, Austria, a bustling city that reminded me of my home in New York City. There was an underground subway system that was quick and easy. The whole team spent the most of the day in and out of H&M, Zara and Mango; taking advantage of sales and enjoying everything that the city has to offer. After shopping we took some time to go into St. Peters Church, explore the Hapsburg Palaces and watch street dancers all before dinner. We concluded the night in an old but spacious and comfortable hotel recapping the day and sharing excitement as well as talks about our next destination; Prague, Czech Republic.
Cory Solomon has been Stanford's team tour guide from the team's arrival in Moribor, Slovenia through the end of the trip to the Czech Republic. Solomon is an American who now lives in Maribor for three years. Solomon was formerly the head women's volleyball coach at the University of Utah. Spectacular is the only way to describe the sights and sounds of Vienna, Austria. There is so much history to his city. It is easy to get around this busy city, thanks to a transit system that is considered one of the best in Europe, and the locals who speak pretty good English. After the team arrived in Vienna, Austria in the early afternoon from a three-hour drive from Slovenia, lunch was served at a Turkish restaurant. Sightseeing and shopping was on the agenda for the next five hours, and then dinner at an sidewalk restaurant near the Mozart Opera House. While the players continued their shopping after dinner, the coaches and support staff headed across the street for dessert at Café Mozart. It is highly recommended to try the peach cheese cake and a cup of espresso. Stanford assistant head coach Jason Mansfield will be leaving the traveling party on Sunday to return home while the team is scheduled to leave on Tuesday. Mansfield is coaching a team at the Junior Olympics in Atlanta next week. Starbucks has finally surfaced on this European trip. It is located in the center of Vienna. The coffee house offers internet service.