June 11, 2013
Krystalyn Goode took her turn Tuesday in a blog series that will outline U-M's 13-day tour of Brazil and Argentina, which will include nearly a dozen matches across the two South American countries.
With a 9 a.m. departure time from the Praia Lido Hotel in the heart of downtown Rio de Janeiro, the Wolverines had yet another packed day ahead of them. The setters decided to wake up a tad earlier than the rest of the pack to catch the sunrise on the beach. Although I wasn´t there to experience it myself, I´m confident it was a breathtaking sight with the waves crashing upon the then-deserted white shores of Copacabana Beach. Lexi Dannemiller, Kelly and I tried to see it the day before but weren't granted the same opportunity because of the clouds. Carly and Lexi Dannemiller were blessed with clear skies today!
Following the sunrise watching, breakfast eating and last-minute packing, the Maize and Blue flooded the staircase as we made our way to the bus. The staircase claimed two victims with Erin and Brittney taking a tumble. Fortunately, they were no casualties ... talk about the Michigan difference. I´m not sure if any other program could handle the wrath of that spiral staircase with such style and grace. Once we all made it safely across the street, we were greeted by the face of the man we had been waiting to see: a traveling salesman we had affectionately named Bracelet Man. He sold handmade bracelets that appeared to be some of the team's favorite. His arrival was perfectly timed because just as purchases were being made our charter bus pulled up to the curb.
With the efficiency of a well-oiled machine, it only took us a matter of minutes to load up the bus. Just like that, we were on our way to the Brazilian National Training Center, home of Olympians and some of the best volleyball players on this planet! It was rumored the drive would take three hours, but we made it to beautiful Saquarema in under two. The town seemed very secluded in contrast to the bustling Rio, but with the rolling hills and green pastures along with access to the ocean and a gorgeous lake, it is hard to imagine why more people do not make their way here. To say it is picturesque would be an understatement. Upon entering the compound where we would be living and competing for the next few days, it was hard to tell if it was a resort or a facility focused on pumping out fierce competitors. Molly and I were pleased to find that the beds were extra-long, which is quite the treat for any front row player on our team!
It only took us a short walk from our room to the gym, passing a luxurious pool on the way. Earlier, most of the girls used their free time perfecting their belly flopping skills, just like a little kid would do on a family vacation. However, once we passed through the threshold of the training center, it was all business. After a quick serve and pass to get acclimated to the international volleyballs, we had our standard warm-up for the seventh time this trip. We won the first set, but went on to lose the second by two points. Fortunately, we were able to battle to win the next two sets. Tomorrow, we will face the same team at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Stay tuned for Ally Sabol's blog with the juicy details of our last day of competition!
For more on U-M's tour of Brazil and Argentina, including game results, blogs, photos and video, visit our Michigan Volleyball in South America page.