Monday, May 28, 2012

A memorable tour

Sad to say that today is the last day of our trip. Our day has been filled with lots of traveling. We woke up and took a train to the airport in Paris, had a seven-hour flight to New York, following with a four-hour flight to Denver, then a bus trip to Fort Collins. It is sad that today was our last day in Europe, and how fast the trip went by, but many of us are excited to get back home to our family, friends, and foods we have missed! Some of the main foods and things the girls have said they missed include burgers, Mexican food, watermelon, grapes, ranch, ketchup, buffalo wings, pickles and free water. Trying to get a glass of water in Europe is a lot different, because it is always in a glass bottle and you have to pay for it. It was frustrating since we were trying to stay hydrated! Our coach, Brook, is good at making sure that we are drinking lots of water and staying hydrated.

The trip has been an incredible experience for our team. We had the opportunity to see many places, play foreign teams and adventure around Europe! We are going back with many memories that will last a lifetime, not to mention heavier bags (all the souvenirs and gifts we have bought!).

Throughout the trip it has been really cool to see girls bond and build relationships with different teammates. One of our goals was to bond with someone that we usually don't hang out with. We definitely strengthened and grew in our relationships. We stayed busy every day on the trip from morning to night, either touring around or playing a match. We all did a very good job of not complaining about being tired or hurting despite all of the walking we did (more walking than I have ever done). We grew and learned new things through different experiences on the trip that we plan on using in the future. I am also very happy with how we played in our matches, and I definitely feel like we became better. It’s also pretty cool to say that we were undefeated!

The highlights of the trip for me were seeing the Valley of the Temples in Agregento, going to the beach in Modica and getting to go out in the sea on a paddle boat with a slide, seeing the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, St. Peter’s Church, the Coliseum in Rome, going into the Duomo in Milan and seeing the Eiffel Tower. Another highlight of the trip was taking the night train from Milan to Paris. This was quite an experience. I probably will never take a night train again, but definitely glad that I was able to experience this.

We were very lucky to take the trip to Europe! It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am also very happy that I was able to share this experience with all my team members.

Thanks for following us!! :)

Megan Plourde

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Final day in Europe

It's Deedra (Deej) here reporting on our final day in Paris. Our day started off with us splitting into groups and doing different things. Dana, Izzy, Michelle, Kelsey and Tom all went to the Louvre museum and saw the actual painting of the Mona Lisa. I saw pictures of it on their cameras and they said it was small. I definitely thought it would be a big painting, so that was a shock. There were so many neat and amazing art sculptures there.

The team in Louxembourg Park.
While they were at the museum, the rest of us went into town and did some last-minute shopping. Instead of going to the big malls here, we decided to stay around the boutiques and smaller shops where we all found some good buys.

After shopping and doing some sightseeing, we met up in a beautiful park and had a team meeting. We reflected on this trip and how it has brought us all closer together. On top of that, all of the traveling and walking we did, we still managed to win all of our matches. When we finished our meeting, we got to go back to the Notre Dame cathedral and do a little more shopping. At the place where we were shopping, they supposedly have the "best" ice cream in the world. The lines for these places were out the doors and around the block. Unfortunately none of us got any because we wanted to save our appetites for our final dinner together in Europe.

Lemon ice cream at dinner.
This was by far everyone’s favorite meal of the entire trip. To start off, the place was 20,000 square feet. We were in the basement, which was pretty neat because it looked like a stone cave. For dessert, we all had apple tart, chocolate mousse, ice cream and the coolest one of the night: the lemon ice cream. It was served in an actual lemon! When we finished eating, an English man came to our table and sang some songs while playing his guitar. He was very good!

Carlie and Deedra dancing in the streets of Paris.
After dinner we walked back to the metro—or in mine and Kaitlind's case—danced back. When we got to the metro, we tried to run to make it on time. Unfortunately only Carlie and I made it, while Sam almost got caught in the door! Thank God I had Carlie with me because I had no idea how to get back. Good news is we all made it back to the hotel safe!

Well, lots of packing to get done tonight as we will be back in America tomorrow! Whoo! Can't wait to see my twin sister (Tori Foss). See everyone soon!

Deedra Foss

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sightseeing through Paris

Hello everyone!!

Brieon speaking! Today was a fabulous day for us all!! We arrived in Paris after sleeping on the overnight train. Although it was a very small space and slightly uncomfortable, I must admit it took us all out of our comfort zone and was nonetheless a great experience. I can honestly say it made us all appreciate what we do get to sleep in every night, which leads me to getting off the train in Paris. All the girls had to use the bathroom, which cost each of us 50 cents. Kelsey tried to get the most out of her 50 cents by brushing her teeth, but to the receptionist said it was inappropriate. Haha.

After getting situated, we learned the ins and outs of getting around in Paris by catching the metro train and reading our maps. We walked a little bit, and arrived at the gorgeous Eiffel Tower. We all talked about how we've seen the Eiffel Tower in movies and pictures, but being right in front of it was all so surreal!! It's so amazing and neat that such an enormous piece of landscape can draw so much attention and attract different people from all over the world.

Sam and Kaitlind posing in
front of the Notre Dame.
Later, after freshening up in our hotel rooms and catching the metro again, we had the chance to see the beautiful Arc de Triomphe and get a little bit of sightseeing and shopping done. The Ace de Triomphe was so magnificent and yet was another piece of beautiful art to catch one’s eye. We spent a little bit of time taking pictures and just taking the breathtaking image in.
The shopping here in Paris is insane. I'm a sucker for fashion, and just seeing everyone dressed in various types of designer pieces is amazing to me. All the different stores here, like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, all have special bags that are here and never made it to the U.S., so it was really neat when Deej, Kaila and I were able to go inside and just explore.

Megan, Tom and Izzy in front of the Notre Dame.
After we were done shopping, we all met at the Notre Dame cathedral. This was a beautiful sight to see with all the detail put into building it. When we finished seeing the Notre Dame, we went out for some dinner. There, people went out of their comfort zones and tried some Escargot. It was mine and a lot of the other girls’ first time trying it. It actually wasn't too bad, just had a strong fish taste to it. After eating a delicious dinner, us girls decided it was time to see what Paris is like during the night, so we’re all going to hit some clubs and celebrate one of our last nights here in Europe.

That's it for now. Until tomorrow when we wrap things up for the end of our trip!

Brieon Paige

The sites of Paris

The complete team in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Recreating the Eiffel Tower.
Sam & Carlie in front of the Eiffel Tower.

The Louvre.
Arc De Triomphe/Etoile.

The Rams in front of the Notre Dame.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Overnight train to Paris

It's Dana here, reporting Canadian Hammer style. Today has been a long one full of more Euro adventures. This morning we were up early and on the tram to the Sforzesco Castle. We have become quite the tram/bus/metro navigators over here, thanks to the sarcasm of our tour guide Tim (shout out to Bring It USA for the best tours).

Visiting the Sforzesco Castle before
the team's final match.
We got to take a few pictures at the castle, and then we had some free time. Some girls decided to get their last bit of shopping out of Milan while others went to explore the Duomo, which is a beautiful ginormous church downtown. We made sure to wear clothing that was acceptable so we could enter the church, and saw some amazing architecture, art and a beautiful place of worship. The rest of the morning included more shopping, our own improv Milan fashion show and Italian coffee experiences before we headed back to the hotel, napped, packed and got ready to head to the training center.
We headed over there to eat lunch and store all our luggage. Hats off to the chef because the food at the center has been amazing. Then it was time for the last match of the tour. We played Club Italia who is the Italian Junior National Team. They came out with a lot more fire than they had yesterday and we lost the first two sets. But your Rammies weren't going down without a fight. We wanted to finish the tour off right, so we dug deep and won the next three sets. We finished the volleyball portion of our tour 6-0, but way more important than that, we will return to America much better than when we left. The competition we've seen over here and the conditions we've been forced to play well in have challenged us and we let them make us better!
CSU and Club Italia after dinner.
After the game we headed to downtown Milan to join the Italian team for dinner. It was one of their birthdays and they were kind enough to invite us to come with. We had the best pizza known to man and went out for gelato after. We then did our 'soon-to-be-famous' dance with them outside our restaurant. We made our way back to the center, traded the last of our jerseys and headed out to the train station!

Some of the players in their bunks on the overnight
train ride to Paris.
We found our train and got our first look at our home for the night. The 7x8x7 foot box included six bunks and some luggage space. Surprisingly, I fit in the bunk fully stretched out, which is a big surprise. After a little human/luggage Tetris we got everyone situated and ready for a night on the rails.

Thank you to you all for reading this, supporting us and donating to our trip. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the trip brings.

Au revoir!

Dana Cranston

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A day to relax

CSU beat the Italian Junior National Team in all
four sets they played.
It's Kaila checking in!! Today was our second day in beautiful Milan! We started off our day by spending some time on our own by exploring the area surrounding our hotel or doing whatever we wanted. Some of us shopped some more in the little mall right across from our hotel and others took a much-needed nap!! Later in the afternoon, we all met back up at the training center where we ate lunch. Lunch was the best today! We had shish kebabs with steak, chicken, pork and some veggies! All of us really enjoyed that lunch!! After lunch we had some time to relax before the match against the Italian junior national team. 

The Rams at dinner in downtown Milan.
The match against the Italians went really well for us. We played four sets, and won all four of them!! In the last set, Bestie and Marlee were our outsides and Michelle played on the right, and they all dominated against the Italian team!! After winning the match we all went back to the hotel to dress up for dinner. Dinner was really good. It was Asian food, which was completely different from the food we had been having. For desert we all had gelato and then walked around to finish our night!

I have been having such a great and awesome time on this trip! I'm so blessed to be able to travel and play volleyball in Europe with these girls and coaches!!! I'm soo excited for the fall season! 

God bless,
Kaila Thomas

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A train ride to Milan

It’s Marlee checking in! Today we started our day off with a three-hour train ride to Milan. This was actually mine and Kelsey's first train ride ever! I was super pumped about it! The train was way more modernized than I expected it to be, but that's probably because I live in a fantasy world and expected it to look just like the one in Harry Potter. 

Arriving in Milan after a three-hour train ride.
The train ride actually ended up being pretty nice, not too rough and it was quick. I tried to stay up so I could check out the landscape we would be going through, but being up so late last night caught up to me, as well as everyone else. Once we got to Milan, everyone was antsy about getting to explore and shop, considering it is one of the top fashion capitals of the world. 

We took a cab to our hotel, and it's amazing how much different Milan is from Rome. Milan is way more city-like, and kind of dirty, whereas Rome was more old school and traditional. After we arrived at our hotel, we went and ate at the Italian National Team training center. I would've never thought they had what was like a restaurant and a bar and what not in there. Once we filled up on carbs, we rested and then watched the Italian men's national team. The guys we were watching are trying to make the travel roster. They are on the national team, but they only take 12 with them to London for the Olympics. I have never really watched men's volleyball before, but just watching them practice was amazing. They were so athletic and powerful! It was awesome. It definitely got some of us riled up and ready to play.

The Galleria
Once we were done watching them, we took the bus to downtown Milan where there are TONS of shopping spots and a beautiful church called Duomo. We split from the coaches and headed straight for the shopping area. Once we were done blowing our euros most of the girls decided to go eat. Here they have people standing outside luring you into their restaurant. I have never experienced this. They were bargaining with us and everything; it was quite the experience. The place we chose was bomb! The pizza was the best I have ever had. There is no way I'll be able to settle for Pizza Hut or Domino’s anymore; the bar is set waaayy too high!
CSU in front of the Duomo.

Well, that about sums up our day! I am having the time of my life on this trip and couldn't have asked for better people to come with! I'm excited to see what else is in store for us!

God bless America, 
Marlee Reynolds

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Vatican & Coliseum

Hey there Ram fans!!

It's Kaitlind! Lots of adventures on our first full day in Rome! We began with a metro ride to see the Vatican, and I can say with absolute certainty that I have never seen anything that beautiful. The architecture was incredible, and the detail that was put into the statutes, artwork, pillars and even the floors was indescribable. The pictures that we'll bring back will not even come close to showing how overwhelmingly grand this place was. That was truly an experience that will not soon be forgotten.

The team began the day by visiting the Vatican, the
home of the Pope and the religious center of the Roman
Catholic church.
After we were done visiting the Vatican, that's when the intermittent torrential downpour started happening. One minute there wouldn't be any rain, but when it started to sprinkle we had about 20 seconds (if that) to get our umbrellas up or zip up our rain coats and put away all of our belongings before the inevitable downpour began. So we eventually got underground to the metro and took off towards the Coliseum. 

Once we arrived there, we took a lot of pictures and began listening in on tour guides talking about how the ancient Romans would come here to watch bloodshed for the fun of it! I couldn’t imagine living in a time like that myself. In fact, we all wondered what it would be like to grow up in that time.

The Rams outside of the Coliseum, which they also toured on Tuesday.

After the Coliseum, we went to the Roman Forum. It struck me at this point that nothing in the United States is as old or raw or organic as the stuff that we find here on random street corners. It was really interesting for me to see the Forum because when I was a sophomore in high school, I read Julius Caesar, so I got to recall what I had read form several years ago and share it with everyone.

Once we were done at the Forum we were given free time for about two hours before heading back to the restaurant where we were having lunch. We all ventured down the main road named Via del Corso and we just shopped around until we had to get back. For lunch we had a delicious salad with tomatoes, greens, mozzarella, a simple noodle dish with olive oil and black pepper, and to finish it off, some of the best chicken and potatoes I've ever had. We all unanimously agreed that this was the best meal we've had by far in Italy.

After lunch, the worst of the downpours occurred, and even though our hotel was only about two blocks down the street from the restaurant, we might as well have walked into a lake seeing how everyone was completely drenched from head to toe when we got back to the Hotel De Mille. But imagine all of us running through the rain with our umbrellas all turned inside out and finally abandoned on the street. I bet it was a hilarious sight for anyone watching us.

The city of Trevi, where the Rams played their fourth match,
this time against an Italian-only club team. CSU is 4-0 on the trip.
After our waltz through the rain, we got ready to go play our match, which was two hours away in a town called Trevi. We need up playing four games even though we won the first three!! Whoo hoo!! Undefeated on our European tour so far!! After our match we went to a little pizza place and got several different types of pizza, including plain cheese, one with some sort of sausage on it and another with olives, artichokes and mushrooms. We finished dinner with a nice salad and lively conversation and gelati.

Now we’re headed back to the hotel to get ready to leave for Milan tomorrow! What a trip this has been so far! We are all so lucky to be given this opportunity. I hope everyone is doing well back home, and I want to wish my little brother happy ninth birthday on the 24th!!! So proud of you bud. Love you! Talk to you all soon!

Kaitlind Bestgen (Bestie/Linda) :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Arriving in Rome

The Rams smiling on the famous Spanish Steps.

Hey y'all!

It’s Carlie! So today we left the lovely island of Sicily for Rome, which is super exciting! We started off the day with a bang by pranking Tom. He left his phone at the table at breakfast, and Dana was kind enough to pick it up for him. However there was a price. We kept the phone and tried to see how long it would take him—which we think he would die without his lifeline of a phone—to completely freak out. We ended up taking bets to add a little entertainment, and Coach Brook won by predicting the meltdown at 9:11 a.m. on the dot.

The airport was a smooth experience, nothing out of the ordinary from a normal airport, and to pass the time we did what any group of girls would do and braided hair. Tom even said Sam Peters looked like a goddess boarding the plane with her around-the-head braid. When we landed, everyone got their bags and headed off to the taxis. When you think of a car chase in a movie with the setting somewhere in Europe, that’s not just how the people in the chase drive, but in real life Europe that's how everyone drives, or at least the taxi drivers. Between the difference in kilometers per hour and miles per hour and the drivers never staying in a single lane for more than a few seconds, it took us a little bit to not completely freak out and jump out of the car thinking walking was a safer route than vehicle transportation.

Our hotel is quite cozy. Seriously though, four girls in a room the size of most peoples’ bedrooms. But who’s complaining? We are in Rome, right?  :)

After checking in and getting settled, it was time to explore. Our first tourist attraction was the Spanish Steps, actually called the Trinita dei Monti. This was a beautiful white-stone building with two parts projecting upward like the Notre Dame, but with domes on the top, and they were white, of course. The steps were covered with people, and right before the steps was a little fountain with a boat in the middle of it. After a few great pictures we were onto the next one.

CSU players making wishes while tossing coins into
the Fontana di Trevi.
Next was the Trevi Fountain, or Fontana di Trevi. This is something, that if any of you have or are wanting to make a bucket list, you need to put on it! It was a lot of fun taking pictures and making wishes and throwing our coins into the fountain. It was definitely the stereotypical scene that you would think of with a wishing well, but on steroids.

Then came the Pantheon, which we saw as a place of worship. The architecture on the outside was like a Greek temple, like they built to worship the gods. Then on the inside was a huge dome, and along the walls were cavities full of paintings, sculptures, and sayings in Italian. Along the front was an altar surrounded by rows of benches. All of these places were magnificent and architecturally breathtaking. Neither words or pictures could explain its beauty. You seriously have to see Rome in person to truly understand and appreciate everything it has to offer.

Downtown Rome, and the Piazza Navona,
the site from Angels & Demons
After the Pantheon, we met in the Piazza Navona, which was just like a square with three fountains. The fountains were beautiful with many sculptures and hidden meaning, but the only breathtaking thing about this place was when we took a head count and one head couldn't be found. Kelsey Snider was missing and panic had struck us all. We split up and went on a Snider hunt for our lost teammate, hoping everything was alright. Deedra and Brieon came in clutch heading back to the Pantheon, retrieving the poor girl. We were happy to have her with us and to know nothing harmed her.

After the travel, tourism and drama, we were some hungry girls. Our meal was much different tonight than any other so far. We weren't eating in a hotel; we were actually out in the world of Italy! Our waiter brought us bowl after bowl of Italian dishes, where we took samples of each. There was grilled zucchini, eggplant, cauliflower, peppers, olives, an Italian-salad-looking thing that Tom said tasted like fennel. Then there was mozzarella and buffula mozzarella—made from buffalo milk for the cheese balls—then ham, salami, brescutto and meatballs. My favorite was the arancino di formaggio, which is just a rice ball with cheese and fried to perfection!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog. We will be seeing the Coliseum, and you will be hearing all about it from another lucky lady!


Carlie Foust

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Final day in Modica


It's Sam here, reporting on our third and final day in beautiful Modica. I think it is finally starting to hit the majority of us that we are actually in Italy! For me this has all been like a dream so far, but it's finally clicking that we are all truly blessed enough to be on this breathtaking island.

To start the day off we made our way to the town of Ragusa, which is about 30 minutes outside of Modica. This drive further illustrated the master skills of our driver, Paulo, and his ability to maneuver the winding countryside. Once we made it to Ragusa, we were all in awe once again. The cobblestone streets lead the way into town, but the only difference on this journey was that there was no hustle and bustle to greet us when we arrived. Being Sunday, the streets were bare except a random strangler here and there. We had entered a ghost town.

Regardless, we were flabbergasted at the amazing architecture, particularly the San Giorgio church, which seemed to be the center of the town. I am willing to go out on a limb here and say this was the most gorgeous place we have been since leaving the United States. The church wasn't the only contributor to this decision though; after exploring a little more Deedra, Kaila, Marlee, Carlie and myself stumbled across a garden that was unlike anything I had ever seen. Palm trees lined the entrance to an enormous area filled with flowers and statues and benches that overlooked the countryside. I only wish I could describe to you all how amazing this view was, but I simply can't do it justice.

Around 10:30 the town finally came alive, and there was of, course, more shopping to be done. Us girls can never get enough! Along with the shopping, Dana, Kaitlind and Michelle discovered a wonderful little coffee shop that we all decided to try. Needless to say, I don't think Starbucks will ever truly satisfy our taste buds again. After a little more exploring, it was time to head back to the hotel to capitalize on what we all envision will become CSU volleyball's 15 minutes of fame.

This may come as a surprise to most of you, but besides being studly volleyball players, our team is also comprised of avid dancers. Once we returned to the hotel we all learned a dance to a Brazilian song (Izzy translated) and performed it on the front steps of our hotel. I'm sure you will all have the pleasure of viewing this masterpiece, but let me just tell you... It was awesome. I think the 40 or so Italians who gathered to watch us crazy Americans would agree.

Of course the day would not be complete without some volleyball. We are now 3-0, my friends! This was our most difficult fight to date, but we were able to pull out the win in four sets. After the match we had our first opportunity to trade with the opposing team. We handed over some of our practice shirts and jerseys and they did the same in return. It was definitely a treat for them to let us into their culture and to be able to interact with young ladies who love their sport as much as we do.

And that was all in one day! I think we are all surprised how much we have been able to fit into the four short days that we have been here, and there are still so many experiences ahead of us. But we have officially corrupted Modica with enough American energy, so it's off to Rome in the morning!
Much love to the family, friends, boyfriend and everyone back at home!

Bubye for now :)

Sam Peters

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A day at the beach

It's Michelle here reporting on the third day of our European tour, and our first full day in Modica. Right now we're headed toward the beach, which is about 30 minutes from our hotel, but on the way, us girls are anxious to get a bit of shopping in, so we'll be taking a pit stop in the town. The drive to the main drag of the town is all downhill, and I am still in awe how our bus driver is able to maneuver this huge bus down these narrow winding roads without hitting anything.

Shopping was a great success! Chocolate was the main priority, and that was not an issue to find since Modica is known for their chocolate. There are so many exotic flavors that we will be coming home with, such as lemon, cinnamon, café (coffee) and even peperoncino (jalapeño)! Many of us struggled to communicate effectively, but we're learning more every day. In one boutique, Izzy learned the proper term for a girl in the Mafia. It's Maffiosa. We couldn't help but to laugh at this, and the vendor got a kick out of it too because she then proceeded to bid us farewell by smiling while waving and saying, ‘Maffiosa!!’ Some of the girls found a leather boutique where we were able to watch the products be handcrafted. We'll be coming home with new leather wallets, belts, calendar holders, keychains and more. Now we're off to the beach, and I'm excited to report back in a bit :)


So just finished up our day at the beach. It's about 2pm here, and we had a blast. Brie and Deej rented a canoe/kayak-looking thing, and despite the slightly breezy conditions managed to not tip.

A few more of us took turns taking out this awesome paddle boat that had a water slide on it. Tom offered to rent it as long as each of us used the slide. So the first crew of four took to sea (Dana, Meg, Iz and Kels). Dana was the first brave soul to test the waters and Meg followed right behind. While the next group tested out the paddle boat (Carlie, Sam, Bestie and myself), Tom and Brook decided to show us all up by going for a nice long run on the beach.

Salvatore ended up meeting us at the beach, and as always we all had fun chatting and goofing around with him. He was calling us out for the varying levels of tanness on our team, referring to the pasty white gals as "mozzarella"(don't worry, it's only the beginning of summer, girls) Iz was "cappuccino,” while Sam was "café." Now it's time to start getting pumped for our match tonight against the Malta National Team!

CSU with the Malta National Team.
CSU gave away its jerseys to Malta after the match.
We pulled off our second win of the trip tonight. There were several highlights, but the number one by far was Marlee getting back on the court for the first time since November. She played AMAZING, and the crowd went wild when she got a dynamite kill (or at least all of us Rammies did! :) ) After the match we were able to take a group photo and give away some Colorado State gear to the Malta team, and they were ecstatic! We wrapped up another amazing day in Europe by having a dance party on the bus and a nice dinner. Can't wait to see what tomorrow's adventures bring, but I'm going to get going for now . . . I have some laundry soaking in the sink that I need to hang up around my room for the night.

:) Michelle Smith :)

Rams in the newspaper

CSU appeared in Friday's Sicilian newspaper after defeating Akragas Volley, 3-1. Here is a somewhat-translated version of the article, in addition to a photo, which also appeared in the paper.


Great show at Nicosia Volleyball Women's contest between Colorado State University and the local education dell'Akragas volley that is having the play offs for promotion to Serie B / 1. The end result was three to one for the Americans who have proven to be technically superior to biancazzurre a span of President John Crust. The first set was won by Agrigento (with 25-21 Taniana Lombardo, Ilenia Buonfiglio Maiello and Hope in high dusting). Then came up with the class of the U.S. in May. In the second won by guests (16-25) with the American color Bri Paige, Megan Plairde and Kelsey Snider reach parity. In the third still on the shields of Colorado girls who carry the lead (14-25) thanks to the deadly crush of Dana Cranston, Sam Peters and the first Setter Deedra Foss.

In the last part without jolts success comes the host (17-25) with a large Izzy Gaulia and Mishelle Smith unsurpassed in defense. Coach Tom Hilbert has also used Dana Cransten, Kaitlind Bestgen, Kaila Thomas, Carlie Foust, Marlee Reyndds and Megan Plairde. The biancazzurre, however, have opposed a bona resistance Ilenia Buonfiglio, Maria Antonietta Of Monaco, Tatiana Lombard, Irene Pichierri and Livia Magherini that the net you are given a lot to do. The game, however, gave some guidance to the coach Tani Frinzi Russo that the term is considered satisfied in view of the play offs. The first semi-final opponent is the Caserta Volleyball. As you will remember biancazzurre, as one of the two best second of the three southern groups, the other is the Power Volleyball, passed unscathed and without playing the quarterfinals. As mentioned the opponent to be addressed is the Volley Caserta. In turn leg of the quarterfinals, in fact, considerably exceeded the casertane (3-0 and 3-1) and the Divine Love Roma Costaverde Cefalu went on to win (0-3) to Olbia surpassing them at home (3 -2). Cefalu and Caserta, then, are the semi-finalists and, considering that at this stage you may face two teams from the same group, it is certain that the next opponent is precisely where the Caserta Volleyball Milena Milita former aragonese Boteva.

Izzy Gaulia, Kelsey Snider, Dana Cranston and Michelle Smith
pose with the president of Akragas Volley. The team gave CSU
lemons and oranges after the match.

The Bulgarian naturalized for having just started playing in Italy he played at the Rio Aragon in Serie A / 2 and won again in Beach Volleyball Volleyball with Aragon trocolore two league titles. The meeting will take place Wednesday, May 23 at 20:30 Palace in Nicosia. The preparation, in view of the semifinals of the playoffs, will continue this afternoon. The girls, as mentioned, are all available with a Christian Messina, Annalisa Sannino, Maria Antonietta Of Monaco, Linda Scimè, Hope Maiello, fly-Daniela, Irene Pichierri, Tatiana Lombardo, Sasha and Livia Magherini Gebbia. The only not in good physical condition is the young Valentina Cassarino struggling with bursitis in the elbow and for a few days but it will definitely be able to be able to continue to be available for the meeting with casertane.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Valley of Temples

It's Kelsey here, and we are in Modica, Italy! So far we are having a fantastic time! Today we started out in Agrigento, Italy. We woke up in the morning and toured the city there and did a little bit of shopping. The city was very different; it almost felt like I was in a movie. The streets were made from brick and very narrow. I was amazed at how well our bus fit through the streets. Also, in one of the shops, it was three stories, but instead of going up, it went down into the ground. After that, we went and toured the Valley of the Temples, and they were gorgeous. All in all, the valley has eight temples, but we only saw three. At one of the temples, we saw a statue of a winged man that was green and blue. He was missing his legs from the knee down and most of his arms. And he was very naked . . . it was a bit of a shocker! At the last temple, me and a few others sat on some rocks and listened to Salvatore explain to us how the education system works in Italy. One thing that I learned was that the colleges are very specific, meaning that if you wanted to study sports medicine, you would go to a college that only offers courses in sports medicine and nothing else. After touring the Temples, we took a two-hour drive to the city of Scicli. 

Scicli was a small little town that went up. So in other words, instead of the roads being flat, they were like ramps and lead to a place where you could climb to a giant cathedral. We explored the cathedral for a while and ended up on top of the mountain. It was very pretty up there, and we could see the whole city. After that, we walked back down to the main part of the city and we noticed that there were water bottles in front of the doorways. We asked Salvatore (he's kind of our information man) why they were there since we hadn't seen that before. He said that because there are stray dogs, they put them there so that they "don't make pee-pee on the doorway." We all thought that was pretty interesting.

Once we got to the bottom we went and explored the city a bit. Meg, Kaila and I went to a few shops and walked around the city. It's kind of awkward though, everyone stares at us. We thought that it was because we were wearing shorts, and none of the other women were. So as usual, we asked Salvatore if shorts were acceptable for women to wear, and he said that yes it was, but it' still cold for them. It's like in the high 80s with clear blue skies . . . But again, according to Salvatore they are used to over 40 degrees Celsius, which is around the 100s. When we went shopping, Bestie, Sam, Carlie, Marlee, and Deej all decided to go in to a cathedral and get kicked out. It wasn't because they were misbehaving, but because they were wearing shorts and tank tops, which is not allowed in the cathedral.  Once we all were done touring the city, we hopped back on the bus and drove like 15 minutes to Modica. 

When we arrived in Modica, we had about an hour to relax, then dinner. One fun fact about how they serve the meals here in Italy is that your appetizer is pasta, then your main course would be a type of meat with vegetables and dessert would be either fruit or a salad, or what we would think of as actual dessert like ice cream. Today at lunch, we had cannolis . . . Oh my goodness they were so good!!! As you could imagine, we were so full after dinner, but we still went and toured the city of Modica for 30 minutes. Most of the shops were closed since it was like 9:30 p.m., but we still managed to completely fill our stomachs with gelato. After that we came back to the hotel, and everyone went back to their rooms to relax and sleep. Tomorrow we will be going to the beach—which looks absolutely beautiful—and shopping. We also will be starting our tournament here, which should be a lot of fun. And someone new will be telling you about those fun adventures tomorrow, so until then ciao!

Kelsey Snider

P.S.  I want to say hello to my family and boyfriend . . . I love you guys and miss you and can't wait to see you when we get back!!!

CSU players prepare for Europe [video]

If you had the chance to go to Europe with the team, which part would you be most excited about? Before the team left, they gave you their answers!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hello from Italy!


Hi guys,

We have finally made it to Italy, and it's so pretty and we're all so excited to finally be here! Here's the recap:

After arriving to JFK we had to wait a long while before boarding for our flight to Rome, which is never fun anyway. On top of that, JFK is a very confusing airport, and for 20 minutes we had no idea where we were going and what we were doing. So that was a great time...
Then we were, or at least I was, expecting JFK to be fun and exciting with cool stores and delicious restaurants but nooooooooo... Three of the girls and I had to settle for a not-so-delicious restaurant with poor service, and on top of that, no ranch dressing and no soda on tap! What has this world come to?!?

Next, we waited and waited and waited some more, and then finally we boarded. The plane was huge and had a first, second and economy class, which I thought was pretty legit. The whole team was scattered around the entire plane so I didn't get to see them at all. I know some slept most of the way, but others weren't so lucky. I was lucky enough to get a window seat, so I slept most of the time--not that that is a problem for me anyway--but a window seat really helps me get comfortable. I know Deej got stuck in a middle seat with two random people, so you see how things can get uncomfortable sometimes. We were also fed pretty well during the flight, and the flight crew took pretty good care of us, which made this flight much easier.

In the morning we were all ready to land and finally get to Italy. Once we landed, it was about an hour until our next flight to Palermo, Italy, so that went by quick. We also met our tour guide, Tim, there. Our flight to Palermo went by very quickly also, then we got our bags, got on a bus and went straight to our match.
We arrived a little bit late for the match, so we had to get ready very quickly, warm up and start playing. The match started out kind of shaky. Our serve-receive struggled for a couple sets before it started to improve. We lost the first set but won the second, third and fourth. By the third set we really started to show up and play like we know how to. We began to have a lot more fun and improve in all our skills, which helped boost our confidence, allowing us to take the match in four. The team we played found our weaknesses and really pushed us in those areas, so they were very good in the way that they made us earn every point, and also how they made very few errors. All in all this has been a great experience so far, and it's only the first day! I can't wait to see what we come across these next couple weeks!

Stayed tuned :)
Izzy Gaulia

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Touched down in NYC


Helloooooo everybody,

This is Izzy coming to you from Flight 210! So far we're just on our way to JFK Airport in New York. However, this flight has not started out very well for me, because I don't know if you guys know this, but I'm very terrified of flying and it so happens that this takeoff has been one of the worst in a long time in my opinion.

Other players might have a completely different take on this,  but I was scared to death and might have cried a little, but that's up for interpretation. Right now we're just attempting to stay awake for this flight so we can sleep better on the way to Rome, and hopefully adjust better and quicker to their time. Next time you guys hear from me we'll be in Italia!

-Izzy Gaulia

The start of something special

The Rams will fly from Denver to Palermo (with layovers
in New York and Rome), then take a bus to Cefalu. Bus
trips to Modica (May 18) and Ragusa (May 20) will
precede a flight to Rome for two days (May 21-22),
followed by a train trip to Milan (May 23). The Rams will
then take an overnight train to Paris, France (May 25)
before returning home on May 28.
Today’s the morning we depart on our 2012 Ram Volleyball foreign tour, and I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on past tours and what they have done for our program as well as comment on what we are about to experience.

The first time we took one of these tours, in the summer of 1999, I remember being on the tour and disappointed in the level of competition we were getting. I wondered if the tour was worth it. I only counted success in quality and quantity of matches and how well we played. I remember having a match canceled on us in Berlin and being very angry with the tour company. It wasn't until after the tour was over that I began to realize the real benefits of it.

The tour was far less about volleyball competition and far more about building trust through a shared experience. Sure, the extra practices help and playing a great Praha Olymp team tests your team’s mettle—especially when you spent the morning walking across the Charles Bridge and touring a castle, then eating salami and cheese with crusty bread for pregame, and warming up with a green and red paneled ball you had never seen before.

But those crazy off-the-cuff experiences create stories . . . stories create bonds among players because they shared an interesting experience. That bond builds trust . . . trust enhances the whole team’s experience and ability to function.

Four years later we did it again, and it was even more valuable. This time choosing new countries and having a Euro of our own on the team. We took a picture with a CSU flag overlooking Budapest that still hangs in my den. Another four years later, another tour. This one giving us much more interaction with the host players and even a chance to meet with a legendary volleyball coach, Nikolay Karpol.

Today, we will head out from Moby at 8:30 a.m., and 22 hours and three airports later we will land in Palermo, Italy. Within three hours we will be playing our first match. We will proceed to play the next three nights in a row and undoubtedly have crazy stories in between. We will see things that help us understand life thousands of years ago, tour villages that vault us into a different culture, and meet people who speak a different language and live a different lifestyle but share one thing in common: the love of a sport called volleyball.

I hope we play well, win a few matches, meet wonderful people and eat great food. But mostly, I hope we discover each other through a shared experience. The real success of this trip will be measured years from now with a story told to a child or a moment recalled between two old teammates. Or maybe another Ram player choosing to live and play overseas because of something they discovered with us during these next 11 days. It will be great . . . trust me.

Tom Hilbert
Head Coach

Monday, May 14, 2012

European Overview

Beginning Wednesday, the Rams will depart on a European trip! Every four years, the NCAA allows teams to take an international tour. In past years, Tom Hilbert and the Rams have ventured through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, Holland and the Czech Republic. May 2012 will be the fourth European tour the Rams have taken under Hilbert, as the team will spend nearly two weeks touring Italy and France.

CSU will spend nearly two weeks in Sicily, Rome, Milan
and Paris. Seen above is the 2008 team during its tour.
The benefits of these international tours are twofold: For one, the team gets an extra opportunity to bond and build team chemistry while being together in a foreign country. Secondly, it gives them extra practice. The Rams will be playing at least seven matches in 11 days, allowing them to work on certain situations and drills. Additionally, even though the allotment of spring practices the NCAA allows have been exhausted, CSU has been able to practice for several days leading up to the tour, which will surely play a factor in the fall.

Follow along, as each day a new post (including photos!) will be generated by a CSU student-athlete, highlighting the previous day’s competition and sightseeing. Feel free to add comments and share the blog with your friends!