First things first, getting the team back together was one of the best things ever. After some long crazy travel there’s no pick me up like the beaming faces of your teammates you haven’t seen in a month. After working so hard together over the summer, separating, and now coming back together, it felt like one big family reunion in Japan!
We arrived 1 week before the beginning of the tournament to train and get our groove back together as quickly as possible. As much as we love playing together and how much easier it is since we all speak the same language and trained together all summer, it’s not easy to get on the same page in such a short period of time. USA runs one of the fastest offenses in the world so we must work with a lot of precision and timing. Once we left for our respective club teams, we all start working into their systems- different speeds, different positioning, different words. So getting a good week of work in is critical.
We stayed in the Tokyo Olympic Training center- basically a big facility with dorms, every type of sport facility, a cafeteria, and some other recovery facilities. It was really nice of the Japanese Volleyball Federation to let us stay there. Having our rooms, the gym, and the cafeteria all in one place is pretty convenient. The only problem we had was that the food was got pretty old pretty quickly. We (especially me) were excited to finally leave and check into the Nagoya Hotel at the end of the week and get some different type of grub.
Besides normal practice sessions, we scrimmaged the Japanese team a couple of times. If I look back at the summer… we have played against Japan (in tournaments, practices, or friendly matches) just about 11 times now. Needless to say, we know them pretty well!
One afternoon we took a little trip into Tokyo to meet with Mizuno Japan, our USA Volleyball sponsor. Mizuno keeps us looking fly and feeling good with the gear they provide us so it’s neat to be able to make an appearance and tell them thanks. We went to their offices first and were welcomed by a nice crowd and a lot of applause. Then we walked 5 minutes to the retail store and they let us do a little shopping! A great way to wrap the trip was with a team Starbucks run next door. Starbucks always feels like a little taste of America and home. It’s not so easily accessible for my in my bitty German city so I’m taking advantage of as many Starby’s as I can 🙂
The first part of the tournament is in Nagoya, about 4 hours driving from Tokyo. We took the bullet train there which was pretty cool. It took us just over an hour and a half from one station to the other. Fastest train I’ve been on! Once there, it was time to check in and get to work! One day to settle in and train before we take on the best in the world!