It's game day! My parents got here last night. It was so good to see them and give them huge hugs! My mom is so thoughtful that she put together USA goodie bags for the whole team - luggage name tags with quotes on it, a mini USA flag, red white and blue bubble gum, hair ties and tattoos! I have them to the team at breakfast to pump everyone up for the big day.
After breakfast we watched film on Bulgaria's rotations as a refresher. We practiced at a new gym today. We worked on defending Bulgaria's tendencies in each rotation. Instead of normal looking ball carts, the balls were in shopping carts. On a side note, the team is really enjoying the colder weather today. We had lunch back at the hotel then each of us buddied up and did a mock post-interview of defeating Bulgaria. We wrote down each other's responses so that we can read them before the match tonight. It definitely put me in the mindset that beating Bulgaria is the only acceptable outcome and that we must be relentless to make it happen.
It felt unreal getting ready for the game putting on my USA jersey with my name on the back. I feel honored to be given this opportunity to represent my country. Before the match, there is strict protocol: going to the locker room, then practice courts, how we walk onto the court, pictures, and so on. Each team's national anthem also plays. The whole team sang ours proudly. It's such an incredible feeling to be in a USA jersey singing the national anthem with our parents watching in the stands. Half the team has family that came to support us.
We fought hard throughout the match but Bulgaria ended up winning the match in three sets. We returned to the hotel showered and changed for dinner. The tournament people wash our jerseys and socks for us after each match.
At dinner, I had fish and they brought out the whole fish... tail and head and all the bones still in it! Some of the team was grossed out by it but it still tasted really good. :)
After dinner, we watched film on our match to figure out how we can play better for tomorrow's match against Brazil. We are resting up for the rest of tonight preparing for tomorrow. Go USA!