The last few days of being in the Czech Republic at the Junior World Championships were truly memorable. I am very proud of the team. We finished strong by defeating Nigeria and Puerto Rico both in three sets securing a 17th place finish.
Although we were not competing for a medal, the team improved overall. Our matches were in the morning so during the evening we were able to watch the quarter, semi and final matches. Watching these better teams compete inspired me to be better. One thing I learned from watching China, Japan, and Brazil (the three medalists) is that to win you must be relentless on every single play no matter the score.
The teams played their best volleyball throughout entire matches. That takes a great deal of mental toughness, a trait our team improved on towards the end of the tournament as we learned to dominate teams every point.
I've enjoyed this experience so much that I was sad when the last day came around. After watching the finals match, China beating Japan, and the closing ceremonies, we returned to the hotel to pack for our 5:30 a.m. departure the next day. As all the teams got back to the hotel everyone was running up and down the stairs to the other floors trading gear.
I made a lot of new friends and hung out with some old friends that I made in Turkey two years ago. Even though we are competitive across the net, the other teams are so friendly off the court.
In the morning, Robin made the team scrambled eggs and then we were off starting our journey home. Goodbyes are always tough especially after living and training with this group of girls and coaches for the past month. I couldn't have asked for a more fulfilling and educational experience.
Thank you USA Volleyball, thank you coaches and thank you to my team. I am truly blessed and honored to have had the opportunity to represent my country. Go USA!