WVB EuroTrip 2017: Day 5 - Maribor, Slovenia

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    May 23, 2017

    The USC women's volleyball team is in Europe from May 18-30 for seven international exhibition matches and a taste of European culture and sightseeing. On Day 5, the Women of Troy spent a full day in Maribor, Slovenia. The team experienced an alpine slide down the side of a hill, endured a short rainstorm, and took a set off the world's No. 18-ranked Croatian National Team. Senior Nikki Leonard and junior transfer Brittany Welsh blog about the team's fifth day abroad.

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    Nikki Leonard, Sr.
    Today, we got up for breakfast and had our first early-morning practice of the trip. After practice, we went behind our hotel and headed up a big alpine mountain. We all took a chair lift up to the top and had a nice lunch as a team.

    The easy way down was in a cart down a big slide, so after lunch, we all got into the carts and one by one, went down the mountainside. You're strapped into this one-person cart, and all you have is one lever. If you push forward, it goes faster, and if you pull back, it puts the brakes on. It's almost like a one-person rollercoaster. We were supposed to go twice, but only ended up going once because it started raining, and the track wasn't safe to go on. You can't ride the thing down because the brakes won't catch the railing and that would be bad.

    Half of our team though, made it to the top of the mountain for their second run, and got stuck there as we were supposed to get set for our match preparations, so they were able to come down on a truck. In the evening, we played the No. 18-ranked Croatian National Team, and it was a very good match. They are a very good team and it was nice to see some great competition like that.

    Maribor and Slovenia are absolutely beautiful. The lake we went to the other day, Lake Bled, tops any other lake I've ever visited in the United States. It is way more green here than I expected and we've had great luck with very good weather overall. This is really my type of scenery and it seems there's a great lifestyle here.

    Brittany Welsh, Jr.
    The match against Croatia was a great opportunity for us. They're ranked 18th in the World FIVB rankings. We started off the match a little slower than we'd have liked, and seemed like we were holding back a little bit, but we gained our confidence back and were able to really push them and took a set off them in the fourth.

    I thought we were really good at pulling ourselves back together. It's hard when you lose two sets to bounce back and get closer and keep fighting. I was really proud to see our team do that.

    Dinner was great. We actually got on a gondola, which is not like the boat in Italy. It's what you use when you want to get to the top of the hill for skiing and snowboarding. We were able to fit about six people per gondola. It was really fun and we got really high up at some points. It was great because there was an awesome view of Maribor waiting for us at the top.

    After the trip up, we walked a little ways down the hill to a little mountain cabin for dinner. It was really a fun mountainy kind of environment. They had these great croissants, I have to say; they were probably the best croissants I've ever had in my life.

    Maribor is amazing and the history behind this place is really cool. Every year, they have a huge alpine snowboarding and skiing competition here and tons of people converge on the town to watch it. To be able to be on these hills when there's no snow, and kind of see the environment surrounding the area is really cool.

    Now, we're just getting ready for another day and another match in Maribor tomorrow.