Rigo's Recap: Down to business

Melissa Rigo

July 17, 2013

Sophomore outside hitter and 2012 America East Rookie of the Year Melissa Rigo is in Europe playing for the BIP U.S. team as part of the European Global Challenge. Check in with her as she begins the Global Challenge, serves as a primary setter for the first time in her career and tries Nutella pizza (yes, Nutella pizza!).

For more on Rigo's journey, follow @StonyBrookVB and @SBAthletics on Twitter or search for the hashtag #GORiGO.  

Yesterday morning, we played the Slovenian Junior National Team. This was only our second friendly match, and we took two sets from them, which we were pretty happy about. They are going to be in the Global Challenge tournament, so hopefully we meet up with them again in playoffs. After our match, we quickly got ready and headed to Lake Bled in Croatia. I have never been to a lake in the U.S. before let alone another country. It was absolutely beautiful. There was a castle on top of a mountain overlooking the lake and a church literally in the middle of the water that you needed to either swim or take a rowboat if you wanted to get to it. 

My team and I, along with Coley and Dan, decided to walk around the entire lake to try and climb the mountain to the castle. My teammate, my coach and I were the only ones to climb to the top, which killed our legs but the view was so worth it. At the top of the mountain next to the castle, you could see the entire city of Bled.

The next morning, we had an early practice and two matches in the afternoon. First, we played the Hungarian Junior National Team. We swept all four sets we played against them. We would them again in our first match of the Global Challenge. Our next match was against the Czech Republic Junior National team. My team and I watched Coley and Dan’s team beat them in two straight sets and then it was our turn. We did the same and beat them easily in two. After the match, my two Slovenian teammates took us around downtown Maribor.

I learned from my Croatian teammates that Twizzlers aren’t real candy at all because they think it’s disgusting. They introduced me to a bunch of different European candy, and a chocolate version of a Twinkie. They also keep teaching my teammates and me Croatian and Slovenian phrases. At first, my roommates were really shy but there starting to open up to us more and one of them is trying to come and play in the U.S. next year. 

Sunday morning, we got up bright and early to head to Pula, Croatia. It took more than six hours to finally get to our hotel. As soon as we got there, we went straight to the beach. Our hotel is right on the Adriatic Sea. After spending time relaxing, we had to get ready for opening ceremonies, which were held in the center of the city. Each team was announced and brought up on stage in front of the entire city center, which was pretty cool. There are two divisions in the Global Challenge, U16 and U20, and matches started at 8:30 Monday morning.

Our first match was Monday afternoon against the Hungarian Junior National Team we had already played. We swept them in three, giving us a good start to the tournament. Next, we played an Italian club team called Falconara. They were a really good team, and we ended up winning two sets to one. It was a good start to our tournament. After dinner, my two teammates and I went exploring around the coast of Pula. The view is amazing, especially during the sunset. We found a sweet spot that we could jump off rocks, so hopefully after the tournament is over we have some time to.

Tuesday morning we lost to a strong Hungarian club team one set to two. Unfortunately, my setter got a concussion the day before, so we were a little slow playing. My next match wasn’t until 8:30 that night, so I took a taxi to the coliseum with a few of my teammates. The coliseum is beautiful and the center of the city has so many different areas to shop. I actually broke my favorite necklace in Maribor, but luckily I found the same exact one in a tiny shop. My Croatian teammate told us about a pizzeria that served Nutella pizza so of course I had to go find it. You haven’t had pizza until you’ve had a Nutella slice. 

After getting back from the city, I learned I would be setting in my match tonight against the Czech Republic Junior National team that my team had already beaten in Maribor. I had never set a day in my life, so I thought, “This should be interesting.” I met up with Lo after that and we went for a walk to the beach since she hadn’t been down there yet. It was nice being with somebody from back home again. We are both so excited to get back in the Stony Brook gym and get ready for our season. 

My next match started at 8:30. The gym was still blazing hot. At first, I was really nervous because I knew we had two sweep them to move on to the gold bracket tomorrow. My team really helped me out because we toppled the Czechs by close to ten points every set. Quarterfinals start at 12:00 p.m. today, and we are playing the club Italian team Falconara again. I couldn’t be happier to be part of this tournament and team. Only four more days… 


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