Rigo's Recap: Places I remember

Melissa Rigo

July 24, 2013

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Sophomore outside hitter and 2012 America East Rookie of the Year Melissa Rigo was in Europe playing for the BIP U.S. team as part of the European Global Challenge, where she was named All-Tournament. Read as she recounts her final days abroad and how she felt about the overall experience playing and sightseeing overseas.

My quarterfinal match against the Italians, Falconara, was Wednesday afternoon. With my setter out, I was still setting and during pool play, we had to battle Falconara just to win. The match started off terribly as we were blown out, 25-13, but we fought back and were close to pushing a fifth set. Falconara is a very good defensive team, and we just couldn't put a ball away. The head coach of this team really enjoyed playing against us and wanted to take a group picture after the end of the match.

I had the rest of the day to myself, so I just pretended like I was on vacation and stayed in the pool the entire day with my teammates. It was nice to finally relax after playing twice a day for over a week. Lo was playing in her semi-final match later that night against Coley and Dan, so my entire team went over to watch. I was so happy for Lo when her team won the match, and all of my teammates kept saying how they wish they had her as a libero.

Thursday morning, we had our last match against the Hungarian club team, Vasas, to decide fifth and sixth-place. My team was ahead by more than five in both sets of the best-of-three match, but the Hungarians came back and won each time. It wasn't the way my team and I wanted to end the tournament, but we weren't going to be upset about it. Playing in the Global Challenge was everything I expected it to be. A bunch of teams were very strong and the way each country played was so different. I wouldn't change my team or my experience the past two weeks for anything. 

The finals and closing ceremonies started at 7 p.m. that night. Of course, I was going to cheer on Lo as her team was taking on Falconara in the finals. Every team that was in the tournament, from youth to junior teams, was at the finals. Each team picked their sides and the match started. Falconara was on-point because it barely made any mistakes as it swept Lo's team in three. After the match was over, each team lined up as medals and individual awards were presented. The top eight teams in each division were recognized and presented with an award.

I really couldn't have asked for a better group of girls to play with. Having five Europeans on my team really taught me a lot because the styles between here and Europe are completely different. We might have only been teammates for less then two weeks, but all of us know we will stay friends when we all go back to school. We all planned on coming back and visiting each other. Of all the teams I've played on, this team gelled together so quickly, and I'll never forget the memories I made with them. 

Thursday night each team, from the USA teams to the European teams, were together at the hotel. I met even more people that night that I wish I had met earlier. A bunch of them kept telling me how much they loved Dan and Coley, and I'm so grateful that I have them as coaches. Friday morning, my entire team except for my roommate and me left for Venice. I didn't want this trip to end, and I would spend the entire summer playing with that group of girls.

I went to Rovinj, Croatia later that day to sightsee. Coley, Dan, Lo, my roommate, Jess and I took off as a group and walked to the top of the town and the church. It was the cutest little town, with all of the narrow alleyways completely made of stone. The church was amazing and the view was even better. Croatia is just such a stunning place to be because there are literally no ugly parts about it. We didn't stay late in town because it really is that small. It was our last night in Croatia so Coley, Dan, Lo, Lo's teammate, Jess, and I all had dinner together. We probably sat there for close to four hours just telling stories about the tournament and other random things. It was nice to finally just relax and not have to worry about being up early or working out for once. If I had the chance again, I would come back and do this entire trip all over.

I left for Venice early Saturday morning with the rest of the teams still at the hotel. It took about five hours to get to our hotel and then I was off to see the city. Coley, Dan, Lo, Jess and I spent over seven hours walking around the city. Seeing San Marco Square was amazing. The detail that went into making the church that is in the middle of it is incredible. I really wanted to go in a gondola but it was way too hot to just sit there in a boat. We spent most of our time walking in and out of tiny shops finding the most random things for our families back home. 

We all sat down to dinner in a small restaurant in the middle of the city. Of course, Lo, Jess and I all ordered the same pizza. Yeah, in case any one is wondering pizza and coffee in Italy really is better then anything you would get at home. We didn't leave the city until late that night and I was exhausted. It has been a long trip and as much as I wish I could have stayed and traveled to other cities, I was excited to go home. I left the hotel the next morning at 7:30 a.m., which is 1:30 a.m. in the U.S., and I didn't get to my house until 5:30 p.m. Traveling all day really is such a struggle, but I was so excited to be back in my own bed.

This trip was all I hoped it would be. I met and played with amazing girls who I won't ever forget. I learned so much from sightseeing and multiple things about volleyball. I can't thank Coley and Dan enough for asking me to come on this trip and my parents for letting me go. It's an experience I needed and really appreciate. Playing over in Europe with different girls really made me excited to come back to Stony Brook and start training again for the season. There are eighteen days until preseason and they can't come soon enough! I can't wait to just be back in the gym with my team again. 


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