July 13, 2013
Written by UCF head coach Todd Dagenais
It has been a very enjoyable first few days here in Europe. My travel was an adventure, but somewhat uneventful. After leaving Orlando, I was able to spend a quick hour in Montreal. This was the first time I have even been to the city the Dagenais' family first settled in when we came from France. Hearing my name pronounced in the truest form of French was pretty neat. No mispronouncing there! Ironically Quebec is the first time I have been to Canada where I felt I was in a foreign country. It's definitely a different feel. From here I boarded an overnight flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Note to self...don't watch "Olympus Has Fallen" if you should be sleeping. Great movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Frankfurt was nothing but a quick sprint to catch my 1 hour flight to Vienna, Austria. Upon landing in Vienna I met my guide Goran. He is the strength and conditioning coach for the Slovenian Volleyball National team. We quickly passed the 2.5 hour drive talking about training and strength and conditioning. I also learned a lot about the history, culture, and politics of Slovenia. It was like sitting in a special lecture for me!
The team had already been on site for 24 hours. As soon as I arrived in Maribor we went to the gym to play in a friendly match against the Slovenian Youth National Team. In three words... THEY ARE GOOD. We played tough, and close, but they took all 5 games from us. We hadn't yet adjusted to our new teammates and the differences with the international ball.
Today we awoke early for a traditional breakfast of eggs, yogurt, sausage, ham and cheese. We then walked to the gym to play another friendly match against the Hungarian Youth National Team. I was very happy with how we played on our side of the net. We took 4 games from them, and never allowed more than 17 points in those games.
After playing, we had a quick lunch then headed to the bus for a 2 hour drive to historic Bled, Slovenia. The crystal clear lake is surrounded on all sides by towering mountains. Several players, some parents and I hiked about 35 minutes to the cliff top where a castle was built. The 1000 year old landmark provided a breathtaking view of the lake, the mountains, and the surrounding valleys. Since words can't do the scene justice, I have taken plenty of photos to share.
Tomorrow will be the first time I have I have had a training session with the team. We will need to work on some blocking and defensive schemes, and add some transitional work and out of system training. So far we have just been playing on instinct and talent.
?ivijo (see you later)
Lahko noc (Good night)