JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Aug. 8, 2014) – For a third straight year the ETSU volleyball team was represented in the European Global Challenge.
A year after Megan Devine, Meredith Hardy and Jessica Schafer participated in the event, rising senior Katie Muey and junior Khadijah Wiley made the trek overseas to improve on their game last month. Prior to the five Buccaneer players competing in the tournament, head coach Lindsey Devine began ETSU’s run by coaching in the European Global Challenge back in 2012.
Muey and Wiley played for the U-22 BIP-SE Team (Bring It Promotions Southeastern), which consisted of players from around the region. The group was one of 12 teams from the U.S. to compete in the tournament, while seven different European countries were represented as well.
The Buccaneer duo embarked with their team from JFK International Airport on July 9 and returned back to the states on July 19. After arriving in Europe, the team had a few days to train in Prague and Slovenia before heading to Croatia for the Global Challenge, which was held from July 13-17. Along with their time spent on the court, Muey and Wiley were able to sightsee as they traveled to Vienna, Austria, while also spending time in Prague, Slovenia and Croatia.
“Our entire team flew out of JFK and right after we landed in Prague we started training, said Muey, one of five seniors on the 2014 ETSU volleyball roster. “We practiced for a few days in Prague and had a day off before going to Slovenia. It was a struggle to adjust to the team, culture and time change at first, but once we were there for a few days everything seemed to be normal. The places we visited were very beautiful and I was able to build friendships – something I normally wouldn’t have been able to do any other summer.”
Another adjustment for Muey and Wiley was getting used to playing with their teammates – who they just met on July 9 – before taking to the court at the Global Challenge.
“There was no time for team drama as we had to get on the court and learn to play with our new teammates,” added Wiley, who was later named Team MVP for the tournament. “We were surrounded by a bunch of good players and had to play our best volleyball.”
“We had a fresh start as we were coming together for the first time from different schools,” said Muey. “Like Khadijah said, there was no time for drama and getting used to each other. We were forced to get along, and click and connect on the court. After playing at ETSU for three years, it was fun to be thrown together with different players and learn from them.”
For Muey, she said it took a few days to adapt to the European style of play.
“The ball was completely different as well as the speed of the game and the way players communicated on the court. The ball was smaller, harder and it floated more. It took me three days to get used to the ball in serve/receive. At first it was very frustrating, but as soon as I let my shoulders do the work, it became easier for me. The speed and communication was also different. The girls don’t really call for the ball, while we scream and use our voices. It was definitely a different culture, but I loved it and can’t wait to go back there.”
After playing seven matches in less than a week, both Muey and Wiley learned a lot about themselves and they hope to share those experiences with their teammates as the ETSU season starts later this month.
“Hopefully my maturity and leadership will improve now after experiencing this level of play,” Muey said. “One of the major things I learned from this trip was you have to adjust on defense. You can’t just go to a specific spot and expect a dig. European teams want to crank the ball to the middle of the court, and I learned after digging those powerful shots, I can tackle anything. I look forward to getting my teammates on board.”
As for Wiley, the trip helped her fall back in love with the game, and it showed as she was named Team MVP following the tournament.
“I fell back in love with the game during this trip. I played the way I know how to, and realized this was the reason why I chose (to play) volleyball over any other sport. I had fun out there and was fired up. It was great to be honored for it. I’m excited to be back on top of my game as we gear up for preseason practice and I look forward to working with my teammates.”
ETSU opens preseason camp this Saturday as the Bucs gear up for their season opener on August 29 at the Charlotte 49er Invitational.
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For more information on Buccaneer volleyball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the volleyball page.