May 18, 2013
MARIBOR, Slovenia - On Day 7 of the Purdue volleyball team's foreign tour, freshman Sam Epenesa writes about taking in the small town of Maribor, breakfast in Slovenia, volleyball and a dinner to remember.
Today was quite possibly one of the best days of this trip. Not to say that the large cities like Vienna or Prague are bad, or not beautiful, but today in Maribor it was a different kind of beauty. We woke up and attended breakfast, which I absolutely LOVE! It's a bit different than back home. The yogurt is really sweet but it is also a bit runny. The eggs are probably the team favorite though. They are "real" scrambled eggs. Not from a little carton or anything which makes a difference. We also traveled downtown and saw the actual city. It's a smaller town and it was definitely less crowded. But my favorite part of the morning was the shopping and the coffee! Iced coffee here has ice cream in it!! Who knew?!
Down to the volleyball details... Today we played against the Austrian National Team. They were different from both the Croatian team and the Czech Republic Junior National Team. They were a bit smaller and had more of an outside dominating factor. They had a very talented girl, who is by the way extremely young, playing as an outside/opposite hitter who had a great game. The games I felt had a bit of a different pace but yet we played well. This trip has shown us as a team our up's and down's with other teams. It's shown how we compete and how our mentality and team composure dominate each and every match. Tied at two sets a piece we entered into a fifth set played to the normal score of 15. There was a bit of a mix up in communication and we were spun around on the court. Down 8 to 1, we came back and battled as tough competition only to fall 13 to 15.
After the match we rushed back up the small road to our hotel. Got a little dressed up and met back down the hill to go to dinner. Another bizarre thing that happens here, yet I am extremely grateful for, is that we eat dinner with the team we just played against. Tonight we dined at a small privately owned winery on a "hill" aka mediocre mountain, where there was an irreplaceable view of 360 degrees of the vineyard and all the other "hills". Dinner was extremely wonderful, with pork, chicken, different pastas, veggies, and a special kind of soup called "goulash?." To say that I had at least one of everything is a shortcoming because it was all extremely good. Although, my favorite part of dinner is being able to talk and enjoy the other team's company; our lives are so different in many ways yet in the end we have an incredible amount in common.
This trip to Europe has been such a blessing on myself and my teammates. We are learning a priceless amount about each other and our ability as a team in volleyball. Tomorrow morning we are leaving at the bright and shining time of 8 a.m. for Venice! Ciao!