The final day of the trip commenced early morning at Rome's famous train station for a short 40 minute trip to the airport for our flight home to Pittsburgh. After a stop over in Amsterdam, we arrived in Pittsburgh safe and sound. What a tremendous trip! Our players learned what playing in Europe is all about, different cultures and languages and the incredible histories associated with all of the countries we visited. One of the most important things about these tours is respecting other cultures and ways of life and learning something about yourself along the way. I couldn't have been happier with the way our players respected the trip and what it was all about. They were first class all the way and I was proud how they represented the University of Pittsburgh as athletes and students.
American volleyball players also learn the European style of volleyball which is much more about elite serving, high volleyball IQ and turning it up a notch at 20. Like great track athletes, European volleyball players kick it into a higher gear in the last five points of the game and finish extremely strong; a valuable lesson for our players. We also learned that European players often don't have the same playing conditions, numerous assistant coaches, facilities, trainers, warm-up time, etc. and still show up and play extremely hard when that first whistle blows. It's all about volleyball, the love of the game, with the emphasis being mental preparation rather than the American over-emphasis on physical preparation prior to matches.
After experiencing European volleyball on tours a few different times, there are two changes I'd like to see US collegiate volleyball adopt. Number one, playing to 25--it's a much better score to play to from a strategic standpoint. And second, using the men's ball and doing away with the women's ball--there is no need to have two separate volleyballs and the men's balls bounce and explosion off the attacker's hand brings much more excitement and velocity to the women's game.
I want to thank Cory Solomon and Bringit USA for a very well-run and enjoyable tour. The accommodations and transportation were excellent and we had a lot of fun. We look forward to taking what we've learned and applying it to a great 2007 season. The volleyball team is very grateful to the Pitt athletic department for allowing us to take a trip like this every four years. Thanks and we'll see you in the fall!
---Head Coach Chris Beerman