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VOLLEYBALL
10:55 a.m., MON. JUNE 1, 2015

Tola Itiola #15


We boarded the bus and prepared for our four hour bus ride from Milan to our final destination of the Italian tour, Venice. The bus ride to Venice was colored with the beautiful Italian countryside which included elements of vineyards, rustic houses, and occasional castles. When we arrived in Venice and checked in, we headed for the city center. The whole city was truly beautiful as it was set on the water and had hundreds of bridges all with picturesque views. Walking around the city surpassed my expectations because not only was it remarkable with the infrastructure rising out of the waters but the buildings in the St. Mark's Square were also exquisite in their architecture. Most of us made sure to catch a gondola ride and I believe there is no way more iconic nor scenic to tour the city.

As we end this final day of sightseeing, I'm reflective of all the amazing memories and growth that happened amongst our team and staff. This was a truly special opportunity that I am thankful for and can't wait to see how God uses all we have learned to help us grow!

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VOLLEYBALL
7:25 p.m., THURS., MAY 28, 2015

Katie Staiger #4


Today we woke up ready to take Milan by storm! We started with breakfast at the hotel along with a team prayer time, thanking God for this incredible experience. It has been so amazing to see all of these beautiful places so far, and we were all excited to add Milan to the list. We took a train to downtown Milan. Right when we got there, we saw the Milan Cathedral. Construction was done on this cathedral for hundreds of years and the exterior was covered in over 3,000 very detailed statues. The statues told the story of Christ and his ministry as well as his crucifixion. The amount of time and work that went in to creating this beautiful cathedral was unbelievable.

Now, if you are in Milan, you have to do some shopping. After all, it is the fashion capital of the world. It was fun to walk through the streets that had all of the high end fashion-we only window shopped. After grabbing some lunch, we went to see the Milan castle. It was large and very beautiful. It was like we were princesses, alright maybe not. After seeing the garden that surrounded the castle, it was time to head back to the hotel to rest before the game. We played the same Italian junior national team that we did last night. While we fought hard, we lost in the fifth set. After the game, we had dinner with the team that we played. We were able to exchange t-shirts with them as well as use the ministry ball to share the gospel with the team. We are grateful for our translator, Elitza, who helped eliminate the language barrier. As our trip is coming to an end, we are so grateful for this opportunity we have been given to play the game we love while traveling to some of the world's most beautiful places. We are excited to finish our journey in Venice tomorrow! Ciao!

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VOLLEYBALL
8:48 p.m., WED., MAY 27, 2015

Amy Rosenbaum #1


Today was awesome because we got to sleep in! Around 10 a.m. - which is still 3 am in the states - we huddled in the lobby of our hotel to hear the plan for the day. We headed out to see the city of Pisa and visited some famous leaning structure ;). We walked down so many cute streets with little shops and places to eat along the way. Of course we kept being asked if we wanted to buy sunglasses and a selfie stick, but we have gotten pretty good at politely but sternly saying 'no'. We spent around an hour and a half touring the site of the Leaning Tower along with the other gorgeous, historical buildings in the area. Naturally, 30 minutes of that was probably spent making sure anyone got a picture of them "holding up" the tower, or some variation of it.

Since we had all day to do as we pleased, some of us shopped, some of us napped, and a group including Coach McGuyre, his wife Jen, Henry Howard and his wife Molly, and our trainer Jacob Puente, all rented Vespas for the afternoon and took a tour! Around 4 p.m., we loaded the bus to head to our match in Empoli, which was an hour away. As we prepared for our match, we got hyped in the locker room because Adrien Richburg brought her boom box to play music on. It was awesome. Before we started playing the refs and owners of the volleyball club played our national anthem and Italy's national anthem, while displaying both of our flags, it was really cool! We won the match in four sets and then got to eat at a really nice restaurant with the Italian team where we spent most of the evening eating great food, learning Italian phrases, and bonding as a group. The trip back to our hotel called for more singing and laughing and as we settled in for the night. We packed our bags and prepared for traveling in the morning. We are headed to Milan! Stay tuned!

Shelly Fanning #5


Our day started a little later with a meeting time of 10 a.m. Once we were all ready, we headed out of our hotel in Pisa to start our bus journey to Milan. Half way through our ride, our driver had to take a 40 minute break. During this time, we played games and had a great time bonding. Although we didn't bust out the boom box, we still had an enjoyable 4 hour trip! Once in Milan, we had time to eat lunch and then get ready for our match against the Junior National team. We did not play as well as we wished, but most importantly I think we learned from it and are ready for a better day tomorrow as we take on this same team! After our 5 set match, we ate dinner with them and then headed back to the hotel. All in all, it was a more relaxed day and another chance to bond with this amazing group of people.

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VOLLEYBALL
5:05 p.m., MON., MAY 25, 2015

Tola Itiola #15


We took an hour and a half train ride to our destination for the day - Cinque Terre. It is a series of five towns, as the name literally translates to five lands, on the Mediterranean Sea. The views on the way were breathtaking and a little glimpse into the spectacular things to come in Cinque Terre. Our first town for the day was Monterosso al Mare. We were awestruck upon arrival by the beauty of rural Italy and the Mediterranean Sea upon which it sat. Also, along with others exploring the town, we were greeted with a medley of music played by a local on his piano. We made our way down to the beach, climbed massive rocks, and walked along the water as we looked at the jellyfish. In this town, as in all the other towns, the blue of the water and the hues of the colorful houses made for a unique and beautiful landscape.

As we were making our way to the next town, we came across a local volleyball tournament occurring among elementary aged kids. We asked if we could join in and after playing for a few minutes against ourselves, the little girls and boys joined in. It was great to see the kids' faces full of joy and especially so because we could be a part of it. For many of us and for me personally this was the best part of the day. We then caught a short train ride to the next town, Vernazza. Here we split apart in groups for lunch in order to taste all the fresh seafood and local cuisine the town had to offer.

Next stop was Corniglia. Home to the unique Church of San Pierto (1334). From there onto Manarola, which showed great examples of working with tough terrains from the stacked buildings on the side of the cliff to the farming alongside the mountains. The last and most famous of the towns was Riomaggiore. It is where one of the more popular hiking trails that is craved into rock exists. Seeing how the towns with their farming were built on steep cliffs and rough terrain was impressive and also gorgeous. Along the way from town to town there were local shops that had fresh fruits, locally made merchandise, gelato, and clothing. There were also many restaurants that looked onto the water and along the main streets, and at times the aroma of freshly made food filled the streets. Cinque Terre was truly beautiful to behold from its unique architecture to its exquisite sights, smells, and sounds. I am grateful for the opportunity to do so!

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VOLLEYBALL
4:24 p.m., SUN., MAY 24, 2015

Katie Staiger #4


Today was our first day of full sight seeing! We woke up and had breakfast at the hotel and then headed to the train station. After an hour long train ride, we made it to Florence! We all fell in love with the charming and beautiful town right away. The town is centered around a beautiful, huge cathedral, the Duomo. We all loved seeing it and some people even climbed over 400 steps to get to the top - I sat that one out.

Florence is known for its production of leather, and you know that that means: purses and wallets everywhere! The team worked on their bargaining skills as we tried to get the best deals for our Euros.

We had lunch at Gusta Pizza. Direct quote from Amy Rosenbaum, "I don't want to leave Italy without eating another one of those pizzas."

While we have tried many cups of Gelato from different cities, everyone seems to be in agreement that Florence has the best. It was so nice to have the whole day to walk around the town, shop and enjoy all of the beauty that is Florence.

For dinner, we all went to La Dantesca, you guessed it - Italian Food! The lasagna was incredible and we finished the meal with some tiramisu. It was the perfect day! We are all so excited to continue our traveling to Cinque Terre tomorrow!

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VOLLEYBALL
10:44 a.m., SAT., MAY 23, 2015

Shelly Fanning #5


Ciao Roma, and Hello Pisa!

This trip has been an experience of firsts for me. Today I experienced my very first train ride. My first thoughts when entering were, this train appears just as all of the movies have shown, separate rooms with six big chairs in each and very spacious...good thing I had my boom box so the six of us could jam to it!

After the quick three-hour ride, we arrived in Pisa. Stepping out of the train station, our eyes landed right on our hotel. Looking around, it gave me a much different feel than Rome. The buildings walls were all unique in that of the texture, color and windows. The windows here in Italy are interesting because there are shutters on every single building, they are beautiful.

After getting our rooms at the hotel, we grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch and then got ready to take a bus to Lucca. At this small city, we were able to have time to wonder around and shop, site see and just enjoy the time. To say the least... Andie Malloy and I took a few wrong turns and ended up getting lost in the streets, it was an adventure among itself. We did what any bad tourist would do and took too many turns and didn't remember our path. Secretly, it was really fun and we knew we would make it back to where we needed to meet back at eventually. During this time though, we were able to share many laughs and were able to try and test our sense of direction. It wasn't as good as we thought, but when we came across our coaches we had faith, they seemed to know their way...boy were we wrong. They say team work makes the dream work therefore we eventually made it back.

Before we knew it we were on the bus again, but this time to play Nottolini Volley (a national B1 team). Looking back at the past two days of play, I can tell we are already growing as a team on the court as well as off. This group of girls is honestly a blessing to me because they each have such a fire in their hearts to do well and inspire others to win. It is fun to play with a group as such.

After our 4 set match where we split 2-2 and did not complete the fifth game (for a reason we were unsure of), we headed off to dinner with this same team. They showed us their favorite pizza place and we feasted. In other words, our four course meal was delicious. After dinner and before we were about to head back to our hotel, we had an arm wrestling matchup against a few of us. Things got pretty crazy and by that I mean it was super funny and a great time! As soon as the boom box came out on the ride back, it became a party bus with everyone dancing and singing.

My favorite parts of the day were getting lost and singing throw backs on the bus ride home tonight! I just want to thank Baylor for this opportunity and our coaches for their love and support. This is truly a family and the bond is just continuing to grow stronger and stronger.

Join Katie Staiger tomorrow as she speaks of our trip to Florence!!

Sic'Em and Caio

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VOLLEYBALL
6:18 p.m., THUR., MAY 21, 2015

Amy Rosenbaum #1


This morning we met for a delicious breakfast after a long night's sleep and then headed to a team meeting. After discussing strategy and technique, we all headed to the metro to take a short ride to our next stop, the Colosseum! As always, we were packed like sardines--which is interesting to say the least. At the stop, we stepped outside, and BAM! There it was in all it's glory. Seriously, it was glorious and just across the street from the station. Our tickets covered touring the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, which were both absolutely breathtaking. To think of the history in these places was incredible. We left around 12:30 p.m. to take the metro back to eat lunch and head back to the hotel for some rest. We left around 3 p.m. fully energized and ready to play. After a close five set match (last set went 17-15), we got to hang out with the other team again. Despite the language barrier, we were able to share the Gospel with the help of their English speaking player and our John 3:16 Gospel ball. It was awesome to interact, talk, and laugh with them. We feel so blessed to have this opportunity to play the game we love and share the love of Christ with others. Next stop: Pisa!

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VOLLEYBALL
7:38 p.m., WED., MAY 20, 2015

Tola Itiloa #15


After a breakfast with a variety of Italian options, all splendid and well made, we began our day at 8:20 a.m. promptly. We took the short walk to the subway and were warned to expect lots of people that will be moving assertively with a "places to be, people to see" motive. It was a first-time experience for some, but we all acted like we knew what we were doing in order not to get swept up in the crowds. As we approached closer and closer to our first destination, Basilica S. Pierto, the crowds filtered out to include mostly tourists from places like Brazil, Holland, America, and some stopped to ask us where we were from. We stood out in the crowd with most of us being around six feet tall and welcomed many guesses as to what sport we played.

In Basilica S. Pierto, there was the Vatican museum which had a series of rooms filled with ornate art such as tapestries, sculptures, and beautifully painted ceilings, which all depicted the Christian narrative. We then walked into the Sistine Chapel and there was an air of sacredness created by the silence and specific dress codes that guards tried to enforce (no shoulders showing and everything below the knee) to the beauty and majesty of Michelangelo's masterpiece. He spent four years painting the whole chapel with exceptional depictions of the Biblical stories and themes. After leaving the Sistine chapel, we went to St. Petersburg square where Pope Francis was addressing the masses of people. We left Basilica S. Pierto and then proceeded to Castel Sant' Angelo, which is a massive and fortified castle, that in the past, the Pope would go to during times of war and attack from enemies. We then walked to Pizza Navona which featured two sites to see. One was a church and another a water fountain located in the middle of the square. Both were beautifully crafted and grand in nature. The architects were competitors so the one who constructed the fountain made one of the statues have his hand out condemning the church next to it.

Then we proceeded to Pantheon. It was a temple built in the Roman era and dedicated to the gods but was later converted to a church. It is lit only by a hole in the middle of the ceiling, and when it rains some say that no rain falls in through the hole. From here we went to the Trevi Fountain. It was impressive in stature but under construction so we had to toss our coins to make our wishes into a pool of water by it. We rounded out our trip at Pizza Spagna where the Spanish Steps were located. Along our walk through Rome from attraction to attraction, there were many shops and restaurants lining the streets. There were also vendors and most of them were offering the most popular selling item in town - selfie sticks.

After our tour of some of the many sights of Rome, we headed back to our hotel to prepare for our match later in the evening. After a bus ride made quick by games and laughter, we arrived at the gym, warmed up, and it was game time. We played four sets and despite some lead changes, Volleyro Roma won the match. Tomorrow we visit some more of Rome but we are especially excited about the opportunity to face Volleyro Roma again!

Ciao

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VOLLEYBALL
7:38 p.m., TUE., MAY 19, 2015

Shelly Fanning #5


Today, May 18, marks the start to our fun and exciting journey to Italy! First, we chartered to the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, which is where the many memories started. We were all singing and dancing to different music, mainly classic country songs. It was a blast! Although the plane trip was long I got to think about how awesome this opportunity is, especially as a freshman. I cannot wait to see what God does within this group of girls, and how he makes us lights for others. I hope you enjoy our blogs along the way.

Katie Staiger #4


Our first day in Rome was incredible! After nine hours of flying from Dallas to Amsterdam, we made the best of our layover by doing Sic `Em's in the airport with other travelers! We couldn't be happier when we finally arrived in Rome! We met our tour guides, Elitza and Luka as they picked us up from the airport. They took us to our hotel, and then we headed straight to walk through the city and grab a quick lunch. Then, we headed to practice. It was really cool to get to interact with the Italian team that we will be playing. While there was a slight language barrier, it was a lot of fun to get to play with them as we did both Italian and American drills. After practice, we went to dinner at a family-style Italian restaurant. Finally, we finished of our night by getting some gelato, Italian ice cream that happens to be on every corner of Rome. We have already seen so much and are so excited to see what the rest of this trip has to offer as we go sightseeing and play our first game tomorrow. Sic `Em!

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