Friday, March 23, 2012

Forza Padova!

It's been a long time coming (about a month), but I finally played in my first Italian League match this past Sunday. Ironically enough it was against my former team Andreoli Latina. Needless to say I was extremely excited, nervous, and ready to get this party started.

I didn't start the match, but with some pre-match assurance from my coach, I knew that I would get a chance to come in and make a difference. My opportunity came later in the 2nd set and I was able to get past my nerves and help the team tie the match at one set a piece.

I ended up starting every subsequent set and, as a team, we pulled out a much needed five set victory.

A few impressions...
1. A1 Italy is an extremely high level. I've been practicing in the league for almost a month now, but the matches are a different level of play. My team, Padova, is ranked 13th out of 14 teams, but I'm learning that on a given night, anyone can beat anyone.

2. This league is very professional. Even though my team is near the bottom in the standings, we had close to 3,000 excited and cheering fans, great music during the match, and plenty of other stuff ("cheerleaders", t-shirt guns, etc.) going on in between plays and sets. I actually felt like I was a professional athlete for once, which isn't always the case with some of the leagues here in Europe.

3. I was very blessed to be a part of the team in Latina. Although the situation wasn't ideal, we were able to make some great connections with plenty of the guys. The team actually stayed at the hotel Kate and I are currently living in, so we were able to spend some off-court time with some of them before the match. It was awesome (but not awkward) seeing them and it made us miss them even more when they left (especially Murphy).

Other highlights include meeting some of the smallest/cutest little fans and giving two incredibly awkward/terrible interviews. My apologies, Rai Sport.

Right now we're working hard to make playoffs. We're currently 4 points in the standings behind the 11/12th place teams and need to win our next two matches (which are against those two teams) in order to stay in the hunt. Our next match is this Sunday against San Giustino at their place. They've been on a hot streak as of late, so it's going to be a tough one. We're hoping that we play as well as we did during those three winning sets against Latina. If we do that, I think we'll be in good shape.

on to the next one (and Andiamo Padova!)...

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