In preparation for its title defense, the defending national champion Longhorns volleyball team is not taking any time off this summer.
The Longhorns embarked on a trip to Europe that spanned two weeks and four countries this summer. The trip, which the NCAA permits once every four years, gave the Longhorns the opportunity to play against the top competition in Europe.
“When you’re a college athlete, you don’t have the opportunity to study abroad,” coach Jerritt Elliott said. “Almost all of our players end up going and playing professional in Europe ‘cause it’s the No. 2 sport and very big.”
The beginning of the trip was spent in Milan. After the team spent time sightseeing, it quickly got back to competition and spent its days in Milan competing against the Italian Senior National Team.
“It was a challenge for us that eventually helped us realize that they were going to test us and cause some adversity,” sophomore outside hitter Haley Eckerman blogged during the trip. “I think it was a great experience learning how to accept the adversity and compete against a great team.”
The next leg of the trip took the team to Maribor, Slovenia. Texas beat the Slovenian National Team 3-1 and spent the rest of the two days in Slovenia sightseeing and getting to know the National Team players. After their stay in Maribor, the Longhorns packed up and headed to Split, Croatia.
The first full day in Croatia was spent sightseeing and sailing the Adriatic Sea. After spending nearly two hours on the water, the team headed back to the mainland to compete against the Croatian National Team. Texas lost 3-1.
The team competed once more against the Croatian National Team and then headed off to Dubrovnik, Croatia, for the last leg of the trip. Texas faced its final match against the Montenegro National Team and ended the competition with a 3-0 victory.
The team spent the next day and the remaining hours doing more sightseeing before heading back to the United States.
“Four new countries, seven competitive matches and seemingly endless cappuccinos and gelatos with teammates, coaches and friends. What a wonderful learning and bonding experience for everyone,” junior setter Hannah Allison said. “I feel blessed to be just 20 years old and to have seen and experienced so much of the world. Our team came back even closer than when we left.”
The Longhorn volleyball team will begin its next journey, trying to win a consecutive NCAA championship, beginning at the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Hawaii at the end of August.