Great Start Here in France

Hey everyone, I’m BACK! For almost a month, I’ve been in Saint-Nazaire, France, where I’ll be playing my 3rd professional season. Things are a lot different here than they were in Italy, but so far I’m loving it. I have an apartment only a couple blocks from the beach, the town is very nice and the people are very friendly. Man, so many things to talk about where should I start…

How about with volleyball? I’m in a new league this year, the French Pro A League. There are fourteen teams from all over France, my city being located in the Northwest. Here is a map. Right now, we’re 3 weeks into the season, and it’s been a busy start. I’ll give the short version.

We started the season with 4 matches in two weeks. 3 of those teams finished in the top 5 of the league last year. My team, Saint Nazaire, was in the second divison, League B. They won the league and thus earned the right to come up to the first division. By most people’s estimations, S.N. wasn’t expected to do too well this year, but I think we’ve put together a pretty good team. As for those first four matches, we went 3-1. After losing the first match of the season, we won 3 in a row, all against top 5 teams from last season – Chaumont, Nantes, and Sete.

Last weekend we  played in Paris, and the game was…. interesting. Let me fill you in on another fact about our team this year: We’ve had a lot of injuries. We started the year down 2 players, both outside hitters. One of them broke his ankle during a preseason match, and the other pulled an abdominal. So when I got here, I knew that we were going to be missing those two guys for at least 6 weeks. Yikes.

Fast forward to the week before the Paris match. Another one of our outside hitters (Levi Cabral, who was our team’s leading point scorer in 2 of the first 4 matches), has a strained abdominal, and the doctors told him he has to sit for 10 days. So he’s out for the Paris match. This means that we’re down 3 out of our 4 outside hitters. So we travel to Paris with 9 guys, with the plan that one of our middle blockers is going to play outside (keep in mind, we have 12 guys on the team. With 4 outsides, 3 middles, 2 setters, 2 liberos, and 1 opposite… me!). However, during the warm-up for the match, our middle-turned-outside hitter has some severe back pain. He missed over a month last year with a pretty bad back injury. All of a sudden we’re back to 1 outside hitter, and so we have our backup setter, Jean, play outside for the match. Jean played well considering the circumstances, but it wasn’t meant to be. We lost 3-0, 25-22 in all 3 sets.

Which brings us up to present day. This Saturday we play Tour at home, the reigning champion of the league (also featuring a couple U.S. buddies, David Smith and Jayson Jablonsky). We should have 10 healthy guys for the match, so I’m looking forward to another fun game.

I know it was short, but that’s all the update for now. Now that I’m a little settled in here, I’ll try to make these things more regular. A lot’s happened in month.

Anyways, Happy Halloween everybody! Ciao!

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