CEV Cup Final!

Big game tonight. It’s the first game of the CEV Cup Final.

Our opponent: Halkbank Ankara from Ankara, Turkey. Their top player is Reid Priddy, long-time outside hitter and former captain of the US National Team. So we’ll have our hands full.

Here’s how the Cup works. We play one match here and one match there (in Ankara). After that, if one team has won both, they are crowned the winner. If we split 1-1, then we play what’s called a “Golden Set”. It’s one game to 15, winner take all. And it will take place right after the second match (so, in this case, in Ankara). On our road to the finals, we have played in and won 3 Golden Sets. Pretty intense stuff.

Here’s where the match will be live-streamed: Laola1.tv

8:30pm Local time, 1:30pm CST, 11:30am PST .

Andiamo!!!

Ciao,

Murphy

Poster cev final

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Guess who???

Hello everyone! Today is February 20th, 2013, almost four months exactly since my last blog post. Wow.

Sorry to everyone for my absence. You know how these things go: “I’ll do it later.”
“Ok, I’ll watch an episode of Homeland first and THEN I’ll do it.”
“We have a long bus ride tomorrow so I’m sure I’ll get bored and do it then.”

The next thing you know it’s Valentines day. Well I say to that, NO MORE! It’s time to focus on the present and gettin things done that are important to us. Like talking to my peeps.

Hello, peeps.

Right now I’m on a bus ride home from Piacenza, about 6 or 7 hours north of Latina. We just finished dinner after a match that, well, we’ll say it wasn’t pretty. As they say, a learning experience. From the way things went tonight, we had a lot to learn.

But things are still looking ok for us. We are still a shoe-in for playoffs, and next week we’re goin to Turkey for the finals of the CEV Cup (an intra-European competition we’ve been participating all year in addition to the Italian league). And in a couple weeks, playoffs start! Exciting stuff!

So before I ramble on and scare away the few dedicated readers I still have, I’ll bring this to a close. So thanks for your patience guys, and I will do my best to reward it. More good stuff is on the way!

Ciao!

Murphy

Three and Oh

 

Another exciting 5-set victory! Let me backtrack…

Last week, we travelled up to Verona for our second match of the season (our first match being the week prior, at home against Perugia. We beat Perugia 3-0 in a somewhat unexciting fashion). In Verona, we controlled the first set easily, got sloppy and lost a close second set, then took control again and won the third set, then got sloppy AGAIN and lost a close fourth set. All of this leading to a very exciting 5th set (the crowd in Verona as REALLY into the match at this point), where we trailed 11-10 and then scored 5 straight to take the match with a 15-11 score in the 5th. Pretty exciting stuff. (Disclaimer: I would have made a blog post about this trip, but I didn’t really take any pictures so it would have been aesthetically boring… my bad on that one.) Anyways, bringing me back to this week…

Another exciting 5-set victory! This time at the hands of San Giustino, home to none other than my good buddy Riley McKibbin, pictured above. Riley didn’t get to play however because he strained some ligaments in his shoulder this week in practice (hence the polo and little bit of tape showing on his left arm). So, I will begin from the beginning…

The Bus Ride

Front of the bus

Back of the bus. Jeroen with the thumbs up. Bravo Jeroen.

The journey begins with a lovely 4 hour bus ride to San Giustino. Which is actually our shortest bus trip of the season. Last week to Verona for example, 8 hours. Woof. So four isn’t too bad. The bus isn’t exactly luxurious, but I can lean my seat back and mostly fit my legs under the seat in front of me. So I’ll take it. One of the things that some of our teammates do to pass the time… play poker.

Vincenzo. Fisioterapista and poker mafioso.

Me, on the other hand, spent some time with my good ol’ friends from Pawnee, Indiana and watched some Parks and Rec.

 

So the drive actually went by relatively fast. We did make one pit stop, for everyone to stretch their legs, empty their bladders, and of course have a coffee. It was pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but there was some really pretty scenery.

Getting ready to re-board the bus.

So then we finished our trip, just about an hour more. We caught some more great views as the sun went down.

 

So finally we got to our hotel, and had a team dinner the night before the match. After, I got to go see Riley for a little bit before heading off to bed. Got to catch up on a few things and have a real American conversation. Good stuff.

Next morning, wake up, and here’s our schedule for the day:

830- Wake up and eat breakfast. Some yogurt, salami and croissant, apple, and a cappuccino.

915- Head to the gym for a light practice

1130- Head back to the hotel, and go over our scouting report while we watch some video on the other team.

1245- Lunch. Pasta with tomato sauce, chicken breast, and some fruits and veggies.

2- Nap. Lights out.

4- Snack before the game. Sandwich, yogurt and another cappuccino.

445- Leave for the game!

Our hotel we stayed in was pretty nice. Just about 5 minutes from the gym, and my room on the fifth floor had a pretty nice view of the town.

Another thing I forgot to mention. Our bus driver who comes with us on all of our road trips also makes his own olive oil. It’s incredible. I put a little extra on my plate after I was finished eating just so I could get a picture of the color. It’s way greener than most olive oil, with an amazing fresh taste.

Anyways, like I began saying before, we won in five sets. It was a little scary because we started up 2-0, but then hit a wall in the third and fourth, and San Giustino played really well. The fifth was really tight, and we trailed 10-8 before coming back to win 15-12. We need to stop having such close games.

After the game I got to see Riley again, and his mom was there too. It felt like being back at SC again. Then we headed back to the hotel for one more meal, and hit the road again. We didn’t get back til around 2 in the morning, and I was exhausted. Morning off today, but weights in the afternoon, and we leave tomorrow morning (at 6) to play in our first CEV Cup match in Sofia, Bulgaria. Never stops!

And So It Begins…

Today’s the day… the first game of the season. Here is what I had to say when I was interviewed yesterday (in Italian) about my thoughts on today’s match:

“Non vedo l’ora di cominciare, sono molto euforico, è sempre così alla prima partita della stagione. Vogliamo giocare senza pensare alla classifica, ora siamo tutti allo stesso punteggio e per tutti tutto è possibile per il campionato. Non conosco nessuno giocatore di Perugia, non ci ho mai giocato contro, ma dobbiamo prepararci e focalizzarci solo su noi stessi. Mi piace il pubblico di Latina, molto caloroso, a loro dico che sarà una partita incerta e spettacolare da non mancare”.

Now, the interviewer definitely helped me out with some of the translating (“How do you say excited..?”), but here is what I said:

“I cant wait for it to start, I am very excited, like always for the for the first match of the season. Now everybody is even, for one day we are all in first place, and anything can happen. I personally don’t know any players from Perugia, and what is more important is that we will prepare and focus on ourselves. I love Latina’s fans, they always have a lot of energy, and I want to say to them that this will be a great match, one you won’t want to miss.”

So basically, I can’t wait. I love the first game of the season because it always brings so much optimism — anything can happen! Also, I’m ready to get back on the court and compete. I had a great summer, but getting back into a rhythm of playing every week is going to be really fun. Especially here in Italy, I get the chance to play against some of the world’s best players, and I’m really excited for that again this year.

I’ve been thinking that my second year will be a lot like one’s sophomore year in college. As a freshman, everything is great, and everything is new. Everything is exciting usually because it is new. But you are still kind of a rookie. And then you come back for your sophomore year, still with the optimism of youth but without the wide eyes of a freshman. You’ve been around the block, so you know things you didn’t know last year: the fastest route to class, the cafeterias to avoid, the best parties to go to, etc. You skip all the shiny attractions that draw in the newbies and go straight to the good stuff. This year, I know what to expect in this league. Who the best players are, what we have to do well in order to win, how to relate to teammates from another country, and how to prepare myself for every game. So I’m excited. Excited to start year two. Here we go!

A quick run-through of my schedule on game days:

9:00 am – Wake up and make some coffee.

9:30 am – After the coffee kicks in, make some breakfast. Today it was 2 fried eggs and prosciutto on a piece of wheat toast, and a side of fruit.

10:20 am – Head to the gym on my bike and get ready for out 11 o’clock practice.

11:00 am – Pre-game practice/run-through. Pretty light but definitely essential.

12:30 pm – Team lunch, at a restaurant near the gym. Pasta, chicken, a little bit of fruit and veggies. And a shot of espresso to finish of course.

1:30 pm – Rest time. Today I’m writing a quick blog post then going down for a quick snooze.

4:15 pm – Head to the gym and get ready for the game. Maybe have one more espresso.

6:00 pm- Game time!

9:00 pm – Celebrate the win… hopefully!

New food

I posted some new stuff on the food page. Sorry that things aren’t as “clean” as they could be right now. I am still trying to get the right look, and also I’m trying to operate most things from my phone (since that’s where most of my pictures are coming from). This picture is a home-made Italian sweet wine called Vin Santo. It’s native to Tuscany, and a typical dessert is dipping small biscotti (or cantucci) into the Vin Santo. Our setters girlfriend brought me a bottle from Pisa where she lives, because she knows I love the stuff.

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This is the real stuff

Tonight was pizza night. A lot of restaurants are crowded on Friday nights, and since we hadn’t made reservations, we hit up the pizza place down the street. Always a solid choice. You’re looking at a half meter of salsiccia and salame picante, with extra mozzarella (I’ve learned that extra mozzarella is key when ordering in Italy. They’re kind of purists over here, and not really into the gobs of cheese that we like. But I gotta have it). Buon appetito! Ciao

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