European Vacation: WOT Finishes Second In Savaria Cup

June 2, 2007 - Hungary

Marta Siemiatkowska

Today is the eighth day of our European trip and our third day in Hungary. It is such a colorful and peaceful country. I know we have been gone for awhile, but every day goes by so fast because we are having so much fun.After breakfast we had a little bit of time to ourselves. Some of us took naps and others took a walk to a park across the street from our hotel. It was such a nice place to go and relax and get focused before tonight's game or just work off our huge breakfast!

We met at 11:30 for practice and felt well prepared for our match against Hungary. After practice we had lunch, delicious Hungarian lunch as always, and then everyone rested before we left a 5:00 for the match at 7:00pm.We all played really well, but unfortunately we lost in five sets. It was a very well fought match and now e will get ready to take on Sweden in the morning.

As the USC tradition tells us, ''best the best and win every fight.' We have been trying to follow this phrase and prove it on the court. It is so much fun to play against the different teams from all over Europe. It is also a wonderful experience and lessons that will stay in our hearts for the rest of our lives.

Last night we had dinner in a restaurant called 'Jagerhuitte', a German themed family restaurant in our town. Every team in the tournament all ate dinner together for the first time and the energy and camaraderie between teams was very noticeable. Following the late dinner we headed back to our hotel in time for a quick sleep. We have a big match tomorrow!Marta

Game Recap: USC loses to Hungary and beats Sweden to place second in Savaria Cup

The USC Women's volleyball team was able to hold off a feisty Swedish National Team 3-1 today in the finale of the Savari Cup in Szombathely, Hungary. Following the win, USC needed some help from Slovakia to claim the 2007 Cup Championship, but Hungary was able to dominate Slovakia to claim the title for its first championship in six years. USC senior outside hitter Asia Kaczor was named to the All-Tournament team.

Today's drama was set up with the Women of Troy suffering a heartbreaking loss to Hungary late last night in Buk, Hungary. USC was able to overcome a three point deficit late in game one and outscored Hungary 7-3 to close the game at 25-23. Hungary dominated game two with a 25-17 score. USC was able to find another breath of air in the third game to crush the Hungarians 25-14. Hungary returned the favor in the fourth game 25-16 setting up what would ultimately determine the champion of the tournament.Senior outside hitter Diane Copenhagen was impressed with the focus and determination of the Hungarian Team, 'They were such good competitors, they adjusted to our challenges and fought back very hard.'

USC opened up an early 3-1 lead in the deciding set, but a very strong push by tournament MVP Katalin Kiss, one of the top players in the Greek Professional League, allowed Hungary to quickly build an 8-4 lead at the side switch. USC was able to mount a mini-comeback but Hungary finally claimed the match with a 15-8 win in the game.

'I think we definitely had our opportunities to win this match,' said USC head coach Mick Haley. 'We did some things really well at times. It just seems like every time we made a strong push, Hungary came back and made a stronger push. Their hitters were extremely smart and they gave our blocking and defense problems. It just came down to the fact that they were able to execute well in the latter parts of the fourth game.'

Following a very fast turnaround, the Women of Troy were back in action against Sweden with a glimmer of hope remaining that they could win the Championship. Following a sluggish start, they were able to comeback and finish with a pair of three point run to claim the first game 25-23. Sweden immediately made some adjustments and captured game two, 25-19. USC again trailed most of the way in the third set before Jessica Gysin, who was subbed in off the bench in the second game, caught fire and pounded seven of her team-leading 12 kills en route to a 25-19 victory.

'Jess really sparked everyone on the floor and inspired everyone to play better,' said junior middle blocker Kelli Tennant. 'She was able to set the standard by attacking and playing at times the best I have ever seen her play.'

The Women of Troy clinched the match with several serving runs in the fourth game to seal the match 25-18.

'I'm very happy with the way we stood toe-to-toe with these national teams,' said Haley. 'All we can ask of our team is to play their hardest, keep their competitive intensity, and improve with every new situation that arises. I think our team grew immensely as a result of playing in this tournament.'

In its 32nd year, the Savaria Cup has seen many Olympic medalist squads entered in its field. Cuba has won the tournament 12 times, the last in 1992. China won the championships in 1989 and 1990. It is believed that USC's 2nd place finish ties the highest finish ever for a non-national team.

Marta Siemiatkowska added nine kills starting early for Gysin, and later replacing Kaczor for two games. The trio of middles added a tournament best 17 kills with Kelli Tennant scoring eight, Bethany Johansen scoring six, and Katelyn Bishop with three. Freshman Libero Alli Hillgren enjoyed her second outstanding match in a row.

'It was really an honor to be able to participate in this tournament. Everyone associated with the event worked very hard to make sure this was a first-class international tournament,' said Haley. 'Cory Solomon did a great job making sure that we had an opportunity to compete. I'm sure they were leery of having a USA collegiate team entered in their tournament, buy Cory went to bat for us and his influence prevailed. Most collegiate tours result in playing club and second-tier professional teams, we got to play three national teams with our fourth being in a few how good is that?'

The Women of Troy have now completed six matches in six days and are driving to the mountain spa-resort town of Maribor, Slovenia for rest and relaxation. They will then travel onto Italy for touring and sightseeing in Milan and Venice for one day each. The tour wraps up in Montreaux, Switzerland, where they will play their final match against the Swiss National Team. The match will be in conjunction with the Montreaux Volleymasters International Tournament. While watching the tournament, USC will get to see China, Russia, and Cuba, who account for all three medals in the 2006 Olympic games. Serbia and the Netherlands are also entered in the tournament.

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