All-Star tour: Team spends final day in Huaian

The Pac-12 volleyball all-star team -- comprised of 13 conference players and three coaches -- is on a two-week playing tour in China. The Pac-12 Post will have an inside look at the team's experience throughout the trip, including photos, guest posts from members of the team and recaps of each match.

From USC libero Natalie Hagglund:

Saturday was our last day in Huaian and I am beginning to realize how extremely thankful I am for being given this opportunity.  Huaian was an incredible experience where myself as well as my teammates were able to see both the rural and urban aspects of the city. As I have previously mentioned, visiting  Huaian was a unique cultural experience; one that we will all remember!

Today was also our last game in Huaian. We had a great practice in the morning and headed to the game relatively early to gain some focus and to prepare both physically and mentally. Despite feeling "ready to play," we had difficulties executing our game plan in the first game, and toward the end of the game focused on gaining the momentum. Thankfully we were able to capture the momentum and carried it through a tough second game only to lose by two points, 28-26. The third game we came out fighting harder than ever and started off with an 8-0 lead. We captured the third game but ended up falling short in the fourth 26-24.

[Related: Pac-12 volleyball 2013 schedule, TV info released]

As we reflected about the game, we were bummed but soon realized how far we have come together as a team. We had only practiced one full day in America before coming to China and had never played together as a team. At our respective universities we all play different systems and are therefore still not fully comfortable playing with each other. During the match we made too many errors that generally wouldn't have been made when playing with individuals that we are fully comfortable with -- passing/communication errors, holes in blocks and missed connections. So, losing by two points was frustrating, but teams who have played with each other all year have a strong advantage in terms of comfort when it comes to those tight games. Regardless, we all still feel as if we are getting better and are excited for what awaits us in Beijing!

The Pac-12 so graciously scheduled each of us massages after the game! This was another cultural experience to add to the books! The massage felt absolutely incredible but the execution of the massage was quite unique. Their massage tactics include odd stretching positions, some interesting powders, steaming water, and lots of slapping, but hey...it definitely got the job done! It felt great!!

Off to Beijing bright and early!

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