Jayhawks Return From Europe With Lasting Memories

June 21, 2011


The volleyball team recently returned from a 12-day European tour that included international competition and sightseeing of some of the many historical sites in Italy. The trip also proved to be a success as KU returned home with a 5-2 record from the tour.

Allison Mayfield, an outside hitter and a senior from Overland Park, Kan., said the trip was beneficial for more than just her volleyball skills.

“It was a really unique experience to play in all the different cities,” Mayfield said. “We didn’t speak much Italian and they didn’t speak much English, but volleyball is still volleyball no matter where you go.”

The team encountered some unique environments during its stay in Europe and experienced some gameday traditions that teams from the United States aren’t accustomed to.

“After one of the matches, our host team treated us to a meal and we talked about the differences between playing and living in Italy versus playing and living in the United States,” Mayfield said. “It was neat talking to someone who lives on the complete other side of the world and hear their perspective on things.”

Seven away games will benefit the team tremendously by the time conference play rolls around.

“The competition was the best early on, but we got a sense of the style and I think what was good about that is we got to play in a different gym every night under different conditions,” coach Ray Bechard said. “You have to adapt to play well on the road and when you get seven different opportunities to do that in a short period of time, I think it’s really good. I think we got progressively better as the tour went along.”

An off-season trip like this means a bonding experience for the team and a leg up on the competition back in the United States. Mayfield said the trip allowed the team members to get much closer because they couldn’t use cell phones and didn’t have internet access.

The fact that the team already has seven matches under its belt means it has played seven more than any other Big 12 team. It may not seem like much of an advantage, but team chemistry is a must during a long season.

“Having almost the whole team together without any distractions allowed our team to come together,” Mayfield said.

Of course, playing volleyball wasn’t the only thing those on the trip experienced. The team was able to sightsee in historic cities in Italy and Switzerland. Mayfield said some of the utilities were just as interesting.

“In the bathrooms, you never knew what you were going to get. Sometimes there were toilets and sometimes there was just a hole in the ground. And some of the toilets didn’t have seats,” Mayfield said.

The trip will leave a lasting impression on the team, coach Bechard said. The memories of playing against competition from Europe and visiting international landmarks will last a lifetime. These are opportunities that don’t come by very often.