Jayhawks in Europe: Madison Rigdon

From May 18-30, Kansas volleyball is embarking on a European training trip aimed at combining cultural education with intense practices and competition. The team will play six matches, sandwiched between training sessions and travel destinations in Italy, France and Spain. The Jayhawks have graciously accepted the task of keeping their fans, family and KU volleyball supporters in the loop on what the team is up to on a daily basis. Check back each day of the trip to hear a different player’s perspective. Madison Rigdon shared her story on Saturday.

 The drive along the Italian Coast was complete
with a breathtaking view.
(Photo courtesy of Madison Rigdon)Day 6 – Mondoví to Varazze to Genoa, Italy
After a fun late-night dinner with the LPM Pallavolo Mondoví-Serie B1 team – and the mayor of Mondoví! – we woke up to head into the center of Mondoví, Italy. In the center was an open air market with some of the best strawberries I’ve ever tasted in my life. We also joined in with the spirit of the culture and bargained for sunglasses, wallets and purses.
From there, we took the tram that runs up the three levels of Mondoví’s center and saw a beautiful overview of the city and two of its breathtaking cathedrals. Then we had team lunch. Some stuck with Italian pizza, while others stepped out of their comfort zones to take in some of the more adventurous food of the culture. So far, the best food I’ve tried was the beet cake we had last night!
Next, we found ourselves on the drive to Varazze, a city along the Mediterranean Sea. The view of the water and the mountains behind the city was absolutely gorgeous. We checked in to the Hotel Cristallo and had a few hours to rest and explore before our 8 p.m. match. We took an hour-long bus drive to the Pala Lino Maragliano Gym in Genoa to compete against the Normac Volley Ball Serie B2 team. We won our match in three sets and were honored to sign autographs and take pictures with many, many young Italian girls. It was another amazing experience with many more to come. Next stop – France!
Coming up on day seven: Tayler Soucie
Associate athletic director Jim Marchiony, the volleyball senior administrator on the trip, added another historical trip to the recount of the day’s events.  
Historical Spotlight – Cantine Bonaparte
On Friday night (and into Saturday morning), we took a ride in a big cable car to the town square at the top of a hill overlooking the town to a restaurant called Cantine Bonaparte – named after Napoleon Bonaparte because one of his biggest battles was apparently fought in the foothills of this area. You would have thought you were in a castle – indeed, Mondoví dates back to the 13th Century. 
 Getting photos with the opposition has become
a cool tradition on the tour.
(Photo courtesy of Madison Rigdon)The locals told us the bishop lives practically next door. I hope he’s a sound sleeper, because our party of about 50 people – including the mayor, several leaders from the volleyball club, and several players from the team we had just played – made enough noise to wake up the townspeople below.  These folks were so nice, and they genuinely appreciated the fact that we had come to their town to play.
Inside the Match – At a Glance
Kansas swept Normac AVB Genoa (25-20, 25-19, 25-17) in front of another lively Italian crowd, minus the drums from Friday’s match in Mondoví. This opponent has players ranging from 16 to 32; they play in the B2 Division (a semipro team). Kelsie Payne led the offense with an unofficial 21 kills in a mere three sets. Payne got it rolling with five kills in the opening frame and five more in the second. Coming to her aide, Tayler Soucie tallied four in set number two and Rigdon did the same in the final frame.