Jayhawks in Europe: Ainise Havili
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. Ainise Havili wrote all about it on Tuesday.
Stopping for a little American comfort – this
Toulouse McDonald’s was three stories tall!
(Photo courtesy of Ainise Havili)
Day 9 – Toulouse, France
Today we went to the center of Toulouse, and there were so many places to shop there. Toulouse has one of the best rugby teams in France, so I spent a looooot of money on rugby stuff for my family out here. We had lunch at McDonald’s. It was the nicest McDonald’s I’ve seen… three stories tall. I can say that their chicken nuggets are much better here than in America.
The gym was very similar to the ones in Italy. The weird thing was that they had a weight (room) area at the end of the gym. So, as we were playing, these guys were heavy lifting like 10 feet away with just a net in between. We won in three sets and played very well for having two days off before this. We have been pretty consistent overall. I think our hitters are doing a great job of ending plays, and our passing is definitely getting better throughout the trip. Our serving is our biggest struggle, but that’s also getting better. I think we’re doing really a good job of creating our own energy since we usually don’t have a crowd –
and when we do, they obviously don’t want us to win!
After the match, we had dinner with the French Federation team. It was very hard to have a consistent conversation, but we used Google Translate for most of it. We didn’t need a translator for things like movies or music, though. We found out that a lot of them like Drake and Fast and Furious! Another cool thing was there was a girl there that was Polynesian, like me. She barely spoke English, so it was hard to ask her questions, but I thought that was cool.
Coming up on day 10: Kayla Cheadle
Associate athletic director Jim Marchiony, the volleyball senior administrator on the trip, added another historical trip to the recount of the day’s events. Ainise Havili found another Polynesian
player on the French team.
(Photo courtesy of Ainise Havili)Historical Spotlight – Toulouse
Toulouse, 93 miles from the Mediterranean Sea, is the fourth-largest metropolitan area in France (Paris, Lyon and Marseille) with 1.2 million inhabitants. It’s the center of European aerospace industry and the home of the headquarters of, among others, Airbus, the Galileo positioning system and the European headquarters of Intel. Its world-renowned university, one of the oldest in Europe (founded in 1229) is the fourth-largest in France (103,000 students).
Toulouse’s city square – all these cities have city squares – is a five-minute walk from our hotel. The square is dominated by the Capitole de Toulouse, the heart of the administration of the city. The original building was constructed in 1190, but the current façade, built in pink brick, dates from 1750. Today the building houses city hall, the Toulouse Opera and a symphony orchestra.
The next stop for my little group was the Saint-Sernin Basilica. Built mostly between 1080 and 1120, it’s the largest Romanesque church in Europe, and contains what is widely considered the most beautiful pipe organ in France. I’m not up on my pipe-organ history, but yeah, this one is impressive. The basilica contains countless arches – some of them way up there; I have no idea how they built them back then. Amazing.
Inside the Match – At a Glance
Kansas swept the French Federation Youth Team (25-18, 25-16, 25-12) inside the Federation’s national center in Toulouse to move to 4-1 on its European tour. Powered by dominating scoring runs throughout the match, the Jayhawks used six kills from Kelsie Payne to win the first set. Down 7-5 in set two, KU won six-straight points thanks to a block/kill combo from Tiana Dockery and an ace by Maggie Anderson. The French snapped the streak with a single point, but it merely broke up a 15-1 Kansas run en route to a two sets to none lead. In the final frame, Dockery and Madison Rigdon combined for eight kills in another commanding win. A 12-1 scoring spree sent Kansas to the sweeping victory.
Inside the Match – Quotes
Head coach Ray Bechard on the win:
“Two days off after traveling a lot and being on the go, we made an agreement with the team that, ‘We’re going to let you experience it all if you come ready to play.’ Certainly they did that tonight.”
Bechard on the positives:
“Our transition attack was good. I also thought that Ainise Havili kind of dominated the match with her serve, her set placement and even her attack. We had pretty good balance with her. Madison Rigdon hit for a nice high number, and when Kelsie Payne is doing what she does at the level she can do it, she is successful, too.”
Ainise Havili on her performance:
“With me personally, most of it had to do with running the offense. My serving was a lot better than our last match so that really helped the momentum.”
Havili on the trip and what it’s meant to her:
“It’s been a great experience. We’re having a lot of fun and experiencing so many cultures. It’s been a blessing. I can’t imagine anything better than this, traveling the world with my best friends.”