Jayhawks in Europe: Tori Miller

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 played seven matches, sandwiched between training sessions and travel destinations in Italy, France and Spain. The Jayhawks 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. Tori Miller – and her surprise family guest – wrote all about Friday, KU’s final day in Europe.
Day 12 – Barcelona, Spain
Waking up this morning knowing that today would be our last day exploring this new world was a bummer. But, I woke up with a smile on my face knowing that we had a great day ahead of us!
 View of the magnificent Spanish Square
(Photo courtesy of Tori Miller)We started off our adventure with a visit to La Sagrada Familia, a large church that started being built in the late 1800s, and will still be in construction ’till 2026! The architecture was fantastic with so many intricate details in all the stonework. No picture can ever compare to what we witnessed today.
Shortly after visiting La Sagrada Familia, we arrived at one of the biggest shopping and tourist attractions Barcelona can offer, called Passeig de Gràcia. When we arrived, we walked into a bull fighting coliseum that had been converted into a mall. Inside were amazing shops from designer stores to small boutiques. One interesting thing about this trip was that I knew that my cousin would be moving to Barcelona for a job as a nanny this summer today! Surprisingly, we decided to meet each other at this mall. It’s crazy, because she attended Oklahoma State University and we never see each other more than three times per year. Now, we are 4,840 miles from Kansas and Oklahoma and we seem to find ourselves running into each other!
Soon we had to part ways so that we could arrive promptly to the bus to take us to our final match here in Barcelona. Knowing that it was our last match, all the girls knew that we had to work hard tonight to get the win. The game went by in a flash. After the Rock Chalk victory, the team got to do a jersey exchange. That’s always a cool thing to do, because you are getting to meet the players and thank them for their time!
Right after we got changed and ready to go, we had a long and adventurous walk down to the bottom of the city, where our bus was. It was actually very interesting because the exact same day, there was an AC/DC concert, a water polo match, and fans from both of Spain’s soccer teams that are competing for the championship game tomorrow. As we nudged our way to the bus, which took about 30 minutes, we got on the bus and headed to a small dinner at Cal Dimoni (Place of the Devil), where we would have our final meal as our tour was coming to an end. This was probably my favorite dinner throughout the entire trip. Many different tapas were served: HUGE shrimp, sausage, veil, and lamb, which – shockingly – was delicious.
 Last dinner in Europe
(Photo courtesy of Jim Marchiony)As the night came to an end we all toasted to this wonderfully, amazing experience. I personally think our team got so much out of this trip, and we will always remember this time together.
Now time to pack up my bag that will clearly be over 50 pounds from all the goodies I bought. Oh well, how many times can I say that I’m going to be in Europe again??
Coming up on day 13: Tiana Dockery
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 – La Sagrada Familia
Our first stop was La Sagrada Familia – the Basilica of the Holy Family. I learned the difference between a Basilica and a Cathedral: to be a Cathedral it must be the seat of a bishop. The vast structure was designed by the renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí.  Construction began in 1882 under another architect, but Gaudí took over the following year.  He worked on it until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea. The building is in the center of Barcelona, and over the years it has become one of the most universal signs of identity of the city and the country. It is visited by millions of people every year, and many study its architectural and religious content.
 La Sagrada Familia 
(Photo courtesy of Jim Marchiony)Nothing I can write can do justice to this basilica. Gaudí’s original design calls for a total of 18 spires, representing in ascending order of height the 12 apostles, the Virgin Mary, the four Evangelists and Jesus Christ. Eight of the spires have been built thus far, so this is absolutely a work in progress. So much so that huge cranes, scaffolding and the sound of jackhammers and construction equipment are prevalent during the visit. One projection anticipates construction completion around 2026, the centennial of Gaudí’s death, while the project’s information leaflet estimates a completion date in 2028, accelerated by additional funding from visitors to Barcelona following the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. It has always been an expiatory church, which means that since the outset it has been built from donations.
Inside the Match – At a Glance
Kansas finished its European tour with a 6-1 record after one final sweep to conclude the trip. The Jayhawks made quick work of Voleibol Barcelona CVB Barca (25-19, 25-9, 25-17) inside the National Institute of Physical Education of Catalunya. Janae Hall ignited the offensive output with five kills in the opening set, while Tayler Soucie added four more.
Hall kept right after it in set two, picking up two kills and a block in the early moments. Kelsie Payne chimed in with four kills for the commanding 25-9 win, the biggest win differential of the trip. Closing it out, Maggie Anderson stepped on the gas at the service line with a pair of aces. Kayla Cheadle led the pack with three kills to put the finishing touches on the sweep.
Inside the Match – Quotes
Head coach Ray Bechard on the win:
“We’ve been going really hard and, from a sightseeing standpoint, it was a long day. We put them out there, and they were as ready to go as ever. We passed well, blocked well, attacked well – probably the one hiccup on the trip has been our serving. We managed that well in the last game-and-a-half, too.”
Bechard on what he noticed from his team:
“We play seven matches in 12 days, which is more professional-league style. We would’ve liked to have played that first match maybe somewhere in the middle of the trip when we were a little bit more adjusted. I just told the team that I’m very proud of how they represented Kansas with every opponent they played. We went into each match with the expectation that our opponent deserved our best effort. If you would’ve told me we’d go 6-1 with some of the great clubs we played, I be pretty happy.”
Janae Hall on the team’s performance:
“It was really interesting to play the team from Spain because they had a much different style of play than what we typically face back in the States. They were really scrappy and got a lot of balls up on defense, so we had to work hard to hit new shots and try new things to get the ball to go down against them.”
Hall on what the team did well tonight:
“We blocked pretty well. We were pretty solid in our setup and had our feet in the right spot for blocking, in particular.”
Hall on the European tour experience:
“It’s been a really fun trip. I am lucky enough that I’ve gotten to go overseas before, but I’ve never been able to go to the areas we’ve gone to on this trip. It was really cool to see all the new cultures and to experience what life is like outside of the U.S.”