Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
Update from China
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 06/22/2011
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Allison Walker's trip to China to play volleyball for team USA in first annual China - USA Challenge Invitational Tournament is underway, and she's keeping Vandal fans up to date with her first experience outside the United States.

Final Days in Beijing:
We got up early to eat breakfast, and go to pearl market to do lots of shopping.  We got to use what we learned from our other experience in shopping and bartering, and I believe I got pretty good at this by this time. After the silk market we headed back to our hotel for lunch and to prepare for our second match in Beijing, when we played the Beijing University team.  

The first match I played some middle, and I did alright. I hadn't played that position in a long time, so it was pretty fun to do a little something different. We won the first set pretty easily and we were playing pretty well. The second set I played outside, and we won again, so now we were up 2-0. The third set the other team came out more ready to play than we were and we let up and they took the set.  We ended up losing the fourth, and went into the fifth set a little frustrated because we knew we should have taken the match in three sets. We then ended up losing the fifth set, it was a close game, but unfortunately we couldn't get the win.  

We had our last game of the second tournament the next day on Sunday.  If we won this game, it worked out that we could get first place.  This was supposed to be the hardest team we would play the whole trip.  I got to start on the outside this match.  We started out trading points back and forth with this professional Chinese team.  It got to be 23-22, Chinese were up. We then traded points a couple times, and we won the set 26-24. We went into the second set with a lot of enthusiasm, and we won that game a little easier, 25-18.  The Chinese team came out really strong and we lost the third game 25-22.  We were determined not to play another fifth game, and not to lose, so we came out in the fourth set and won the match! Later that night we had a big banquet at our hotel where they presented us with the teams awards, and we got first in this tournament! We were very excited!

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go on this trip, and I'm so grateful for all the help I got in getting here, and all the support I have gotten from friends and family, and all Idaho fans! A big THANK YOU to everyone for the support and help!  :) 

Update from Beijing: 
We arrived in Beijing on Wednesday June 15, and checked into our hotel, which is really nice. The city is very big and there are a ton of cars. We then went to the silk market, which is a seven-floor building, with just tons of booths selling lots of different things that you get to bargain and barter for prices. This was like nothing I've ever experienced, shop owners trying to get you into their booths, and trying to get you to buy things. We stayed for about an hour and a half and I only made it to two floors!

We headed back to the hotel to get some sleep, because the next morning we went to visit the Great Wall of China! We got up early because from our hotel it was about an hour and a half drive. The great wall wasn't exactly how I pictured it would be. It is very cool, and I thought you would just walk along it and enjoy the view. But it was not just a walk, the wall is very steep. Our tour guide said there are two directions to go on the wall, the easier side or the harder side, we decided to do the harder side. Some parts of the wall had stairs and others it was just flat and still steep, you could very easily slip if you don't watch your step and you aren't hold on to the rail. It was a ton of fun though! But I definitely would call it a hike instead of a walk. Even though it only took us about 15 min to get to the top, our tour guide said it usually is about 40 minutes or so.  We took a ton of pictures, but unfortunately it was foggy the day we went so we couldn't see very far at all.

After the wall we had lunch at a local work shop where they made vases, and it had a store and a restaurant in it. After lunch we had a practice at the facility we would be using. After practice we got ready for the opening dinner for this tournament. We ate at a very nice restaurant that served China's famous roasted duck. It is pretty good! It tastes a lot like chicken.

June 17 we went to the imperial city and to Tiananmen Square. We took some pictures and just toured these places. We had lunch at our hotel and then relaxed until our first match. We played at 5:30, the second match of the day, and we played the last team Chinese professional we played in Weifang, so we knew the team we were playing and how they play. We came out ready to play, and knew what to expect. We were behind the first game by seven points and came back to win the game 26-24. We then came out strong the second game and also won the second. We lost the third game by a few points, but picked our play back up and beat them in the fourth game, winning the match in 4 games. 

Update From Weifang:
In the first city of Weifang, we practiced the day after we arrived. We then flew into Beijng and had a very long eight hour drive by bus.  We then had our first game, and we played the Chinese university team and won in three sets, it was a pretty easy going match.  The next day we played a Chinese professional team and lost in three. We didn't play very well, and we definitely could have had a closer match and probably should have won, but it's alright because we are here to play some fun volleyball, and get a little better by playing in the off-season.

It's very interesting to see how amazed the people here are with us, by our height, and if we have lighter colored hair. We have so many people taking pictures of us and asking to take them with us.

Before our third game we had a meeting about the game and the team we would be playing. We also set three things that we wanted to work on as a team. 1. Communication, 2. Have fun, and 3. Be aggressive.  We choose these as a team, because we felt that these were big things that as a team we needed to improve, and that would really help us in making the most of our trip together.  

Then it was finally game time.  I got to start this game as an outside. The first game was pretty close the whole time. The Chinese would get ahead a few points, and we'd catch back up. I feel we were really playing well, and doing all that we had talked about before. Our passing was good, and hitters were finding the court, and we were playing good defense. It was then their game point, and we held them off and worked our way back into the lead, and took the first game. It was pretty exciting.  The next game wasn't as great. We did not come out as strong, and we dug ourselves in a hole that we were never able to get out of, and we lost the second game. The next two games we didn't start out well either. It just takes a couple bad passes, and then if we got a good pass, maybe there was a hitting error, or they came back with a good swing. We ended up losing the next two games and ending the match in four games.  

After our game we had the closing awards ceremony. The Chinese national team got 1st, the second Chinese professional team got second, we tied with the Chinese university team, but because they lost in five, and we lost in four they got 3rd. Team USA blue got 4th, then USA red team got 5th, and Stanford University got 6th.  

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