March 12, 2016

German Swag 101: Win to Remember

As detailed in my previous German Swag post, I've adopted a different role on this season's volleyball team. But the past few weeks brought up some unexpected playing situations - just in time for the must-win matches.

I was grateful for the opportunity to play a full match again, but a bit unsure of how it would all pan out. After all, the last full match I played was in October.


Against Stuttgart, we barely won the first set, then barely lost the next two sets before letting it all go in the fourth. Our libero went down with a serious knee injury in the second set, and several of our substitute players were either sick or playing in a tournament.

I had a disappointing day, dealing with a referee who just seemed to want to punish every touch I made with a whistle call. I wanted to pull him aside and be, like, "DUDE, I never play. Lay off!" Ironically, my game stats outside of setting were excellent. I had improved in serving and defense the most.

The Stuttgart game acted as a nagging reminder to maybe why I don't play that much on this team. It was not nice, and I could have lived without it.

Me after the Stuttgart debacle. At least I have great style.
Flash forward to two weeks later, and after the Stuttgart loss, now every match was that much more important. We had 25 points, and the team we were going to play against, Bad Soden, had 24 points. Both of our teams were technically safe from relegation, but two other lower teams were still within striking distance. (It may make more sense looking at the league table here. We are Rote Raben Vilsbiburg II.)

Both of the teams needed this win badly.

The day before the Sunday match, we still didn't know what team we were going to take with us. Four of our younger players (three of whom regularly start for us) were playing in the weekend-long under-20 regional playoff tournament. Our coach requested to have our normal full team, but the club denied this request...at seven o'clock in the morning, only two hours before we were supposed to leave on Sunday!

The delightful takeaway from this detail is that I was not the preferred setter for this crucial match, and everyone knew it.

Lucky for me, however, despite working with a few people who just aren't that interested in me being a volleyball player, I do actually have a huge support system of family, friends, and teammates in my corner (fun fact: the other setter on my team is one of these people!). I know their encouraging and calming words totally lifted me and helped me get through this match!

We won the first two sets surprisingly without much difficulty, 25-21, 25-21. The third set saw us relax a little bit, and we eventually found ourselves down 20-23, and I had to go back to serve. I was able to rattle off four serves to get us up 24-23, but we couldn't quite finish it off, and lost 24-26.

(Note: In European volleyball leagues, if you win your match 3 sets to 0, or 3 sets to 1 set, your team earns 3 points in the league table. If the match goes to 5 sets, the winner earns only 2 points, and the loser gets 1 point. Winning this game was imperative, but winning in three or four sets was even more important!!!)

The fourth set was generally in our favor, but always just a couple of points ahead, nothing too comfortable. The big stress came in the last few minutes, as our 23-21 lead was all of a sudden only 24-23, and they had the service. Our coach called a timeout. We went back onto the court, and our serve receivers passed me a great ball, I set a fast set to our outside hitter, and she hit the line for the kill!

**FREAKING OUT!!!**

I couldn't help but shed a few happy tear-sobs. I really believed and had already accepted that the highest point of my season this year had been our come-from-behind victory against Neuwied - the first match of the season.

This Bad Soden match was definitely the new high point of the season for me. We had shown up with only seven players, decided to go for it with our second libero, and nobody really expected us to do much. We overcame the low expectations, decided to work together the entire stretch, and came out with the three point victory! Then, as if things couldn't get any better...they did.

At the end of every match, each coach chooses the MVP of the game from the other team. I think you get where this is going.

"Nummer siebzehn (17), Christy Swagerty!"

OMG.


Forget highlight of my season. Let's jump straight to next best highlight of my entire 5-year European career after going undefeated in Belgium!

It was an incredible moment, and I'm thrilled to say it's all on match video at the bottom of this post!

Can't buy this kind of souvenir or memory!

In other exciting news, I will be taking part in the first ever online athlete summit, Athlete Blab, on March 15th and 16th! While our audience is targeted at professional athletes, our content can be applied to younger athletes, business professionals, and anyone looking to create and maintain their brand.

Even if you aren't sure if you'll want to attend all of the sessions, it's easy to come check it out! Just go to http://www.fitacrosscultures.com/athleteblab to register and participate totally for FREE. You can pop in and out of the video feed anytime over the course of the two days.


I will be sharing on Wednesday, March 16th, about strategies during the off-season from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Berlin time (5:00 a.m to 6:00 a.m. PST because the USA will have already changed their clocks forward one hour!).

Please forward the relevant #athleteblab information to anyone you think may be interested. The hosts, Susan Salzbrenner (@fitaxcultures) and Ryan Owens (@beyondathletic) have worked really hard to get this conference off the ground, and it would be great for you to be a part of it!


Bad Soden vs. Rote Raben Vilsbiburg II, March  6, 2016. Rote Raben won 3 sets to 1, 25-21, 25-21, 24-26, 25-23.


End of the match and MVP presentation.


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