The month of May has had several ups and downs. It was extremely busy, which is why I am only writing about it now.
The last thing I wrote about was the San Diego tournament. Since then, we have had three consecutive tournaments: Houston, Osaka, and Atlanta. I will start with a recap of Houston.
Wouldn't you know, going into Houston, I got the worst sinus infection of my life. I felt absolutely horrible and wanted nothing but to crawl in my bed and stay there. Knowing that was not an option, I got my butt to Houston.
Tyra and I struggled from the start. Her knee was bothering her to the point that she could not bend or move very well. Knowing this, I wanted to do my part to make things easier for her, but my head was in a fog from all the over-the-counter medications that I was taking. We were a pathetic sight.
We lost our first match of the tournament to Fendrick/Ivy and had to battle back through the contenders' bracket. We beat ourselves. We were not physically able to do things that we normally can do, but we did not make up for it with intelligent play. Live and learn.
Anyway, I am not going into detail about the matches because my head was so foggy I can barely remember playing. We finished 7th place and caught an early flight home. 12 hours later, we were jumping on another flight to Osaka, Japan for our first FIVB tournament.
We almost did not make it to Japan. The swine flu had recently made its way to Osaka, and the airports were quarantining every plane from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. My sinus infection was in full force and I was coughing, sneezing, and constantly blowing my nose. Upon arrival, our plane was stopped on the tarmac while a team of health professionals boarded our plane and inspected each individual. I was very nervous at this point because we had to fill out health questionnaires asking if we were experiencing a cough, congestion, runny nose, sneezing, etc. Thankfully, I did not have a fever, which is the main thing they were looking for. When the examiner questioned me, he red-marked my health form. That meant the doctor had to come inspect me to decide if I would be placed in quarantine or not. Let me clarify that, the doctor would decide if, not just me, but everyone within a 2 meter radius of me would be quarantined.
The passengers seated around me were all nervous, as well. I assured them that I had seen a doctor in the United States and that my sickness was, indeed, just a sinus-infection. I was cleared and we were all on our way.
The Osaka event was really great. I was so nervous, excited, and anxious. It was my first FIVB main draw! We were seeded 26th going into the event.
Our first match was against a very good German team, Goller/Ludwig. We played very well and won the match in three sets, 15-10 in the third. We were excited to get that first match win under our belts.
Next, we played a team from Czech Republic. We played very well again, and won in dominating style in two sets. That put us into 9th place and finished for the day.
Our next match was against the 2nd seeded team from Brazil, the Salgado sisters, Maria Clara and Carol. We were on a hot-streak and won this match in three sets, 15-10 in the third. That win put us into 5th place. Then we faced a very good team from Greece. We were clicking and continued to play well, winning in two sets, securing our place in the semi-finals.
The strange thing was that by winning that match, we had the next day completely off. We did not really know what to do with ourselves. We had never had a "day off" in the middle of a tournament before. We thought it would be a blessing since we were still battling our health issues, but it turned out that it broke our momentum.
We lost in the semi-finals to Talita/Antonelli from Brazil. We played in the bronze medal match against a very good ball-control team from the Netherlands. They were hot and we were NOT! We finished 4th place, which we were very happy about considering it was our first tournament of the year. The difference in those two matches between winning and losing was serving. Those two teams served very tough consistently throughout the entire match. We never found our rhythm with serving and did not get either of them in any trouble. In order to beat those teams, we will have to serve tougher and control our side of the net.
Osaka was a very valuable tournament for us. By placing 4th, we were able to improve our seed dramatically. Because I had no finishes to report, I was given a 25th seed which was averaged with Tyra's 4.5 seed. Now I will replace that 25th with the 4th! It is a huge deal for us! Especially since the next tournament we play in on the FIVB tour will be the World Championships in Norway!
We flew back to the US on the Monday following the tournament. We were home for about 36 hours before we had to fly to Atlanta. We did not know where on the planet we were at and what time it could or should be. Sleeping was a challenge. I was wide-eyed in the middle of the night.
We started the tournament on Friday against Pavlik/Rouwenhorst. Tyra's serve was en fuego. She had 6 aces in the first game. Tough serving and steady siding out helped us win convincingly, 21-12, 21-16. Unfortunately for us, we were finished for the day.
Our momentum was broken up the next day by Dodd/DeNeccochea. They dominated us by serving really tough and keeping us on our toes on defense. They played very well and gave us a beat down.
We moved to the contenders' bracket and played Fendrick/Ivy to get to 7th place. We did not play great, but we played good enough to win.
Next, we played Lima/Minello. We were out served and lost in two sets. They just bombed serves at us, getting aces and creating trouble for us. We did not return the favor and had trouble scoring points. We lost, simple as that. We both were extremely disappointed. We know we are better than that. We have had some challenges set before us, and I am absolutely positive that we are going to be better off down the road because of them. I am not discouraged, only frustrated at not getting immediate results, but I know they will come.
We are home now and have taken a few days off to rest before the next phase of tournaments. We will have 15 weeks in a row filled with tournaments. All of them, except Manhattan and Hermosa will be on the road. It will be exhausting, but I am excited for what is to come. I will do my best to keep you informed and up to date, but forgive me if I fall behind. The good news is that we are healthy again and have our injuries under control. We are anxious to get back out there and prove that we are one of the best teams on tour.
I am going to enjoy being home for the next two weeks and then it's go time! Summer is here!