AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico — It’s been about a week and a half since Vanderbilt volleyball assistant coach Lauren Plum departed for the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball U21 World Championships as an assistant coach for Team USA.
Before departing for Aguascalientes, Plum met the national team in Anaheim, California, for training camp. Once in Mexico, the U21 team played three games in the first round of pool play at the World Championships, winning two games and losing one. In the third first-round game, the United States defeated the Netherlands, 3-1, moving to No. 8 in the world rankings and being placed in a new pool for round two.
Plum kept a journal of her experiences as an assistant coach for the U21 U.S. National Team.
Aug. 12: Arrival in Anaheim
Once I got to Anaheim, I was able to meet up with the team and other coaches. First, Stacy Sykora, who is a three-time Olympian and fellow assistant coach, and I received our official gear for Worlds. Later that day, the U21 team gathered at the airport to welcome back the U19 national team, that had just won its division’s World Championships in Croatia. Five girls from the U19 team joined the U21 team for our tournament in Mexico.
Aug. 12–15: Training Camp
For the next four days, we practiced together in California to prepare for our first game, which would be against Cuba. We had the opportunity to watch the senior women’s national team practice as it prepares for the Olympic qualifiers in September. The senior team talked to our girls, which was a great experience for them to hear from the reigning Olympic champions in the sport. The U21 team also got to hear from USA Volleyball’s sports psychologist, who contributed greatly to the team’s achievement of Olympic gold in Tokyo.
Aug. 16: On the Way to Aguascalientes
On Wednesday, we traveled to Aguascalientes, Mexico, to compete in the first of three pool-play games at the World Championships.
Aug. 17–19: Round One
Each game day looks pretty similar. We do a serve and pass (light practice) in the morning. The USA staff puts together a scout on the opponent the day before, and we will watch film with the players both as a team and individually. Film sessions are usually how we defend different countries and what their systems look like and how we attack those…