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Monday marked the final full day for the Sacramento State Volleyball team in Nanjing. Despite a steady rain that turned into a downpour at times, the day did not disappoint.

The Hornets were set for an off-day on Monday, but an opportunity for an extra scrimmage was too good to pass up. The team made an early morning trip to the Jiangsu Provincial Training Center to take on the region's junior women's volleyball club.

Potentially the most talented team the Hornets have faced thus far, Jiangsu won the match, 3-1 (25-20, 27-29, 25-10, 25-15).

Seniors Morgan Stanley and Madeline Cannon led the offense, notching 12 and seven kills, respectively. Sophomore Brie Gathright was efficient in the middle, hitting .667 (four kills) for the match and senior Courtney Dietrich added five kills and a .429 hitting percentage. Libero Lexie Skalbeck had two of the Hornets' three aces.

The highlight of the day, however, was a visit to Nanjing Lang Ya Road Primary School for a volleyball clinic. After a warm welcome by the students and a presentation of gifts between school administrators and head coach Ruben Volta, the Hornets hosted a clinic for an hour with dozens of primary school students.

The evening was highlighted by dinner, singing, dancing and a calligraphy performance by the students of the school following the clinic.

Editor's note: The 'smallest' of the three cities during the Hornets' trip, Nanjing has a metropolitan population of just over 8 million (roughly the population of New York) and a total of 34 million citizens in the greater Nanjing region.

Despite its immense population base, the city is far from a concrete jungle. Located in a temperate region that receives roughly 40 inches of rain a year, the city is green and lush with vegetation, trees, lakes and the Yangtze River. Like Shanghai, the city skyline lights up at night with video and colors illuminating the evening sky.

The Hornets' travel party of 27 had no singular concept of what they would see when arriving in China, but it is clear the trip, thus far, has been a series of wonderful surprises around every corner.


Senior Courtney Dietrich

It was a very early morning for the Hornets on our last full day Nanjing. We had a quick breakfast and then hit the road to play against a Chinese youth professional team, which was a little over an hour drive from our hotel. We got to the gym and began our usual game warm up. Then we exchanged gifts with the other team, handing out Sacramento State Volleyball t-shirts.

It was a really exciting game that we played against the Chinese youth pro team. Ruben (Volta) started all four seniors and it was very memorable to be on the floor with the girls who have been by my side the past four years. We fell short the first set, bounced back to beat them, 29-27, in the second, but lost the last two sets. They were one of the top youth professional teams in China and very talented. A funny highlight of the match happened when Lana jumped up to block a ball that went through her hands, bounced off her forehead and shot out of bounds! Although we didn't get the point, we all got a good laugh at the moment. The girl that hit it felt terrible and repeatedly apologized to Lana.

Later that day, the Hornets visited Nanjing Lang Ya Primary school and put on a volleyball clinic for the children. We walked into the gym with children on both sides of us waving their school flag and singing in Chinese. The atmosphere in the gym was unbelievable and filled with so much joy, not only from the children, but their parents as well. The players split up into small groups and worked with the children on their passing, setting and defense. They were between 7 and 12 years old and very talented.

We began playing Queen of the Court and each player paired with two children. They all laughed when Maddie couldn't quite dig a ball so she kicked it up and over the net! They couldn't believe their eyes and the place got insanely loud from the 40-plus children in the gym. After we were done playing, the children were very generous handing out gifts to all the players. The children were running around handing out suckers, bags and flags with their school logo on it. We eventually managed to calm things down and took a photo with the kids. Soon enough, the gym was loud again with the children running from player to player asking for our autographs. Their excitement had all of us grinning from ear to ear.

We then headed to a different part of their school to have dinner with kids. We enjoyed pizza and had small talk with them, although most of the kids didn't speak a lot of English. We then enjoyed watching performances from the children. Some of them sang, danced, played the piano and drew amazing Chinese artwork. Our team particularly enjoyed when one of the little girls started dancing to a hip-hop song. Brie was in the corner bobbing her head to the song, and she eventually was convinced by the girl's Mom to go out there and dance alongside her daughter. For those of you who don't know, Brie is one of the best dancers on the team. Although, tonight, Brie couldn't keep up with the girl and opted out 15 seconds later.

All of the parents and kids got a good laugh, but applauded Brie's attempt. Things began to wind down and we signed some more autographs and eventually parted ways. These children welcomed us with open hearts and made us feel at home. Needless to say, we are going to sleep with full and happy hearts tonight.

I want to thank everyone who contributed to our program and made this trip possible! We couldn't have done it without you! This trip has already been one of the most amazing experiences, and we're only halfway done. Thank you so much and Go Hornets!

Day 5 Recap/Player Blogs

Day 4 Recap/Player Blogs

Day 3 Recap/Player Blog

Day 1-2 Recap/Player Blogs