International blogging group the Kill Shot Team is made up of volleyball bloggers from all over the world who each have their own blog in their respective country. The group was invited to watch and cover the final round of the FIVB Men’s World Championships, all while sending a constant flow of updates to the Kill Shot website.
Thursday, Oct. 14
I got a last minute invite to go to Rome for the Final Round of the FIVB Championships, because the blogger from China could no longer go.
Friday, Oct. 15
SFO to PHL to FCO. It was a 15-hour flight. Zero turbulence in the air and was asleep most of the time. It’s a good thing because I didn’t get to sleep the night before because I was too excited.
Saturday Oct. 16
Arrived in FCO and took the shuttle to my hotel to meet up with the Kill Shot team. Put my bags in my room, but didn’t even get to shower since I had a schedule to follow.
10:10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Toured the beautiful city of Rome: the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and The Great Rome Squares. I pinched myself a few times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. And oh, their pizza is really delicious!
We were told we had to go to the PalaLottomatica stadium early since the Bra-Ita match was sold out. Some fans were making a scene since they weren’t allowed to get in. I only had time to change and then we took off.
First stop was the Accreditation Office where I got my press pass and my hospitality band (for the lounge area where they have products from sponsors.) I saw a few volleyball faces: Angilino Frigoni, Luca Catagalli and Joel Despaigne. We were escorted to the press room and set up our computers 30 minutes before the Serbia-Cuba semifinal match.
5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Cuba wins 3-2 over Serbia. It was a great match! I was rooting for Serbia but Cuba was too strong, especially in crucial parts of the game. More than 7,500 enjoyed this epic match. After the match, I stayed in the press room to blog about the Cuban victory. I posted a few pictures and blog entries. I could already hear the cheers from the Italian fans getting ready for the Italy-Brazil match.
9 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Brazil wins 3-1 over Italy. Brazil proved too much for Italy. I really admire the Italian fans because they cheered all the way to the end. They jumped off their seats when Italy would score a point. Some were wearing Italian jerseys, painted their faces and more than 30 fans were waving the Italian flag. Of course, Brazil had supporters too. I posted a few pictures and blog entries and headed to the player’s area to meet the players. I had the chance to meet my favorites like Gilberto “Giba” Godoy Filho, Murilo Endres, Leandro Visotto, Theo Fabricio Nery Lopes and Mario da Silva Pedreira from Brazil and Italy’s Matej Cernic, Cristian Savani, Alessandro Fei and Simone Parodi.
Super late dinner then returned to the hotel around 3:30 a.m. Fell asleep around 5 a.m.
Sunday, Oct. 17
Since it was such a late night, I didn’t hear my alarm at all and missed my 11 a.m. call time to meet the boss of the Kill Shot committee. Good thing he stayed to have lunch with us. I got the chance to know more about the other bloggers, the story behind the Kill Shot team and exchanged contact info with the team. A couple of hours later, we headed back to the PalaLottomatica stadium for the Italy-Serbia Bronze Medal Match scheduled for 5 p.m. Before the match, I had the chance to meet a few living legends of the sport like Fernanda Venturini, Andrea Giani and Andrea Luchetta, Cristina Pirv (Giba’s wife) and I also took pictures with players from Argentina.
5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Serbia wins the Bronze! In front of 12,000-plus fans, Italy missed their chance to win a medal. Ivan Miljkovic and Nikola Grbic waved to the fans to say goodbye. Both players had announced that it would be their last World Championship. Call me cheesy, but I was teary eyed watching them. They have been my favorites since they won the Olympic gold in Sydney 10 years ago. Same follow-up routine: Posted a few pictures and blog entries. Also, I received the form to vote for the MVP of the tournament. I thought of Serbia’s Ivan Miljkovic, Robertlandy Simon and Wilfredo Leon from Cuba, and Murilo Endres of Brazil. Tough decision to make and I ended up voting for the great all around player from Brazil.
9 p.m. – 11 p.m.
In front of 12,000 plus fans, Brazil wins the gold for the third time in a row. I expected a tough match but Brazil was mentally prepared against the youngest team of the tournament. Cuba played a great tournament and they had not won a World Championship medal since 1990. During the awarding ceremony, I saw David Lee, Clay Stanley and Rich Lambourne. Later on, I joined the celebration on the court. I took pictures with the Cuban players and had the chance to touch Dante Amaral’s gold medal. I stood on the podium and then grabbed some confetti as a souvenir. It felt amazing to be on the same stage with the champions. As I walked out of the stadium around 1 a.m., I kept thinking: “Did this really happen to me? Am I living the dream?” I pinched myself for the last time.
After a late dinner and a simple celebration with my fellow bloggers, I returned to my room at around 5 a.m. I opted not to sleep since I didn’t want to miss my flight at 11 a.m. I spent the next 3 hours blogging, uploading pictures and packing. My ride picked me up at 8 a.m. to FCO airport. Luckily I had the chance to chat with a few Serbian players at the airport and saw Russian libero Alexei Verbov as I was about to board.
18 hours later
Hello San Francisco!
Originally published in January 2011