May 18

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We landed from Sᾶo Paulo in Atlanta just over five hours ago. The last 11 days have been an incredible and unique experience. We’ve made lifelong memories and strengthened our bond as teammates, while taking in a new culture, which challenged our norms.

Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible. From the donors to the coaching staff to the Georgia Tech Athletic Association, thank you.

And thanks to you – our fans – for following along with our journey!

On our last day in Sᾶo Paulo, we went shopping and finally got to spend some Reals! We bought a lot of Olympic gear and several Brazilian souvenirs for family, friends and our personal mementos.

Following the mall, we played a match against Sᾶo Caetano. We won the match 3-2 after a slow start and completed the trip undefeated going 8-0. For a full recap, click here.

After a 9.5 hour plane ride with Delta, we made it safely back to Georgia. Head coach Michelle Collier talked last night at the airport about the matches and the trip as a whole:


Thanks again for following along!

As always, Go Jackets!

May 17

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Bom dia!

It’s our last day in Brazil. The trip absolutely flew by, but we’ve had an incredible experience and enjoyed every second of it.

At this time, we’d like to give a shout out to our bus driver for the trip, Antonio. He expertly navigated the crowded and narrow streets of Rio de Janeiro, Buzios, and Sao Paulo in a manual transmission tour bus.

Today we got to sleep in a little bit, head to the mall for some shopping and then play a match against Sᾶo Caetano in the afternoon. Our flight back to the U.S. is at 9 p.m., so we’ve got a jam packed day!

Yesterday we played two matches and won them both. We played Sesi-SP and won 3-1 before playing out the fifth set for extra reps, and then we hopped back on the bus and drove to Bradesco.


Bradesco’s facility is beautiful and they play volleyball at a high level. The team we played is fresh out of winning a tournament which included the best teams in Brazil.

We fell in the first set, but won the next three in an exciting match. For a full recap, click here.

Thank you for following along with our trip! We’ve got one more blog post coming your way tomorrow!


May 16

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Bom Dia!

Yesterday we took a boat ride on a lake called Represa do Guarapiranga. It’s very close to downtown and we could see the cityscape not too far away. We took the boat to the Yacht Club Itaupu where we tanned by the pool , listened to music, and just chilled. We had perfect weather and the sights around the lake were beautiful.

We returned to the hotel and got ready for dinner, which was at a sushi restaurant. Kodie Comby and Sydney Wilson had a sushi smack down on who could eat more… we’re not sure exactly who the winner was, because we were too impressed overall.

Gabriela Stavnetchei, who is from Curitiba, Brazil, had a visit from her parents and brother. It was awesome to see them reunite and they joined us for dinner.

After a relaxing day yesterday, it’s time to get down to business. We have two matches today – one against Sesi Club and the other against Bradesco. Check back on www.ramblinwreck.com for the recaps, and Go Jackets!


May 15

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Bom dia!

On our first day in Sᾶo Paulo, we played five sets against Pinheiros so we could get back into rhythm after not touching the ball for a few days. We won all five sets and brought energy to the court, which was great after a very long bus ride the day before – more info here.

Team Photo

After the match, we were dropped off at an outdoor market for lunch. We ate pastels, which are kind of like Brazilian hot pockets, but bigger, flatter and better. You could get them filled with a lot of different meats and cheeses, and they were delicious!

We got back to the hotel and got some much needed shut eye. After getting to the hotel after midnight and waking up to play a match at 9 a.m., we needed a nap. But we didn’t rest for too long, before we did another workout with our strength coach, Scott.

We lifted, ran, and followed up with some pool activities, like stretching, but also racing… Not everyone was excited to get into the cold water, but it was a great workout.

Today we head to a lake where head coach Michelle Collier’s family lives to hang out and have some fun. Can’t believe we have just three days left in Brazil!


May 14

Bom dia!

We made the trip from Buzios to Sao Paulo in 12 hours yesterday and it was thankfully uneventful.

One more photo of Buzios were we left:

Annika Van Gunst waiting for the bus and escaping the rain… we decided she looks like a turtle:

Us on the bus about an hour into the trip:

Our new view, Sao Paulo;

Today we have a match at 9 a.m. BRT! #GoJackets


May 13

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Bom Dia!

Yesterday was a great leisure day. We woke up 50 yards from the ocean in Buzios and spent the day outside. We tanned (some of us got a little red) and played in the water.  

We had beach games like paddle ball, and we bought a Brazilian game kind of like badminton but with no net and you use your hands as rackets, and the birdie is called a Peteca. So maybe not really like badminton, but the object of the game is to not let the Peteca hit the ground.


We also played a pickup soccer game on the beach – staff vs. players – the players won, of course. Teegan and Annika Van Gunst, who played soccer in high school, picked up where they left off three years ago, and along with Rebecca Martin and Lauren Frerking, took down the coaching staff.

Later in the evening, we did some team bonding with “speed dating” and remembering facts about each other, followed by a game of Heads Up.

Today we make the approximately eight hour bus ride to Sao Paulo. We get started with the volleyball matches right away with one tomorrow!


May 12

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Bom Dia!

We left Rio yesterday and traveled to Saquarema, Brazil to visit the Volleyball National Training Center. It’s more of a campus that houses all of the athletes with amenities such as a pool, cafeteria, lounge area, beach volleyball courts, four indoor courts, a weight room, and it’s across the street from the beach in a secluded area.

The campus was beautiful and the volleyball was amazing. We watched the Men’s National Team practice, currently No. 1 in the latest FIVB World Rankings, and the Women’s National Team, currently No. 3 in the latest FIVB World Rankings, practice. The men have won two Olympic gold medals, three World Championships, and have won the World League nine times. The women's team has two Olympic gold medals - 2012 London and 2008 Beijing - with 10 FIVB World Grand Prix titles. It was an honor to be there, watch them practice and get to meet some of the players.

It was a unique experience to watch these teams practice with the 2016 Rio Olympics just over 80 days away. We got to take pictures with some of the players and coaches, too!

Team photo This is legendary coach and head coach of the men's National Team, Bernardo Rezende

Team photo This is Jose Roberto Guimaraes, the women's National Team head coach.

The men’s practice was in the morning and the women practiced in the evening so between practices we got to spend a little time at the beach across the street and a little further down; more into the heart of Saquarema.

After the women’s practice, we bused the rest of the way to Buzios, just under two hours from the training center. Our hotel is less than 50 yards from the beach, and we can hear the ocean waves from our rooms. It’s time to rest and relax for today, because when we go to Sao Paulo tomorrow we’ll be playing a lot of volleyball (can’t wait to compete!) and need to be focused.  

Check back in tomorrow to see how our relaxing day went!


May 11

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Bom Dia!

Yesterday was our last day in Rio de Janeiro before we travel to Buzios for two days then to Sao Paulo. It was truly an incredible five days in Rio with amazing adventures and sights, along with solid volleyball competition.

We've been to a few places in Rio, marked with the GT!

On our final day, we took a trip up to Sugarloaf Mountains. From the ground, you take one Gondola to the first mountain, and if those sights weren’t breathtaking enough, there’s another Gondola ride to an even higher peak.

We ate lunch at the base of the first mountain at a restaurant nestled along the beach with views of both mountains and the Gondolas traveling back and forth.

After lunch we went straight to our match at the Fluminense Football Club, where we defeated Fluminense, 2-1. For a recap, click here.

For dinner, we went to Leblon Mall and got to spread out and eat at the food court followed by some shopping.

All in all, it’s been an amazing trip so far. Today we pack up and head to the National Volleyball Training Center in Saquarema, Brazil, before checking in to our hotel in Buzios, Brazil.


May 10

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Bom Dia!

We started our morning off with a beach workout thanks to our strength and conditioning coach, Scott! We ran from the hotel up the beach to the Aproador, which is a small rocky peninsula between the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana.

On the peninsula, we did some pullups and squats, and then we ran back to the beach to do sprints in the sand and jumped in the ocean to cool off.

Later in the day, the workout continued as we hiked the Tijuca Forest with tour guides Thiago and Natalia from Jungle Me. The climb up the mountain was a steep and narrow path, but it was all worth it when we saw the views at the top. Heading down the mountain was easier as it started to get cooler in the day.

The hike last about two hours, and we learned about the history of Brazil, a little bit about the wildlife that live in the forest, and a few things about the plants that grow there.

Needless to say, after an athletic day and a delicious Italian meal for dinner, we slept soundly!

Today we’re going to see the Sugarloaf Mountains, and then we play the best team in Rio de Janeiro, Fluminense.


May 9

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Bom Dia!

After a delicious breakfast of different fruits, breads, meats and cheeses, we spent a couple of hours at the beach. It was a little bit of an overcast day, but it was still fun to be at the beach and in the water.

We departed to lunch at a place called Balada Mix, where we ate outside and the waiters took our orders on what looked like smart phones. Our orders got sent immediately back to the kitchen from the ‘phones’ so our food came out really fast. It seems like with every meal the sides are usually rice, black beans, and French fries.

After lunch, we went to Maracanᾶ Stadium for the final game of the State Championship between Botafogo and Vasco. It was intense, and the passion for the game from the fans was incredible to be a part of. There was a lot of taunting going on, even before the match began.  

In the second half, Botafogo scored first, and then Vasco tied it up. With the score tied 1-1, Vasco won the match as time expired because they had already won game one 1-0 and had won the championship two goals to one in total.

The stadium was beautiful and the announced attendance was 60,000 fans. It was really awesome to be in the same place that is going to host the best athletes in the world in the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympics in just a few months.

We wrapped up the day with dinner at a steakhouse, similar to the Brazilian steakhouses in the U.S., but the real deal at Carretᾶo.  

We’re learning some Portuguese too. With the help of teammate and Brazilian Gabi Stavnetchei and head coach Michelle Collier, of course!

For example:

Nᾶo Obrigada – no thank you
Obrigada – thank you
Quiejo – cheese
Pᾶo – bread
Ta – OK
Bom – Good

Today we’re doing a beach workout with our strength and conditioning coach Scott, then a hike in the Tijuca Forest! Come back tomorrow morning for more details!


May 8

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Bom Dia! We are up and at ‘em for a great day! This morning we have the option to hang out on the beach or at the hotel pool, and then this afternoon we are going to a professional soccer match between Botafogo and Vasco at Maracana Stadium. The stadium will also host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games.

Yesterday, we had a long day at the Tijuca Tennis Club, where we played three matches in a best of three sets format. We played Flamengo, Botafogo, and Tijuca and won every set to become tournament champions! Check out the tournament recap, here.


We played in the basketball arena and it had open air walls like the concrete lattice structure in the practice gym we used Friday. Because of that there were birds flying in and out, across the gym, which was interesting to see.

After we played each team we gave them Yellow Jacket Volleyball t-shirts, and we talked with the players, who are all very nice.

We got back to the hotel and took a much needed shower after being at the gym from about 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and got ready for dinner.

Sydney Wilson was in her own heaven when we sat down for all you can eat pizza - dessert pizza and crepes included!

The waiters bring it to you like you’re at a Brazilian steak house. The pizza crust is made of a light bread, no marinara sauce, just a lot of butter and cheese. The toppings on the pizzas were salmon, shrimp, veggies, sushi, sausage, steak and fries. Brazilians cut their pizza with a knife and fork and we got to work trying the different slices! 
Then the dessert pizza. Wow. There was chocolate, strawberry, chocolate with nuts or fruit, white chocolate, bananas with cinnamon. 

We made it back to the hotel and turned in for the night to be rested for our day today.

Check back tomorrow morning for a recap!  

May 7

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Yesterday was amazing. We landed in Brazil and had a little rest before we took a trip up the Corcovado Mountain to visit one of the new seven wonders of the world – Christ the Redeemer, or Cristo Redentor. It sits 2,300 feet atop the mountain, is made of sandstone and concrete, and was unveiled in 1931. You reach the top of the mountain by cog train, and then take an elevator and two escalators to the statue. It was a perfect clear day and the sights from the peak were spectacular.

Some of us took a nap on the train ride down the mountain...

We took the bus straight from the base of the mountain to practice at the Tijuca Tennis Club. They have open-air swimming pools, clay tennis courts, a sand playground for kids, stands that sell jewelry and food, a basketball arena, volleyball courts, and gymnastics and martial arts areas for members. We practiced for about an hour and half in a gym that had two open air walls – kind of like a concrete lattice – which was pretty cool.

Freshman Kodie Comby talks about day one in Rio: 



We’ve got three matches today against Tijuca, Botafogo and Flamengo. We had a good practice yesterday and feel ready for the matches today. It’ll be fun to see and play against a different style of volleyball! Check back on www.ramblinwreck.com for a recap of the matches!

May 6

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"Bom Dia" or Good Morning from Brazil! We landed in sunny and 81 degree Rio de Janeiro at 7:45 a.m. BRT, which is just one hour ahead of Eastern Time. After loading all of our bags onto our bus, we navigated our way through a lot of traffic - sound familiar to our fellow Atlantans? - but we made it to the hotel around 9:30 a.m. BRT. 

Our hotel is amazing, and right across the street from the beautiful blue waters of the South Atlantic Ocean. A few of us napped in the hotel, relaxed at the beach or took in the sights of Rio from the rooftop pool before lunch. Today we are going to visit the Christ The Redeemer statue and have an afternoon practice.

Check back
tomorrow morning for a recap of our adventures today and to see what's on tap for tomorrow!

May 4

The Jackets just have to get through today and tomorrow of finals before taking off for an overnight flight to Rio de Janeiro! They couldn't be more excited to experience a different culture, play some great volleyball, and have a trip of a lifetime! Thank you to all of the donors, staff and the Georgia Tech Athletic Association for making this trip a possibility. 

Here's a little more info about the trip: 

The Georgia Tech volleyball team wraps up finals on Thursday, and then is packing its bags and heading to Brazil for an 11-day tour which includes trips to Rio de Janeiro, Buzios and Sᾶo Paulo. The tour stretches from May 6 – 17, and Tech will play approximately seven matches against Brazilian under-21 club teams.

“We are very thankful to the Institute, Athletic Association and the donors who made this trip possible, and that we get to go to Brazil and have this experience firsthand,” head coach Michelle Collier said.  

“The volleyball there is very good, and the concepts are similar to what we do in the gym, so I think it would be a good translation of what the team can learn and see how much people there love the game. Some of the things we’re asking for in our gym culture, to have passion and energy, I think it would be good for them to see that in person.

“This trip is going to provide them an opportunity to learn new things and experience a different culture. It will really help us come together as a team so we can keep growing in that aspect as well. I think this trip encompasses a lot of things we need to get better at, that we could work on as a team, which will help us this coming fall.”

After a nine and a half hour overnight flight on May 5, the Jackets will land in Rio de Janeiro and hit the ground running with a site-seeing adventure to the Corcovado Mountain and an afternoon practice.

The Jackets will play the following matches in Rio de Janeiro:
May 7 – three matches in a tournament against Tijuca, Botafogo, and Flamengo
May 10 – 1 match vs. Fluminense

While in Rio de Janeiro the team will take in a soccer game at Maracanᾶ stadium, visit the Sugarloaf Mountains, and hike the Tijuca Forest. The team will bus to Buzios on May 11 for two days, stopping at the National Volleyball Training Center in Saquarema, Brazil, before making the eight-hour bus trip to Sᾶo Paulo.

The Jackets play the following matches in Sᾶo Paulo:
May 14 – 1 match vs. Pinheiros
May 16 – 1 match vs. Bradesco
May 17 – 1 match vs. Sᾶo Caetano

The Jackets last day in Sᾶo Paulo is May 17, and the team lands in Atlanta the morning of May 18.