Women's Volleyball Travels to South America | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Women's Volleyball Travels to South America

(Photo by BYU Athletic Communications)

PROVO, Utah--The BYU women's volleyball team set out for Brazil Thursday, launching a 14-day tour that will take the Cougars through Brazil and Argentina for a taste of foreign competition.

“We are thrilled to be able to take this foreign tour to Brazil and Argentina,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us as a team and a chance to build on team bonding and core values and also to compete with some outstanding volleyball teams. We’re equally excited to interact with members of the Church in Argentina and Brazil through service and church worship.”

The Cougars will take on the Brazilian Junior National Team Friday and Saturday at the facilities where the Brazilian National Team trains. The team will also play against the Fluminese FC U-19 Team.

BYU has two service projects scheduled, one in Brazil and one in Argentina on May 5 and May 12, respectively.

Return to this page for daily updates on the team’s activities. Fans can also visit the BYU Women’s Volleyball Facebook page for photos and updates.





Thursday, May 3--Departure

Kathryn LeCheminantHannah RobisonTia Withers and Jessica Jardine wait at the Smith Fieldhouse to leave for the airport.

Mariah Katoa and Kimberly Dahl are ready to go.

The BYU women's volleyball team is ready to set out for Brazil and Argentina.

Sophomore defensive specialist Coriann Clark waiting to leave.

Watch video of the team leaving on the BYU women's volleyball Facebook page.


Friday, May 4--Day 1

Hey, this is Hannah and Taeja writing from Brazil!!!!!!!!! Today was day No. 1 of our traveling adventure! We had two long flights, but we were able to meet lots of people from Brazil, who even helped us learn some Portuguese like "obrigada"which means thank you. 
 We arrived in Rio early this morning and enjoyed a two-hour bus ride to Saquarema where the Brazil National Volleyball Training Center is! Right as we arrived we were so stoked to run into the world's greatest, most famous volleyball player...GIBA!!!!
The fun didn't end there though. We got to sit right in their gym, 10 feet away from the whole Brazilian men's national team and watch them practice.
After that we had some delicious fresh fruit before getting ready to play our match against the junior national team here in Brazil. We won in three sets, and even won another fourth set! Afterwards we and the junior team sat together and got to know each other better at dinner. Let me just tell you, it is soooooo frustrating and fun at the same time trying to communicate with these girls who only speak Portuguese and I'm sure they are just as frustrated as we are. lol.
It's been an awesome day and we are so grateful to Heavenly Father for this great opportunity to be together as a team and do missionary work. Can't wait to see what kind of fun tomorrow brings as we play some volleyball and do our service project with the members here!!!! :) Stay tuned for more awesome news about our adventure!!!! 

Saturday, May 5--Day 2

The BYU women's volleyball team posted another win against the Brazilian Junior National Team, this time winning in four sets  (25-20, 9-25, 25-23, 25-17). Sophomore opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson knocked down 22 kills, one more than her career high set last season, and sophomore Taeja Toleafoa had 12 digs.

Oi ("hi" in Portuguese)! What a beautiful day it was in Saquarema! We woke up this morning and first thing went and served and passed in the gym.  The ball they use in Brazil is different than the one we use in the United States, so we served and passed a little with the new ball.  I like it, it's sticky and easy to palm.  

After practice we went to breakfast.  At breakfast they have a buffet table filled with breads, oats, meats and cheeses with TONS of delicious fruit! The food isn't as crazy as one would think.  There is a lot of meat and carbs and fruit :).

After breakfast, we went downtown via public transportation.  This bus ride was so much fun.  I am a HUGE Disneyland fan, and it literally felt like the Indiana Jones ride, except in this ride people kept getting on the bus, and getting on the bus, and getting on the bus, until we were packed in there like sardines- we had a blast!  

When we got to town, we broke up into groups and strolled through the shops and town.  Several of us bought havayanas (Brazilian flip flops). They had so many colors and designs, it was fantastic!  I even found some shoes that fit my huge feet (45/46). Best day ever!

After we went to the town we had a similar bus ride back to the training center.  Immediately upon our arrival we changed into our swim suits and tried to "get our tan on." Some of us need it more than others- myself being one of them.  After we were sun kissed, we changed and got ready for our second match against the Brazilian Junior National Team.  We played four sets tonight,  and the first game went awesome! We were rolling.  The second went 25-9 to Brazil.  The third game, BYU was the comeback kids and came from behind to win 25-23. The fourth BYU won 25-17.  

After the match we had showers, ate our meat, carbs and fruit, and exchanged jerseys, giggles and sign-language with the girls from the other team.  (I must say, the Brazilians down here are so beautiful).  Because none of us speak Portuguese, and only one of them spoke English, we resorted to sign language and noise making.  For example, to tell one of the girls she hit well, you made a spiking motion with your arm while smiling and shouting "BOOM." After a long while of chatting and mosquito slapping (I actually  killed a mosquito that was biting Kendalyn- I'll spare the details but my hand was not a pretty sight -ehh) we went to sleep eager to see what tomorrow would bring.  

Kimberli Boswell #22

Sunday, May 6--Day 3


Can I just say that I LOVE Sundays?!! I'm sure others have mentioned it, but I am going to reemphasize how BEAUTIFUL it is here! This morning we woke up... Okay, not joking, every morning there is a bird that wakes us up that sounds like a monkey! It screams instead of whistles. So funny! Anyways, we woke up and went to breakfast ready for church. It is so interesting because for breakfast they have a lot of fruit and then a bunch of food to make sandwiches out of. It's more like a typical lunch in the United States. You better believe I'm bringing it back; I am loving the lunch for breakfast style. :)

After breakfast we got in our 15-passenger vans and headed to the chapel. It was about a 45-minute drive from the training center. The drivers are pretty crazy and the roads are a bit bumpy, so the rides are always fun!  When we arrived at the chapel, we didn't quite know what to expect. It was gated off for safety reasons. When we got out of our vans, it was such a BEAUTIFUL chapel.

They have Relief Society and Elders Quorum first hour, then Sunday School second and Sacrament third hour. The members were so excited to see us and were so kind.

All the girls went and sat down in Relief Society and Shawn called me into the hall. When I went out there were two missionaries, one of them with the name tag Elder Hannemann!!! My cousin from Vegas was there! How crazy is that!?? We were both in awe! He has been in the field for two months and is doing great. He is starting to get the language down. I am so proud of him. :) I still can't  believe that happened!!

So I went back to Sunday School with the team and a lovely sister taught us about prophets and apostles. There were like three people that came in to try and help translate… Ha ha. They were so sweet. It's amazing how the members across the world are all learning and teaching the same things each week as we are back in the United States. THE CHURCH IS TRUE. :) We had a lovely fast and testimony meeting. Some of us were able to bear our testimonies with a translator. Shawn bore his testimony in Spanish and the Ernshaws bore beautiful testimonies in Portuguese. I was also able to hear my cousin’s wonderful testimony. The Spirit was so strong in church, even though we  couldn't understand them when they spoke, the Spirit spoke to us.

After church we took pictures with the members, said our farewells and loaded our vans. One of the vans got a flat tire on the way back! (I told you about the driving.) Haha! Everyone was awesome about it. We changed that sucker and headed back to the training center.  We had the rest of the day to hang out with the team, relax, eat and braid hair. Jessica went gangster on us and put in some corn rows!! Oh yeeeahh! I know some of us haven't contacted family or friends… So I'll make it known that we are safe and having the time of our lives! Thanks for all the love and support!! Now we are headed to RIO! 

Heather Hannemann #2


Monday, May 7--Day 4

Oi from Kim 

Today was our last day in Saquarema. We woke up early so we could get some more beach time. After the beach, we packed everything up and departed for Rio de Janeiro. The city was already hustling and bustling in the early morning. The bus dropped us off at the bottom of the mountain, Corcovado, which the Cristo Redentor was on. We rode a tram up to the top of the mountain and then walked a couple flights of stairs to get to the top. The view was AMAZING! It overlooked the whole city and coast! After taking tons of pictures, we headed back down to the city and went to our hotel on Copacabana beach. 

Our hotel was a nice little place with fun retro colors and rooms that overlooked the city. We put our things away and headed for the streets to do some shopping and eating. There was definitely a learning curve to communicating with people with a different language. While shopping we happened to run into a member of the Church named Diego. He noticed us because of the BYU shirts we were wearing. Because he knew a little bit of English we were able to tell him about the fireside that we were having later that day. 

Once we were done with our shopping we got ready and departed in taxis for the fireside. In my opinion the taxi ride was one of the most fun adventures of the day. The traffic was insane as we weaved our way around other cars keeping a good three-inch distance away from surrounding traffic. :) 

I know that everybody who attended would agree that the fireside with the single adult members of Rio de Janeiro was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The spirit was definitely present throughout the whole fireside as we mingled, sang and shared testimonies with the members. It was awesome to see how the church is always the same no matter where you are in the world and that our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us the same, no matter our different circumstances. I have learned, too, that you can always find happiness through the gospel no matter where you are and what possessions you have.

We finished off the day with a late night meal on the beach and slipped peacefully to sleep in our cardboard, plastic-wrapped, training beds!  

Tuesday, May 8--Day 5

Today we were given a lot of free time to shop and spend time on the beach.  Many of us bought plenty of Havaianas, beach dresses, bags and yummy pastries from the bakery.

In the evening we had a match against club Fluminese. The gym was definitely a different gym than we are used to, but it did the job. The other team was definitely not as tall as we are, but they sure did give us a run for our money because of their incredible defense and smart hitting. We beat them the first three sets and then lost the last one. Nicole came into the match and immediately got a great block!!! Yay Nic! 

After the game we were on our own again to find dinner. It was fun getting to be responsible and on our own during the day in a big city like Rio!


Kimberly Dahl

Wednesday, May 9--Day 6

It was an early morning for many girls who went on a run along the beautiful  beach. We then had free time and so there were many exciting activities going on. Some girls went up to a place called Sugar House, which is a mountain top that overlooks the city. Others rented bikes and rode around to a neighboring beach called Ipanema to watch the surfing competition going on there. Then some went to the beach in front of the hotel called Copacabana. It was awesome, because venders were walking on the beach and we were able to finish up our all our shopping. Girls got hammocks, blankets and jewelry. There was also a guy who came by and did some girls’ hair. Tia got cornrows and others got colorful string dred things in their hair. We spent all afternoon outside, resulting in everyone turning a nice shade of pink. 

In the evening we got to hang out and play volleyball with some of the members from the fireside. The members had a very talented team and we mixed it up every game. Even Coach Toone got some playing time! Then some nice ladies taught us some samba, which is harder than it looks. In the end we all danced together to the Hokey Pokey. It was nice to do something fun, simple and together. We are having a blast and are excited to continue our adventures in Argentina. 

- Jennifer Hamson #19

Saturday, May 12--Day 9

What a wonderful Saturday we had! The day flew by beginning with an interesting but delicious breakfast. I must say, aside from the scrambled eggs and sandwich fixings, the breakfast bar resembled a dessert table. My personal favorites were the mini glazed croissants.

Decked in matching baby-blue Argentina t-shirts, we rode first to the public hospital of Buenos Aires. In a small office we witnessed the official donation of a few electronic items for the hospital itself and a couple of wheelchairs. Relief Society sisters had made small blankets which were packaged with The Family: Proclamations. Each of us took a blanket to give to mothers in the maternity ward. Only a few of us were allowed in at one time and we found that there were only six women and their newborn babies that weren't currently in the ICU. The women looked exhausted. A few were bed ridden with sisters or mothers tending to them and their adorable brand new babies. Unfortunately not all of the girls got to see the little ones, but all of us were gladly received by the LDS youth of La Boca.

When we arrived at the retirement center near the hospital we were greeted with numerous handshakes, smiles and cups of hot matte. The youth, who had been visiting the retirement home as a mutual activity, took roughly 500 pictures with us. They asked us many, many questions, but it was very enjoyable getting to know them too. They were very eager to write or type out our names to add us on Facebook. We sang "Called to Serve" for them and then together we all sang "I am a Child of God" in Spanish. It was sweet. While the youth went back to the chapel, we stayed for a little while longer and helped clean up the retirement home by wiping down walls, sweeping the floor and dusting throughout the building. With 20 people the work went fast. For lunch we ate at a small red restaurant on the corner where we had some sort of breaded and seared steak, salad doused in vinegar and a bit of very good bread.

We then had the opportunity to head to the chapel where we rejoined the youth. Before exiting the bus the "paparazzi", or the youth, were waiting anxiously to greet us with a kiss on the cheek. The young women didn't waste any time and immediately began teaching us a variety of games and songs that they learned at girls camp. They also offered us more matte, of course. We sang "Hope of Israel" in Spanish with the young women and they proceeded to present their Laurel, Miamaid and Beehive banners. I was impressed by their enthusiasm as they chanted of their faithfulness and love of Heavenly Father. We played some fun reaction games outside but the most exciting part was by far the formation of La Araña. The young women challenged us to copy their formation of what appeared to be a building with 4 flying buttresses or, as the name suggests, a spider. It began with 4 girls in a sturdy huddle, then 4 girls jumped on top and flipped over, holding onto the legs of the huddle for dear life. Finally, four girls jumped on top and held a plank position over the huddle and the hanging girls. The idea was to hold this position for 10 seconds. The young women made it to about four seconds before collapsing, but our team made it through the entire 10 seconds. Most importantly, it entertained the members who watched the feat.

Eventually we started our mini volleyball clinic and many of the young women were impressive players. It was pretty chilly, but we tried to stay warm by playing a few short volleyball games. When we had ended our games we presented our new or gently-used gear and t-shirts to the young women and the stake president decided to use it as a reward for completing personal progress. The girls jaws dropped in awe and desire for the stuff we had been happy to give away. It was absolutely amazing. I hope the incentive works out. Once again we were offered hot matte as a refreshment while the girls gave us kisses on the cheek, took pictures with us and wrote down our names. They waved and blew us kisses goodbye as our bus pulled away from the church building.

The rest of the day was mostly given to us to do what we want. At about 6 p.m. we were given money for dinner to use in partnerships. Kim and I had a fun little episode. I had changed and was waiting in the lobby for her to come down for dinner. When she exited the elevator, she informed me that she couldn't find the money. We retraced her steps and decided that we would just pay with our cards and that the money would turn up eventually. Right as we sat down and determined what we'd order, Kim gasped and reached down and found the money tucked in the top of her spandex. We laughed for a few minutes and probably confused the waiters but we were happy. The evening was spent relaxing and preparing for church the next day as well as writing emails to our wonderful mothers. Happy Mothers Day BYU Moms! You're the greatest!
¡Hasta luego!
-Tia Withers


Monday, May 14-- Day 11

Hola from Argentina!

Today was a very adventurous day! This morning a bunch of the girls walked around town and did some shopping during some down time we had. A bunch of the girls found a quaint store where they sold Tom's shoes for 10 American dollars. (Talk about a steal, right??) As we were walking to meet our bus, Taeja wasn't looking where she was going and ran into a pole that was in the middle of the already narrow sidewalk!

When we arrived at La Boca we went straight to lunch where they literally fed us each half a cow... Plus some steak fries that were thicker than a person's finger... Needless to say it was all delicious!! After lunch we had a couple of hours to walk around and do some sightseeing and shopping... Basically the coaches just wanted us to digest our food before we had to play. As we were heading back to the bus from digesting our cow, Coriann walked under tree and got pooped on by a bird!

Tonight we had a match against the La Boca club team who, like all the other teams, turned out to be really good. It was a completely new environment and it took us longer to adjust to than we would have liked. We ended up losing the first set 13-25, but we figured it out and finished the match in four sets. Jen had a great blocking game tonight, which helped us stop a great outside-hitting team. Our outsides on the other hand were near unstoppable with their high-arm swings and smart shots. All around the team really did a great job playing great volleyball.

Thanks again to all of those who helped make this trip possible and AMAZING!!

        - Kathryn LeCheminant


Dates and times subject to change. Updates to the itinerary will be posted as they become available. Competitions in bold.

Date Activity Time
Thu., May 3 Depart 10:30 a.m.
Fri., May 4 Arrive in Rio 8:45 a.m.
  BYU vs. Brazil Junior National Evening, W 4-0
Sat., May 5 Church service project TBA
  BYU vs. Brazil Junior National W 3-1
Sun., May 6 Church  
Mon., May 7 Sightseeing in Rio (Copacobana) Afternoon
Tue., May 8 BYU vs. Fluminese FC U-19 4 p.m., W 3-1 (extra fourth set)
Wed., May 9 Sightseeing  
Thu., May 10 Depart 8:45 a.m.
  Arrive in Argentina 1:50 p.m.
  Argentina Junior National T 2-2
Fri., May 11 Sightseeing  
  Argentina Junior National Morning
  Argentina Junior National Afternoon
Sat., May 12 Church service activity with members (hospital and clinic) TBA
  Match (opponent TBA) TBA
Sun., May 13 Church  
Mon., May 14 Sightseeing  
  La Boca Club Team W, 3-1
Tue., May 15 Sightseeing  
  La Plata L, 0-3
Wed., May 16 Depart 8:25 p.m.
Thu., May 17 Arrive in Utah 12:45 p.m.
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