It’s hard to top a summer abroad, playing the sport that you love. For junior volleyball player Sarah Baugh, that’s exactly what she got.
“I had an absolute blast,” Baugh said. “It was an experience of a lifetime, that’s for sure.”
Baugh was selected by Boise State volleyball head coach Shawn Garus to be part of the first ever Mountain West All-Star team to take part in the European Global Challenge.
“I talked to the other coaches in the conference to see who was going and figure out who would be the best representative for Boise State,” Garus said. “I thought, what a great opportunity for Sarah.”
Baugh is not the first Bronco to participate in the event. Junior Katelyn Kinghorn competed in the event last year and told Baugh it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
“She told me all these stories of how much it was worth going,” Baugh said.
Baugh left for the team on July 8 and then spent the next 11 days overseas where she went to Italy, Slovenia and then finally Croatia.
“I just had a great time seeing things that I hadn’t seen before,” Baugh said.
Before the tournament started, the team spent the first few days training and getting to know one another.
“All of us came from different volleyball backgrounds and had different coaching,” Baugh said. “I think it made us better because we had to work together to win and we did really well.”
The European Global Challenge, which is in its 10th year, is an annual volleyball tournament event that takes place in Pula, Croatia.
From national teams to club teams, the event had teams from Slovenia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, Italy, Serbia, Austria, Romania and of course the United States.The Mountain West team took third place at the event, finishing only behind the U.S. junior national team and the Slovenia national team who won the event.
“We did really well and we exceeded expectations,” Baugh said. “I thought it was really fun getting to play the Slovenia national team because they were so good. It was satisfying to know that we were right up there with them.”
While the trip was mostly about volleyball, Baugh and the team did get to cut loose and have some fun.
“My favorite moment was when all of us girls went to karaoke night,” Baugh said. “Being with the girls and getting to see a different side of them was just so great.”
While Baugh did indeed have a lot of fun on the trip, more importantly she gained a lot of experience and will now bring that back to her team.
“She was able to get that competitive experience over the summer that kids just can’t get,” Garus said. “The things she learned over there—she will be able to take those things and make our program better.”
Boise State is planning on continuing to send a player to this event every year to continue to give their players the best opportunities.
“I would highly recommend it,” Baugh said. “It makes you and all around better player. It’s just an overall cool experience that you can take with you for the rest of your life.”