The Irish spent their final day in Maribor (shown here) on Friday, before heading south to Italy.

Three Irish Players Report As Team Makes Its Way From Slovenia To Italy

May 23, 2005

As the Notre Dame women’s volleyball team continues its four-country European tour, rising senior Meg Henican (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman H.S.) chronicles the squad’s final day in the Alpine town of Maribor, Slovenia. Another senior-to-be, Lauren Kelbley (Bascom, Ohio/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), as well as rising junior Danielle Herndon (Plant City, Fla./Durant H.S.) then check in with reports from Italy, as the team first hit Venice and then Pesaro.

The team will spend its final days of the trip in Italy, ending up by spending Tuesday and Wednesday in Rome before heading back to the United States on Thursday. Check back to for further diaries chronicling the trip, as well as a photo gallery of the sights of Italy, to be posted once the travel party returns home.

Friday, May 20th: Maribor, Slovenia – by Meg Henican

“Today was our third and final day in beautiful Maribor, Slovenia. After breakfast, we took the bus to downtown Maribor for some shopping. It took all of about five minutes to walk around, because – as you might have guessed – Maribor isn’t exactly a booming metropolis. Along the Drava River, which runs right through the city, we saw the world’s oldest vine [see photo gallery #2]. Today was the last day of school for the kids in Maribor, which they celebrated by ditching class and walking around downtown, blowing whistles (probably not how I would choose to celebrate getting out for summer, but – hey – whatever works!)

“After making some key purchases we headed back to the hotel, where we took the ski gondolas to the top of the mountain for lunch. We saw tons of hang gliders, and ate none other then … meat and potatoes. While on the mountain, we got to ride “summer sleds” (basically a sled on wheels) down. A few people, not to name names (RD [assistant coach Robin Davis] and Dani [Herndon]), took some spills, but we all came out of it relatively unharmed.

“After lunch we rode the gondolas back down to get ready for our match against a Slovenijan club team called Maribor Nova Kbm. We won in three games, 25-20, 25-15, 25-15. They were a good team, and it was nice to finally get a win under our belts. After the match we ate dinner at a Cuban restaurant. Nobody ordered meat or potatoes.

“Tonight we got to experience a bit of the Slovenijan nightlife. Buddy (a friend of our guide, Cory) took us to a disco. Good thing we all packed our best dance moves. It was tons of fun. I think Coop [Carolyn Cooper] might have found a nice Slovenijan boy to bring back home with her. We’ve had a blast here in Maribor, but now we’re looking forward to Venice in the morning. That’s all from here.

— Meg

“P.S. – For the record, I would just like to say that Dani and I definitely did get a smile (AND a wink) from the guard in Prague, who according to Jurka, doesn’t ever move. I guess our cheerleading moves were just too much too handle.”

Saturday, May 21st: Venice, Italy – by Lauren Kelbley

“Ciao from Italy! We got a late start in Venice after encountering a traffic jam coming from Maribor, but we arrived in late afternoon. Dennis, Connor, and Ryan [husband and sons of head coach Debbie Brown] were at our hotel to greet us. We took the public boat into the heart of the city, and then were let loose to explore. Venice is a man-made island and its roads are canals. There are no cars in Venice, only boats. It is very crowded, especially since the walkways are so narrow. There are a lot of glass, lace, and mask shops all over the city. At first I thought the city was kind of dirty and smelly, but after wandering around and seeing Venice close up, I began to think it is really beautiful. At San Marcos Square there are tons of pigeons everywhere. I bought some birdseed and threw it to them, and they attacked me. My mom says that pigeons are dirty and I should not touch them, but I thought it was rather cool.

“At 7:45, we all met up on the top of Per Rialto Bridge to go to dinner. We went to a food depository that was off the beaten path. Not many tourists find this restaurant. We ate a lot of different Italian appetizers that we would not have normally tried. I did not like most of them. We were then given 45 minutes to find our way to the bus station. It was right by Piazzle Roma so we just followed the signs to get there. By the end of the day, we were ready for bed. It was a great first day in Italy!

“Before I sign off I have a few more things that need to be addressed. The first is that Meg [Henican] accidentally bought a $40 stick of deodorant in Maribor. She thought it was perfume. Good job Meg. The second is that we have an updated score of Burrell 10 and Brewster 9. I am not allowed to participate in the game because I am a master at point scoring, with a total of around 32. They are jealous of my ability.

“Hope all is well in the states … Ciao!!!”

— Kelbs : )

Sunday, May 22nd: Pesaro, Italy – by Danielle Herndon

“This morning we headed to Pesaro, Italy, which is known for its beaches. We had a small bus ride from venice this morning. We watched `Napolean Dynamite’ and `Sandlot 2′ on the way. We stopped at a rest station, where we had to pay to use the restroom. That was a little different. We have all been doing presentations on the cities we have visited, and [Lauren] Brewster, Ashley [Tarutis], and I had Pesaro, so a few facts about the city are in order. It was founded in 184 B.C. It lies on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, and it is known for its manufacturing and its pottery.

“When we arrived to Pesaro, we had a nice Italian lunch at the hotel. Our hotel is about 20 yards from the beach, and it has a balcony so you can look out over the Adriatic Sea anytime. The top floor of the hotel has a roof balcony, which is pretty cool. Most of the shops were closed since it is Sunday, but we browsed through the ones that were open. We just relaxed and lay out most of the day. [Lauren] Kelbley hunted for perfect seashells. Everyone got a little red, but the beach was a lot of fun. Today was also [head coach Debbie Brown’s husband] Dennis’ birthday, so we had some cake at dinner and sang `Happy Birthday’ to him. For dinner, we had another traditional Italian meal at the hotel. The meal usually consists of a salad, a pasta, some kind of meat, then the best part – dessert. We are all really excited to play tomorrow. [Carolyn] Cooper will fill you in on all of that.