BOSSIER CITY, La. - For the majority of the year members of the USA women's volleyball team play outside of the United States, but with a spot in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo on the line this weekend several members of the team said they are thankful to do it on home soil.
"There's a level of pressure because it's an Olympic qualifier and no matter who we're playing there's always pressure for this situation because it's a big deal to qualify," outside hitter Kim Hill explained. "So to be in America doing it almost helps us because we have everyone supporting us. Usually we're in a strange country and the fans are yelling against us, but to have them supporting us is really special."
2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League MVP Annie Drews said, "In any capacity no matter the conditions or the country it's such an honor to represent your country in this way and doing something you love, but any time we get to be on home soil, have some family here, some food we're familiar with, not fighting jet lag, it's just such a blessing and we're really excited about that."
All of the players on the roster hail from either west or north of Louisiana so they're just getting a taste of southern hospitality, but with an important athletic venture ahead of them, they haven't quite experienced the cuisine.
Colorado native Haleigh Washington explained, "So far its been pretty standard: fruits, vegetables, proteins, chicken. We haven't really been able to dip into the Cajun cooking and I am itching for it. I've heard great things especially about crawfish."
Hill, a bronze medalist on the 2016 Olympic team and an Oregon native added, "Yeah, we've gotten some recommendations so we're hoping to, but there's not a lot of time so for sure if we don't this trip I'm coming back."
The USA opens pool play Friday against Kazakhstan at 6:00 p.m.