Group of Lobos Travel to China

June 7, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Four members of the Lobo volleyball program are set to embark on a nearly two-week excursion which includes 10 days in China with Bring It Promotions/USA Volleyball Global Challenge, a development program organized by BIP and supported by USAV.

Senior Lexi Ross, junior Skye Gullatt, Head Coach Jeff Nelson and Director of Operations Jordie Hadfield are slated to report to Los Angeles for two days of practice before departing for China on a red-eye flight on June 15.

Nelson is serving as the head coach for a 12-player roster comprised of nine collegiate student-athletes, two former student-athletes and a current professional player. He'll be assisted by Shawn Garus, head coach at Boise State, and Debbie Hendricks, head coach at Metro State.

The group the Lobos are part of is traveling with a Pac-12 summer all-stars team comprised of a dozen players and three coaches. In total, 37 people are making the trip.

Nelson says there have been a couple of opportunities to travel to China in the name of volleyball, but they either fell through (UNM's summer 2008 plans that were botched by a bankrupt tours company, Transport Athletics), or the timing just wasn't right.

When the opportunity with BIP/USA Volleyball arose earlier this year, Nelson decided to seize it.

"I have wanted to go to China and observe the volleyball for a long time -- it's highly technical and very disciplined," Nelson said. "When the chance came up again to go this year, I just really felt like I needed to do this and it was a great opportunity to not only work with great U.S. players, but also to watch some of the top Chinese players."

The team will play at least six matches against Chinese Professional Club Teams over two tournaments, the first taking place in Shanghai, June 19-21, and the second in Beijing, June 23-25. The group is scheduled to return to the United States on June 27.

Gullatt, a native of Denver, Colo., jumped at the chance to play overseas this summer.

"How could I turn down an opportunity like this -- going to China to play volleyball?" she said. "The experience of playing, but also the sightseeing and tourist aspects of it."

The Lobo middle blocker says she's been warned the Chinese brand of volleyball is "a lot faster" and is hoping the experience will make her a more fluid player.

"I'm looking forward to being challenged as far as speed goes and seeing a different style of the game. I tend to think too much while I'm playing and if the game is faster, I won't have as much time to think and instead will just have to react," Gullatt said.

In addition to the tournaments, there will be opportunities for sightseeing and experiencing Chinese culture.

"I'm going to have a chance to see the Great Wall -- I'm really looking forward to that. My family has already said they want souvenirs, so I'm going to check out some of that for them," Gullatt added.

Last summer, assistant coach Lisa Beauchene and student-athletes Hannah Johnson and Elsa Krieg participated in the BIP/USA Global Challenge to China.

Tentative Schedule for BIP/USA Volleyball Global Challenge to China 2013

June 14 Arrive in Los Angeles, evening practice
June 15 Morning and afternoon practice at Loyola Marymount; depart LAX for Shanghai (red-eye)
June 17 Arrive in Shanghai
June 18 Practice and sightseeing
June 19-21 Opening ceremonies and matches 1-3
June 22 Travel to Beijing
June 23-25 Matches 4-6
June 26 Full day of sightseeing in Beijing
June 27 Depart for USA

2013 BIP/USA Global Challenge to China - Roster

Name Year Position University/Affiliation
Skye Gullatt So. MB New Mexico
Emily Helm Sr. L Arkansas
Kelsey Snider Jr. MB Colorado St.
Taylor Brauneis Sr. S Florida
Alison Landwehr Graduated '12 S Iowa State
Alexandra Morgan Sr. MB Kentucky
Samantha Peters Sr. MB/RS Colorado St.
Sara McClinton Jr. OH Kansas
Alexis Austin So. OH/MB Colorado
Bailey Hunter Pro OH Doprastav Bratislava (SVK)
Lexi Ross Sr. MB/OH/DS New Mexico
Kayla Neto Graduated '12 OH Cal St. Fullerton

Head coach: Jeff Nelson, New Mexico
Assistant coaches: Shawn Garus, Boise State; Debbie Hendricks, Metro State
Assisting with operations: Jordie Hadfield, New Mexico