Monday, January 26, 2015

Victory for GVK

21 January 2015
GVK at the Top
A tough year in the elite series, but not all is lost for GVK. Two players currently rank amongst the league's top-eight blockers.

Åkerlund (7) and Larsson (2) block against Hylte/Halmstad
Gislaved currently sits in eighth place with 13 points in the Swedish Elite League. A repeat of last year's successful season seems impossible. The match performances this season have been inconsistent. Despite well-implemented actions against top team in points, most matches offer mediocre performance. A review of statistics for the top division gives a hint that GVK's players have not succeeded so well, but there is one exception.

Block Party
In the category "Best blocker" is Lisa Tannerfalk in fifth place with 34 block points, while teammate Joyce Akerlund is in eighth place with 30 block points. The coach Dick Runesson comment duo's effort: "Honestly, our blocking game was a little shaky in the beginning of the season. But it has taken more and more and the timing has improved. To block a quick way to earn points."

The Center Lisa Tannerfalk tend to occasionally check the statistics and know roughly how she stands. "It's always fun if [you] are at the top of any statistical category. I have my own individual goals that I focus on and like most middles, that is blocking."

Anything Can Happen
This season has been sluggish, to no surprise of the 24-year-old. The team is largely new, and therefore have the realistic goals to reach the playoffs.

Tannerfalk (9) and Sherman (6) block against Lindesberg
"I think we play good considering the conditions. We are pretty happy with how we've performed against the top teams. Now we try to have a good second part of the season. Overall, we have done well and when we get to the playoffs, anything can happen, as we have shown earlier seasons."

Not Satisfied
What do you think of your season?

"A little up and down. Some games I'm happy with when I have been able to help the team. But there are games where I'm not satisfied, where the team as a whole does not reach our level and where we do not show the fight to win," says Tannerfalk.

On Saturday Gislaved meets Lindesberg at home.

24 January 2015
Dyakiewicz Returns - GVK Wins

GVK brought entertainment on Saturday beating 3rd-ranked Lindesberg.
FINAL SCORE: Gislaved 3, Lindesberg 1 (25-21, 20-25, 25-20, 26-24). 

In their previous meeting, the match was 3-0 to Lindesberg. During Saturday's Elite League match in Gislaved, results were different.

GVK came out completely focused and took command directly. Lindesberg’s go-to player Marjorie Giordano was unnoticed. GVK served well and Giordano was unable to get into her usual groove.

Tied 1-1 after two sets, which could just as easily have been 2-0 to GVK. The teams were tied at 20-20, but Lindesberg edged out the win over a passive Gislaved team.

The home team rebounded out of the 10-minute break fully focused, securing the next two sets and thus the match with 3-1.

“[This was an] incredibly important victory. Now it is the most important part of the season before the playoffs and it's nice that we can show ourselves and everyone else that we are a strong team,” says Lisa Tannerfalk.

Besides the victory was another joy: Anna Dyakiewicz was back in the blue jersey. “This was really fun. It does not feel like I ever left Gislaved,” she says.

Anna was substituted in the first set's last ball and then saw a few more plays throughout the match. But she has also just two sessions with the team. 

“I got into it soon. Everyone was very welcoming in the team and in addition, I know a few players from before.”

What do you say about the game then?

“I'm really impressed with the team. It was really good energy all the time. We can beat Lindesberg, which came 2nd at the Grand Prix, where we did not even qualify. This was an important victory.”

Are you surprised that it looked so good?

“No, we always believe that we can win, but we know we have to work for it and we really did today. It's wonderful to be back in Gislaved,” says Anna Dyakiewicz.

GVK Drove Over 3rd-Ranked Lindesberg at Home. Reason? Team Performance Review.

Lackluster performance against Hylte/Halmstad last weekend brought something good with it. This week, GVK's development emerged.

"We reflected on our individual and team performances last week," said coach Dick Runesson.
It appears to have worked. Grand Prix runner-up Lindesberg visited Gislaved on Saturday, but it was the hard to see that it was the visiting-team who belonged to the top.

GVK did not appear to care about current league rankings, as they came out completely focused and took command of the match from the start.

"It was our mistakes that gave Lindesberg the 2nd set win. We went into the break [between sets 2 and 3] and talked about playing our game, and trusting our game plan. Today we did that to nearly 100 percent."

Yes, in the last two sets were GVK back focused, without mistakes. Oh, the question is whether this was Gislaveds best bet of the season?

"Absolutely. But the best part is that we have more to give"

The match featured many emotions and the crowd was ready to play. As were the coaches, both of whom, at times, seemed irritated on the benches.

"I do not know what you're talking about," Dick laughs, and continues: "I like when there is much emotion involved. Lindesberg's coach is the men's national team coach and should lead by example."

Did you think he did?

"If you have to ask, you have the answer for yourself."

Right in the eye of the storm stood a comeback of Anna Dyakiewicz. She has been away from GVK for two years, but now made a comeback in the blue jersey.

Earlier this week, Runesson said that Anna is an important player for the team. That she is a bellwether.

"Now she was not playing as much today. But now we have two weeks to train hard before the next game. It is a new Gislaved now," he says.

Monday, January 19, 2015

GVK Handed Another Loss From Hylte/Halmstad

16 January 2015
Former Player Strengthens GVK

Anna Dyakiewicz has previously played two seasons in Gislaved VK. 
Now she's back to provide even more stability. 

Emma Petersson's playing status remains unknown after her injury against Katrineholm (7 Dec), therefore Anna Dyakiewicz is welcomed to GVK.

“Had it not been a player who has been here before, I would not have agreed to bringing her in. It is a great advantage that she knows GVK,” says GVK's coach Dick Runesson.

Dick and Anna have had contact since she left Gislaved after the 2013 playoffs. It was Anna who took the initiative and asked if she could come back and play with Gislaved.

“It feels good that she's back. She is the type of player that I always am interested in. She is serious and wants [to win] very much. She also begins to get a little routine now.”

Anna Dyakiewicz has dual British and Canadian citizenship and has most recently trained in the Turkish league. She is a spiker who can play both right and left.

“She will help with stability in serve reception, attack and defense. Maybe she will not make 25 points every game, but she's a solid player,” says Runesson.

Anna Dyakiewicz arrives to Gislaved on Tuesday.

19 January 2015
We Were Not There Today

Final Score: Gislaved 0, Hylte/Halmstad 3: 16-25, 15-25, 22-25

On the days when the opponent outplays you, you must be able to recognize it. "It's sad to say but so be it," said coach Dick Runesson.

Last Thursday, Gislaved won 3-0 against KFUM Göteborg away. On Sunday, it was the opposite against Hylte/Halmstad. Not because of the GVK-girls dropped their volleyball skills, but rather that Hylte/Halmstad performed better.

"They were better at all positions. I am not going to come up with some excuses for there is none" says Runesson.

"Not beautiful"
Runesson has his own theory to explain why Hylte/Halmstad was so much better: "we were not there today. We could not score our own points, again, it is the mental part. Sure we rallied and showed commitment in the third set, but other than that, there was nothing.”

No, the first two sets were not much fun. GVK scored just 16 points in the first and 15 in the second.

"I think we have too much respect for Hylte/Halmstad. Sure it's fine, but we should not go around thinking they are so good" says Runesson.

Little errors
Before the match, GVK talked about getting HH’s setter and attackers off of the net. A plan that was not at all successful. As soon as the opportunity arose, the home team no mistakes.
"They're immensely little mistake. Misses hardly anything.”

A tough loss for GVK, but Dick Runesson was not too downhearted: ”No, it's just that we do it better next time. We are in a development phase we will now run on the week and prepare as well as possible before Lindesberg at home on Saturday. We can play, but the mental part must also be included.”

Also the club will be obtaining a former player in Anna Dyakiwiecz on Tuesday. The idea is that she should be with and play in Saturday's game.

"She is mentally stable and can help us make more stable. She is well-trained and is good at keeping the track of his teammates.”

Can she help you to be “there"?

"Yeah, absolutely. She is good at stepping up on the court. But I also want to stress that she is not a savior. We still expect a team effort to continue this season," said Dick Runesson.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

GVK Rebounds: Spring Season Opens 1-1

10 January 2015
Let’s Forget, Gislaved

FINAL SCORE: Gislaved 0, Svedala 3 (20-25, 11-25, 17-25) 

Rafdal searched for explanations for the loss
DataVolley malfunctioned. Players collided. When the game was over, Lauren Rafdal did not undo the tape from her little finger. It was such a day, when the big and small things went wrong. One day when more things went wrong than right. At the end of the match, the American sat on the bench and looked at the floor. She gazed blankly into the substitution paddle.

“I do not know why it turned out like this,” she said after the 0-3 loss. She thought of how the team transformed  from spirited and strong in training this week to flat and without energy to Svedala match.

“You saw for yourself we were flat and without power.”

We saw a good start, but then we saw not much more. The energy drained. GVK effort was crushed as Svedala’s offense slammed the ball to the floor around the feet of GVK players. Gislaved was flat. Lauren Rafdal searched for an explanation, and was frustrated.

“We did not take the responsibility of earning points today. It was mental. We did not follow our game plan. Is there an explanation? I just know that we must learn from the mistakes of this game when our emotions subside. That's how we can developed further and not let this happen again.”

After the match had coach Dick Runesson a similar statement: “It was a mental meltdown. We are not a so much worse, just because we have had the Christmas break. We do mental somersaults and crashed in the end.”

How do you mean?

“We planned to place the balls around [Svedala’s] number 16, but each player hit everywhere except around the number 16. We didn’t execute the game plan.”

It was just one example of how the team's tactics were lost. Although Svedala played well, it was Gislaved that fell on own mistakes and made itself bad.

“I'm burning for revenge now. We can do better than this. We know this,” said Runesson.

On Thursday, they get the chance to show it.

15 January 2015
Positive in GVK

Follow a big loss to Svedala, Gislaved continues forward progress.

After a 0-3 loss at home against Svedala, the team searched for explanations and found something coach Dick Runesson had not counted on: “It was a bad loss, but in terms of statistics, the match showed that we are on the right track as well. If we compare with previous Svedala matches, we had many more own attack points.”

It turned out that attack efficiency was a few percent better for every attacker than previous matches. The team’s high serve receive efficiency may be responsible.

“Svedala was a clear loss. The result can be seen as an end product if you want, but we are trying to be positive and look at the progress that we took. I'm usually careful to point out that it's fun if we win but if we do not, we must know that we know that we continue to get better.”

Regardless of whether the team wins or loses, the team looks at the statistics. It is a way to develop the process. A process where the outcome is not what's important. Tonight, the team faces another challenge: KFUM Göteborg away.

"We talked about revenge after the loss to Svedala. The new match schedule is benefiting us now. We are forced to look ahead immediately.”

There is a good chance for the team if they can continue with good serve reception.

"If we manage to keep up the focus we had in serve reception, and keep increasing the attack efficiency, then I’m eager to see what could happen.”

In their most recent meeting, Gislaved won 3-0 over Göteborg.

“[In that match] we kept focus, it even though I made some changes to the game lineup.” 

16 January 2015
GVK Sweeps KFUM Göteborg

Mediocre match, yet Gislaved won safe in their first away-match of the spring season.

FINAL SCORE: KFUM Göteborg 0, Gislaved 3 (16-25, 23-25, 17-25) 

After a 0-3 loss at home to Svedala, GVK's coach Dick Runesson wanted to see a reaction: “We did not bounce back fully. At time, we were a bit inconsistent. They served tough throughout the match,” said Runesson after the victory over Göteborg.

Despite a seemingly clear victory, GVK's coach is not too happy. “’m not impressed with the effort, but it is good  that we are taking it easy in critical situations.”

Entering as underdogs against Svedala, the team’s let go of the game plan and became more focused on solo efforts than team cooperation. Against Göteborg, the team stayed calm.

“[KFUM Göteborg] were up 22-22 in the second set. But we stepped up and continued to play solid.

Unlike their opponents, GVK did not become frantic. Prior to the match, serve receive was looked upon as the foundation for victory, if it could be handled well. The attack effort was okay.

“[Lauren] Rafdal served really well. On the other hand, we can get a lot more from our attacking. The whole team can give more. We won [tonight] because we have a better basic materials and better team.”

Meghan Sherman gained new confidence in the setter-position, and did it well.

“It was a pretty convincing victory, but we can do more than this.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Perfect Anti-Climatic Non-Romantic-Comedy Proposal

In the early weeks of our engagement, many of you have asked "how did he ask?" The answer seems obvious: "will you marry me?" What else is there to know, really? Did he drop down on bended knee? Were you surprised? Did you cry? The proposal itself was personal, and boring to most. The precise location of him popping the BIG question was anything but romantic. But I've quickly realized that you all want a story...

Jultomten (aka Daniel) and his youngest niece Tilde
It was Christmas Eve, and we had just concluded opening presents from Jultomten at Daniel's parent's house with his sister and her children. Daniel played the convincing roll of Santa, giving out hugs and posing for pictures with his adoring young nieces. His plan was to take me out to Lake Bolmen, a 25-minute drive from Ljungby, where he'd pop the question with the lakeside scenery as a backdrop. 

Lake Bolmen, Daniel's ideal spot 
He'd mentioned the idea en route to meet up with friends who were conveniently running late (as always) and suggested this as an alternative to just waiting at their apartment stuck in a stuffy, cold car. Of course, I thought this was an impractical waste of gas, rationalizing that the amount of time it took to drive out and back would be almost an hour, and they were merely 20 minutes away. Luckily, he had a backup, devising a plan to take me for a walk along the Lagan River that runs throughout the town. He kept his spirits up, talking about how beautiful the water is with the Christmas lights and that it would be really peaceful. 

We parked in a retirement home parking lot, and started wandering along the water. A drizzling rain started, and a few minutes later, another couple joined us in the park. Their mere presence caused him  even more stress than the engagement ring burning a hole in his pocket. He quickly grabbed my arm, turned us around and headed back towards the parking lot. 

Once they disappeared from his eyesight, he grabbed me to face him in an embrace and began expressing his love and appreciation towards me for moving to Sweden and believing in our relationship. He reached into his pocket, and I immediately felt my entire body flush. As he started to kneel, I grabbed his arms and pulled him into me, burying my teary-eyed face into his jacket. When he finally opened the box, exposing my great-grandmother's wedding band, he asked me to marry him. With shaking hands I accepted, after ensuring he had spoken to my parents.
Snapchat, the perfect forum to share important news with friends for under 10 seconds
Apparently in the week or two leading up to the proposal, he had been texting my parents in the middle of the night to ask their permission, and express his everlasting love for me. Haunted by Apple's iMessage that syncs all texts from his phone to his iPad and MacBook, he became obsessive in erasing any evidence. He had considered giving me the ring in a Christmas present, but knew that my overwhelming fear of public proposals would result in an emotional meltdown. 

Many people have these fantasy engagement stories, you watch TV shows and romantic comedies where the standards of American engagements are set incredibly high. My expectations of an engagement have literally been that I will just wake up to a ring on my hand, and that's the end of it. These two alternative extremes are completely unrealistic, because real-life moments are rarely perfectly times, and real-life emotions are unexpected. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hats Off in GVK

6 January 2015
Meghan: "We are taking big steps"

She had taken one and a half years off from volleyball to study. 
Now she is one of Gislaved’s best players in the hunt for a playoff spot. 
“I feel comfortable with the players, the coaches, and the entire organization. Joining a new team brings new tactics and new strategies to learn, but I think every player on our team is getting better every day. We are making great strides,” she says.

Meghan Sherman was the only professional player Gislaved had, before the club picked up Lauren Rafdal. The fall season has perhaps not been the best for her and the team, but Sherman has picked the most hats in the fall. And she believes in great success in the spring.

“It has been nice to have a break where we let our bodies and minds rest. Now we'll come back and be refreshed. Each workout is a new chance to learn and challenge ourselves,” she says.

She thinks, as I said, GVK developed every day.

“We have more confidence, and with self-confidence, more skill. We can take several steps forward and be more complex in our skills. We have created a good foundation to build on. Now we can introduce new types angles and speed into our play.”

That she has received the most hats, was surprising: “Cool! I had no idea!”