July 11, 2007
Northern Illinois sophomore outside hitter Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio / Northview) is always looking for a way to better herself as a student-athlete.
So when the opportunity arose for Schoenrock, a Graphic Design major, to not only to spend a week in Italy, but to play volleyball against top-notch international competition, the Sylvania, Ohio native jumped at the chance.
Schoenrock was a member of Third Degree, a squad that features some of the top collegiate volleyball talent in the country at age 20 years and under, that competed at the 15th annual Sibillini Tournament in Comunanza, Italy.
While Schoenrock did not know anyone on the trip, it was an experience she could not pass up.
"I went over there because I was so excited to go see Italy," Schoenrock said. "You play (matches) at night, but you can sightsee during the day.
A longtime admirer of art, Schoenrock soaked in every Italian landmark she stumbled upon to.
"I had taken an art history class and I had learned about all that in high school," Schoenrock said. "The Colosseum, the ruins, everything over there is ancient Roman architecture that I learned about and it was awesome."
Schoenrock, however, was ready for her first international volleyball experience.
"I wanted to play against foreign teams because I had never done that before," Schoenrock said. "I had no idea what I was getting myself into and I was really excited about playing with completely different people who I had never met before and against different countries."
Schoenrock and Third Degree would compete against other countries including: Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Montenegro, Italy and Serbia.
What was also a new experience for Schoenrock is that all of the matches were played outside.
"We played on glorified cement but there was a rubber mat over it," Schoenrock said. "You got used to it, but the hard thing was when you would dive for a ball, you would just stick there and not move anywhere. You'd get pretty torn up."
The fan support in Italy was astounding, according to Schoenrock.
"The whole town (of Comunanza) basically followed us around for the entire week," Schoenrock said. "They came to all of our matches and all of these parties that they threw.
"The fan base was crazy."
Schoenrock and Third Degree rewarded their fans as they did not drop a game and captured the tournament championship with a 27-25, 25-18, 25-19 win over Skup Olomouc of the Czech Republic.
"We were really excited," Schoenrock said of the tournament championship. "We might have not had as strong as players as the Czech Team, but we had such good chemistry and were really, really smart and that helped."
Schoenrock enjoyed a stellar campaign in her rookie year with the Huskies in 2006, as she was named to both the All-Mid American Conference Second team and All-MAC Freshman team. She was second on the squad with 334 total kills.