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The Sacramento State volleyball team enjoyed its first full day in Shanghai, mixing in the trip's business with some leisure time as well.

First, though, a little about the city of Shanghai. One of the five most populated cities in the world, Shanghai has 24 million residents (and average of 9,700 per square mile). Its world-class skyline is marked by numerous architectural gems in every direction, including two skyscrapers that rank among the tallest in the world.

For the team, a trip to the Yu Garden market in the morning to shop and enjoy a local lunch began the day. The team then held a clinic for the Shanghai Community International School (a school of just over 390 students from more than 20 nations) and the team's first volleyball workout in the afternoon.

The evening was highlighted by a festive dinner hosted by former Sacramento State assistant volleyball coach Weidi Zhang and his family.

Below are player blogs from juniors Julia Wright and Erin Cochran, as well as freshman Paige Swinney. Throughout the trip, expect to see more player reaction as all 16 players on the 2016-17 roster will have a blog during the trip. Sacramento State will play the first of five matches tonight at midnight PDT.

DAY 1 & 2 PLAYER BLOGS (May 31-June 1)

Freshman Paige Swinney (May 31)

It was an early morning for the Hornets as we met on campus at 2 a.m. to drive to the San Francisco airport. Coach Aven handed us our passports and itineraries, but it still hadn't hit us that we were actually going to China, the trip we've been planning for what felt like forever. We made it to the airport (half asleep) and everyone got their bags and headed to check-in. As we were in the line, one of my teammates (Hannah Meadows) seemed to have misplaced her passport. Everyone was panicking, emptying out her backpack, calling the bus driver, looking in the lost in found, retracing her steps. Thankfully, Morgan Stanley did a quick pat down on Hannah just to find that she had it the whole time. Relieved, we continued through security and waited at our gate until it was time to board.

The first flight was an easy one, a little less than two hours to Vancouver, Canada. As we got to Vancouver, we exchanged our US money to Chinese yen and waited outside our gate for the dreaded 11-hour flight to Shanghai. Surprisingly, the flight went really fast. It's easy for me to say that because I slept nine hours. I was starting to get antsy when we still had five hours remaining, but I continued to fall asleep, and before I knew it, the flight attendant told everyone to sit down because we were about to descend. The plane had plenty of movies, TV shows, and music that were available throughout the whole flight which made it easy for a lot of people. When we landed in Shanghai, there were plenty of people taking pictures of us as it was obvious we were foreigners. We met up with (former assistant coach) Weidi and he couldn't stop smiling. We all knew how excited he was which made us even more excited to be here. We departed from the airport to our very luxurious five star hotel where we would get ready and go to our first dinner.  

We had a very traditional Chinese dinner with entrees including duck, shrimp, clams, tofu, white rice, fried tofu, quail eggs, and much more. All of this food kept coming out, we thought it was never going to stop but we all tried many different things and it was really cool to see what a real Chinese dinner looked like. The funniest part was watching everyone try to use chopsticks and then getting frustrated when their food would just fall right off. Eventually, we did cave in and ask for forks.

After dinner, we headed to my favorite part, the boat cruise. We got to see the city of downtown Shanghai with all of these lit-up buildings. It was surreal. Chinese natives were taking pictures of us, and with us. Shannon Boyle, in particular, made some friends and even exchanged Facebook profiles. People were also in shock at how tall Erin Cochran stands. They would go and stand next to her to compare heights and then we would all start laughing. So far, everyone is very nice and the city of Shanghai is jaw dropping. I can't wait to experience the rest of the trip with my amazing team, and Go Hornets!!

Junior Julia Wright (June 1)

After spending about 20 hours in planes and airports traveling to Shanghai and taking a tour of the Wusong River, it would be an understatement to say that we were exhausted. That being said, Ruben let us sleep in this morning to help get over the jet lag. Our hotel provides a great selection of breakfast foods, and Maddie (Cannon) thoroughly enjoyed the sushi option.

Once we got some food in our systems, we went to an old town market in the city. We were a hot commodity walking around as a mass in matching green t-shirts. Everywhere we went, people had their phones out taking pictures of us. We certainly attracted the vendors' attention right away. They were glued to our sides wherever we went trying to sell us merchandise. They even tried getting us to go to their back store rooms where they had even more stuff. A scuffle actually broke out between two women who were selling the same products. Our bargaining skills were pretty amateur to start, and we may had been ripped off on a few things, but overall we were thrilled to get popular retail items (name brand purses) for a cheap price.

After we got our retail therapy in, we had the opportunity to coach some players at a local international K-12 school. It was only a short session, 30 minutes, and their enthusiasm to play was incredible. At the end, we had them come in for a cheer with their stingers up! However, we remembered afterwards that putting your pinky up is giving the finger in Chinese culture. Their coaches were very gracious about our mistake and had a good laugh about it, ending the session on a light note.

Many of the players stayed to watch our practice, which gave us an extra boost of motivation to practice hard in preparation for our match tomorrow.

To finish our day, Weidi (Zhang) treated us by taking us to a restaurant that is 100 years old. We were blown away with all sorts of authentic dishes which were all cooked to perfection. It was impossible to say which was our favorite. It's only our first full day here in Shanghai and we are truly getting the full Chinese experience.

Junior Erin Cochran (June 1)

Today, we went to Yu Garden and bargain shopped for several hours. There were so many shops, and the three hours we had to check everything out, definitely wasn't enough time. Some of the items purchased by members of the team were character key chains, painted fans, purses and jewelry boxes.

After shopping, we went straight to an international school. We coached a clinic and later had a practice. The kids we coached were at the beginner level, so we taught them many fundamentals of the game. All of them were so cute and eager to learn. We practiced immediately after the clinic. During practice, we served and passed then scrimmaged for a couple of hours.

We later had dinner at a traditional Chinese restaurant. The food was absolutely incredible. Great way to end a great day.

Also, the McDonalds here is way better!