May 17, 2007
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam
Fact of the Day: Ben Thanh
Market first opened its doors in 1914 and is a symbol of Saigon. It
is filled with people clamoring to sell you cheap goods from
t-shirts to silk and bamboo to lacquer. It is a great place to find
unique souvenirs. Towards the back are a few small cafes serving
local cuisine or coffee. The wet market is in the far back and
offers a wide variety of meat, fish, poultry and flowers.
The St. John’s volleyball team has officially spent one week in
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and cannot believe it has gone by so
fast. With a day off between round-robin action and the semifinals
of the 2007 Vietnam Television (VTV) Cup Fourth International
Women’s Volleyball Tournament, the Red Storm took time to relax and
visit with students and athletes from Hong Bang University.
Most of the team decided to spend the early part of the day
relaxing poolside at the Caravelle Hotel, while a few members opted
for shopping at the famous Ben Thanh Market. At the market, several
other teams were shopping as well. VTV camera crews followed the
athletes around as they browsed through the different stalls. One
camera crew spotted sophomore Hui Ping Huang (Shanghai, China) and
followed her around as she purchased a couple souvenirs.
“Ben Thanh Market is a great place filled with typical
Vietnamese dress, various wood carvings, hand crafted goods,
jewelry and so many seasonal fruits,” said Huang. “I was able to
buy two bracelets for less than the price of one. We were able to
get a lot of great deals. That made me happy.”
After shopping the group met up with the rest of the team for
some sun and then chose a very familiar comfort food for lunch –
KFC. Most of the meals, which typically cost $4 to $5 in New York,
were equivalent to only $2 USD. The Red Storm then went back to its
hotel to get ready for the friendly match with Hong Bang
The match was held at the sub court at the VTV Cup competition
facility and was broadcasted on several Vietnamese television
stations. When the athletes entered the court, they were greeted
with a warm and loud ovation from the students of Hong Bang. The
university’s cheerleading team opened the festivities and then the
teams exchanged a small gift. The Red Storm then presented the
president of Hong Bang University with a framed autographed jersey
and photo of the 2006 BIG EAST regular season champions.
Dr. Hung Le, assistant dean of St. John’s College graduate
division and director of the Vietnam initiative, was the Red
Storm’s honorary coach for the afternoon. Before the match, he
thanked the students of Hong Bang for their support of St. John’s
and vice versa.
“Today we wear no colors,” said Le. “We are all part of the same
tea, St. John’s and Hong Bang Universities united.”
With the ceremonies complete, the teams took to the court and
began to play. The Red Storm faced tough competition but pulled
through and won the first game, 25-23. To spice things up, head
coach Joanne Persico-Smith was the team’s starting setter and
assistant coach Li Chen subbed in for Dana DeMayo (Ra’anana,
Israel). In the second game, the team’s swapped players and had
some more fun. Athletic trainer Jennifer Hamilton even got in on
the action as she subbed in for Kathleen Yee (Honolulu, Hawaii) and
registered her first international dig.
When the match was finished, a local television station in Ho
Chi Minh City, interviewed Yee, Huang, Wioleta Leszczynska
(Bielsko-Biala, Poland) and Ruisa Scheffel (Novo Hamburgo, Brazil)
about why they chose to play volleyball, what it is like to play on
such a diverse team and what they have enjoyed the most about
The volleyball team then returned to Caravelle Hotel to
relax and shower before heading out to dinner on cruise up the
Saigon River. While the Red Storm was participating in their
friendly match, the St. John’s psychology students were attending
lectures and exploring Ho Chi Minh City. The two groups met up for
dinner and were joined by international relations students from
Hong Bang University, as well as the university’s president and his
Before heading to bed, junior DeMayo checked in with
RedStormSports.com to post the team’s eighth daily journal entry.
To view her postcard, click here.
The Red Storm returns to action on Friday, May 18 against
Shikoku Eighty 8 Queen from Japan in the second semifinal match of
the 2007 VTV Cup. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m. local time, 7
a.m. in New York.
St. John’s advanced to the semifinals after upsetting the
Southeast Asia champions and undefeated in VTV Cup action
Banmiwittaya from Thailand, 3-0 (30-28, 25-16, 25-23). At the end
of the first five days, the Red Storm has four players ranked in
the tournament’s best scorers list (No. 3 Huang, No. 11 Latoya
Blunt (Vacaville, Calif.), No. 13 Patti Hardimon (Honolulu, Hawaii)
and No. 29 DeMayo).
Huang is also ranked second in the tournament’s best spikers
list and Leszczynska is the tournament’s No. 1 best setter thus
far. The 2006 BIG EAST Libero of the Year is the tournament’s No. 1
digger and libero, while being ranked second in the best receivers
category. Hardimon is ranked No. 3 in that category as well.