Incoming Lewis-Palmer junior outside hitter Alexa Smith is soaking up every moment she can, even if it is just watching Thai music videos before practice.
"We didn't know what they singing but they were pretty entertaining to watch," she said in one her posts for the U.S. U18 national team's blog. "Thailand is definitely different than any other country I have been to. It's been fun to try new foods and see how people live, differently than we do, across the world."
Smith, 16, is one of 12 playing for her country at the 2013 FIVB U18 World Championships in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. The Rangers standout has tallied 14 kills through three pool-play matches.
Team USA lost in four games to Slovenia and then bounced back to sweep World No. 2 Brazil and regional rival Dominican Republic to clinch a spot in this week's quarterfinals. Play concludes Aug. 4.
Smith's experience in the USA High Performance summer program the past five years helped her make it through three rounds of cuts.
"I was beyond excited to hear that I made the team, because this is a team that I have dreamed of being on since I was really young," she said.
Smith, who is undecided about college, has been a standout since early in her playing career.
"Alexa is very calm on the court, and steady," club coach Judy Peer said. "She's also very gifted at passing - many kids are good at hitting, but few are as good at hitting and passing."
"We've had several very talented players graduate from Lewis-Palmer and some went on to play Division I volleyball, but Alexa is by far the most talented player I've ever had," Lewis-Palmer coach Susan Odenbaugh, who has been at the school for 25 years and served 12 as head coach, said this past high school season.
Even practice is something to savor this week, according to Smith.
"Our coach reminds us every day that we are playing against the best players in the world and that we need to take advantage of this experience because you don't get experiences like this very often," she said. "There is no doubt that I learn something new about the game every day here."