Christian Taylor (kneeling at right) with other members of the United States D-3 Select volleyball team in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Taylor, a rising junior at Eastern Mennonite University, spent 10 days traveling and playing with the team in Brazil this summer. He hopes to play overseas after graduation and then to coach the sport at the university level. (Courtesy photos)

Volleyball player Christian Taylor joins D-3 Select team on trip to Brazil

Eastern Mennonite University rising junior Christian Taylor hopes to play volleyball professionally overseas after graduation and then become a college coach. He got a jump on both future goals this summer, representing his country and his sport in Brazil this summer on the USA D-3 Select Volleyball Team.

Taylor (left) with team members after a tournament appearance.

The team played five matches in three cities over a 10-day period in June: one each in Jundiaí and Campinas, and then three matches in the Brasil X USA Volleyball Challenge at the Marina Barra Clube in Rio de Janeiro.

USA Sports Tours & Events, the sponsoring organization, formed a men’s and women’s team from recommendations of coaches. Charlie Ginex of NCAA-participant Kean University coached the men’s team. Kean will join the CVC this coming season.

Taylor says he was pleased to play for Ginex, “a coach I’ve admired for years.”

“During my short time playing for him, I was able to learn a lot about setting strategy and in game decision- making,” Taylor said.

Talking to players and other coaches from universities around the United States was also beneficial, both for his own game and future professional goals. So too was the experience of playing volleyball against the world’s best.

“Going down there, I knew that the competition would be strong but I didn’t know exactly what to expect,” he said. “The teams and players that we played against were faster, stronger, and smarter than any team that I had faced here in the States. Those kids have been living the volleyball life since they were born and it really showed.”

This past spring, Taylor helped lead Eastern Mennonite to the championship match of the Continental Volleyball Conference (CVC) Tournament. He finished his sophomore season second in the nation with 1,251 assists, averaging 10.51 per set. A two-year starter, Taylor is already No. 4 in EMU history with 2,012 career assists.

At the opening ceremony for the Brasil X USA Volleyball Challenge at the Marina Barra Clube in Rio de Janeiro.

Taylor, from Richmond, Virginia, is a double major in business administration and recreation leadership and sports studies, with minors in human resource management and coaching.

He was one of two players from the Continental Volleyball Conference to be selected for the trip. “There have been a lot of players in the past who have gone on this trip from the CVC that I have looked up to,” he said. “The CVC is an extremely prestigious conference and being able to represent it is a privilege.”

Other players on the team were: Corey Pieper of Rutgers-Newark, Brendan Baker of Johnson & Wales University (RI), Max Bongratz of Carthage College, Garrett Bucklin of Rivier University, Evan Lindley of New York University, Justin Feigeles of Ramapo College, Tim Robbins of Lakeland College and Ashton Sellers of Wittenberg University.

Taylor said EMU’s Dan Lutz, Tim Callahan and Josh Elmore also received initial invitations for the team but were not able to join.

While in Brazil the teams experienced educational, cultural and social aspects of Brazilian life through city, school and sports club visits. The team toured Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer Statue, two of the most recognizable landmarks in the world.

They also stayed on the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, where they played beach volleyball “at arguably the best venue in the entire world,” Taylor said. Visiting the US volleyball team’s training facility used for the Rio Olympics was also a highlight.

James De Boer contributed to this article.