UVU Athletics
Utah Valley rising sophomore Brynnly Ward digs the ball. Ward and her teammates will venture to New Zealand and Samoa from May 20-June 10, on an international tour.

The Utah Valley University women's volleyball team recently departed on a three-week international tour to New Zealand and Samoa. The first leg of the trip will be focused mainly on volleyball in New Zealand, while the second leg will be dedicated primarily to humanitarian aid in Samoa.

The trip will span 21 days. The team left the United States on Sunday, May 20, and will return on Sunday, June 10. This year's venture will mark the fourth time that head UVU volleyball coach and Samoa native Sam Atoa has been able to take his team on the international tour, as he has previously taken his squad on similar trips in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

"It is always a thrill to take the team back to New Zealand and Samoa and to share with the team where I am from. This is a great opportunity to compete and do humanitarian service in both countries as we represent Utah Valley University," Atoa said. "This will be a life-changing experience for the team as we give back to the various organizations, schools and villages in need. It will be a lot of hard work, but I know it will pay off when they see firsthand the difference they are making."

While in New Zealand, UVU will play a handful of exhibition contests against a number of local clubs and teams on May 23-26, as well as take part in some sightseeing and service activities. The team will visit Mount Eden and other places in Auckland, go on a ferry ride to Davenport, explore the sites in Rotorua, catch a Gallagher Chiefs Rugby game and so on while in New Zealand.

After completing the first leg of the trip, the Wolverines will then head to Samoa on May 28. While in Atoa's native country, the team will focus its activities mainly on giving back to the people of Samoa.

The Wolverines will visit numerous schools, hospitals, elderly care centers and villages during their stay in Samoa. They also plan to distribute much-needed school supplies, books, computers, clothing, medical supplies, athletic equipment and so on during visits. During the last couple of months, the team previously shipped a couple of 40-foot shipping containers full of the charitable items to Samoa that the team will deliver during a number of its stops to people in need.

While in Samoa, the Wolverines will also play an exhibition match against a Samoa Select Team on June 1, as well as be there to witness the Samoa Independence Celebration.

After the conclusion of the visit, the team will then make a quick stop in Nadi, Fiji, for an overnight stay before returning home on June 10.

To follow social media updates throughout the trip, follow the team on Instagram and Twitter.

James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.