Sept. 13, 2012
I'm really excited to write the first blog for women's volleyball! I get to tell you about the awesome group of girls I spend most of my life with and all the crazy stuff we do (well sometimes...) In this blog, I'm going to focus on the AMAZING trip to California that we just went on!
4:00am - The time my alarm clock went off on the morning of September 5th. Despite my excitement for the trip, I moved lethargically around my dorm trying to pack some last-minute things. Making sure I had a state ID with me, I finally felt that I had everything and walked over to Norville. As soon as I reached our locker room, I noticed that some of my teammates had bathing suits. I had forgot mine and debated on whether to go back and get it or not since we did not know what our planned activities in California were going to be. At the last minute, I decided to sprint back to Fordham in flip-flops to retrieve my swim suit (after all, I didn't want to risk being the only one having to wear a t-shirt and spandex to go swimming). I sprinted back and made it just on time with three minutes to spare. Nothing like sprints at 4:30 in the morning to start your day off.
Soon after, we made our way to O'Hare Airport via taxis. Laura just about suffocated on the way due to the smell in ours. We checked in, made our way to the right gate (which just happened to be the absolute last one in the terminal - go figure.) Upon our arrival, we see a fellow passenger wearing a "Beat Stanford" shirt. We thought it must be fate.
After a 5-hour flight, we landed and made our way through the San Francisco Airport. We waited patiently for the coaches to get the rental cars for us. Three huge Suburbans pulled up and I figured the President must be in town ... nope, just our transportation for the week. We headed directly to Stanford for our first practice in Maples Pavilion. It was quite an experience to step on a court that Kerri Walsh and Logan Tom used to play on. We got familiar with our surroundings and then had lunch at a campus café right next door. I must admit, it was a little awkward walking in and having a bunch of Stanford athletes stare and whisper at you. We got lunch and headed towards Santa Cruz, where Coach Muscat's good friend, Jan, lives. We drove through mountains and forests admiring the beautiful scenery all around us, especially the giant Redwoods.
We made it to Jan's peaceful hideaway, deep in the forest, and settled in. While we waited for dinner, (let's face it - we base our plans for the day around what time we get to eat) we played bags (or Cornhole as some may call it), ping pong, basketball, horseshoes, and sat around the fireplace listening to music. We were soon called in for dinner and scrambled to get a good spot in line for the burrito buffet - yes, it was delicious in case you were wondering. Afterward, we fought over space in front of the fire to roast our marshmallows for s'mores. Once we cleaned up, Anna, Kathleen, Steph, and myself decided we were going to do a 1,000-piece puzzle. Our spirits were high in the beginning and we were determined to finish it. We eventually finished the border (no thanks to Steph who decided to smash wrong pieces together to make them fit haha) but did not succeed much further. We were called in with the rest of the team for a bonding activity where we were given rules and skits to perform. Sean will be haunted forever by Data Volley. We went to bed and packed our things for the following day.
After a delicious breakfast, we headed to Santa Cruz for the morning. We decided to go to the Santa Cruz Wharf to see the sea lions that played in the waters below. We took pictures and videos as we watched the large beasts swimming in the ocean. Unfortunately, an angry bird decided to poop all over one of us (no names mentioned) and we knew it was time to leave. We walked around an outdoor mall and enjoyed the nice weather. We then headed back to Stanford for a light serve and pass before our game against University of Pacific.
When 4:30pm rolled around, it was time to play our first match of the tournament. We went in with high hopes and played some great volleyball. They were a tough team, but we proved that we could compete at a high level. We left the match upset with a loss, but learned with every play. We went back to the hotel and rested for the night.
After a 6:00am wakeup call, the big day had begun. We were finally going to play Stanford. We enjoyed our breakfasts while watching some SpongeBob on TV. When we finished, we headed back to Maples Pavilion and mentally and physically prepared ourselves for one of the most exciting matches of our volleyball careers. We were the underdogs and had nothing to lose. We wanted to show everyone just exactly who Loyola women's volleyball was and that's exactly what we did. We stuck with a team that was 8th in the nation. Heck, we even took a set from them! The feeling after we won that set was one I will never forget. I remember screaming and jumping up and down when I thought we had won the game. It turns out it was only 26-25 and the game wasn't finished. We won the next point and this time I could actually celebrate and cheer. The match wasn't over, however. After the intermission, we came back and played our little hearts out. Yes, they were bigger and stronger than us, but we never gave up. We left no regrets on the floor and with smiles on our faces.
We went back to the hotel and hung out until it was time to play our final match of the tournament against Santa Clara. When the time came, we took the court, played with the same intensity as earlier and never looked back. We did end up losing but we all learned so much about ourselves that weekend and the team that we could be. We were proud of each other and set the bar high for our future success.
We went back to the hotel and passed out, exhausted from the play during the day. We returned to Chicago the following day, glad to be home in our own beds.
We have been practicing hard all this week in preparation for our upcoming tournament this weekend. We are hosting (so everyone come watch!) and can't wait to get to play for the first time this season in Gentile. We have been focusing on specific skills and playing competitively everyday and want to show all of our supporters what we can do.
Thanks so much for tuning in! -Vicki