Sept. 16, 2007
Posted: September 13
Home Sweet Home
After what has seemed like months on the road, it is finally here, our first home game. Nothing is more exciting than putting on our white home jerseys (black for me), and stepping onto the court in front of our amazing fans. Traveling from Boise, Idaho to Gainesville, Fla., and then one day later to Honolulu, Hawaii, we are very thankful to be able to sleep in our own beds the night before a game, as well as not having to deal with a three-hour time change.
Our away tournaments have gone fairly well up to this point in the season. In our first tournament of the year in Idaho, we came out firing on all cylinders. We had huge performances from Lindsy Evans (tournament MVP) and Crystal Matich (All-Tournament Team), as well as what seemed like veteran performances from both of our freshmen. Our tournament in Florida was an experience that all of us will remember. After victories over North Caroline State and Georgia Southern it was time to take on the then-No. 6 Florida Gators. Our team was extremely excited for the game, and the Florida fans created an environment unlike any I have ever seen. The home team's introductions were comparable to an NBA game, and the atmosphere was electrifying. Unfortunately, we did not play as well as expected and the Gators handed us our first loss of the season.
After only one night in our beds we were off to Honolulu. We were greeted in the airport by Michelle Luxton's parents, Pom and Bruce who had beautiful leis for each of us. From the airport we went directly to the Stan Sheriff Center for our first practice of the week; it didn't go as smoothly as planned probably due to the fact that we had the beach in the back of our minds. After practice we were able to cure that distraction by spending time in the ocean and walking around Waikiki. Later that night we were treated to a delicious dinner with a fantastic view of the sunset at the Hawaii Yacht Club, compliments of Nichole Clark's grandpa, Ron.
The next morning we had an intense practice and afterwards we were rewarded with surfing lessons. People watching our team try to get up on two-foot waves would have been surprised to learn that we were athletes. Of course there were the fast learners; for example, Crystal who decided after her first push from the instructor that she was above the learning phase and was going to catch all of her own waves for the rest of the hour. There were also some, who will remain anonymous, that had a tough time getting up on the board that was so long and stable that you could stand on it without a wave at all. After a very generous dinner at the Luxton's home, complete with a sushi chef, it was time to get ready for the weekends matches.
We faced the Wichita State Shockers in our first match of the tournament; they were extremely athletic and well coached and we lost in three. The next day we bounced back against Eastern Washington with a three game sweep. After that, all of our focus was on Hawaii, the 16th ranked team in the nation. The fans were rowdy and ready for an intense battle, as were both teams. The Broncos got an early lead in game one and carried it all the way through for a very close victory. However, the Wahine turned it up a notch in game two and we did not play as well as we could, resulting in a loss. Games three and four were nail biters, both teams siding out almost every chance and going point for point. Despite heroic defensive plays from Britney Lowe and some powerful kills from Nina Sevastopoulos, Hawaii won games three and four taking the match and giving us our third loss of the season. Our final preseason road trip ended with a spectacular beachside brunch buffet at the Outrigger Canoe Club.
We've been put through many different scenarios on the road, and have passed and failed many challenges on the court. With All-American hitter Anna Cmaylo out for the year with a shoulder injury, a ton of pressure is being put on our younger girls to provide us with hitting power and they have stepped up to the challenge. It is now time to define the way we will play on our home court in front of our friends, family and fans. Tonight we play the UC Davis Aggies in our first home match of the season. Friday night we will be hosting a tournament including: Notre Dame, Cal, and Santa Barbara, three schools with extremely successful volleyball programs. I cannot explain in words the pride each of us feels while putting on our jerseys, jumping up and hitting the WCC Champions sign above the door in our locker room and running onto the floor minutes prior to the first serve, hopefully it will be apparent in our play.
-Caro da Libero