Tracee Byrd: The Volleyball Life (9-20-05)
Tuesday, September 20, 2005

This past week went by extremely fast and was very eventful.  But aside from the fact that we temporarily became the cross-country team, it was pretty normal.  Classes continued as usual.  We had a few more tests and got some grades we’ll send home for the refrigerator along with some we’d rather not mention.  The freshmen spent every free hour in mandatory study hall, and I spent every free hour still trying to put my contacts in.  Becca continued to make more friends than there are people at Centenary (though she chose some unusual methods this time), and Chevy decided to turn King’s Highway into a race track, only to get her ginormous Yucon blown away by the Nissan 350Z sports car she tried to take on, leaving all of us in the backseat with whiplash.   Our schedules seemed to get busier and our social life slimmer as we spent more and more time on the volleyball court.  And finally, I still don’t know anyone who can walk up that big hill on campus without stopping to catch their breath…..or maybe that’s just me. 


Anyway, by this time, everyone seemed to be adjusted to being back in school and in our routines, one of which includes the pre-practice cafeteria grab-n-go, a very complex, well-planned series of events that ultimately leads to nothing more than a stomach ache.  You see, practice starts at 6:00, but the caf doesn’t open until 5:00, which is when some of our classes end.  But we really have to be at the gym around 5:20-5:30 to set the net up and see the trainer.  So we all sneak around the back entrance to the caf to avoid the long line, then we sprint around grabbing this and that, with each of us holding a spot in line at the different food stations so that we can let each other skip.  I’ve taken out quite a few people with my massive practice bag as I was racing for a fountain drink.  Then we sit down and shovel our food in, eating 3 plates in all of 17 seconds, finishing our meal before the person I knocked over even gets off the floor.  I’m absolutely convinced that it’s the most attractive thing anyone’s ever seen.  Next we paper-rock-scissor to see who’s going to drive to practice, and then we carpool to the gym.  I think we’ve almost perfected the system by now.  I will say, however, that force-feeding each other the sometimes unappetizing caf food became more difficult when we knew we were going to run a half-marathon at practice everyday.  But after some counseling from a few of the cross-country runners, we were set and headed into practice carb-loaded and well hydrated.


After Monday’s 42 suicides, we decided to take it easy and just run 20 the next day.  We finished the week’s practices with some light drills on Wednesday, since we were too sore to even walk, and then prepared to leave on Thursday for our final tournament before conference.


We boarded the bus, this time not the sleeper bus, and proceeded to nap, study, and of course eat, until we arrived at our destination outside of Houston, Texas.  We ate dinner and then coach announced the hotel rooming assignments to a flood of sarcastic disapprovals and maybe one “yea!” which most definitely came from Stephanie.  Stephanie is just one of those rare people who are always happy.  The rest of us had spent 6 hours crammed on a bus with each other, so we were going to complain about anything.  But we dragged our 3 tons of luggage into the hotel and squeezed into the elevator.  Two weeks later we arrived on the third floor and dispersed to our rooms.


Our first game was at 9:00 in the morning, so we awoke before the butt crack of dawn, had the continental breakfast, and then drove the half hour to the gym.  Our coaches had given each of us a copy of a book that we were supposed to read to help us with our mental game, so we used that time to read a few chapters and prepare ourselves to play. 


Our fist match went well.  We faced Prairie View in a rematch of the previous weekend.  Still asleep, we lost the first game, but then came back and took the next three to win the match.  We then got back on the bus for some lunch.  We rested and watched some game tape on our next opponent, Portland State.  That match was more difficult as we had a few costly break downs that they took advantage of.  We couldn’t take care of the errors on our side, and so we didn’t pull out the win.


When we arrived back at the hotel, we had mandatory study hall, ate dinner, and still had a few hours until curfew.  So, some of the girls walked across the hotel parking lot to the Payless for some late night shopping.  Then after modeling their purchases to a chorus of approvals, we headed off to our rooms and passed out for the night.


The next morning we drove back to the gym and started the day off against Texas Southern.  We took the first game, and then lost the next two.  But we knew we were the better team, and we fought back to take that game in five.  This win gave us our sixth win on the year which tied our last year’s win total for the entire season.  But that wasn’t the only statistical highlight.  We broke three single-match records and tied another.  We bested the team kills record with 82 and the team assists record with 75. Lindsay broke her own record with 67 assists in the match, and Dani tied the single-match kill record with 30.  (I’ve pretty much figured out that however many chicken nuggets Dani eats at late night, that’s how many kills she’ll get in the game).  Everyone was super-psyched about the win and we tried to carry over our excitement into the following game.


Our next opponent was Grambling.  We’d been looking forward to this match since our last meeting with them, when they used their slick floor and blind referees to steal the match.  But this time was different as we took the match 3-1 to increase our win total to seven, one more than last year’s.


Our families all gathered to wave goodbye as we climbed on the bus to head home.  Meanwhile, Coach was rambling about how she thought she saw another lizard.  Ever since the one incident, she’s been a little paranoid and she always claims she sees them now.  Next thing you know, she’ll be claiming she saw one in her office or something.  Anyway, we ate meals on the bus, watched last week’s O.C. that someone had taped, and then napped until we got home at 2AM.


Overall, the weekend was great.  We had some fun and set some records.  Dani even got All-Tournament and Mid-Con Offensive Player of the Week.  We got to improve on some things we needed to work on, and we only have one more match before conference starts.  With seven wins under our belt, I believe we have enough talent, depth, and will to turn things around this year.  We’ve already bettered our win total from last year, and we still have 23 matches left.  So bring on the Mid-Con!!