Account of Volleyball’s Trip to Southern California
The UMBC volleyball team opened its 2011 season with a trip to Southern California, where it went 2-2, defeating UC Riverside and Prairie View A&M, while battling nationally-ranked Washington and Long Beach State tough. Here’s an account of the trip from senior captain setter Allie Spaay.
The California trip was such a blast! It started out with an early 6 a.m. departure from campus. We were all dragging as we walked through the airport, but so eager to get to the Golden State to face some fierce competition and start off the season (and to soak up some sun of course!). A nap and two movies later, we landed at LAX ready to get the activities started!
The first day, we went to Katie (Kelly)’s house to relax, swim by the pool, and enjoy some amazing food. Her family grilled huge tri-tip steaks and baked two cheesecakes along with other awesome treats. During all of preseason we were living off of sandwiches for lunch and cooked dinner for ourselves, so this huge home cooked meal was needed and it tasted delicious! The California weather was so perfect that we felt like we were on a summer vacation just laying in the pool and hanging out. The only hard part was the time difference. By 7 p.m. pacific time, we were all exhausted and ready for bed. The coaches made us stay up until 9 though so we could get adjusted, so it was a long day seeing as we were technically up by 3 am west coast time.
The next day we were well rested, however, because we all got about 10 hours of sleep to make up for the time change. We had a morning practice to get adjusted to the gym because Long Beach’s home court is a huge pyramid! Sounds awesome at first, but for a setter, it was not so great. With the ceiling being so high and coming to a point at the top, my spatial awareness was all off. The ball looked like it was merely floating in space before it hit my hands, so that practice was definitely needed. It wasn’t the prettiest volleyball because we were all adjusting, but by the end we all felt better prepared.
After practice, we went straight to Huntington beach for some more in the sun fun! The waves were huge, so we body surfed, sun tanned, and shopped in all the cute boutiques to get some souvenirs. Hallie (Carter)’s parents made amazing Mexican food for us that night at her house in Huntington. We must have been so satisfied with the food or had too much sun, because we were all slap happy and joking around all night long.
It was a perfect 2 days of fun and by Friday we were so ready to play hard! We watched Long Beach and Washington play Prairie View during the day Friday, and the anticipation to start our game was killer. By the time we stepped on the court we were ready to compete. During the game, the spatial awareness problem was gone and it just felt like a privilege to get to play in such a grand, well known facility, plus in front of a large crowd. We competed with Long Beach really hard at times and I was so proud of our performance for our first game against a nationally ranked team. They were the better team, but we did our best and that was all we could ask for!
Saturday we had 2 matches. We had to face the intimidating Huskies first at noon. I am sure some of the girls were nervous, but I was surprisingly calm. I was just excited to play the 7th ranked team in the country! I was confident we were going to improve our game and give Washington a run for their money, just like we did the night before. In fact, our passing, defense, and hitting all improved and we played with some confidence. It was so good to feel like our smaller, underdog team could actually play with these well known, elite teams. Even though we lost, we were still proud of our performance once again. Facing Prairie View last was a relief, because we knew we realistically had a chance to beat a team in this California tournament. We trounced them, and continued to improve our performance still! But as far as I was concerned, going home with one win wasn’t enough.
We had all day off on Sunday, and we went back to Huntington beach to lay out and shop some more in the morning. Later, we went to the infamous In-n-Out Burger to have their cheeseburgers and milkshakes that the California native girls rave about all the time. I was not a bit disappointed! Afterwards, we hadn’t had enough shopping, so we went to a gorgeous outdoor mall where we stared at expensive clothing and ended up buying some things at the stores that were more our price range. To end the day’s festivities, we drove through Laguna Beach and took some team pictures against the beautiful rocks and water.
That night, Becca (Garrigues)’s parents came to the Kelly’s house to cook yet another delicious meal- shish kabobs, deviled eggs, fruit, and more cakes! The parents were amazing hosts and chefs all weekend; the support was great and we all felt like one big family.
With our trip coming to a close, we were headed to UC Riverside for our final match. We had some unfinished business left for the trip, so getting a win here was crucial to leaving the trip on a high note. At the beginning of the match, it was looking like our two teams were pretty evenly matched. Even though we lost the first game, we pulled out the next 3 to make an impressive victory over a UC team.
All in all, that last win really made the trip a success for me. All of the good times we had were made even sweeter knowing that we fought hard against 2 nationally ranked teams and won the other 2 matches we played. This was the best trip we’ve had in a preseason since I’ve been in the program and it made for a perfect start to my senior season!