As a junior in college, I have never pulled an all-nighter. I cherish those precious moments of sleep that I get at night, so pulling one was never in the cards for me. Until today, that is.

Our volleyball team headed to the West Coast this morning for our first pre-season tournament at 3 a.m. Afraid of missing my alarm, I laid in bed unsuccessfully trying to get some shut-eye until my alarm went off at 2:15 a.m. I left my apartment at 2:30 a.m. for Alumni Coliseum to meet my team, then off to the Cincinnati Airport we went.

All of us running on little-to-no sleep, we tried getting some sleep on the bus ride to the airport, spending the majority of the drive trying to figure out how to get comfortable. Arriving at the airport at 4:30 a.m., all 18 of us trudged through check-in and security as seamlessly as we could, knowing Starbucks was waiting for us on the other side.

We boarded the plane at 6:30 a.m. for the four-hour plane ride. Most of us fell asleep before the plane even took off. The time change between Richmond and San Diego is three hours, so the plane was scheduled to fly into the San Diego Airport at 8:30 a.m. When we finally made it through the longest morning of our lives, we drove to a California-native breakfast restaurant, “Broken Yoke,” where we ate in our half-asleep states. I got an “acai bowl” which is something unique to the West Coast. When in California, do as the Californians do, right?

After the heavenly meal, we all got in the rented 15-passenger van and minivan and drove straight to the hotel beds, only stopping to check in at the front desk for two minutes. And then I slept. For a long time.

When we all got some rest, we headed to a local outlet mall, where we shopped around and ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, of course. We came back to the hotel, and I went to the hotel fitness room to run on the treadmill because we did not have practice or any workouts today.

Now, at 8:05 p.m. in San Diego, which feels like 11:05 p.m. to my body, I am catching up on the homework that I missed from class today. Tomorrow, the real fun starts.

August 25, 2017
Today was the day we’ve been preparing the past nine months for – game day.

I woke up at 8:30 a.m., and I ate the pleasantly surprising hotel breakfast. Practice was scheduled for noon, so I got some much needed down time before the day really began. We arrived at San Diego State’s gym, and practiced there to get used to the environment of the gym and have some warm-up touches before the big game at 7:30 p.m. tonight. About half of the girls on our team are from California or places on the West Coast, so many of their families came out to watch the tournament game, mine included. We all went out to lunch together, and after, my family and I went back to my hotel and spent a couple of hours together. I hadn’t seen most of my family for about two months, so seeing them was so exciting for me.

After they left, it was time for us to get down to business. San Diego State is ranked fairly high in the nation, and they are the team hosting this tournament, making them the team to beat. We were the underdogs of the game. The match began at 7:30 p.m., and we started off on fire. We won the first set, not letting them in for one second. We followed that up by winning the second set, then they came back and won the third, sending us to a fourth set. We closed out and won the fourth, sealing the victory for us. 

There was not one minute throughout that game that I did not feel like we were going to win the match. Without a doubt, that match was one of the most fun matches I have ever played in before, mainly because we were not supposed to win and because we were so confident and excited to play. It was a great day to begin our season with.

A post-game meal was necessary after a match like that, so we went to a restaurant called “Café MiMi’s” with the team and our families at 10:30 p.m. It was a great end to an awesome day.

First win of my junior year season was in the books.

August 26, 2017
Day two of the Aztec Invitational could be described many ways, but the best way is probably this: a rollercoaster. Our first match was at 9 a.m, so we woke up at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast and got to the gym early for treatment and warm-ups. We drew a short straw this tournament with our game schedule, playing a tough match on Friday night then having to wake up early the next morning for another match.

Running on about six hours of sleep, we faced California State University, Northridge in our second match of the weekend. They took the first set from us. We came out timid and a little sleepy, but by the second match we shook all of that off. We won the second set, then we lost the third with a close score of 25-27. Retaliating, we responded by winning the fourth set 25-27, sending us to the final winner-take-all fifth set. After a back-and-forth set, the game was tied at 11-11. A few kills and digs later, we won the game. The excitement was incredible.

We all headed to The Corner Bakery for lunch following the game. My family came, so I was able to spend more time with them. We were a very tired team at this point in the day. With the hotel beds calling our names, we took the couple hours we had off before our final match to rest and nap in the hotel. Our final match was scheduled for 5 p.m.

Though we had two incredible matches this weekend, the third one was very far from incredible. From the beginning of the match, we truly did not play like ourselves. The game was very off the whole time, and we ended up losing to Portland State in our final match. It was one tough loss, but, nonetheless, the weekend was definitely not a loss as a whole.

I went to dinner with my family after the game at a California-style Mexican restaurant. I got back to the hotel at 11 p.m, and called it a day.

First loss of my junior season was also in the books, but, as coach likes to say, “losses are only true losses if you don’t learn anything from them.” And I definitely learned a lot from today’s.

August 28, 2017

Today was one of our most relaxing days of the trip, and it was most definitely necessary. After playing three games then traveling over five hours, we slept in and relaxed for some of the morning.

Most of us had homework to catch up on because are missing over a week of school, so we spent much of the day writing papers, studying, doing assignments and reading our textbooks. We all took a break at noon, and we went outside and jumped in the pool. We tried to lay out and tan for a while, but it was 111 degrees, so that didn’t last too long.

I went inside after a while and tried to finish up some more homework, then we left for Panera at 3 p.m. We drove to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the school we play tomorrow, and we practiced in their gym for two hours.

After practice, the whole team went to P.F. Changs, then we came back to the house to shower and get ready for bed. I’m heading to bed early tonight because tomorrow is another big game-day here in Vegas.