After a six-hour, red-eye flight landed us in
Las Vegas at 5:40 a.m., the only thing on the minds of most of
HPU volleyball team was sleep, except for a few of us who couldn’t
sleep because of the noise from our empty, growling stomachs.
After much needed food and naps, it was right out to practice. The
coaches wanted to make sure we shook off any jet lag, so we would
be ready to play four games in three states over the next five days.
It was going to be a long week.
After practice that night we had time to do a little sightseeing.
Many of the girls had never been to Vegas, so we walked through Caesars
and the Venetian and caught the amazing water show at the Bellagio.
Since Hawai‘i has no Victoria’s Secret store, the girls
were adamant about finding one and stocking up on necessities before
heading back to the hotel for the night.
The next morning, two hours of driving brought us to St. George,
Utah for a short practice, a pre-game dinner, our game against the
Dixie State Rebels, who had a less than impressive record and didn’t
strike us as a very competitive team.
Were we in for a surprise.
Not only were the Rebels a competitive team, they also had a cheering
section of five ruthless college boys whose yells were magnified
by megaphones. The guys did everything they could to break our concentration
and get into our heads.
Hey number three! Will you go to homecoming with me?” was a
refrain that worked its way through the team.
Hey HPU! What’s a sea warrior anyway?”
This is what we heard every time we went to serve or pass a ball.
When we made an error, they were quick and loud about pointing it
As irritating as their heckling was, we couldn’t help but laugh
when they yelled, “Hey! Do you guys know your coach looks like
Steve Carrell, the 40- year-old virgin?” Because, of course,
we know he looks like Steve Carrell, and we make fun of him for it
all the time.
Doing our best to tune them out, we coasted through our first match,
winning 30-24, only to fall in our second match 27-30. We lost the
third as well, by a narrow two points. Realizing the fourth game
could be the last game, we picked it up to win 30-16 and push it
to five games. The Rebels came out strong in the fifth game, and
we just couldn’t catch them as they beat us 15-9.
We went back to the hotel somber, but believing we would come out
strong and beat them the next day.
We didn’t come out strong, but we did beat them. After dropping
our first two games, we rallied to beat them with scores of 30-23,
30-16 and 15-10 for our first PacWest road win.
We headed back to Las Vegas feeling good about splitting our series
with Dixie and thinking about nothing but sleep before our next long
drive, to Phoenix, Ariz.
Leaving around 11 the next morning, we stopped in for lunch in Wikieup,
one of the few towns between Vegas and Phoenix. We picked the best-looking
restaurant we could find (which isn’t saying much) and sat
down for salads and sandwiches. We all skipped the $7.50 rattlesnake
entree on the lunch menu, which meant we missed out on the chance
to leave with an “I ate rattlesnake” t-shirt.
Three hundred miles and about a thousand cactus plants later, we
finally faced the Grand Canyon University Antelopes. Confident after
our win against Dixie, we jumped ahead to a two-game lead with scores
of 30-24 and 30-25.
It was too easy. We got ahead of ourselves and let them take games
three and four by two points each time. By the fifth game, we knew
it was now or never and beat them, 15-10.
The next night proved to be a different story as we fell in five
games. It was our last game of the road series, and we continued
to play hard until the very last point. The final scores were 23-30,
30-28, 25-30, 30-23, and 14-16. We left the gym with our heads high
knowing that we traveled over 2,500 miles to compete, and we did.
We finished our road trip at 2-2 and improved our conference record
to 3-5. It was a great experience, but whether it was because we
missed rice or we missed the ocean, we were all anxious to get back
to life on O‘ahu.