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by Leslie Schipper, student writer

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 out.

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.


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