Our toughest schedule so far
What a month it has been! We have had a roller-coaster ride from the Long Beach tournament to playing Florida this past week. In my past three seasons this has by far been the most difficult schedule we have played, finishing all of our nonconference tournaments 2-1.
This past weekend we headed to College Station, Texas, where we played Texas A&M, Siena and No. 7 Michigan. We started off our long weekend by flying to Texas on Wednesday, and with a long delay and switching planes, we finally made it to our hotel very late at night. Our first match on Thursday was against Siena, and we won 3-0. But there wasn't any time to relax and enjoy the win; we had a quick turnaround to play Texas A&M that night.
Unfortunately, we dropped three sets to the Aggies and lost 3-0. We had Friday to practice and prepare for the highest-ranked opponent we had played all season. At the time, Michigan was ranked No. 7 in the AVCA poll. As a team we sat down and agreed that we needed to play with a better attitude and play to win instead of playing not to lose.
Our goal was to remain positive throughout the match and not get down on ourselves. The first two sets were close (21-25, 23-25) with Michigan taking the W in both. There wasn't a full intermission for this match, so it was a quick turnaround for us to bounce back.
Looking around our huddle, everyone was excited and ready to make a huge comeback. With the Walch sisters putting down 44 kills combined, and with us having a combined 13 blocks as a team, we came back to win the match in five! This was the highest-ranked win in the history for our program based on the AVCA poll.
The comeback win made the long travel back to Tallahassee a little bit better. We had Sunday off and had only one practice on Monday to prepare for our rivalry match vs. No. 4 Florida.
Every year we switch off playing at home and away with the Gators. Last year won 3-0, breaking a 21-match losing streak to Florida, which was definitely one of the highlights of my career.
This year had a more disappointing ending. After losing sets two and three by two points each (24-26, 23-25), we dropped the match 0-3.
Losing is never fun. This week in practice we are working on the little things in crucial points in the game. You can't change the outcome of a match, but you can take it as a learning experience and use that to better yourself and your team. More frustrating than anything is knowing the match could have ended differently if just two plays or points went in your direction. Our loss to Florida was very similar to our other losses this season -- very close and by only a few points.
This weekend we head to Auburn to take on the Tigers, our last chance to get a good out-of-conference win before we head to Syracuse to open ACC play.
"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it." -- Michael Jordan