November 19, 2012

My Championship Experience - Volleyball Edition

My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships. 

IUPUI senior Kelsey Hoefer's championship experience at the 2012 Summit League Volleyball Championship:
This year’s Summit League volleyball tournament began at North Dakota State in Fargo, N.D., with teams from Fort Wayne, IUPUI, Oakland and Kansas City participating.  My experience started at 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon as my team started our journey to the league tournament.  On our bus ride to the Indianapolis Airport the team ate a quick meal from Einstein’s.  We checked our bags and hung out at the gate until it was time to board the flight.  We had a connecting flight through Chicago before we ended up in Fargo.  The coaches rented vans while the team collected our bags and then we all headed to check in to our hotel.  We arrived at the same time as Oakland.  Both teams helped each other figure out where our rooms were since the hotel was a maze.  We then had Pizza Hut delivered since it had been a few hours since we had last eaten.  We had quick team meeting then it was off to bed.

Thursday morning, we woke up around 9 a.m. and went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast.  After some French toast and omelets we headed to the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse to get in a few hours of practice.  All teams were able to get in two hours of practice to get used to the court, surroundings and atmosphere of the gymnasium.  After practice, our team grabbed lunch at Erbert & Gerbert’s Sandwich Shop for some sandwiches and the teams favorite chicken and dumpling soup.  We enjoyed reading the stories written on the walls about the characters and sandwich names.  We re-energized and headed back to the hotel for some down time and study table hours.  Coaches were able to reserve a banquet room for us to devote time to our homework and studies since traveling on the road and preparing for matches can sometimes be distracting or take away time to get schoolwork done.  We then headed up to hang out in our rooms and rest.  Soon after that the team started getting ready for The Summit League Volleyball banquet.  This was a time where athletes got to hang up the court shoes and sweats and trade them in for dressy attire and heels.  It was really nice to see everyone get dressed up.  Pasta, chicken and salad was provided for dinner.  After the meal, we got to listen to Summit League Senior Associate Commissioner, Myndee Kay Larsen and her introduction to each team participating in the tournament.  Then they handed out individual and team awards.  It was great to see the individuals and teams awarded for all of their hard work and dedication put in to their programs and the sport.  I would like to congratulate everyone that received an award, they are very well-deserved honors.

Finally, Friday had come.  I woke up thinking ‘game day, the day I had been waiting for’.  Sure the trip had been entertaining so far but I was ready to compete.  The semifinal matchups for this evening were Fort Wayne and Oakland at 5 p.m. and IUPUI and Kansas City at 7:30 p.m.  We headed to Perkins for breakfast and then to the fieldhouse for an hour of serve-and-pass.  We then headed back to the hotel for a little down time.  The team had decided on Chili’s for pregame meal.  Shortly after we walked in, Kansas City had arrived too.  Film in a hotel banquet room followed after our meal to prepare for our match that night.  We watched for about 45 minutes before we headed to watch the first semifinal match.  The Mastodons and Golden Grizzlies battled it out in a heart-felt five-set match.  The match definitely got everyone in the crowd ‘fired up’ and the second semifinalists eager to play.  Fort Wayne ended up coming out on top.  Our match against the Roo’s followed.  We beat the No. 4 seed in three sets.  When the match ended, my team grabbed subs from Jimmy Johns since it was late and then headed back to the hotel to unwind and head to bed.

Saturday morning I woke up very relaxed.  I had nothing on my mind but the match I was about to play later that night.  The team headed to Perkins for breakfast again before we came back to the hotel to relax.  Some of my teammates hung out and talked with family before we came together as a team for a short serve-and-pass session and our pregame meal.  Serve-and-pass went very well but you could tell that the team was anxious to play.  We headed back to Erbert and Gerbert’s for our meal but unfortunately, they were out of the chicken and dumpling soup which disappointed my team.  After pregame, we headed back to the hotel to watch film and scout out Fort Wayne.  Watching film against them was a bit familiar since we had played them a week ago for the regular-season league championship.  We discussed our game plan then headed back to Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse to prepare for our match against the Mastodons.  The team hung out in the locker room and listened to music to help pump us up as a team.  I felt pretty loose for the match.  The atmosphere of the families and fans for both teams provided for an energetic warm-up and before we knew it, game time was upon us.  Unfortunately, it was not in the cards for us to win on Saturday night.  We ended up losing to Fort Wayne in three sets.  It stung a bit how the team went out this season but we should not hang our heads.  I am a senior that was a part of the best season in IUPUI program history.

I would like to congratulate all of the teams of The Summit League on a great season.   Thank you to North Dakota State for hosting a great league tournament!  Good luck to all of the seniors that have put in so much hard work, dedication and effort into their school, program and the sport of volleyball!  Also, best of luck the Fort Wayne Mastodons in the NCAA tournament!  Represent The Summit League well!  We’ll be pullin’ for you ladies!!

-Kelsey Hoefer

Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows the Men’s and Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, Feb. 20-23 and throughout the 2012-13 season for coverage at each of The Summit League Championships.

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