December 02, 2013

My Championship Experience – 2013 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 Kortni Wright writes about her experience at the 2013 Summit League Volleyball Championship:
My name is Kortni Wright and I am a fifth-year senior at IUPUI.  With this league tournament being my fourth in five season with the Jags, I had a feeling it was going to be the best.  Each year during preseason we set goals as a team, and winning a league title and making it to the NCAA Tournament have made the list almost every year I have been here.  Going into the weekend, we had already accomplished one of those goals in winning the regular season title, and I know I was hungrier than ever to achieve that second goal of winning the tournament as well.

Thursday, November 21:
The weekend started today with teams practicing and preparing for the upcoming matches and ended with The Summit League Tournament Banquet hosted by my school, IUPUI.  I personally want to thank everyone involved in planning and executing the banquet and tournament.  I know how much hard work and effort went into each event during the weekend, and it was greatly appreciated by all of us student-athletes and coaches.  I also want to congratulate all of the award winners.  You all have accomplished something great not only for yourself, but for you team and for this league!

Friday, November 22:
For four of the teams today was game day!  All of the teams started the day with their practice times for one last preparation or run through of the game plan.  We had practice at 9:35 a.m. followed by a lot of waiting.  I went back home, did some homework and then headed back to the gym for the first match- South Dakota vs. Western Illinois at 4:30 p.m.  After that match was over, we watched Fort Wayne vs. North Dakota State at 7 p.m.  This was particularly exciting because we were finally going to be able to mentally prepare for who we were going to play the following night!  During both of these matches, we all scouted each team, tracking serve-receive patterns and filling out hitting charts.  We wanted to be as prepared as possible for any team we may end up playing over weekend.  USD won the first match and IPFW the second, meaning the teams going on to participate the next night in the semi-finals would be Denver vs. South Dakota and IUPUI vs. Fort Wayne.

Saturday, November 23:
FINALLY IT IS GAME DAY! It seems like we have been waiting forever to play, especially after having to go a whole day with doing nothing but a short practice and watching two matches.  Today we started off with a serve and pass session at 2:15 p.m.  This gave me time to wake up in my own bed, drink my coffee, eat breakfast and kind of reflect on the season, myself, and what tonight could mean.  For me, it was kind of emotional as this could potentially be the last day of volleyball I would ever play on a collegiate team and could be the end of my volleyball career that has been a part of me for almost 10 years.  I was definitely not ready for tonight to be the end of it, and that was the mentality I was going into the match with.  And, if we did happen to get beat, I was not going to let it come easily and I was not going to let it end on a bad note with my performance and efforts. 

2:15 p.m. came and we warmed up, served some balls, went through hitting lines, and walked through the tendencies of IPFW.  After serve and pass was over, we went over to The Tower where we have pregame meals before every league match at 3 p.m.  Then, we headed back over the gym to watch film on IPFW and scout the Denver vs. South Dakota match.  What an exciting match that turned out to be with Denver being down two sets to zero going into the third, and end up winning the next three sets, advancing them to the championship the next day.  After that, we had 45 minutes to warm up for our match.  I remember myself and the rest of my teammates being so calm but so excited and determined to win.  We knew IPFW was a strong team and they were not going to give us anything, so starting the match we talked about that in the huddle and emphasized communication, insane defense, and controlling our side of the court.  We knew each of those things would allow us to beat the other team.  Sure enough, IPFW came out strong and were just as determined to win as we were.  We stuck to our game plan and all stayed on the same page throughout the whole match and fought hard to win.  We were going to the CHAMPIONSHIP!!

After the match was over I was so proud, happy, excited, and grateful that I had another day to play with my team.  I was also so exhausted from going five hard sets with IPFW that I went straight home, ate supper, and went to bed.

Sunday, November 24:
Today was the big day; the day my teammates and I would be competing for a bid to the NCAA Tournament!  It was a really quick turnaround from playing last night to having to be at the gym by 10 a.m. for serve and pass.  Even with this, I was not tired, but ready to play.  After serve and pass, we ate, hung out in the locker room, watched film, hung out in the locker room some more, then 45 minutes before game time, we took the court to warm up.  Our fans did an amazing job all weekend providing us with a fun and energetic atmosphere to warm up and play in and it was no different today.  They were cheering us on the entire time.  The energy level on the team was high as well which was a good sign for us! We all seemed calm and focused; knowing that we could potentially make school history.  I think this was in the back of all of our minds the entire match along with our game plan from the night before- stay focused, communicate, play good defense, and control our side of the court.  We again did these things and point-by-point, took control of each set and won! 

To be a part of such an influential team for our school is an awesome feeling.  From being the first volleyball team to win a league title last year to winning it again this year along with being the first team ever to get a bid to the NCAA, it is just such an honor and great experience to be part of something like that.  I am really looking forward for our upcoming preparations for the NCAA Tournament and going in with the mindset that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  This team can clearly do great things, and I cannot wait to compete again!

I would like to congratulate all of the teams in The Summit League for a great season and especially the ones who made the tournament.  We have all pushed each other to become better players and to make this league better as well.  Good luck to all of the seniors from each team and like me, I am sure you all will never forget your time and dedication to your school’s program.  Thank you again to IUPUI for hosting the tournament and for everyone’s hard work throughout.  My team and I hope to represent The Summit League in the NCAA Tournament as best we can! Go Jags!

Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows the Swimming & Diving Championships, Feb. 19-22 and throughout the 2013-14 season for coverage at each of The Summit League Championships.

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