Tuesday, November 16, 2021

2021 WAC Tournament Travel Diary

 Follow along with the Ladyjacks as we travel, practice and compete at the 2021 WAC Volleyball Tournament in Las Cruces, NM.  This year is our first year in the WAC and our first appearance in the WAC Volleyball Tournament.  Keep us with us here in this space as the 'Jacks look to earn an automatic bid to the 2021 NCAA Volleyball Tournament!  Remember that all the SFA matches will be carried live here in this space on SFA VolleyBlog Radio! Just click the radio button right above the post at match time!

Most Recent Entries At The Top.  Scroll Down for Previous Days.

Sunday, November 21

2:45 PM CT  We have arrived back in Nacogdoches.  The first WAC Tournament trip for SFA Volleyball is in the books.  Everyone was very ready to be back home.  Is our season done?  Maybe.  We'll have to wait a week to see if the NIVC comes calling.  I've thought all along that we were on the bubble, but in.  However, we'll have to see how our 1-1 showing in the tournament affects things, if at all.  Sam Houston gets the automatic bid from our conference.  Whether there will be enough RPI spots to trickle down to us waits to be seen.  If we are done, 18-9 represents a good season.  Fairly and plainly spoken - probably not a GREAT season, but it had some strong moments.  If we are not done, then we have chance to add some wins to the slate in December.  Either way, I think this team is just a piece here and there and some growth away from another great season.  The standards are high here, winning 2/3 of your matches is a fine accomplishment, but I think we all feel like we fell just a little short of where we'd like the bar to be.  But again, there were some strong moments and big steps forward by a lot of our young players and great leadership from our veterans.  Let's enjoy Thanksgiving week.. there's lots to be thankful for!

10:56 AM CT  On the bus!  Plane down and luggage pick up was easy.  Everyone glad to see our bus with the SFA logo on it.  Loaded up and ready to head back to Nac.

6:39 AM MT  After a 5:00 AM hotel depart we’ve made it through security at El Paso Airport and are gathering at the gate.  The crew that loves their Starbucks has found one and is loading up on morning caffeine.  The van cranked and it’s been dropped off so that transportation debacle has been finally rid our hands. The beginning of the end of a long, but memorable trip is upon us.

Saturday, November 20

9:48 PM MT  After an incredible dinner at one of Las Cruces' highest rated Mexican restaurants (which has some seriously hot salsa), we made our way over to the Pan Am Center to watch the championship match.  Utah Valley made quick work of Grand Canyon in three sets.  Val Rosado made the All-Tournament team, so we were all glad to be there to see that and congratulate her.  After the match, we hopped back in the rental vans and cars and made our way over to a roadside custard place that had an old school 60's order-at-a-counter vibe.  Everyone got their favorite treat and now we've made it back to the hotel.  We are leaving at 5 AM MT for the airport in El Paso.  Hoping the van will start one last time.  If not, we'll jump it early in the AM and let it fly.  It was good to have a busy day after last night's loss.  I don't know about the rest of the crew, but I'm anxious to get back to my family.  We've had some ups and downs on this trip, but made a lot of memories and hopefully the memory of watching the team that beat us rush the floor knowing they are going to the NCAA's will drive us forward in 2022.  I remember 2018 and 2019 when that was us.  But none of the players save Ariana Pagan know that feeling... yet.  Something tells me that we'll be back in that position soon - hopefully, one year from now.  Off to bed.. gotta a VERY early start to flight and bus day home.

4:58 PM MT  Trip to White Sands was a hit!  Everyone loved it.  Drove an hour to White Sands National Park, but first stopped a gift shot just outside the park and got some sleds.  They are like plastic saucers and come with wax to make the bottom of the sled slide quickly along the white sand.  Then, we drove several miles into the park, found a parking spot and took the sleds to the dunes.  I wandered off a bit and found a steep hill and began to sled by myself.  The gals were - of course - much more adventurous - going down tandem, backward, face first, etc.  After a while I walked back over to the the group and told them about the steeper slope than they were sledding on.  Several of them followed me back and they had great fun doing all sorts of tricks and tandem slides.  It was a great trip and now we are all back at the hotel for a quick clean up before heading to dinner and ultimately over to the gym to watch the championship.  Oh, the van did fine.  The battery was able to charge on the hour drive and it started right up when time to leave.  We only have to get that crazy thing to the airport in the morning and then we're done with it.

11:50 Van has battery issue. Got it jumped. We bought jumper cables and we’re gonna try and milk it through the day and tomorrow until we can get it back to airport!  Here we go! Let it roll!  Still gonna try for White Sands

11:18  Team trying to get to White Sands for a day trip but our big rental van has been having problems starting and now AAA is at the hotel trying to remedy the problem. Club looking forward to hiking the dunes and sledding.   I want to find a rocket (inside joke)

Friday, November 19

11:33 PM MT After grabbing dinner and eating it at the hotel lobby and just a little bit of commiserating about the loss, everyone has made their way upstairs.  While investigation into costs of returning to Texas early were done, it just isn’t financially feasible. So, we’ll return on Sunday morning as originally planned.  Things are shaping up for a team short trip tomorrow afternoon.

8:36 PM MT  Things don't go our way in a quick three set loss to Utah Valley.  'Jacks are eliminated in the Semifinals in their first appearance in their inaugural appearance in the WAC Tournament.  Grand Canyon and Utah Valley will play in tomorrow's final.  SFA will await to see if they earn an invitation to the NIVC.  That will have to wait nine days until the NCAA Selection show concludes on Sunday, August 28.

5:28 PM MT Grand Canyon destroys Sam Houston in the first semifinal.  Now, to take care of our business and get our rematch with the Lopes.

4:49 PM MT  Lunch at Genghis Grill complete.  Very tasty.  The club has made its way back inside Pan Am Center to let lunch settle and watch a little of the Sam Houston/ Grand Canyon match.

2:52 PM MT Leaving the gym to head to lunch.  Then, right back to the Pan Am Center 

2:05 PM MT  On the floor at the Pan Am Center for pass & serve.  Club is loose and ready to roll.  Tons of positive energy building for tonight

12:48 PM MT  Team beginning to gather downstairs in order to go to the gym for pass and serve.  From there, lunch.

10:56 AM MT  Film session on Utah Valley done.  We don't leave the hotel for lunch until 1:00 PM, so everyone back in rooms, doing homework or getting in a power nap.  It's going to be a long evening and then preparation for the championship tomorrow, so everyone is using these next two hours for down time and relaxation.

8:15 AM MT  Stayed up late past midnight to prepare a bit for Utah Valley broadcast after a long day of watching four matches.  My roomie and early riser, Assistant Coach Evan Amstutz stayed up a little longer than normal but then crashed.  However, I have NO IDEA when he got up this morning to begin his day. The guy is a notorious EARLY riser and I have no doubt he is hours and hours into work as I am just getting started here at a little past 8:00.  Breakfast with the team is late today - 9:30.  Coaches meet at 8:30 and the gals are in evidently in rooms 'cause I don't see any of them in the lobby.  I'll head back up to prepare some more and then come back downstairs to eat in about an hour.  We don't play until 7:00 PM tonight, but we are going over to the gym in the afternoon for pass and serve. Film breakdown on Utah Valley during the mid-morning.

Thursday, November 18

11:23 PM MT  Well, I went dark there for a few hours, but only because the volleyball was SO good and I was in the gym ALL day!  As you know by know, SFA won a thrilling five set match against Chicago State that saw Ariana Pagan drop 8 aces and Val Rosado put up a season high 18 kills.  Then, in the night match - ANOTHER five-setter as Utah Valley gets by host New Mexico State.  The 'Jacks will face off with the Wolverines tomorrow night.  I'll try to provide more updates tomorrow than I did today, but WOW.. watching all the volleyball in the gym just took over!

3:06 PM MT  Grand Canyon holds on, but gets pushed by RGV, and wins 3-1.  The 'Lopes and Bearkats will meet tomorrow and one of those clubs will have a spot in the final.  It's go time for the 'Jacks!  I'm gonna switch sides and set up the radio!

2:47 PM MT  Our club has made their way into the Pan Am Center and is catching the end of this RGV / Grand Canyon match.  After a blow out second set that made it look like Grand Canyon might run away with the match, UTRGV has fought back to take the third set and has the lead mid-way through set 4 at 14-11.  Are we headed to five?  I thought RGV was buried.. but credit the Vaqueros for making this a good match!

1:22 PM MT  There are reports that the team went to Cracker Barrel for lunch and Assistant Coach Evan Amstutz left only one peg in the "remove-a-tee' game at the table.  This was previously thought to be impossible.  He has sent be visual evidence and at this point I'll have to take his word for it, unless I learn that the evidence was faked. :)  

11:36 AM MT Sam defeats ACU 3-0 in a match where neither team was really in sync.  Great match by Catherine Krieger for Sam Houston, though.  On a day where Lewis/Chausse were off-and-on, Krieger really was the glue on offense.  Also, Sam completely controlled the service game.  ACU didn't serve tough in my opinion.  Sam got eight aces and ACU not a single one.  Sam Houston advances to take on winner of RGV/GCU next at 1:00 PM.

9:15 AM MT At the gym and getting ready to watch ACU take on Sam Houston in the #8/#1 battle.  Can the Wildcats do it again?

8:24 AM MT  Folks starting to stir and everyone glad match day has finally arrived.  Team beginning to gather for breakfast and then a team activity is planned.  Senior Women’s Administrator Loree McCary got in last night and in her search for quality Las Cruces coffee she’s going to swing me by the Pan Am Center so that I can catch the early matches of the day. The club plans to be there a little before 2:00.

Wednesday, November 17

9:58 PM MT Everyone has been settled in the hotel for hours.  Good call to get an early dinner as its allowed everyone to get to their rooms early and rest.  We'll be ready to go tomorrow.  I've arranged for transportation early in the morning so that I can see all of the matches.  So, diary updates in the morning will be from the Pan Am Center rather than with the team.  The team has breakfast scheduled at 8:30 AM, a team activity at the hotel in the morning, then study time before lunch at Noon and they are going to arrive at the Pan Am Center at 2:00 PM.  I will get to the gym at 9:15 AM and watch ACU/Sam Houston at 10:00 and UTRGV/Grand Canyon at 1:00 before they arrive.  Then. we'll be on the air at 4:00 here with the radio.. that's 5:00 Central Time.

6:18 PM MT Early dinner done and already back at hotel.  Everyone seemed fine with getting back to base earlier tonight since last night was such a weird and late evening getting into town.  Everyone will just kick back at the hotel and then go to battle tomorrow 

4:17 PM MT Headed to an early dinner at Texas Roadhouse 

3:52 PM MT Practice done. Got 75 minutes on the floor.  I got in a good chat with Adam Young, who will handle the play by play on ESPN+ tomorrow.  He’s very prepared and a real pro.   It was great to pick his brain about a few broadcasting tidbits and talk about our club with him.

2:26 PM MT We’ve taken the floor at the Pan Am Center for practice 

1:54 PM MT Arrived at the Pan Am Center.  Gals getting ready to take the floor for practice at 2:30

1:13 PM MT  Brief shopping trip to Target before heading to the gym.  Lunch at Corner Bakery was delicious!  Had a chicken pasta dish that was amazing.  I think everyone is ready to hit the court and roll the ball out there and play!  Large van / SUV / extra rental car is working fine to get us around town

11:44 AM MT Arrived at Corner Bakery for lunch 

11:02 AM MT Film sessions done.  Going to eat lunch at 11:30.  All Conference teams announced at the conference website with Taya, Leah and Val being honored.

9:26 AM MT  Most players and coaches have made their way through the breakfast nook here at the hotel. Rumor is another rental vehicle has been found in town and so transportation issues should be resolved. Some players and coaches reviewing film on laptops in advance of a team meeting at some point this morning.

8:14 AM MT  Breakfast scheduled for 8:30 originally but Coach Debbie asked when they stopped serving last night before we went up to rooms   They said 10:00.  So, we may linger a bit given the long night of having to remedy our lost van reservation.

Tuesday, November 16

11:49 MT  To bed. The journey to which began over 11 hours ago.  What will tomorrow bring?

11:20 MT  All arrive at the hotel. Made it!

10:25 MT Team and coaches in a pair of vehicles.  Jada, Jenna, Alex, Julia and myself in an UberXL to Las Cruces.  Should all be to hotel in about an hour. Wow. I wrote earlier that the bus ride over was adventure-less.  Well, we’ve made up for it!

10:11 MT  So we only have one van. Plan now is for some is us to Uber to Las Cruces and then the rest cram in the one van. Likelihood of success? Stay tuned!

10:03 MT  Guest entry Hailey Hunt: Hour 10. I’m hungry. Its cold. It smells kinda funny. I have no clue where we are. If I don’t make it, tell my family I love them.

10:01 MT  Current Status: Stuck in Airport

9:37 MT  All bags safely made it to El Paso.  Now to figure out a few details of our ground transportation to Las Cruces since we are late.  

9:15 MT  On the ground in El Paso

8:27  We’ve boarded our flight after what looks like will be about a full hour delay!  Wheels up!

8:00 PM  Still sitting in airport.  Not boarding yet.  Plane is here, though!  Gonna be a long evening!

7:12 PM  After an adventure-less bus trip to Love Field, the flight to El Paso is delayed by 35 minutes and we are now hoping to board and get in the air just after 8:00 Central Time.  Still gotta bus up to Las Cruces after we make our way to El Paso here in a bit!