Monday, October 10, 2022

2022 WAC West Coast Travel Diary

This week SFA Volleyball travels to Seattle and Salt Lake City for its first ever true WAC road matches against Seattle University & Utah Valley University.  From the plane to the bus to the hotel to the court, you can read about all of our travels and adventures in this space below.  Be sure and also check out the SFA Athletics (@SFA_Athletics), SFA Volleyball (@SFA_Volleyball) and SFA VolleyBlog (@SFAVolleyBlog) twitter sites.  If for some reason you are not following all three, then go remedy that right now!

Most recent entries at the top.  Scroll down for older updates.

Saturday, October 15

12:22 AM CT (Sun., 10/16).  The bus pulls into the commuter lot and the first WAC volleyball West Coast trip comes to an end.  One up. One down.  Now it’s time for rest and then at the beginning of the work week we’ll begin to look forward to another key match and a chance at redemption at home against Sam Houston.

10:07 PM  CT  A stop at Bucees for snacks.  Brisket sandwich, drink, chocolate pie in a cup.  Don’t ague with me.  I know I’m right.

8:43 PM CT  On the bus and headed out of the airport!

8:22 PM CT  Waiting at baggage claim.  We wound up having to check 20 or so bags  Why some of us that boarded a little sooner were let through is a mystery to us.

7:51 PM CT  On the ground at  DFW airport

7:44 PM CT  City lights below as we are coming in for our landing at DFW

7:14 PM CT  Beginning our initial descent into DFW airport.  We’ll have to make our way to baggage claim to pick up all the bags that we were forced to check in Salt Lake.  All of our flights have been on time though and so that’s a huge positive.   After picking up bags, we’ll find our bus for the evening ride back home to Nacogdoches.

4:27 PM MT  All on.  Nuts.  About to pull away from gate.

4:23 PM MT  Almost all on.  Crazy stuff.  It’s just our last couple that they are making check bags at the last minute before the plane can pull away.

4:18 PM MT Some of the gals starting trickle on.  The plane is waiting for our party to resolve the luggage issue

4:08 PM MT Some of us got on plane, but some of the team was held back by security at the point of boarding and told our duffel bags were too large.  A handful of us are on with our large bags, but some are not and the bags are being checked.  Wow, American Airlines, seriously?  We were all the way at the gate!

3:17 PM MT  Everyone made it to the gate with about a half hour to spare before boarding.  Security line was long but they moved us through fast.  Not quite the same walk this time as when we arrived.  Boarding 3:45 PM MT.

1:51 PM MT  Headed back to Salt Lake City by bus. We’ve got a tight schedule so food was delivered to the bus right before we pulled out of Orem.  Everyone will eat on the bus  and then once we are at the airport we are hoping for a faster security check than when we left Seattle.

1:22 PM MT  Not the final outcome we wanted as the first set that we couldn’t finish proves to be huge factor in the match.  Utah Valley wins 3-1.  Everyone moving quickly as we have a tight schedule for lunch and getting back to the Salt Lake City Airport 

8:47 AM MT  Arrived at the gym. Utah Valley has pass and serve at 9:00 and we are on at 9:30 before general warmups at 10:00. Match at 11:00 local time (Noon CT)

8:33 AM MT  On the bus for the short ride to the gym.  Very ready to get the Volleyball portion of this day started.  Great match coming up today. Time to AxeEm!!

7:51 AM PT  Breakfast in the hotel lobby before getting the days’ schedule started.  We are not coming back to the hotel so a big pile of bags is stacking up in the breakfast room!

6:37 AM PT  Time for rise and shine because it’s match day!  Evan and I are up and moving ready to go to work.  I can only assume the rest of the travel party is doing the same.  We all meet downstairs in an hour to formally get this day started!

Friday, October 14

7:08 PM MT  We all ate dinner in the hotel lobby and SFA Soccer has arrived and is in the hotel with us.   Most everyone making their way up to their rooms despite it being fairly early.  We’ve got a long day in front of us and getting the win in Utah is the focal part of it.   We all meet up again at 7:30 AM for pregame meal.

6:24 PM MT We’ve picked up our food and headed back to the hotel for the night.

6:02 PM MT  Two hour practice in the books at the gym.   Great energy and everyone has earned dinner which is where we are headed next

3:52 PM MT  Players walking out on to the floor to begin stretching for practice.

3:33 PM MT  Headed to Lockhart Arena for practice after having a film session on UVU.   I think this is gonna be a great match tomorrow!

1:47 PM MT  That was quick!  All are checked in the hotel which is essentially on campus.   We’ve got an hour of down time until we gather in the meeting room for team discussion and scouting before heading over to the gym for practice.   Unlike at Seattle U, we’ll get a practice in on the match floor the day prior to playing.  No auxiliary gym this time.

1:30 PM MT After an extended lunch, the gals walked over to a nearby Target for some brief shopping.   The meal plus outing has everyone with their legs under them now as we get closer to afternoon practice.  Right now, we’ll attempt to check into the hotel early.  Back on the bus.

12:00 Noon PT  At the Corner Bakery Cafe in Orem, UT for lunch.  Absolutely beautiful scenery as Orem is right at the base of a large mountain here in the valley of Utah.

11:08 PM PT  After getting the few checked bags from baggage claim, we make our way to yet another bus.  Headed to get some food   Saw UT-Arlington volleyball about to fly out to Seattle.  Also saw the USC Band and several other sports teams. 

11:01 PM MT  Another very very long walk to baggage claim!  Wow!

10:29 PM MT  On the ground in Salt Lake City. Taxing to gate.

7:34 AM PT  Pulling away from the gate and on the way to Salt Lake.

7:14 AM PT Boarding a very full flight!

6:35 AM PT  After a long security check line and a subway style train tram ride over to the gate, players and staff are starting to arrive at our departure point. Always leave for the airport early, people!  We’ve got about a half hour until boarding to sit and grab a bite to eat 

5:28 AM PT Everyone on the bus and headed to the airport for Flight #2 of 3 on this trip 

5:11 AM PT  Gals making their way to the bus as we are scheduled for an early flight out of Seattle.  The hotel provided a grab and go breakfast for them so each player is making their way down from their rooms and grabbing a sack before loading things on the bus.

Thursday, October 13

9:57 PM PT  Postmatch interviews with Payton Cerny who hit .545 and Jayden Flynn who racked up her 7th double-double are posted to the SoundCloud site. Links are in the right hand column.

9:08 PM PT  Everyone back, finishing dinner and heading up to their rooms to back and move towards bed.  We bus to the airport at 5:15 AM, so an early morning commute awaits us.  The match tonight was strange.  You could see the team get into its normal gears about half way through, but still, there were some parts of the match that weren't overly crisp.  We did enough good things to win, but I think the overall level of play will need to get back to what we saw last week against Grand Canyon, and especially, California Baptist if we are to have sustained success Saturday at Utah Valley.  For now, we pocket the win happily and chalk up our first WAC visit to Seattle as a success.

8:11 PM PT   Stopped at Panwa Thai for pickup order for dinner before heading back to the hotel

7:45 PM PT  SFA completes the sweep as the 'Jacks right-side attack is too much for Seattle's block.  'Jacks now 18-2 and 6-1 in WAC play.  We'll head to pick up dinner in a bit and back to the hotel.  Everyone needs to be early to bed tonight as we have a very early flight into Salt Lake City in the morning.

3:39 PM PT  We have arrived at the gym and go on for pass and serve at 4:30 local time.   Make sure and hit the radio button in the banner above at game time (8 CT, 6 local time) for live streamed audio of all the action from Seattle.  

2:54 PM PT  Finishing up lunch at EverGreen where everyone got a large salad or rice based bowl. Very filling.  Geared up for the gym now.   

2:06 PM PT  Evan took us through video scouting after the gals got a few hours to do schoolwork and rest.  Now, we are headed to our pregame meal.  All involved are ready to get to the gym after having had a travel day followed by a practice day.

11:35 AM PT Slightly more serious - over the last few years I've been doing a lot more audio interviews after matches and especially when we travel.  I began doing audio interviews sparingly in 2012 and 2013 and have continued to add them to the mix of my coverage of SFA Volleyball each year.  The crazy chat with Jenna & Day was Interview #300 all of which are archived at the archive link above in the black banner.  It's a joy to have had that many volleyball conversations - most of which have been serious, but of course, some of which, have not been.

11:29 AM PT  The next installment of "Not So Serious" interviews features our managers Day Meadows and Jenna Robichaux.  At the beginning of the chat, Associate Head Coach Evan Amstutz jumped out into the street beside the hotel to play traffic cop in an effort to help the bus back out of its spot and get us going to the gym.  Evan's antics had the bus rolling, especially Coach Humphreys.  Tweet with Evan as traffic cop here and audio interview with Day and Jenna at this link. From one minute to the next, you never know what is going to happen with this crew.  Tonight, we finally get to play volleyball and go for another "W" to add to our list in WAC play.

11:08 AM PT  SFA Volleyball staff well represented in the hotel gym as several of us made our way down to a treadmill, weight rack or stair-climber to work off last nights' pasta feast.  The gals, of course, are resting up and getting some homework done before we head out in a few hours for pre-game meal.

9:34 AM PT Pass, serve and walk throughs done.  Headed back to the hotel for down time and study hall.  The bus rides around town have proven to be interesting.  Just saw gas at $5.79.   Beautiful inner city apartments one block away from tent cities.   A true mix of city life.  Narrow city streets tough for busses and large vehicles to navigate.  Weather has been beautiful.  Not a single stereotypical overcast moment while we’ve been here.  Time to rest up and then take care of business on the court tonight.

7:32 AM PT  A quick breakfast and now bussing over to the main gym where we will play tonight for pass and serve.  On the bus we did another “Not So Serious” interview with our wonderful managers Jenna and Day.   They get a little retribution on the players they help every day.  That will get posted when we get back to the hotel in a bit.  We also got to see Evan play traffic cop helping the bus depart the hotel.

Wednesday, October 12

7:25 PM PT After an amazing dinner out, the ‘Jacks are in for the night back at the hotel.   Tomorrow we get to play volleyball.  Remember that the match is at 8 PM “Texas Time” and I hope you’ll listen in right here in this space for the live radio broadcast.

5:16 PM PT  Family style Italian eats at Buca di Beppo is a great call.  Everyone having fun finding people to share dishes and sides with

4:46 PM PT  We spent a little over an hour strolling the Public Market area by the waterfront.  Lots of shops and places to see fresh fish being sold and bought.  Multiple levels of shops to browse.  Weather has been great so it was a fantastic hour of walking and looking around.   Headed to an early dinner.

3:28 PM PT  After a few hours of study hall and rest - I had a half hour power nap in there - we are back on the bus and in tourist mode as we are headed to the open air Market by the water.

12:39 PM PT  Lunch at Verve Bowls.  Smoothie bowls where the idea is to choose a base with energy, fruit and some form of juice.   Then topped with granola, nuts and fresh fruit.   I feel so cultured.

12:16 PM PT  Back on the bus after practice 

11:32 AM PT  The practice gym is a tad warm.  Ugh.   Gals got just under a half hour left and then they’ll be rewarded with a cool treat at lunch.

10:19 AM PT  The club is the practice gym at Seattle U, an auxiliary facility similar to our HPE for practice.  After a bit of time here we’ll head over to Verve Bowls for a smoothie lunch before heading back to the hotel for rest and study

8:41 AM PT Finally got a chance to post the crazy "not so serious" interview with Leah and Camryn right before we got on the plane at DFW airport. I present them with "not so likely to happen" scenarios and they have to pick a teammate to fill in the place of someone else.  It's all part of the lighter side of the SFA Volleyball family.  Click here for the chat

7:30 AM PT  Practice day begins as everyone is beginning to stir around the hotel.   Breakfast at 9:00 and then we get our first look at the gym for practice shortly thereafter.

Tuesday, October 11

10:06 PM PT After checking into the hotel everyone got a chance to finish eating their late night meal.  Some of the gals went through a stretching routine and used foam rollers to work out the kinks of being on a plane for near four hours and walking and waiting around airports.  Now, just after midnight CT, the last of us have made it up to our rooms to get ready for bed.   It’s been a long day, but it was wise to travel today rather than tomorrow when we need to have a good practice and film session to finish preparations for Seattle U.  Breakfast scheduled for 9 AM PT.

8:29 PM PT We arrive at the Honey Hole sandwich shop to pick up dinner before going to the hotel   We are currently one mile South of the area that was known as CHAZ, the self-governing zone that was established in police protest here a couple of years ago.

8:05 PM PT  Wow.  After another long walk through terminals we arrive at the bus to take us to dinner.  The bus is, uhhhh…”basic”.   But hey… we’re here and we are well…hungry  

7:43 PM PT  Waiting on a few bags that had to be checked at baggage claim   Most everything was carried on.  My duffel bag is filled to the top and I’m already wishing I’d packed lighter lugging all this stuff around today.  Headed to sandwich shop after we get bags.  Sooooo hungry!

7:03 PM PT  On the ground in Seattle!!!

5:23 PM MT (In the air)  oh my gosh, Yordan Alvarez just hit a walk off home run to send the Astros to victory in Game 1 of the ALDS

4:56 PM CT  The team is all ON the plane!

4:33 PM CT  Plane beginning to board.  Did another NOT SO SERIOUS interview with Leah and Cam and it’s fantastic.  Will post when we get off the plane.   About to settle in for the long flight to Seattle.   Everyone in good spirits while we wait.

3:15 PM CT  Through security and at the gate.  We had a LOOOONG walk from the security checkpoint to our actual gate   Everyone catching their breath and looking for a place to get refreshments.  Wow.

2:41 PM CT   Rolling up the gate in the bus at DFW Airport 

12:44 PM CT  In the first "Not So Serious" chat of the trip, Hailey Hunt and Kelsey Harrington battle to see who knows more about our destination states of Washington and Utah.  Along the way, we learn that the Washington Commanders pro football team is NOT in the state of Washington.  The lighter side of SFA Volleyball is already in full form.  Listen to this ridiculous interview with Kelsey & Hailey.

11:34 PM CT  We’re outta here!  Bus loaded and headed to DFW airport.  Everyone was instructed to bring lunch for the ride and assistant coach Madi Wilkerson already had all of our boarding passes printed out.   Now to find who got 31C so I can negotiate a trade for the aisle in place of my window seat assignment!

Monday, October 10

10:05 PM CT:  I've posted the audio interviews with Bella and Ari from last Saturday's win against CBU and I'm all packed up.  This will be my third time to visit each of Seattle and Salt Lake City, but first time in over 15 years and first trip with SFA Volleyball.  The 'Jacks will get in a practice tomorrow morning in Shelton Gym at 7:15 AM CT and then we roll out of town on the bus at 11:30 AM CT.  Before all this gets started, it's worth mentioning how blessed I am to cover this team and have an opportunity to travel like this.  I am not guaranteed each season that I'll get to travel on the plane trips, so my gratitude level is high on the eve of flying out for what we all hope will be a fun and successful trip - with two W's - out West.