The tournament in Nebraska was a great learning experience for us and a definite benefit to our preseason. We learned a lot about ourselves and our teammates and about how good we really can be. In the Ameritas Tournament, we played some tough teams, No. 8 UCLA, No. 5 Nebraska and Virginia.
Against UCLA, we played well against a very good team, but not as well as we would have liked. In losing to the Bruins, we learned from that match that we had more to give than we had the night before and that we could play at a higher level.
The next evening we played Nebraska. Playing Nebraska in their stadium was an awesome experience. We are talking about 3,000+ people, 98-percent season ticket holders. They were the nicest, most courteous large crowd that I have ever played in front of and it was such a fun atmosphere to be in. Yes, they wanted Nebraska to win, but they also just wanted to see good volleyball. These fans would cheer for any great play made whether it was by the Huskers or us. There was no heckling or demeaning comments, but rather just a whole lot of people who enjoy watching this beautiful sport.
That night we came out with all we had, playing confident, collected and tough. We ended up taking the first set from Nebraska, something that no team has done on their home court since 2005. Although the next three games didn't end in our favor, we learned that we can play at a top level. I think in that match – the first game especially – we saw what we had in ourselves and what our teammates had in them. We played better than I think we knew we could and that taught us a lot about ourselves. I think that it showed us that we really are a good team and need to have confidence in our coaches, in our systems, in our teammates and in ourselves.
The next evening we played Virginia. Although Virginia is not ranked near as high as Nebraska or UCLA, we lost the match to them in four sets. I think that this match, although heartbreaking, was very good for us. It taught us that we need to bring our A game every time that we step on the floor. It taught us that we need to show every team the respect whether they are ranked in the top five or the bottom five. Good teams deserve to play against us at our best, to have good competition and maybe be humbled when we beat them. :) Not so good teams deserve our best as well, to teach them that they have some work to do, because when you play the Cougars you better expect the best.
Bring it on MWC, because you better believe that we will! WE'RE IN IT TO WIN IT!