Nyhof (on right) with friends..
After all the hard work we did as a team through preseason, I have to admit that finally playing a real match was such an amazing feeling! There were times in preseason when we struggled to get through a practice but this weekend I think we definitely saw the beginnings of a great team. Our first tournament was at the University of Georgia, which is only about 45 minutes away from my hometown of Alpharetta. After the 6-hour drive to Georgia, we stopped in at Coach Erin’s house and her parents and my parents made the entire team dinner. The food was great but I think the highlight of the visit was seeing embarrassing baby pictures of Erin, which her mom was more than happy to show us!!
The following afternoon, after an early morning practice and a delicious pre-game dinner at Applebee’s, we arrived at the Ramsey Student Center for our first match against Morehead State. Being from Georgia, I had been to UGA’s volleyball arena many times to watch their matches and go to camps, but it’s not the same feeling as walking into the gym knowing you’re going to play your first college match. I guess the best way I can describe the way I felt before we stepped out of the locker room after warm-ups is that it was like I was about to jump out of a plane to go skydiving; knowing that I had trained but still hoping for the best!
When the first whistle blew to beckon the serve my heart jumped to my throat, but after a couple of points the butterflies landed and instinct began to take over. College volleyball wasn’t so different to the volleyball I’d played in high school and club, it was just faster and more exciting, and definitely more of a challenge! Probably the greatest thing about playing for Coastal is the way you always feel like you have a supportive team around you. When you score a point, the whole team celebrates with you. When you make a mistake, you have five friends on the floor and five on the bench to help pick you up.
The following night we played the University of Georgia, which I think was definitely a learning experience for everyone. The gym was bursting with excitement and the fans and band were so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think! With all my friends and family cheering us on from the stands, it felt like the stakes were higher than usual. Soon the match was underway and the CCU team from earlier that day and the day before hadn’t shown up—we were a better, smarter team. One of the things coach told us in the locker room after a match is that the goal of preseason is to focus on our team, not the teams we face on the other side of the net. If we get better as a team every point, game and match that we play, our preseason is a success. I think it’s safe to say that we grew as a team over those three days at the UGA tournament, and frankly, I can’t wait to see what we’ll accomplish in our next tournament!