Going For Gold: The Bronze Edition
The ladies of UC Slam Diego flew into Denver hot and dangerous, ready to take the 2018-2019 Collegiate Nationals Tournament by storm. However, they were ranked a whopping 40th out of 48 upon entering the tournament. Apparently taking second in the Southern California League means nothing these days and it is much better for nationals seeding if you take third, fourth, or fifth. This low seed did not break the Triton spirit. In fact, it #FiredThemUp and they were prepared to #Shockem all weekend long.
On the first day of play things took quite an unfortunate turn and the Lady Tritons devastatingly lost all three of their matches in pool play. Their first match against Colorado State was a doozy. They won the first game in a solid 25-22, lost the second 20-25, and while having a lead at 12-11 in the third, they lost 15-13. The UC Slam-Diegans did not let this get them down. They knew they had a long day of volleyball ahead of them. Their next match was against Ohio State who came out firing. Any confidence the Tritons had left quickly vanished as Ohio State was putting away ball after ball. The future for UCSD was looking dull, but then, thank the lucky stars the University of North Carolina pulled out a win against Colorado State, which meant the Tritons still had a shot to take second in their pool and stay in contention for the Gold Bracket. UCSD got down early against North Carolina, but fought back hard, and clenched game point first. They couldn’t hold on though and North Carolina snuck in for a 24-26 win against the Slam-Diegans. This made the Tritons angry! Hungry to make a statement they came back to win the second set 25-16. They continued this momentum into the third set. They had a lead as the game getting down to the end, but again weren’t able to close and lost to the Rameses 16-18. The overwhelming sensation of defeat filled the Tritons for about 30 minutes before they bounced back and ordered the largest, most majestic pizzas known to woman, while playing games in the hotel lobby.
The second day, the Slam-Diegans were in a three team pool and needed to take first to stay in contention for Silver. Their first match against the University of Central Florida was intense, especially considering the celebrity appearances of alums Alicia (Bouncetown) Chen, Amanda (Hype) Dierterle, Meagan (Dopest Woman Alive) Cochran, Jeff (The Enigma) Meng, and Chris (Sass Apprentice) Chriebenow. This motley crew brought hype and energy to a whole new level in support of their favorite team. The Slam-Diegans were honored and humbled to have such an audience, so naturally, they choked away the match with scores of 22-25, 25-20, and 13-15. Although, a bitter loss, there was highlight play in which Val (I broke a nail) Jimenez hit a ball straight into the block, taking that deflection directly to the face, and by doing so sending it back over for a kill. The next game was against Michigan State who appeared to be significantly better than Florida. The Tritons came out firing and while the Sparties fought valiantly their efforts were futile. This being their first win of the tournament, UCSD was ecstatic! Since they were finished playing for the day, they carried their energy over to support the handsome gentlemen of the Male Edition, UC Slam Diego - B Team. The lovely Lady Tritons must have brought good luck because the guys pulled off two wins putting them into the Silver Bracket. After this, the gals went out to dinner with the parents in attendance to celebrate their one and four record.
The final and most anticipated day of the event arrived. The Lady Tritons were unbelievably excited, and in no way salty, that they had the opportunity to win the Bronze Division. Their first match was against USC, the lucky third place finisher in the Southern California League that somehow snagged the 18th seed in the tournament. Having played each other many times in the season, UCSD had a one and two record against the mighty Trojans and were ready to tie up the score/get the final word (mostly get the final word). The Trojans came in looking like they expected to pummel the Tritons, but that all changed when Karissa (Attitude Heavy) Jacobsen bounced a K on the six ft line. Their blockers and their defense didn’t know what hit them. After a hard fought, three set match, the Slam-Diegans held the W over the Trojans in their hands, and were one step closer to their lifetime goal of becoming the Bronze Champions. The Tritons easily took the next game against Northeastern University with stellar setting and sneaky dumps from Rachael (Filthmeister) Robinson. The last and final match was against Colorado Boulder who had defeated UCSD earlier in the season. It also happened to be the previous University of the Slam-Diegan’s very own senior Neeka (Is a Mess) Barooni. This match was more than just a plaque, it was about the team’s redemption and Neeka’s victory against her old team in her last ever club volleyball match. UCSD snatched the win in the first set with a tight score of 26-24. The second set was a blow out because the Tritons were not messing around #SKOOOOTritons. Neeka hit a ball so hard that it landed two courts over, with no one remotely close to touching it. Additionally, our favorite gentlemen of the Slam B Team came out to support us in our final victory, with wild cheering, so good they almost got the ref to give the Ladies a yellow card (although he did like their energy).
While the weekend didn’t go quite as the Lady Tritons had planned, it was still incredibly fun. So fun, the whole team is currently experiencing post nationals withdrawals. A special shout out goes to the two most wonderful coaches in the world Phil and Taylor Brault who attended the tournament with their beautiful three week old daughter Kendall Ann. Even with lack of sleep and an occasionally fussy, yet adorable, baby they still managed to be the most knowledgeable, most supportive, and most fun coaches there. The Slam Diegans definitely enjoyed a wonderful weekend together that they will not forget. Who could forget the time they took 33rd at a National Championship?