VOLLEYBALL BLOG: Taylor Nyquist edition (9/30)
The Dolphins traveled down to Fort Myers this weekend to face the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles then sped back up to Deland to battle against the Stetson Hatters.

It was a long weekend for the ‘Phins but we ended up finishing 1-1. A six-hour bus ride was not something to look forward to when we were departing from Jacksonville but a few hilarious movies, a relaxing nap and a crazy game of catchphrase kept us occupied the whole way down. We started off the drive with a few rules that were set for the team, which will teach us discipline, and to work together to become a stronger unit.

We arrived in Fort Myers around 8pm and grabbed a quick bite to eat at Crispers then settled in for the night, aware of the focus and much rest that was needed in order to perform at optimal level.

After a relaxing hotel breakfast meal, we watched film to learn the tendencies of our opponent that we were facing later that night. We departed the hotel around 11am for a team practice then ate lunch in the local town center nearby at a restaurant called Fresh Planet that consisted of delicious pita wraps and refreshing beverages. After returning to the hotel, we had a quick study hall session to get some mandatory homework done then departed for the Eagles’ home court. We all knew what was necessary for us to come out with a “W” and we were excited to play in our first conference match of the season. As FGCU’s stands filled up with loud, boisterous fans, we began to get pumped up for a great match and we battled during the first set point by point fighting for our 25-23 victory.

During the second set we started to feel the pressure and made too many unforced errors to cause a 25-23 loss and a much needed moment of refocus. After a quick half time and a few inspirational speeches from out coaches, we were ready for another battle. Each rally was fought with every ounce of energy as we fought back and forth, and in the third set we demolished FGCU with a score of 25-20 with many consecutive kills to quickly hush the gym.

We fought through the home court fans and contained focus throughout the whole match. In the fourth set, we seemed to give them too many points and lost 25-21 to set up a fifth set.

The last set was a competitive game with the great volleyball being played on each side of the net. After many long rallies, the Dolphins fell in a close match. 15-12. Our first A-Sun lost was hard to cope with but it gave us the sense of urgency and understanding of the importance of each win that was necessary to earn our goal of winning a conference championship.

After a late night bite to eat at a delicious Italian restaurant, we were back on the road again on our way to Deland. We stopped about halfway and spent the night in Tampa in order to be well rested for the next days match. We all were pretty exhausted from the mental and physical hardships that our earlier game brought us but after we slept it off we were focused the next morning to take down Stetson.

We traveled the rest of the way stopping along the way at Firehouse Subs for a quick lunch and a chance to use the mind-blowing Coca-Cola drink machine. We all love to use the machine because it has so many drink choices. We had a quick practice when we arrived and once again focused for another long game that was ahead of us.

In the first set we fell to the Hatters, 25-23. It seemed we were a little unfocused and unaware of how hard we would have to work for a win. But that didn’t cause us to get down on ourselves when we came back and won the second set, 25-16. We finally felt the potential we had to be a top conference team again and beat the Hatters in the third set with a score of 25-16. With few unforced errors made in those two sets, we knew what was necessary for us to finish out the rest of the match with our first conference win on the season. Unfortunately in the fourth set, we began to play passively and let the Hatters come back to beat us -25-18.

The fifth set was another high energy playing game that rallied back and forth for many points. Trailing 8-4, we found the strength to tie it up at 10-10. The next few points were crucial and were definitely a nail biter.

We were up 14-13 and only needed one point to finish off Stetson when the opposing teams coach called a time out and caused us all more anxiety period. We all listened to our coaches’ say what was needed for one more point and prayed for a big front row block. When the whistle was blown we could all feel the pressure and time seemed to slow down. Stetson set it dominant outside hitter, who had been a threat to us all day, but she was no match for our middle blockers Alison Loeppky and Alyssa Robertson who went up and stuffed blocked her straight down for a Dolphin win! We were all overwhelmed with joy and it felt nice to feel the sweet satisfactory of victory again.

We ended our weekend with a scrumptious dinner at Moe’s and a short drive back to Jacksonville. After a long day on Thursday and a tough loss the next night, it was nice to finish the weekend with a “W” which made us all anxious to face our upcoming opponents and ready for the exciting journey conference play will bring.

- Taylor