Inside Look on the Elite 8 Tournament – Day 3
By Blanca Izquierdo—
‘We are three games away to becoming National Champions. Just three more games.’ This is all I can think of in the morning of day three. When you are about to play such an important game that might be the last of your volleyball career, nothing else matters. It is like being in a bubble, where the rest of the world has faded away. This adrenaline that makes you feel more alive than ever is what I will miss the most. Actually, what I will miss the most is the feeling of belonging to a team. In my team I found a family away from home. The relationships we have built are very strong. We have struggled together, celebrated together and none of us is the same person than before this season started. We all have grown in many different ways and being part of that metamorphosis is just beautiful.
We arrived at the gym and my heart raced. I’ve never been more excited in my life before a game. Everything was perfect. The locker room was decorated with motivational quotes and everything was so beautifully set up. The Tarleton cheerleaders and plowboys were loud even during the warm-up. I would never be able to thank them enough for their unconditional support. It didn’t matter what the scoreboard said, they kept giving us their energy.
I made the very first serve of the match, that very first ball that started it all; and when I was at the end-line, holding the ball between my hands, in a gym full noise, I swear, I heard the silent. We lost, and the rest is history, but I wouldn’t want to be here with any other team. I can’t find words strong enough to explain how it feels to play a National Championship match, in such a wonderful environment, with a team that has made me a better player and a better person. This was a dream come true and I don’t even know how I feel because it hasn’t hit me yet. Right now, I am too thankful to feel anything but gratitude. I know many athletes who would give all they have to experience something like this and probably some of them deserved it way more than me; but here I am, doing what I love, among the eight top teams in the nation, in the court of my dreams, and with all my family and friends supporting…how can I feel anything other than gratefulness?
The hardest of all, wasn’t the losing, it was knowing that we were better. We had control of the game the whole time, but we couldn’t execute at the end. I am proud of the fight. We never gave up. I can’t stand seeing my teammates and my coaches suffering, but that pain is just a reflection of how much we wanted this. As a senior, it’s hard to let go, and understand that this period of my life is over. But sometimes I wonder, is it really over? Because all I’ve felt, the good and the bad, is so deep in my heart that even time could never take it away.