Daily Digs with Dudding: Week 7

Oct. 15, 2014

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Daily Digs is a social media-integrated blog recapping #MGVB's daily happenings, written by student-athlete          @Katie_Dudding. The junior defensive specialist takes fans behind-the-scenes through her perspective with           a new piece released each week.

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Hi everyone! It's Katie again, here with the inside scoop on @MeanGreenVB's news, play, and more! 
#ICYMI: Last week's post gave readers a chance to gain an inside perspective to the tragic loss we experienced in our volleyball family this past weekend; how we are not only supporting each other through this rough time, but more importantly, how we are maintaining focus on being a consistent light in our sweet Cami's life. 

Thursday is typically our travel day when we're scheduled to play on the road, such as this weekend. Before we piled into vans to leave for the airport, @NTCoachPali called us into the NTVBCenter for a last-second team meeting. To our surprise he opened up a big box and unveiled a new team shirt to accompany our new team identity. If we were going to play for something bigger than us, we wanted to look like it to. Long-sleeved green shirts, customized with a purple #CAMSTRONG logo with TJ and Tina's name written below it, were passed out to each player and member of the team staff. We were so excited to wear them! 

Week in and week out, it's a safe bet that someone will leave their ID at home and discover the blunder in the line for security. Surprisingly enough, this time it wasn't Amy. *cough* Alexis *cough* After finally settling down outside our departure gate, we were greeted by an adorable little baby boy who's mom asked if we would take a picture with him to send to his dad, a huge North Texas Mean Green fan. If there's one thing our team loves, it's babies! We all fought each other for a chance to hold him. Before we boarded the plane, I was #blessed with a rendition of the "A Whole New World" duet from the movie Aladdin sung by the wacky pair of Hanna and McKenna. Lucky me... 

After landing in Jackson, Mississippi, we immediately hopped on a coach bus to drive to Hattiesburg. Reed Green Coliseum, on the campus of Southern Miss, was the next stop. After practicing for about two hours, you could see the faces of the returners start to glow. Not only was our practice about to be over, but we were also about to be rewarded for getting some solid work in. Once Pali felt like we were ready to go for the next day, he brought practice to a halt and traded out the volleyballs for basketballs. Per tradition when playing in this gym, we played an intense game of knockout. We found out very quickly, on a team that includes several tall athletic players, who has a basketball past, and who most definitely does not...  

Every Friday morning, during roadtrips, we eat breakfast at the hotel and hit the books for a study session immediately afterwards in one of the meeting rooms they reserve for us. Prior to diving into our schoolwork, Eboni, Hanna, and myself, lead an EXTREME yoga sesh for beginners. Since 9 a.m. breakfast gets pretty crazy, we like to calm ourselves down with a few minutes of downward dog and chaturanga poses. We all strive to one day be as good as the one true yoga master, Coach Susan! After studying, we take a break to relax before we leave to go to back to the gym for a game-day practice, followed by a yummy pregame meal. 

Once we arrived back at the gym to suit up for the game, it was tattoo time. Before every match, I write `#CAMSTRONG' in sharpie on the arm of every girl. Just in case we start losing focus at any point in the game, we can look down and remember who we are playing for. When game time rolled around we felt warm to see our opponent, Southern Miss, was wearing purple ribbon in remembrance and to show respect to Cam and her family. After battling hard in the first set, we came up just short, losing 25-27.  In the second set, we fought even harder and won 25-22, but the momentum wasn't enough to carry over to the next two sets. We made too many errors at crucial times, in the end resulting in a 3-1 loss. 

We loaded the bus with our heads swirling with thoughts about how the match went. During the ride to Birmingham, Alabama, we came together to meet as a team. The conversation was filled with ideas concerning how we could be a better, more consistent team on the road. After we got through the tough team talk, the bus went silent as most of the team attempted to catch up on some rest. We knew we had an early morning of travel ahead of us. 

Saturday morning, at around 8:00 a.m., we returned to the highway for a four-hour drive from Birmingham to Bowling Green, Kentucky. As we traveled across Tennessee, we stopped for food near Nashville. Western Kentucky's E.A. Diddle Arena was the next stop once we crossed the TN-KY state line. We practiced for two hours and then went to dinner at Rafferty's, and the honey-butter covered croissants they brought us were phenomenal.  Bread is the most important part of meals on our team; we love our bread! After dinner, we made a trip to the mall to do a little shopping to get our minds off of anything related to volleyball or school for an hour or so. A wise person once said, "a little retail therapy never hurt anyone..." Or wait, that might have been just me!

Sunday not-so-fun-day... We arrived at the gym slated to play WKU, the 36th ranked team in the NCAA RPI poll. After falling behind 0-2, we eventually put up a fight in a relentless effort to take down the Hilltoppers. Unfortunately, we started showing a spark too late in the game, and the home squad was just too talented of a team to attempt a comeback against from such a large deficit. Although we didn't come out on top this time, our team can't wait for a second shot at WKU in the conference tournament final, if the stars align. It would be solid payback for when we lost to the Hilltoppers in the Sun Belt Conference championship back in 2012, my freshman year at North Texas.  

After a long drive back to the airport in Nashville, we had four hours to kill before our flight took off. We all split up in groups and decided where to eat from all the wonderful options presented to us. The time finally came for us to board the plane, and just as everyone was getting settled in for a dark and sleepy night flight, tensions escalated quickly. Someone hid Eboni's dress that she had just bought the night before, and she was NOT happy.  She didn't hesitate to immediately accuse Cami, but who could blame her? Cami is ALWAYS the number one suspect when it comes to shenanigans. The allegations went from Cami, to Chelsea, back to Cami, to a UTEP volleyball player (three teams were on the same flight: us, UTEP volleyball, and UTSA soccer), then finally back to Cami again. Everyone except Eboni was having trouble controlling their laughter. The dress wasn't revealed until Pali pulled it out of his backpack. We should have known it was him all along! 

Although this weekend didn't turn out as we would have liked, we have a busy week ahead of us to prepare for Charlotte and Louisiana Tech. We know exactly what things we need to work on, and we are lucky to get a chance to work on them both at home and away this coming weekend. It's times like this, when we are 3-4 in conference, with a target on the final of the four slots that receive a first round bye in the C-USA tournament, that other teams need to watch out for North Texas. We may be a young team on the court, but our hearts have experienced something that age can't even provide. When a team plays for something bigger than themselves and the sport, they become very, very dangerous. Be ready teams of Conference USA, we're on to you... 

(even if we aren't the greatest of singers...)

KD out



North Texas Mean Green