Even if the results from last weekend’s NCAA women’s volleyball western regional playoffs were not in favor of the Leopards, one thing can be said for the event held in the Supertents – it was the quintessential collegiate sporting event. It is a site rarely seen by athletes or spectators.
For the members of the women’s volleyball team, the home court was a little different for the weekend.
On the scoring table, the walls and all around the student center there were banners bearing the NCAA logo in promotion of the western regionals. With all of the propaganda, the Supertents did not have the same simplicity that is commonly noticed by those who frequent its amenities.
Beginning Friday, there were five other teams from all over the West Coast practicing by the television, the exercise area and on the Leopards gym floor. The Supertents did not seem like the home of the Leopards but rather the way station for something that was much larger than any team consisting mostly of underclassmen would be used to.
After Friday night’s matchup, Cal State Hayward was determined as the opponent for ULV in the Leopards first game of the tournament. With all of the collegiate hoopla and unfamiliarites surrounding the weekend, ULV had reason to walk onto the court with some anxiety and angst.
However, because of an unparalleled support from 611 people who came to watch Saturday night’s match, the Supertents were the set for a homecoming never before seen by the women’s volleyball team.
Even Leopards head coach Don Flora had to notice the support.
“We haven’t seen a crowd like that since ’88 or ’89,” said Flora.
The screaming mass was of students, families, alumni, many of whom were from the men’s and women’s volleyball programs.
Even with this broad group, the most remarkable showing in the spectator population were the fellow ULV athletes. The Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) should hold the evening in a high regard as their goal to promote and unify University athletic teams seemed to emulate. Members of the football and baseball teams made their presence clearly known with their vocal support on every point and sideout earned by the Leopards. Still in their warmups from their meet against Cal State Northridge, a large showing of the ULV swimming and diving teams made their way into the competition where many had to find seating on the gym’s floor. There was representation from nearly every team that night.
The result was one of the most exuberant victories for not just the volleyball team, but for ULV sports teams present.
Even though on the following night the crowd of 411 fans, (including the Rowdy Rooters) could not prevent the Leopards from their defeat to the University of Puget Sound, the spirit of the crowd continued.
After the volleyball team lost the third game to conclude their season, a unanimous “U-L-V” chant erupted from the stands to console the sting of the Leopards defeat. A 26-2 record, the best ever for women’s volleyball, was the showing for the end of their schedule.
Never before in my four years of watching Leopards athletics, have I seen such a showing of sportsmanship, competition and support, as I did during the Western Regional Playoffs.
For a university that is often marred by apathy, a lesson should be learned in watching the reciprocating benefits of cheering on your team when they need you most.
For Flora there is a sincere appreciation for such support.
“That little bit of time when you want to take that deep breath and think, ‘Oh gosh, this is too hard,’ you look around and know everyone is doing the same thing you’re doing, working hard. It’s the positive energy you need.”
Danny Craig, a senior journalism major, is sports editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.