2006 Final Four #TBT

Though I probably should have posted this yesterday for the anniversary of me going to my first NCAA finals event, I’ll do it today so as to make it an actual #TBT post. Here goes!

(Unfortunately, I have no photos, since this was during a time before I regularly had access to photography).

Thursday, December 14, 2006 NCAA Final Four Day

I got up, refreshed, at 06:25 like always.  Still in my Restore the Order Tour T-shirt, I bounded down the stairs with my enthusiastic, “Hi, Mom!”  She said, “This is what I have waited for!” [Today was my first day of winter break in my sophomore year of college.] I had a grapefruit which tasted both sweet and sour.  Then, I had an Eggo waffle and Mom put whipped cream on it in the shape of a cardioid.  Yummy!

There was a lot of volleyball coverage in the Journal Star, of course.  I can’t wait to embark on my Qwest!  I am excited!  I also chatted about sundry topics while eating, and enjoyed every second.

I then folded my laundry (there was a lot to do).  When I finished, I put on red pants and my “Huskers” polo…I’ve got to be decked out!  It was 08:00 as I caught up on my journal to this point.

For the rest of the morning, I tweaked up my decks [for the Lincoln Pokemon TCG City Championship on Saturday].  I’m going to play Meta-Nite, so I made a few adjustments to it.  This should make it battle-fit, I hope!  The Fox and the Dragon should be a good deck for Levi, so I looked at it and slightly adjusted the Trainer base.  Hopefully this helps it at least a little bit: the Holon engine really helps since his deck is all Delta Species.

I souped up Full Flame for Jason.  I eliminated the Rapidash line and put in the Blaziken, because it has more HP and more firepower (pun intended).  It’s not as focused as either of our decks, but I think it might stand a chance.  We’ll see!

Next week, I start the Team Tournament.  So, I updated my Class A and B decks, and will update the C and D tomorrow.  At noon, I went to the office after packing the Black Cow.

Before arriving at the office, I stopped at Union Bank to withdraw $60.00.  The music that was playing on the radio wasn’t great, but a few good ones did appear (e.g. Let’s Groove Tonight.)

At the office, Mom offered me some chocolate, which I willingly took (it was good!)  Mom gave me my second-night-of-Hanukkah present ahead of time since I’ll be in Omaha then: a NCAA Tournament T-shirt!  Supposedly Lance (from KLKN 10/11) got it in Gainesville.  I’ll wear THIS tonight, and then my signed “N” shirt on Saturday.

I hit the road for Omaha via Cotner Blvd.  The drive was fast and easy.  There is some weird stuff happening near the Platte (they’re redoing the bridges and widening, I think).  The radio was OK, but nothing special played.  I don’t think anything was memorable enough to get into my long-term memory of this trip.  Well, I did use cruise control properly for the first time—it’s cool!  I arrived in Omaha at about 13:30, and then ate lunch at Bronco’s.

I had my usual, and found a World-Herald to read while I ate.  Obviously, there were a lot of articles hyping up the volleyball tournament.  Each minute that passes raises my excitement!  It turns out that I should bring my PC the next time I come to Bronco’s—they have WiFi there.

After lunch, I drove to Aunt Pam’s house, but she wasn’t there.  It wasn’t a complete waste, but I should probably call next time before I go so that I don’t waste a bit of gas!  Afterward, I headed to Grammy’s house via Dodge Street—I wanted to see the new overpass.  But it got very confusing!  First, I found a “hidden” left-turn-only lane at 108th Street, and then I turned into what happened to be an exit to North I-680. D’OH!  I ended up at Maple Street, circling back to 72nd Street.  Ironically, I heard the song How Bizarre while finding my way back.  I got to Grammy’s house at about 15:00.

Grammy was not expecting me.  I should have called first, except that I thought that Dad would have called.  Not so!  She asked the customary “How is it going?”  Of course, I told her about my completion of the semester, Casey’s illness, and everything else that I could think of at that point.  I read the Jewish Press and partially caught up on my journaling.  She seems impressed that I keep a daily journal.  I’m really glad that I do—it gives a more reliable basis for my salient memories!  She’s very glad, also, that I brought a cow (she would have one if I brought the Chevy). [ED: A “cow” is one of Mom or Dad’s Priuses. In 2005, when the Qwest Center hosted the NCAA regional, I drove the Chevy Celebrity and it died after the octafinal matches.]

Before I left, I warned her that I might be late coming back to the house.  She warned, “Be sure to eat something this time! You have money?”  I replied, “Don’t worry, I will [eat something at the game].”  I’ll do this after the Huskers/Bruins match.  Regardless of what happens, I will stay for the Huskies/Cardinal match (Washington/Stanford).  This is volleyball mecca, no matter what teams win!  I’m not solely a Husker fan in this situation.

The drive to the Qwest was easy and quick.  Taking Dodge to 10th Street is the easiest way, it seems.  Although I’ve been to the Qwest before, this is an entirely new experience.  The place seems more foreboding, more majestic, and more glorious this time.  [It seems bigger, with a taller ceiling and just… yeah.]  THIS is what we have waited for—the time is NOW!  There was a long line to the Arena that stretched back to Hall B.  That’s a lot of people!

Past the Arena doors, an escalator, er, escalated me to the entrance, and another one took me to the Upper Bowl.  Once I found Section 224, I ascended MORE stairs to row F, seat 4.  About 20 minutes later,, someone asked me to check my ticket.  Indeed, I had misread it: it was supposed to be 24, not 4!  So, I moved over.

I’m in a corner, high above the arena floor.  But, it’s still a live view, and any live seat is better than the living room couch!  I journaled for quite some time before either team took the floor.  For some reason, it took longer than I thought to conjure my thoughts and words and write them down.  I’ll decide how to journal—I’m thinking of writing between each Game.  With 20 minutes remaining until first serve, the place began to really fill up.  I should enjoy these last few minutes of the pregame…

The starting lineups were “normal” (i.e. nothing special happened), and then the pregame song was Thunderstruck.  We’re hoping that the Huskers can storm this match!  The first game didn’t look very promising at times.  We started in a hole, and the crowd seemed lackadaisical until we tied it at 13.  But, then it slipped to the media time-out, when we trailed 13-15.  The rest of the game showed a porous Husker defense and quite a few Husker attack errors.  In particular, we gave up a big UCLA run, and then when we tried to come back, it was too late.  UCLA leads the match 1-0 with a 30-23 win.

We again started with a 1-5 deficit but pulled to a tie, and later in the game, we led 21-18.  The crowd was loud during our leads, but quieted when we trailed or got ready to serve.  At one point, it was 24-26, and some poor calls made us all nervous.  Tracy Stalls’ serve made the score a deuce.  Then, we had a powerful kill to gain the advantage, and on the next point, UCLA had an attack error, so we won the wild second game, 30-28 to tie the match at 1-1.

A winner of 2007 Volleyball Championship tickets got to do a serving contest at Coca-Cola cans.  She hit one (there were six cans, and she hit the back right one) and won a year’s supply of Coca-Cola products (Cool!)  Nothing else happened during the interim, so I used the restroom and attempted to catch up on the journal.

In game three, for every back, there was a forth, for every to, there was a fro, etc.  It was mostly point-trading until the score was 13-13.  Many errors were the sources of several points for each team [that sentence seems awkward…].  We then went on a 10-0 run, from Sarah Pavan’s service.  Even though we then missed some points down the stretch, we won this game somewhat handily, with a score of 30-23.  I think we’ve got our swagger back, and it is VERY loud in this place!  People went crazy when Sarah hit the service aces!

In Game 4, we got a quick lead, but some calls went against us (and they probably should not have).  That didn’t seriously hamper us, as we led 15-9 going into the TV time-out.  We let UCLA back into the game, and even trailed 21-22 late in the game.  But, then we scored three straight points to force a Bruin time-out.  It went back and forth and was eventually 29-28.  A beautiful kill finished off the Bruins, as we won the game 30-28 and the match, 3-1.

I went to the restroom and got some Gatorade and chicken strips for dinner.  While eating, I caught up on the journal.  Because I wasn’t writing during the match, there aren’t as many details as I might have otherwise included.  The feeling is very hard to describe with merely words!

I watched the Stanford/Washington game.  The neutral crowd made the environment completely different from an hour ago.  I was cheering for both teams, but was favoring the Cardinal.  The Huskies committed a LOT of errors and the Cardinal attacks were very efficient.  They also had THREE aces, IN A ROW!  The Cardinal completely obliterated the Huskies in the first game, 30-12.  Washington’s hitting percentage in Game 1 was -.118!

The second game had more of the feel of an evenly matched semifinal game. But, the evenness seemed more due to DOUBLE sloppy play!  It seemed like Washington and Stanford traded errors for a while.  If they could sustain long rallies, the place might get louder.  It was 15-13 for the Cardinal at the TV-time out.  As the game continued, each team had a mini-run.  It all ended on a good Cardinal block, as the Huskies then trailed the match 0-2 after losing 25-30.

I’m trying to keep track of the kills vs. errors/violations.  Of course, since I’m now paying more attention, they probably won’t have as many.  We’ll see!  Before Washington called time-out at the score of 3-9, the Cardinal had 6 kills and no errors, and the Huskies had 3 kills, 1 service error, and 1 attack error.  By this time, many of the fans had left.

What’s up with the Huskies?  They had no intensity whatsoever tonight.  They did NOT really look like a Final Four team, rather a team that would get by as a Cinderella team early in the tournament but then get smashed by a high seed [see Santa Clara last year].  The Cardinal crushed Washington 30-15 to make it to the championship game tomorrow against us.  [Washington’s final hitting percentage was .000!]

I drove very tired back to Grammy’s, but also very excited.  (Don’t worry—I drove completely safely!)  Of course, this begot a stomachache that forestalled my attempts to sleep until it was 25:00.  Darn it!

>>TO BE CONTINUED…

===========================================

Lincoln: 05 days

J-Term: 19 days

Israel: 170 days

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