After a hard-fought weekend in Gainesville, Fla., I am very proud to say we are heading to Champaign, Ill., for the Sweet 16!
We faced Georgia Southern in the first round of the tournament Thursday night. After sweeping the Eagles, we had fifth-seeded Florida next. There was a lot of excitement going into this match because it is a huge rivalry, and there is a little history between the two teams in the second round of the tournament.
We started off the match with a lot of excitement and energy. Even though we were swept in our match against the Gators earlier this season, we knew each set was close and could’ve gone in our favor. Our team has made tremendous improvements throughout the season, so we knew we were prepared for this match.
With the O’Connell Center full of Florida fans, we could still hear our parents, friends and fans in the FSU section cheering for us the whole time. In addition to our fans, the FSU cheerleaders made their way to Gainesville as well! We have loved the support from our cheerleaders all season and deeply appreciated them making the trip to support us.
While we got our NCAA tournament butterflies out in our first-round match, a different type of adrenaline filled our bodies. Every single person on our team wanted to win, and it took all 12 of us to ban together and pull out the upset over the Gators.
We took the first set 25-15 and then dropped the second and third sets by close margins. Going into the fourth set we found our energy from the beginning of the match. Knowing we were capable of winning, we got out in front and won the fourth set 25-22. Going into the fifth set we had all the momentum going our way, we all believed we could win and we were not ready for our season to come to an end.
We won the fifth set 15-9, taking the match in five sets and advancing to the Sweet 16! Not only was this a huge upset with Florida being seeded fifth, it was also the first time FSU has defeated Florida in Gainesville since 1990! We stormed the court, experienced tears of joy and celebrated this amazing feat.
Next we are heading to the Champaign regional in Illinois to face 12th-seeded Wisconsin. We are ready for any challenge, and fighting the cold weather will definitely be one. It has been shorts weather in Tallahassee the last few days, touching 70s and 80s, and looking at the Illinois forecast it looks as if we will need to prepare for 30 degrees and below.
Making the trip up north early Wednesday morning will give us two opportunities to practice and time to relax and clear our minds from finals week.
Also, come Friday, we will have two seniors, Olivera Medic and myself, who will be college graduates! While it is sad we will be missing the opportunity to walk at graduation, we are blessed to be able to continue our final season as Seminoles with fellow seniors Elise Walch and Aurora Davis and the rest of our amazing teammates.
Congratulations, and good luck to all the teams competing in the Sweet 16 this weekend -- and go Noles!