Set for a frenzied Sweet 16
Now that the first weekend of the NCAA Division I volleyball tournament is over, we're down to the Sweet 16 teams. Who's left? Texas, American, San Diego, Nebraska, Florida State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue, Washington, Kansas, BYU, USC, Stanford, Minnesota, Michigan State and Penn State.
To me, the first weekend of the tournament always feels like the beginning of a game of dodgeball, where it's each man for himself. In gym class, those first few seconds are frantic with balls flying everywhere. You're so focused on your own survival that you don't realize how many of your classmates are being eliminated around you.
After that initial rush, you can feel a flow to the game establish itself. The key players take their positions and you can figure out who is targeting whom. The game becomes a back-and-forth battle with ball-holding stalemates and sometimes a frenzy of fire.
Now that we have our Sweet 16 teams in established positions, you can expect to see some great battles. We've had our eye on our opponent, BYU. Even though USC and the Galen Center are hosting a regional championship and we get to play at home, make no mistake: Any team in the regional semifinals can win it all.
BYU is coming in hot after sweeping Hawaii at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu. Our upperclassmen know from the 2011 regional that not many teams escape Stan Sheriff Center with a win. Some 10,000 Hawaii fans pack the arena, and the crowd creates an intense atmosphere.
We've been preparing for our match against BYU (10 p.m. ET, ESPN3) by ramping up the intensity in our own gym. At the end of each practice, we have been playing competitive 15-point games and we're using each practice to get our mindset right for Friday's game.
Sweet 16, prepare for frenzy fire!