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Sound the alarm -- we beat UCLA!

USC started slowly but kept calm and went on to beat UCLA 3-1. Courtesy University of Southern California

Hi. I'm Emily Young, a sophomore volleyball player at USC. I'll be posting blog entries here, and if you're nice, I might just throw in a little poetry from time to time. I'm looking forward to having fun with this, so read up and feel free to leave your comments.

Wednesday, Sept. 19. Game-day morning. No 6:45 a.m. lifting, 8 a.m. lab canceled, alarm set as late as possible at 9:30. So what time did my internal clock wake me up? Seven-twenty a.m. By 8, I was past any idea of going back to bed and was on to making breakfast with my suitemate.

"Bacon?" I asked.

"Of course," was the reply.

Bacon, eggs, and toast: surely the breakfast of champions.

"What should I do with the bacon grease?" I asked, since there was no can or container around. My eyes locked onto the bacon bag. "Do you think this would work?"

That was before any sound reasoning kicked in about what my mother had surely taught me about grease fires. By then, a portion of the grease had burned through the bag and hit some of the water in the sink. Instantaneously, the smoke detector went off and droned with a piercing sound. We howled, laughing. As I opened the windows, our other suitemates opened their door to see what was going on.

"Want bacon?" I chuckled.

At 3 p.m., I reported to Galen Center to prepare for our match, the Pac-12 home opener against UCLA. By 3:05, I knew this year would be different than our opener against UCLA last year, which we lost 3-0. We were so amped for our first home match last year; we screamed our heads off in the locker room, ran out and saw all our fans and lost five straight points. This year, the locker room was calm, collected and confident.

Before we ran out onto the court, we reviewed our game plan and our coaches were confident. Mick Haley explained to us that no team in the country was playing perfect volleyball right now. We had to go out, execute the game plan, stay composed if they bounced a ball and keep grinding. With quiet intensity, we took the court. When we lost the first two or three points, immediately I thought, “No, not like last year.” All we needed was a good pass. Then we got one, and another, and still another. We had won the serving-and-passing game against UCLA.

In recapping a match, I think it's easy to lose the process. Hours of preparation and hard work lead up to one perfect moment. So with a game-ending block by Alexis Olgard, the moment floods to us at once. Beating our crosstown rival -- how sweet it is!