A weekend to be proud of

The FSU volleyball team took a short trip to Huntington Beach, had lunch, walked the pier -- then beat Long Beach State that night. Courtesy FSU Athletics

Greetings from Tallahassee! My name is Ashley Neff, and I’m a senior middle blocker at Florida State University. They say it all goes by in a blink of an eye, and man were they right.

It seems like just yesterday I was a scared little freshman at my first college practice, trying to act as if I had it all together (I had no clue what I was doing). Now three years later, I’m a senior with two ACC titles and an NCAA national semifinal appearance. Where has the time gone?

Now, after eight long months of training, conditioning and lifting, the season is finally under way. We started our 2013 season in beautiful Long Beach, Calif., where we played Long Beach State, Illinois and Kentucky.

Being able to put on our uniforms and play in a match is one of the best rewards after a long off-season. We graduated four starting seniors from the 2012 team, which left us with a pretty young group.

Illinois was our first of two matches on Friday. First matches are always one of the hardest to prepare for. There isn’t much to go off of besides what you can look at from last season and what you can do for yourself on your side of the net.

Finding our groove was a little harder than we thought, and we had a disappointing loss to Illinois in three straight sets. While we got better throughout the match, it just wasn’t enough to come back and win.

There was no time to dwell on our mistakes from the Illinois match; we had a pretty quick turnaround to play Kentucky shortly after the loss. Instead of being down and upset, we came together as a team and pulled off a 3-0 win. While there were still pieces of our game that could’ve been better, the team showed a lot of heart and character by learning from the loss instead of dwelling on it.

Saturday night we played Long Beach State on its home court. But since the match wasn’t until later that night, our coach let us have some fun. We took a short trip to Huntington Beach, had lunch at Dukes and walked the pier. The whole team was amazed at the surfers and all the people playing beach volleyball. While the beach was fun, we knew we still had business to attend to.

Knowing how important this match was, we went out with a lot of excitement. We dropped the first set but came back to win the match in five. The Long Beach State match was so much fun to play in because it was a 100 percent team effort. We had freshmen and other underclassmen step up big time for us and play amazing.

Sunday was an early morning as we headed back to Tallahassee with a lot to be proud of and a lot to work on.

This weekend we will be back in the comfort of Tully gym for the first time this season, so we’ll take this week to practice hard and improve on our game.

Until next time … Go Noles!