As a 5’2” woman, I feel short on a somewhat regular basis. But if I really want to be reminded of my shortness, there is no place better than the AVCA Convention and NCAA Women’s Finals in December. That is where I found myself a week before Christmas, covering the final matches and meeting with various people in San Antonio, Texas.
It was reported that a whopping 134,217 people attended the tournament this year, setting a new NCAA DI volleyball tournament record. As I wandered throughout the convention floor, ate meals on the Riverwalk, and meandered through the Alamo, I was constantly surrounded by women and men, players and coaches, all towering over me. The city felt alive with volleyball and there was an electrifying spirit in the air.
For me, the pinnacle of the long weekend came in the form of the three finals matches. I was lucky enough to be sitting in the center of the media bank, just two seats down from ESPN commentators Karch Kiraly and Beth Mowins. While the UCLA/Florida St. semifinal match was solid but lacked many sparks, the USC/Illinois nail biter was what this sport is all about. And that 63-second match point? Well, you don’t see that every day.
The final match up between UCLA and Illinois seemed appropriate and held a lot of weight. Both teams had exceptional players leading the way, and both were extremely deserving of being there. It is really a treat to watch college players at the top of their game battle it out for such a special honor.
I’m now back in my hometown among mostly normal-sized people, but am already anticipating Louisville, Ky., next year and once again being immersed in that sea of height.
Originally published in February 2012