VCU Volleyball can rock an airplane hangar.
Thursday, 10:40 p.m.
After James Finley read his team the riot act, practice seemed to tighten up, in a good way. The team blew through its drills without incident. Finley did make it a point to emphasize the importance of “closing up the block” this weekend. “If we don’t, we’ll be in trouble.”
I’ve come to learn that the itinerary is more of a suggestion than an actual schedule. Today’s itinerary said we’d be eating at Boston Market and Carrabba’s (although not at the same time. That would seem a tad excessive). We ate at neither. After a rumored Mongolian grill, we settled on the food court at the local mall. And what food court would be complete without a Sbarro and a pseudo Chinese fast food joint, hawking bourbon chicken. Actually, this mall had two pseudo-Chinese joints, hawking bourbon chicken, and they were right next to each other. I wonder if there are turf wars at night. Our athletic trainer, Jenn, who is of Asian descent, that bourbon chicken “isn’t Asian food”. We don’t disagree, but that doesn’t stop most of the team from hitting the pseudo-Asian buffet, hard. Non-Asian influenced bourbon chicken for all. I went for the spicy version, and it was outstanding, MSG-filled goodness.
We checked into our hotel, The Lexington, a name which reveals at least a portion of its elegance. Although it’s not five-star quality, it’s a nice place to lay your head. From the all-hours pool to the half-court basketball setup to the modern cosmopolitan décor in the grand atrium, you could certainly do worse.
For those of us who didn’t have a cot on the bus, this will be the best part of our day. There’s the power nap, and then there’s watching the first seven minutes of Friends before falling into a coma for three hours. You can figure out which one I elected for.
Happy birthday to C.C.
When we checked in to the hotel, Finley reminded the girls that they had to log their three hours of study hall, and now was the time to do it. Also, I was told there were some film sessions, although I was already halfway to Candyland by then.
Every team has its go-to restaurants, you’ll find. When I traveled with women’s basketball, it was almost always Tropical Smoothie on the bus when we left. The only problem is that we rarely rode buses with cup holders, so you were left with a bucket-sized smoothie that you had to drink immediately. Men’s Soccer Coach Dave Giffard favors Olive Garden. In fact, our men’s soccer SID, Jon, told me they ate at Olive Garden four times last weekend. Let me repeat that. Four times. James Finley has always steered towards spots with a healthy slant, with Boston Market at the forefront of that ideal. Even if there isn’t a Boston Market in town, I think they just write it on the itinerary, just in case. If Boston Market is option No. 1, P.F. Chang’s might be No. 2 or No. 3. Tonight, we dined at the Chang.
We were told to be on the bus at 8 p.m. At 7:59, everybody was on board with the exception of Jessica Ojukwu, Kristin Boyd and Uzomaka Ibeh. Finley strictly adheres to a number of rules, but also likes to keep the atmosphere loose. So he instructed the bus driver to pull the bus ahead, as if we were pulling away, much like you’d do to your friends. The players walked out and saw the bus moving, but didn’t exactly pick up the pace. That was enough for Finley to get off the bus and tell his girls to get a move on, although not necessarily in that verbage.
It’s Cecilia Aragao’s birthday tomorrow (Friday), so after dinner, which featured Sam Salvi putting her hair in a bun with chopsticks and pulverizing fortune cookies until she got a fortune she liked, Finley had the staff bring out several large pieces of chocolate cake, including one with candles. After singing happy birthday, the team crushed that chocolate cake. Bunch of college-aged women and double-chocolate cake? Yeah, crushed.
Here’s a fun fact to send you to bed. . Freshman Janelle Sykes is 17 years old. Freshman Cecilia Aragao is 20.