It’s just after midnight Eastern time and after two flights and just under seven hours in the air, I’ve landed in Louisville, Ky., home of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Final Four.
As I enjoy the roughly 20-minute cab ride from the airport to my hotel downtown, the vibrant metropolis that will host the showdowns between the elite of women’s collegiate volleyball beginning tomorrow is sleepy, the highways are empty and even the cab driver seems to show the wear and tear of a long day.
After departing the airport with a Kentucky Fried Chicken very appropriately located inside, the driver takes me past the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium where the Louisville Cardinals football team plays its home games and a myriad of water towers proudly bare the name of the hometown university.
Tomorrow night at 6 p.m. PST, the Oregon Ducks will play in the biggest match in program history against perennial powerhouse Penn State in the KFC Yum! Center. The Ducks will enter the match as the underdog, but I doubt Jim Moore and his team really care what the media pundits think about their chances. They just defeated Nebraska in what was essentially a home game for the Cornhuskers and are arguably now playing their best volleyball of the year.
As I arrive in my hotel room in the dark of night and sit down to prepare for the long day ahead, I imagine that both squads are fast asleep with dreams of playing for a national championship floating around in their heads.
I’ve never visited Louisville before, but I am fairly certain the city will awaken tomorrow evening when Oregon and Penn State as well as Texas and Michigan leave it all on the court in an attempt to earn the chance to play for a national championship.