1. I am not the jinx.
I started calling Wisconsin volleyball on the radio in 2008. I didn't know anything about the program other than they won a lot and got to the tournament all the time.
That changed once I entered the picture. "You're a jinx," I would hear from co-workers after the first year. The talk increased in year two. By year three and beyond friends would ask "What has changed other than you started calling matches?"
For a while there, I think I even started to believe some of the talk. That was until this year when the team made the postseason for the first time since 2007. What a relief off my shoulders right? Now I know what Red Sox fans must have felt like after their World Series drought, to know that the "jinx" doesn't exist.
2. Confidence, combined with "dreaming big," can get you a long way.
Now that I have the silly stuff out of the way, let's get serious. This team's confidence is through the roof right now. That's not to say that the team wasn't confident throughout the season, but this confidence is paired with a mindset to "dream big." It has turned out to be a successful combination.
The players have never doubted what the result of every tournament game would be during this run. I talked to junior Courtney Thomas before the team's regional final match against Purdue and asked her what it's like being so close to making the NCAA National Semifinals, one of her dreams as a collegiate volleyball player. "It's so exciting! I mean we're going to Seattle, no doubt about it," she told me. She was right.
The coaching staff has encouraged the players to "dream big" and not just have a goal of winning one or two matches, but to strive for the entire thing and win six straight. I think it's been just as big of a key to their post-season success as their aggressive serving and tough defensive play.
Sure you need to put in the physical work, study the game and have a crazy elite skill set to get this far in the tournament, but trusting your abilities and believing good things will happen can take you to places you've only dreamed of before. Just ask the 2013 Badgers volleyball team.