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December 28, 2001

Sara Sandrik
Year: Senior
Position: Middle Blocker
Height: 6-1
Hometown: Pelham, AL
High School: Pelham HS


It's amazing! Now I know what it feels like to be on the bottom of a dog pile and on top of the world. I am so proud to say that we--the Stanford women's volleyball team--are National Champions. So many things come to mind when I write these words that it is difficult to put them in any type of logical order. It is more like a flood of emotions and memories than a simple line of thought.

Throughout our demanding off-season, our strength coach Andy often reminded us to think about 12/15--the date of the championship match. When our legs trembled and out stomachs ached, 12/15 helped us stay strong. When I woke up on the morning of the national championship, it was hard to believe that 12/15 had finally arrived. I sat up in bed and shared my excitement with Tara (my roommate for the Final Four), and then told her that I was very sick and would be in the bathroom for awhile. When she realized it was more than just nerves, she quickly got a hold of our trainer who showed up at our door with a variety of medicine. Of all the times to get a 24 hour bug...oh well, let's get back to the good stuff.

The match itself was incredible. I know that everyone had to be nervous, but somehow we managed to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible. John did a great job of getting us all to "stay in character." He reminded us that we didn't have to do anything remarkably spectacular to win...we just had to be ourselves and play well together. I have to admit that I think the nausea made it easier for me to focus. I was too busy trying to keep my oatmeal down to worry about being nervous (wow, talk about a blessing in disguise). Throughout the match, we forced ourselves to concentrate on each point rather than thinking ahead and getting too excited. But when that final ball hit the floor on the Long Beach side, it was a different story.

The court was suddenly a sea of smiles and tears, and a tidal wave of my teammates knocked the rest of us down for the greatest dog pile ever. It's hard to describe the feelings that I had then or even now. It's simply amazing to know that we have something that can never be taken away. It's something we worked for (some of us for four or even five years), and it's something we earned. There is just no better way to go out than on top. This season (and my entire career at Stanford) has truly been an adventure, and I am so grateful to so many people not only for this happy ending, but for all of the experiences along the way.