For Vansant, ‘Friday Can’t Come Fast Enough’
This Week In Husky Volleyball
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6 - SECOND ROUND
Winner Match 1 vs. Winner Match 2 • 7:30 p.m. • Live on Pac-12 Networks (if UW is playing)
Alaska Airlines Arena
By Mason Kelley
Krista Vansant stood in the entryway that leads to the Alaska Airlines Arena floor and surveyed the scene.
A ball rested on the gold W under the net and the video boards flashed the blue and white logo for the NCAA volleyball championships.
As Washington’s senior standout looked out onto the otherwise empty arena, she tried to find the right words to describe what it means to begin her final trip to the postseason on the Huskies’ home floor.
Then she smiled.
“Friday can’t come fast enough,” she said before Wednesday’s practice.
As the days drag before her final appearance in the postseason, Vansant tries to fix her focus on fine-tuning her game before an opening-round matchup with New Hampshire at 7 p.m. Friday. That is easier said than done, though, as the slow build to the NCAA tournament has Vansant anxious to get started.
“This week is taking forever,” she said. “I’m excited. I’m ready. It’s going to be super fun.”
Once Washington finally takes the floor it will be, “go time.”
For the past four seasons, Vansant has been a mainstay for the Huskies. She has been named the Pac-12 Player of the Week a record 10 times to go with three AVCA National Player of the Week awards, the third most all-time.
Her stats, like the lengthy list of awards she has received, are gaudy.
But, as she prepares for what she expects to be more than a few matches on the Huskies’ home floor, she has started to put her career in perspective.
“It’s got to be on your mind a little bit, just because I am a senior and it is about to be over,” she said.
If the Huskies make their way to the NCAA championship match, Vansant will suit up for Washington six more times. Like a child at the fair, she wants the ride to run as long as possible.
“Can I get four more years?” she asked. “Is that allowed?”
She has been looking back, while pushing forward. It has created a “bittersweet” feeling. So, with the inevitable drawing closer, Vansant plans to make the most of each opportunity to take the floor in an attempt to extend her final season as far as possible.
“Six matches in a row, that’s what we have to do now,” she said. “We’re excited to get going.”
The past few days have been a part of “the longest week I’ve ever had,” but the 6-foot-2 outside hitter has been busy piling up awards. She was named the Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year and the conference’s Player of the Week on Monday. Then on Tuesday, she was named the AVCA Player of the Week in addition to receiving the Pac-12’s Player of the Year award by landing on the First-Team All-Pac-12 list.
“A few things have happened, I guess,” Vansant said with a laugh when asked about the awards.
As humble as she is talented, Vansant would trade all of the individual accolades for a trip to the championship match with the Huskies, “in a heartbeat.”
“No question at all,” she said. “I love my team and that would be the ultimate thank you to them, to win a national championship this year.”
When Kaleigh Nelson – the only other senior on Washington’s roster – was asked to describe her teammate, the outside hitter said Vansant is one of those athletes whose talent is trumped by her personality off the floor.
“If you had a conversation with her on the street, you wouldn’t know she was the national Player of the Year last year,” Nelson said. “She doesn’t talk about it. She just loves volleyball. She’s here to play. She’s here to win. And she’s a teammate. It’s not Krista Vansant and all of us. We’re a team, together.”
When Vansant arrived at Washington, her goals were simple. She wanted to become a better volleyball player. She believed the Huskies had “the best coaches in the nation.”
Four years later, she is one of the nation’s top talents.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming in, because I didn’t know what it took to become great, to win at a high level,” she said. “I thought I knew coming out of club, but I never knew what it meant to win at this high of a level.
“It’s been amazing. I don’t think there’s a word to describe how cool it’s been to go here and be surrounded by people who want to excel in their respective sports.”
Vansant’s wait ends Friday when the Huskies’ NCAA postseason run begins. If all goes well, she will play six more matches with her teammates, getting one step further than last season.
It’s “go time.”