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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Historic news for the women’s beach volleyball team at Florida International University.
For the first time, the ladies have reached the NCAA Tournament.
The Panthers are the lowest seed in an eight team draw and will face top ranked UCLA next weekend.
The team is beyond excited to get the chance and plans to go in very loose.
“We were actually at the top of the garage, doing a barbecue and stuff,” said team member Margherita Bianchin. “We were so scared when the poll came out and then we heard our name and I threw a shoe.”
Yes, she threw a shoe…in excitement.
“I don’t know, I was happy was like yeah and throw my shoe,” she said with a smile.
Volleyball coach Rita Buck also couldn’t contain her excitement.
“I was shaking like crazy and it said ‘UCLA is the number one seed and they will be playing’ and my computer buffered, I didn’t know!” Buck explained. “Everybody else knew but me and I can’t get it on, it won’t work. So my director of OPS called and he’s like ‘hey coach so we are still alive’ and I like ‘what does that mean? What does that mean?’ And he said ‘what do you mean what does that mean?’ and I go ‘did we make it?’ and he goes ‘Yes!’ So I ran outside and I just go YES! I celebrated on my own.”
The team really takes after its coach’s excitable ways, and it translates onto the volleyball court.
Federica Frasca-FIU Women’s Beach Volleyball Player
“This things really help us because like when you play you need to get pumped up,” said team member Federica Frasca.
“We are very physical so we feel like indoor we hit a lot, we celebrate a lot,” added Bianchin. “So I guess it’s scary for another people, I don’t know. When we went to California, we were really close to the first teams in the nation. We lost really by a little. So hopefully we can do better this time.”
While FIU heads to the tournament as underdogs, there is still a strong belief in returning to South Florida victorius.
“The expectation is to come back as winners so we are going to go there with that expectation,” Buck said.
“We are ready to go. We know we can upset a lot of teams,” Frasca added. “This kind of tournament is different because anything can happen. So I think we are going to go hard and give our 100 percent and just play our best.”
Don’t expect the Panthers to enter into games wide-eyed and intimidated, either.
“There’s no need to be scared, we just need to have fun and I think when you have fun you play way better than when you don’t,” Frasca said.