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DENVER – The CSU Bakersfield volleyball team has been awarded the 2018-19 WAC Sportsmanship Award for its display of sportsmanship during the 2018 WAC Volleyball Tournament in Bakersfield, Calif.
While at the WAC Volleyball Tournament, one of the UT Rio Grande Valley team vans was burglarized and several items were stolen.
"We went to grab some breakfast and were at the restaurant," UTRGV Head Coach Todd Lowery said. "We finished eating and came out and quickly noticed that a couple of the side windows were broken out in one of the vehicles and realized that they had stolen a bunch of the girls' backpacks. We were scheduled to go and practice, so we decided to cancel practice and then in that process, the girls told us they had their shoes, knee pads, all that stuff in their backpacks since we were headed to practice."
Upon hearing of the incident, CSU Bakersfield stepped in and willingly lent shoes and knee pads to the Vaqueros so that UTRGV could compete properly.
"I felt terrible for them," CSU Bakersfield Director of Volleyball Giovana Melo said. "I put myself in their situation and I just wanted to do what I could to help. I had no other thought process other than let's go get what we can from what we have. Let's see what the girls have available and what we have in our equipment room to be able to help them as much as we can."
Despite the fact that CSUB had its own match that afternoon, the team was able to get the necessary items to UTRGV within a couple hours of the theft.
"Luckily, with Bakersfield being an adidas school too, Melo and her staff got the girls some shoes, which is kind of a big deal because you get used to playing in a shoe all year long, and they wear the same shoe as us. They helped us out with that and tossed us some knee pads and we were able to kind of get the girls back on track and refocused and go on with the day.
"It's a great feeling and I think that's what's great about our conference," Lowery continued. "Especially right now, we just have a great group of coaches in our conference on the volleyball side and we're all pretty close. I think it was never questioned do we help them or not help them, it was just, 'Yeah, this is what we do.' I think the girls really felt that they were appreciated. Big thanks to Bakersfield."
Melo said it was never a question of whether or not to help.
"It's one of the biggest things we talk about all the time," Melo said. "Be a better person, be better for each other, be better for whoever it is that you're around and in contact with. It's definitely a big belief of ours in our program."
The WAC Sportsmanship Award is awarded on an annual basis and given to one WAC member institution that has demonstrated the most distinguishable act of sportsmanship throughout the academic year.