Idara Akpakpa was a little winded, her brow a bit moist, as she completed a vigorous five-minute warmup with her UC Irvine volleyball teammates before Thursday night’s match against Cal State Fullerton.
Akpakpa had a minute to catch her breath and retie her headband before she grabbed a microphone at the scorer’s table and stationed herself in front of the net. As fans in the Bren Events Center rose for the national anthem, the 6-foot senior middle blocker stood tall and confident as she faced the American flag.
What followed was 90 seconds of musical magic.
Akpakpa belted out a powerful, soulful rendition of the anthem with perfect pitch and exceptional control, her...