Andrew Lambdin-Abraham (kd5mdk) wrote,
Andrew Lambdin-Abraham

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Meditations on Volleyball

That is, as an all women sport that is highly competitive and selective. As a student at UT Austin, I'm a born and bred Longhorns fan. Here's our volleyball team.

I've been to two games this year so far, because I can't make the Tuesday night games (Dance class) and so all I've made were the Nichols State match and the Notre Dame match. We won the first, got swept in the other.

There's an element to volleyball that's just completely beyond me. They're always diving all the time, and at the floor. I can understand in football or rugby how one needs to hurl oneself at the opposing players, or in soccer when it's all about getting to the ball, through whoever is between you. But to throw yourself at the ground, that's just totally outside my mind. I can't imagine it. Yet every game they're doing it all the time, and they roll consistently, so I'm sure they practice. But I just cannot fit in my head the idea of the ground being the target for your body.

Anyway, let's look at my team:

They look to be really nice ladies, but here's something to ponder. Roster. The team midget is 5'9" (172cm). I don't even want to think about how she compares to the average female here at UT. Erin plays defense, where her shortness makes it much easier for her to get under spikes and such. Her fellow shorter types are Whitney Garvens, who mostly rotates in to serve in place of Jessica Curtis, and Dariam Acevedo, who hasn't gotten any playing time that I've seen. (The pictures look all alike to me, and there's one player who seems to have a leg injury and never takes her windbreaker off, so that may be Dariam.) Everyone else is 6'+, with:
1x 6'1"
4x 6'2"
2x 6'3"
1x 6'4"

Moreover, these women are all incredibly athletic.

Does this sound familiar? If Admiral Naismith is ever wondering where to meet incredibly athletic women who dwarf those around them, this is the place. Notre Dame was more tilted to the 6'3" set than our 6'2"s, and they were blonder, which I think weighed in for him as well, but in general the category fits.

Now, I'm not suggesting that there's anything about college volleyball players that would make them want to date a 5' mercenary admiral. But if he's to find any, this is where they're collected. (I use the word collected carefully. Mira Topic, our All-American rated Outside Hitter, was given a scholarship from Croatia because of her height and skill.

Now on to the sport part:

Volleyball at the collegiate level has made what I think is a Devil's Bargain in switching to rally scoring. Certainly it made the games last a more consistent time, which is necessary if they're ever to get televised. For that matter, more consistent times are of use to people who want their games over in time to go party afterwards like I do this week, although it would be the very odd game that went too long that one would be late. (I suppose showing up after 1 am would be late, at my kind of parties. Or at least, some of the less hard living people you wanted to see might have left, or the kegs are low)

I suppose I ought to define the terms here:
Rally Scoring is when somebody scores after every serve. Service changes after a team scores who didn't serve. Games go to 30, win by 2. Best of 5 wins the match.

Traditional (what's the official term?) Scoring is when only the team that served can score. If the receiving team wins a rally, they get a side out and are allowed to serve, and thus potentially score. High School and I think other levels of volleyball still go with this method, and games go to 16, win by 2.

The real fun part of a volleyball game is the tension on feels when the score is 30-30 and you know that whoever scores the next point has a huge advantage. (The middle game of UT-Notre Dame was 36-34. You can imagine how tense that was.)
There's more of course. You won't often see the situation above. But really good rallies, when you think they can never get under the ball in time, and then they do, and then the other team gets it too and it's just a series of amazing saves, finally ending in a dramatic or anti-climactic spike or mis-hit or something. It's more exciting than any part of another sport I can think of. Better than a fly ball to the gap. Better than a long pass to the endzone or a double reverse quarterback sneak or a fast break. Better than any of those is a good long rally.

And that's why I love volleyball.

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