A friend of mine used to cover volleyball for his college newspaper. He covered the team even when he had achieved enough seniority to cover “more glamorous” sports.
One day I asked him why he would stick with the team. What could it be about volleyball that made him favor it over sports that are considered more “fun” to cover?
His response was simple, and made plenty of sense. Covering volleyball allowed him to sit in a warm gym while watching leggy girls in spandex. Unable to counter this logic, I let the argument slide, but still opted to cover other sports even if it meant braving the cold.
Even with the incredible performance of this year’s Penn volleyball squad, I still wasn’t quite sure why I should care about volleyball. So I decided to go to a game to try and figure out why I should. And after sitting through just one match, it became clear to me that not only should I be vested in this team, but the entire student body should be as well (and not solely for my friend’s reasons).
The logical choice would have been to go to Friday night’s crucial contest against Yale. But I had a pretty crucial standardized test of my own Saturday morning, so I stayed in that night. But after my test I downed a celebratory beer and headed over to the Palestra to see the Quakers take on last-place Brown.
The game was lopsided, but it was still one of the more entertaining afternoons I’ve spent watching a Penn sporting event. And I can only imagine what it must have been like Friday night with nearly five times as many spectators, including a raucous Red and Blue Crew.
I didn’t know too much about the sport going into the game. Sure, I had played a bit in high school gym class, and I enjoy watching the USA play in the Olympics, but I didn’t know what to expect from an Ivy League volleyball match.
I had seen one my freshman year as part of The Line, but was far too fascinated by the between-point dances to really recognize the play. Even still, I could appreciate the action. While the strategy boggled my mind, the basic rules themselves aren’t that complex: don’t let the ball hit the ground on your side, and don’t hit the ball outside the boundaries.
But what I learned is that this team can flat-out play. I understand that a number of starters rested up against the cellar-dwelling Bears, but from what I saw, I’d be frightened to go against them. If I’m ever on the other side of an Elizabeth Semmens spike, I’m diving the hell out of the way.
And beyond that, volleyball games are very entertaining. The players put on a show for the audience. Aces are followed up by some butt-wiggling dance, blocks by a chorus of “hoo”s, and nearly every point by high tens and words of encouragement.
But if you still really need another reason to hop on the volleyball bandwagon, just know that they’re dominant. Really and truly dominant in a way few other Penn teams in recent memory have been. They seem to be moving through the conference with ease, losing only six games in nine League matches. Quite frankly, the Quakers looked to be in a different league than Brown — the Bears nearly stormed the court after winning a set to prolong an inevitable loss.
Friday’s victory over Yale all-but-guaranteed that the Quakers will clinch an Ivy Title on their next homestand. So hop on board, and come out to the Palestra for the volleyball team’s victory tour.
And why not? The team is great, the games are fun, the gym is warm … and did I mention the girls are in spandex?
Neil Fanaroff is a senior economics major from Potomac, Md., and is former Design Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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