Shoes, knee pads, socks, water bottles, backpacks and 24 girls filled the John Amos Field House hallway when I arrived to watch 1G and 2G’s battle of the dorms at volleyball.
After running a lap around the gym and stretching, the girls split into their A and B teams to practice serving and passing. On the A side, the servers attempted to hit one of their assistant instructors with the ball. If one of the girls hit an instructor with a serve, they would get a ticket. The instructors remained unscathed, however, so none of the girls could get free Tic Tacs from the camp store.
At the start of the first A game, the bright orange “traffic cones” of 1G served first. Their server hit the ball directly to 2G’s Callie, who hit it right back, ending the first volley with a point for light blue 2G. A failed spike by 2G on the next play gave 1G a point. Then 1G served the ball to 2G, but none of their players reached it in time. Because of this, the 2G team had to do five squats. Any time the volleyball hit the floor without a player making a legitimate effort to save it, the whole team had to do squats.
After a couple more volleys, Mr. Underwood called a time-out. He gave 2G a pep talk, giving them some pointers and encouraging them to show more effort—no more missed serves, no more aces. The team, along with assistant counselor Maria Gutmann, put their hands in the center of the circle and cheered, “More effort!”
When the game resumed, 2G tried even harder to gain points. Erica stopped several of 1G’s serves, but the traffic cones had a string of good serves and volleys. Despite 2G’s best efforts, they did not win the first game.
As they headed into the hallway to grab a quick drink, I turned my attention to the B game. There were lots of squats going on over there, but 1G was keeping up their dorm’s winning streak on the B side as well. Back at the A game, the girls had switched sides. Unfortunately, this meant that the traffic cones blocked part of my view of the other team. 1G had an early lead in the second game, but possession changed when one of 1G’s players accidentally touched the net while attempting to block a spike from 2G’s Erica. A few volleys later, Callie was up to serve for 2G. With the ball in her hands, 2G slowly stole back the lead—but a single too-low serve gave the other team a point and the ball.
Near the end of the second game, the score was tied, and the two dorms had a desperate back-and-forth battle to break it. In the end, 1G triumphed again.
Defeated but not discouraged, 2G moved into position on the court for the third and last game. The girls got into their down-and-ready stance, determined to win at least one game. Montana, Erica, and Sara performed well, blocking and passing like pros. Several times, however, only one player would touch the ball in a volley. Mr. Underwood stopped the game and asked the girls a question.
“How many hits do we have, 2G?” asked Mr. Underwood, referring to the number of times each team can hit the ball before sending it over the net.
“Three!” they replied.
“How many are we going to use?”
After the admonition, 2G’s playing improved dramatically. They gained several points, and soon the game was tied again, 18-18—with 35 seconds left on the game clock. Once again, the teams went back and forth, continually tying the game. But finally, 2G spiked the ball onto 1G’s side—and victory was theirs. Mostly.
At the end of class, the girls formed two lines and created a high-five gauntlet. Mr. Underwood and Miss Cocomise pulled out two girls to receive tickets and run the gauntlet: Callie from 2G and Selah from 1G.
The girls, grinning from ear to ear, circled up and cheered for 1G: “Thanks for spiking up our enthusiasm, 1G and volleyball staff!”
Then they ran out into the hallway and prepared to dodge the arrows of outrageous fortune at their next class: archery.