I walked into the cool gym on Friday morning to prepare for the arrival of 5G, which was coming for a volleyball class. I had the opportunity to watch as the assistant volleyball instructors, Eva Hochstetler and Brett Roberts, tightened the nets on the volleyball courts. This answered questions I never really had, but I was still fascinated—and it passed the ten minutes that I had to wait for the dorms to arrive.
Soon, we heard cheers outside. The first time was quiet and, we all agreed, rather weak. However, the second and third times were far more energetic.
The third assistant instructor, Dani Adler, started the entrance music: “We are family.” The doors were opened, and the girls rushed in, running around the court before settling in a line around the corner.
Mr. Roberts started the class by having them stretch their arms and legs. With each new stretch, they counted to ten and then shout a different term that they would need to remember for the game. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten—bump! Then it began again, even louder. One, two, three…Set! Louder still. One, two… Spike! On the final count, they shouted one of the most important things to remember in a game. …Eight, nine, ten, mine! By this time, they were so loud that it echoed across the wooden floors and into the high ceilings. The reason the word “mine” is so important is because if no one is calling for the ball, then the ball could hit the ground, allowing the other team to win a point. In that way, volleyball is a rather selfish sport.
Following the stretches, each dorm went to separate courts to practice serving the ball over the net. My favorite serve to watch was that of sixteen-year-old Rebecca, who would unfold her leg with her foot pointed to step into it before sending the ball flying. Being from a ballet background, I understand that the move came from a développé, and it reminded me of my own odd habits from dancing. Dancers stick together.
The girls then split their dorms in half so that two games could happen at a time. Before starting the clock, they practiced their spiking and then took their positions.
On the court to my right, I could clearly hear the cheering voice of Victoria as she encouraged both her own team and the opponent. On my left, Kelly’s voice whooped and hollered during the game. Their enthusiasm made for a good game to watch.
To my right, the court was loud with cries of “mine,” “help,” and “over.” These words let everyone know who was going for it, who couldn’t go for it, and who shouldn’t go for it. Fifteen-year-old Tara impressed me with her dives to the ground for the ball. At one point, she went after the ball—but then pulled back at the last second since it would land outside the lines.
Unfortunately, their hustle and vocal communication wasn’t quite enough for the win, and the dorm I was not there to see—4G—took the win with 21 to 18 on the first two games. The third game was extremely close, and I stood up from my seat during the final serves. The score was at 20 to 18, and fourteen-year-old Elena was up to serve. It went over the net, then came back, and then went over again before landing with a thud. It was 20 to 19, and I was at full attention. Elena sent it over again, securing another point. One more time, and they would win the game, but the ball was blocked. The final score was 21 to 20, favoring the opposing team.
On the other court, the game was just as close. The teams were so evenly matched that they were at 20 to 20, and it was anyone’s game. The girls of 5G had the advantage since it was their turn to serve. The ball soared over the net, looking like it might be returned, but at the last second, it was hit into the net and 5G won the match.
In the final game of the day on the court to my right, twelve-year-old Hope successfully served the ball over the net for the first time that day, and her dorm and counselor swarmed around her with congratulations.
At the end of the class, the head volleyball instructor, Joshua Sloan, commented that it was probably one of the most well communicated games he had seen at this pyc. Victoria and Hope were given tickets, and the whole dorm half danced out of the gym as the music played.