The sound of volleyballs hitting the floor and cheering filled the Goolrick Gym as the men and women on the school’s volleyball teams practiced before their tournament. Perhaps most nervous of all was the one team made up of all men.
At this yearly 3v3 fundraiser for the Women’s Volleyball Club, teams typically consist of two women and one man. Because net is placed at a height typically used for the women’s teams, the women can spike at the net. But because the men tend to be taller, they must hit from the back row.
The all men’s team knew they were at a disadvantage, because none of their members could spike. They were competing against six other teams.
“When I made the team, I didn’t really know the rules, but I know the guys and I can pull out the win” said Will Carpenter
The first game happened at 6 p.m. that quiet night on April 21. Harper James, one member of the all men’s team, was first up with his signature jump serve that ended up being an ace. An ace is when a serve hits the floor without being touched by the opposing team, earning a point. James sent his second serve over, and it was returned by the opposing team by a spike. That meant the opponent scored.
The guys had to think of a new strategy. They knew James was a good server, but they couldn’t rely on him for the whole game. They came up with the plan to play from the back line, where they could jump, instead on just pushing the ball over like they had done before. They were up to the challenge.
In the beginning, it was hard for the guys to adjust to the new rules. There were a few times when the guys went to spike and scored and started to celebrate then the ref had to break the bad news that it wouldn’t count even if it was a great play
“We had some amazing plays it was a shame that they didn’t count” said James.
The women that they were playing were accustom to playing 3v3 because they always seemed to know where to place the ball and where to move for defense. The men, on the other hand, scrambled across the court occasionally running into each other and missing the ball completely. Carpenter was the only guy on the team that had played volleyball before. The guys were inexperienced at playing volleyball, but they were no stranger to some competition.
Carpenter explained to the others about they should try and focus on using a combination of sets close to the net to draw the other team close to the net and back row hitting to push them back so they were constantly moving until one of them gets worn out and lets the ball drop.
With the first game closing the guys looked exhausted and the score was in favor of the other team. Norrbom served and it was received by the girls with a close set to the net. Norrbom tried to dive for the ball but barely tipped it with his fingers unable to hit the ball upward resulting in their first loss of the tournament.
“Not being able to spike really hurt the amount of points we could have scored” said Zachary Norrbom
This is a yearly fundraiser that the Women’s team puts on to help them improve individually. The Underdogs were all guys from the Men’s club team. When Will Carpenter set up the team he was unaware of the rules, but decided to stick with his guts and try to win with his friends.
Now was the time when the guys got serious after their game. They headed over to the other side of the gym and wanted to talk about what they could do better to win the tournament. Carpenter decided to help teach James and Norrbom about back row hitting and how to hit it in the right spot.
In their next game, they did just that. Most of their points came from the back row hitting and they looked almost unstoppable. Their opponents even tried to shift their positions further back but then that’s when Norrbom shined as setting the ball right over the net forcing the opposing team to try and sprint forward and dive to save the ball.
The second game came back as a win for the guys and their competitive spirit was burning brighter than ever.
Now the final game was upon the guys they had finally adjusted to these rules are feeling the pressure to win. It was a tight game but the guy’s competitive sprits helped them bring home the win.