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8:34 a.m. - September 06, 2006
Last night, your intrepid reporter encountered the strange ritual known as high school volleyball.

Ok, it’s not REALLY that strange, but it’s a bit odd at times.

Everyone knows about volleyball. You play it in the backyard and at the park. You try to be macho and spike the ball to impress the girls on your team (and the other team). You fall down in a crumpled heap of failure, and then you go get a beer and claim to have a knee injury from your days in high school.

But high school volleyball is a bit more serious than that. The girls (yes, Virginia, there are no sanctioned boys volleyball teams in Indiana) are serious about the game and work hard to improve during the summer. From what I gather, Indiana is a pretty good hotbed for volleyball. It must be all of the tall, corn-fed girls that we grow here, which is an odd statement to make because a lot of the good volleyball players are from cities and towns, so I’m basically refuting my sentence before I end it.

Last night, Crawfordsville faced off against North Vermillion, and I covered it for The Paper of Montgomery County.

Crawfordsville is a medium sized school in the state, coming from a town of 15,000 or so. I often claim that it’s BFE-land. North Vermillion, though, is TRULY BFE land. It’s near Cayuga, Indiana, a booming metropolis as you know.

So it’s the city (well, somewhat city) girls against the country girls. Let the battle begin!

First off, each team gets to warm up on the court. Basically, what this means is that the varsity gets to rain down serves and spikes on the helpless junior varsity players, who look to be cowering in fear. I mean, most of them are freshmen and if they get a ball in the face then that cute backup quarterback won’t ask her to the dance! Meanwhile, the varsity players show no fear. They KNOW they’ll be asked to the dance.

During the warm up, the Crawfordsville players played music. Now, it’s your normal high school piffle, but for some reason the Spice Girls “Wanna Be” was on the mix list as well, and even though these girls were in elementary school when that was a hit, they were all bopping around to it, and singing it while they were trying to drive a ball through the skull of a junior varsity player.

North Vermillion wore blue and white, and they had some interesting footwear. They wore knee high socks, as normal volleyball players do, but they were tie-dye blue! Well, alrighty then! Bad team is offset by good socks!

Crawfordsville is decked out in ‘normal’ gear, and they are all wearing very tight spandex shorts. I mean, small and tight. I mean, I need a raincoat small and tight. I feel so unclean.

One of the girls is wearing a different color jersey. She is known as the libero, which means “outcast”. No, that’s a joke. Actually, the libero is a defensive specialist who gets to come in on the back row at any point in the game, I think. But she has to wear a different color jersey so that people will now she’s an interloper and an outcast, so the stoning can easily happen after the game if the home team loses.


I notice one player for North Vermillion. Now, a lot of their girls are pretty much country maidens, including one that IS named Bobbi Jo. Poor Bobbi Jo is a bit tall and gangly, with a long pony tail and glasses, and I do not know if she has spent any time at the junction.

But this one girl, she had a different attitude. Her hair was black, about shoulder length, and tousled recklessly and with abandon. She looked tan, which may mean a fake bake or it may mean she was detasseling corn all summer. But she had a sneer on her face, and was recklessly chewing gum – smacking it all around her mouth and her pouty lips.

If I didn’t know better – I thought she was auditioning for the role of Rizzo in Grease. Word.

You could compare and contrast her with her sister. (I assume they are sisters – they could be cousins, but the last name is a bit odd, and a bit funny – and I don’t want to make fun of them online – but email me if you want the last name!) The sister was a year younger, and she was shorter, pudgier, with a very simple haircut and a sad expression on her face, as compared to her tough and cool sister.

Well, this is just conjecture of course, but in 10 years, the younger sister could be Hottie McHotness, combining beauty and brains, while the older sister is still working at the Dairy Barn waiting for her big chance of success and cursing the day she married the backup quarterback who drove a Trans Am.

Now, the game is set to begin, and after the lineups and the national anthem, the teams greet each other at the net to exchange pleasantries. Then each team does a little chant afterwards. Of course, they just did a little chant when the lineups were introduced. Girl power, I suppose!

Volleyball is intriguing to watch when it’s played competitively. When schmos like me play it, you tend to just stay where you are at in the rotation, but there are all kinds of plays and movements and rotations that I am a bit confused about, so I take it in stride. All I know is that the short girls set the ball so the tall girls can try to knock it through the floor.

The girls love their chanting as well. After an ace, they have a little handclap and chant. After a kill, they have a little syncopated movement and clap. It’s all very ritualistic.

“This is the time in the volleyball game where we dance.”

Serves were served, spikes were spiked, prisoners were taken, and I had nachos. Crawfordsville easily dispatched their country foes, sending them back to Cayuga, Perrysville, Dana and points west. I wrote my story and that’s all she wrote.

I like covering volleyball – it’s a simple, elegant game but it’s got enough mystery that I can enjoy it without getting all wrapped up in the strategy and just let the game reporting come to me.

Because all I know is that if you spike the ball off the face of someone on the other team, YOU get a point. What more could you ask for?

But ladies…ladies…as a father of young children who may play your sport, I have a favor to ask. Can you do something about the short shorts? A little modesty and decorum, please, if you would. Thanks.


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