1. The Number of Attractive People
You’re probably thinking, ‘Since when are there hot people at volleyball games? Basketball and football are where the chicks are at!’ Wrong. Let’s face it, most girls play volleyball; thus, many girls come to watch men’s volleyball games. Any common observer can notice the number of attractive men and women at beach volleyball tournaments. This is also true for the UC Irvine men’s volleyball games. So if you absolutely despise volleyball, you can show up and be pleased by the ‘side attractions.’
2. Volleyball Is Actually Cool
I was not much of a volleyball fan until I began attending Anteater men’s volleyball games. Though it was the success of our team that attracted me to the games, it was the beauty of the game that brought me in. The technicality, the skill involved and high intensity are truly amazing to witness at this high level of play. However, this is an aspect that can be better judged by sight than words. Trust me.
3. No. 2-Ranking
Judging by the conversations I have with people across campus I can confidently say that a majority of UCI students have no idea of the success of the men’s volleyball program. The program had a No. 1 national ranking, from the beginning of the season until they were upset by a tough No. 5-ranked Pepperdine team. They dropped to No. 2, but bounced back and defeated No. 1 BYU in the last game of a two-game series. The team should be able to hold a top-five ranking and have the chance to play for the national title.
4. Punishing Kills
A kill, also known as a spike, is achieved when a player slams the ball with an overhand stroke over the net, straight down to the floor. This definition is considered soft when one witnesses senior outside hitter Matt Webber’s kills. Senior Jayson Jablonsky hits the ball with so much strength and accuracy that some of my friends have nicknamed him ‘Lil’ Flip’ because whenever he touches the ball it’s ‘Game Over.’ Kills are one of the most exciting moments in sports.
5. Accomplished Players to Idolize
Last year was probably considered one of the best seasons for any UCI team in history, and certainly the best for the volleyball program. The team is destined for success this season because almost every player from last season’s roster has returned more experienced and more eager to win the national title. Among them are All-American seniors Webber and Brian Thornton and sophomore Brent Asuka.
The group also includes National Player of the Year Jablonsky, and Head Coach John Speraw, who was named Coach of the Year.
Speraw has brought in another impressive group of freshman to further solidify the depth of team and future of the program. This will ensure the team will become a national powerhouse for years to come.
6. Exciting Game Environment
With the number of spectators that attend the games right now, it is impressive that one can consider the game environment to be exciting. I sit on the side where the fraternities and sororities sit. They know how to heckle and get pumped. However, this is only one section of the home side. Just last week the team played in an electric environment.
Sophomore hitter Taylor Wilson said, ‘It is incredible hearing 6,000 people screaming in a gym that is not that big. It gets very loud in there. The best part about it was when they were dead silent. A crowd like that is great experience for playing in big matches.’
Unfortunately, a crowd like this can only be found in BYU and Hawaii, not in Irvine. It is time for UCI students to step up and create this environment on campus. Just imagine the Bren Events Center finally packed to its capacity, rooting for its most successful team in a high-stakes game. It can happen.
7. We Don’t Have to Feel Like a Sub-Par Div. I School. Capitalize on this Team’s Success!
Most of us whine and weep about not having good sports teams like USC and UCLA do. We have the No. 2-ranked volleyball team in the nation! Let’s enjoy its success because we may not experience this again in our short years here on campus.
A hostile game environment can be created, and we all know how fun those are. The players unanimously agree that they play better when their fans are heckling the opponents and cheering after every point. An overlooked aspect of volleyball is the amount of fan involvement and its impact on the overall game.
For example, whenever Webber throws down a punishing kill, he gets so pumped that some have compared him to Goliath, from ‘Gargoyles,’ because of his raging enthusiasm. So get out there in the thousands and show your Anteater pride!