Court Street Stories: 7 observations at the OHIO women’s volleyball game

Ohio University’s women’s volleyball team defeated the Toledo Rockets on Saturday night, securing wins in the first, third and fourth sets (25-21, 23-25, 25-19, 25-10). While I watched the Bobcats play to victory in the Convo, I made several observations, AND snapchatted the game (is that a verb yet?).

View some of my snaps and observations below.

  1. OHIO has four listed “liberos” on their roster –– what’s a libero?

Now, I’ve watched several volleyball games in my sport-watching career, since getting hooked on the Summer Olympics in 2012. That’s why I was surprised when I looked at the OHIO Volleyball roster and noticed four listed “liberos” on the squad: Meredith Ashy (senior), Kat Bloch (freshman), Mallory Salis (junior), and Erica Walker (freshman). What is a libero? According to a quick Google search, a libero is “the rearmost, roaming defensive player in volleyball or soccer.” Whatever that translates to on the court, Salis (#6) had a killer point in the first set, and continued to dominate the rest of the game.

  1. Two Walkers ran the court, but alas they’re not related.

I got really excited when the announcer called two Walkers (Shelby Walker#13, Erica Walker #9) in the starting line-up. Were these two sisters raised as volleyball proteges and followed each other to college? Would they one day go to the Olympics and compete side-by-side, beach volleyball style? But unless we’ve got a case of the Twitches and these two were separated at birth (Shelby’s hometown is Bradenton, Fla., while Erica’s is Wheaton, Ill.), I don’t think I’ll get my wish.

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OHIO defeats Toledo in women’s volleyball, increasing their overall record to 18-3.
  1. The announcer made some good POINTS.

I kid you not, after every point of play for the Bobcats, the OHIO volleyball commentator would call out some witty remark on the previous set/spike/kill (“Look at that mashed potato sandwich!”), then shout into the microphone “POINT,” whereby the crowd would respond enthusiastically with “OHIO!” This exchange repeated itself 98 times in the course of two hours.

  1. It’s just like football…

Growing up with a younger brother and a sports-loving dad, I spent many-a-Saturday glued to the TV watching college football. (Yes, as a girl, I can CHOOSE to watch sports in my free time, just like you boys.) As I watched the volleyball game progress, I noticed several similarities between football and volleyball: after every volley, the girls gather in a huddle; there’s timeouts, and they’re used especially close to the end of a set; players swap in and out of the game more frequently than in other sports, like soccer and basketball; and both teams switch sides at the end of each set (or quarter, like football). There was also a band in attendance –– the Ohio Alumni Varsity Band. They started chants, provided catchy, current choruses (“My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” “Shut Up and Dance”), and otherwise provided a lift if the energy in the Convo subsided.

OHIO VBall

  1. …but it’s a lot faster than football.

Football has become an increasingly lengthy time commitment, at least for a spectator. Last Saturday, I went to the OU vs. Miami homecoming football game – and it was an all-afternoon affair. From the commercials, to the timeouts, to the “under-review” plays, it can be utterly exhausting to sit through an entire game nowadays. The first set in the volleyball game was over in a matter of 29 minutes, and the whole match took a little under two hours. Not bad, from a busy fan’s point of view!

  1. I was surprised by the lack of diversity.

I’m not sure if this was just an isolated incident, but the vast majority of the girls I noticed on both teams were tall and white-skinned. Even the OHIO Volleyball Twitter profile favors the white majority. I wonder: Is this a collegiate-wide volleyball issue, or a MAC-specific diversity problem?

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@Ohio_Volleyball on Twitter
  1. Despite the home-crowd advantage, Toledo still brought its A-Team fans.

Perhaps my favorite observation of the night was spotting Toledo’s #1 fan, a middle-aged man who hoisted a Toledo flag around the entire Convo. I found him a little into the second set – and it wasn’t hard to miss him after that. He would somehow materialize on whichever side of the stands the Toledo girls were facing, waving his flag around like he’d just landed on the moon. He was definitely one of the more entertaining aspects of the game.

This story also appears on Court Street Stories