Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Fell in Love With A Volleyball Match

Yesterday, I had the privilege of covering one of the most exciting games in American University Volleyball history. That event was volleyball coach Barry Goldberg's 500th career win in a nail-biting 4-set victory.

AU has had an uncharacteristic beginning to their volleyball season, especially after being projected to be #1 in the Patriot League Coaches Poll. They lost their first 5 games, won last Saturday at Portland for their first win, and then lost again last night to Yale. Before this game, the Eagles were only 1-6.

For those who don't know, I am a student broadcaster for American University, covering AU sports on Eagle Vision TV. The Eagles were to play the NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology) Highlanders at 1pm; which meant that I needed to be there just before noon.

I wasn't feeling good about the day already (my swag was off and I was REALLY tired). Then, I started thinking that my statistics and research are not good enough for the pre-game segment of the broadcast, I tried to get myself at least in some kind of focus to be ready to cover the match.

Once I had finally gotten comfortable with my pre-game analysis of the Eagles, my partner, Rachel DeMita, and I sat down and watched the game, looking for things to note in our appearances during break and our possible post-game segments.

The game was somewhat entertaining; however, with my frustration at the team's poor early season performance and the fact that AU couldn't maintain a lead in a set, I wasn't as invested into the game as I normally would. Not to mention, nobody but parents were at this 1 o'clock volleyball match where the head coach could be a part of history.

And then the 4th set came around with AU leading 2 sets to 1 after winning the last set. It was a very close set, seeing multiple lead changes and while AU seemed to have the upper hand in some parts of the 4th set, NJIT would come back into the game.

With the trouble AU has had all season with closing out sets, Rachel and I were quite nervous for the team. At this point, we started to realize that the Eagles were very close to winning.

The Eagles nearing in on the 25th and final point of set #4 was not only signs of a possible win, but then that Rachel and I would cover the historic event the AU community had been waiting for all this season - coach Goldberg's 500th win.

AU finally had reached the 24th point, and the Eagles were looking to get just one more point to win the set and the match. However, it would not be easy, as NJIT tied the set at 24 points apiece - just as Rachel had predicted.

When a set is tied at 24 points in women's college volleyball, in order for a team to get the final 25th set-winning point, there needs to be a tie-breaker, like there is in tennis in a deuce situation - one team needs two more consecutive points to win the set. Nonetheless, AU served, won the first tie-breaker point, and then Sophomore Angelina Waterman spiked the ball on NJIT's side of the net for the game-winning kill.

During the last 4 points, I found myself standing up, ready with my notes to head down to the court after the match was over to handle the interview with coach Goldberg and if need be, a player. When Waterman spiked the ball though, I lost all objectivity when I leaped in the air and yelled, "Yes!" and ran down the stairs to the court. Needless to say, I would have been pretty blown had AU played one more set.

Yeah, I know, I won't do that when I go pro in broadcast, but come on - your school's volleyball team just won an extremely close match, and the win brings about a historic occurrence, and you're covering the game.

I just thought it was a pretty cool experience, considering that I could possibly be covering pro games of that nature in the future. I certainly hope that AU wins some more games though to give me more fun games to analyze.

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