Bears volleyball team has the talent, now all it needs is the support
Published: Monday, September 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 3, 2012 03:09
I have a confession to make, and I’m not proud of it: I haven’t been to many UNC volleyball matches.
I feel as though I must apologize for this because I learned the error of my ways this weekend.
But first, some background information: I’ve worked for The Mirror in several capacities in the three years prior to this one, and it’s kept me fairly occupied to say the least. A lot of volleyball games were on production nights, I was covering a different game or practice, we had a volleyball beat writer that wasn’t me. It never added up to enough time for me to go to many volleyball matches.
That’s not to say I didn’t care. I followed the team closely, obviously. I was happy when it won, disappointed when it lost, which is rare.
But I used this weekend to take in three matches, against Oklahoma, Air Force and North Dakota State, and I’m glad I did. It was a remarkable display of volleyball. Each match had something different but all were exciting.
Oklahoma came into Friday getting votes in the national coaches poll, and our Bears won the first set, pushed through some struggles in the second and fourth sets and faced a deficit in the final set. The energy in Butler-Hancock was fascinating despite the fact the stands were almost half empty.
No matter; I just cheered louder.
In any case, the Bears showed great resiliency and came away with a huge win for the program.
On Saturday, the team took down Air Force by allowing a combined 19 points in the final two sets — seven in the third set and 12 in the final set. That’s called domination, folks.
And a sweep against a scrappy NDSU team completed the team’s undefeated weekend and gave me enough convincing to make time to go back for more matches.
Now, it’s my turn to do the convincing.
I mentioned earlier that the stands were half empty against Oklahoma. Saturday’s matches weren’t any better of a showing in terms of attendance. That needs to change.
I know it was Labor Day Weekend, and UNC is widely regarded as a “suitcase college” in the first place, so I’ll give this weekend a pass, but in the future, things need to be different.
I learned two things about the volleyball team this weekend.
The first is how hard-working it is, which is evidenced by players diving for a ball even if they had, in my estimation, no conceivable shot at actually reaching it.
And secondly, anything could be labeled as the main reason the team and the program has had success over the years, it was this: The team has fun together. And you don’t need to look further than this year’s freshmen to see that. Lyndsey Oates, year after year, brings in quality players and builds them up and works them into quality contributors.
That’s why the UNC volleyball team has been the most consistent team at this university in the last several years. Other teams, to their credit, have had flashes of brilliance, but nothing like the volleyball team’s two trips to the NCAA Tournament in the last three years.
Also, the volleyball team won the Big Sky regular season championship last season, giving it the right to host this year’s conference championship in the two days after Thanksgiving.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ll knock out the tryptophan-induced sleepiness in order to be in Butler-Hancock for that. I suggest you do the same.
Until then, though, there’s a lot of volleyball to be played. And I sincerely hope enough people fill the stands to see it. The team deserves it. I’ll see you out there.
— Parker Cotton is a senior journalism and sociology major and is the editor-in-chief of The Mirror.