Monday, May 15, 2006

Missed it by that much

In an underdog matchup not seen since the day Rocky Balboa took on Apollo Creed, team D0h! met Playing Havoc in the Fermi Volleyball Fall League Playoffs (or FVFLP for short ).

It was a night history would be made.


Playing Havoc, a stalwart of the Fermi Volleyball League, was heavily favored. Although rather old (all memebers are over 40), they had the advantage of having played together for years. Our team, on the other hand, was two year young and, although full of exuberance, knew very little of this game we call "volleyball." The narrator of this story, for example, only began playing volleyball last year. The same can be said of his wife. Could unsurpassed athletic ability make up for a lack of experience?

Ha, athletic ability, that's funny. But seriously, could two runners turned bump-set-spikers hang with the big dogs?

Our team had one player more than the requisite six, so I assumed a leadership role and offered to sit out first (this had nothing to do with the fact that both of the female players had to stay on the court and I'm the worse male. You might think that's the reason, but it's actually just that I've very noble. And handsome). From the sidelines I had a terrific view of the action, and let me tell you, my friends, it was some very actiony action.

From the moment the first serve was floated through into the air, I could tell this night would be special. There was a fire on our players' eyes that I'd yet to see at any point during the season. The intensity that had remained dormant up to this point came roaring out of each players' heart (and out onto the court where a little intensity-puddle formed). It was a sight to behold.

Of special interest was the play of a certain runner we all know. Ms. Leah, although out of her comfort zone (that being the zone where she runs in a straight line for a long time without stopping), was getting to balls that would have gone untouched during the season. She was bounding about the court like a little rabbit, although perhaps more effect than a rabbit would be (seeing as how a rabbit is about the same size as the volleyball and would be unlikely to get the ball back over the net. Unless, perhaps, the rabbit lay on its back and used its oversized feet to kick the ball back over the net. But I digress). On this night, there was much bumping, setting, and spiking...and it was good.

The score steadily increased but the lead was fairly static, although it passed from team to team. Rarely did either team lead by more than a point and never by more than two. The serve went back and forth, the rallies were long, and the competition intense and, all of a sudden, the score was 10-9 (we play to 11, but one must win by two).

We were one point from taking the game against the second best team in the league? Could this be right?

Playing Havoc was clearly scared, but they weren't planning on going away anytime soon. Unfortunately for them, either were we. They broke our serve and then took a point on their next serve. The game was tied 10-10. The next point was ours, but then they got the serve back and tied it right back up at eleven all. Their next serve resulted in another point and they were up 12-11 and things were looking grim for our heroes.

Sure, they could have given up at that point. No one expected them to win, after all. But no, they won the next point to get the serve back. Unfortunately, they were unable to score, but they again got the serve back again! D0h! was not going to go down easy. One more try to score, but to no avail and on the next point the ball just feel inside the line on our side and the game ended. We had lost 13-11. The game was even closer than the score indicated. Seriously. One break our way and the game would have been ours. Still, it was easily the greatest game of volleyball out team had played.

In the next game, I rotated in. I don't mind telling you, I felt plenty of pressure not to screw up after the game my team had just played. Luckily, I was also on my game. I nailed all my passes and finally had some decent hits. I did, however, bring much shame to the Rieger-Welty household by missing two serves but, given the daily helping of shame I bring on a daily basis, we are talking a drop in the bucket. We dropped the second game 11-6, but it was closer than the score indicated (for real this time). Either one of those game could have gone our way.

Win or lose (in this case lose, obviously) this was the best volleyball we had ever played. We are what Gonzaga used to be. Come tourney time, we shine. Except that Gonzaga used to win and we didn't. But whatever, you get the point. This isn't freakin' rocket science, this is Fermilab volleyball.

So, we lost, but we lost with dignity. It was a noble fight and any Klingon would take pride in such a loss (assuming it ended in death, of course). This likely brings our Fermilab volleyball career to a close as we will probably be graduated by the time the season next rolls around. If this is the case, then I'm glad we went out on a high note. If one were to watch a video of our first game and compare it to these two games, I think the improvement would be impressive.

Not bad for two runners out of their element.


Bob said...

Great story Jason, but you shouldn't have given away the ending in the title. :) And did you say Klingon, do we have a closet Trekkie in our midst??

Jason said...

I think you're right, I should have allowed for more suspense. I actually finished this around 4 this morning, so I was just happy to even get it written.

Oh, and closet trekkie? There's nothing closet about my trekkiness.

Joe said...

Good story. I'm sorry you didn't win but it sounds like you had lots of fun anyway.

Joe said...

Maybe you guys forgot to say Qapla' before the game?

jcerunner said...

Great match even if you lost at the end!! As long distance runners, I'm sure you won't give up and the next time it will be yours!!

And congrats for the writer!! ;-)