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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Column: Excitement is the game

Think of the most exciting sport.

First thought has to be basketball and its century-mark scoring.


What about the hard-hitting, big play oriented football?

Wrong again.

The answer is a sport that combines both the hard hitting – albeit a different kind of hard hitting – of football and the constant scoring of basketball. A sport where the crowd can erupt in cheers after almost every play. A sport where a player can hit an opponent as hard as they want with the ball and it’s just part of the game. A sport where its most important statistic is kills.

I’m of course talking about women’s volleyball.

Nothing represents the sheer thrill volleyball can bring than the Aggies’ huge comeback Saturday night, to top first place UC Santa Barbara.

For those who couldn’t make the game (which should be a lot as the attendance was a shade under 350), UC Davis rallied from two sets down to absolutely crush the Gauchos in the final two sets. The fourth and fifth games weren’t even close as the Aggies never trailed in either and the score was only tied at 0-0.

The crowd truly played like a seventh person, erupting after every kill, every block and every dive to keep the ball in play. The players on the court clearly fed off the energy from the crowd and turned it into an amazing game of volleyball.

There was one person who was especially appreciative of the atmosphere inside the Pavilion – head coach Jamie Holmes.

Holmes has waiting for that kind of environment to come cheer on her team, and she finally got it.

“I’m so excited to see the atmosphere as it was,” Holmes said. “We had a fantastic crowd. The Aggie Pack members showed up and it was a really nice atmosphere. I want to thank UC Davis for that.”

While every player, fan, parent and assistant coach was erupting in cheers during the latter half of Saturday’s match, there was one person who was solid as a rock throughout the entire match – Holmes.

Aside from an occasional fist pump, Holmes was emotionless the entire match. At the scorers table where there is a strict no cheering rule – a rule I’ve already broken during a football game – I even wanted to join in the excitement.

Holmes, however, believes it’s her duty as a coach to remain stoic during each and every set.

“I do think it’s important that I don’t get sucked into the emotions of it all,” the third year coach said. “There are still decisions that need to be made and your team needs to know that you’re not caught up in the excitement of the game.

“For me it’s important to stay calm because I want my team to stay calm.”

How Holmes can stay calm is beside me. After every Kayla Varney dig, or Betsy Sedlak kill, or Jenny Woolway incredible save, it’s human nature to jump out of your seat and cheer for the home team.

Even in Friday night’s loss to rival Cal Poly, the crowd was loud until the last ball hit the floor. The Cal Aggie Band-Uh and Aggie Pack were cheering as loud as they could up until the last point was scored.

That’s what makes volleyball so compelling. A crowd cheering despite the results makes volleyball the most exciting sport UC Davis has to offer.

A case could be made that basketball is the most exciting Aggie sport, and in some circumstances I would agree. Take UC Davis’ historic win over Pacific last winter. The moment the final buzzer sounded would go down as one of the greatest moments in UC Davis athletic history. However, say the Aggies lost that game to the Tigers by 15 points, do you think the Pavilion would have been just as loud? Of course not.

However, on Friday night when the women’s volleyball team lost to Cal Poly, the Pavilion was as loud as the teams Pacific-esque win on Saturday.

I’m slowly becoming one of the fans that really can see the true excitement a volleyball game can bring. Aside from a couple section playoff games at my high school, my volleyball watching experience was pretty limited.

After Saturday’s win however, I’m truly hooked to the most exciting sport UC Davis has to offer.

If there is a team just as exciting (or nerve-racking) as Aggie volleyball, it’s got to the San Francisco Giants. JASON ALPERT swears if there’s one more one-run playoff game, he might lose it. To talk Aggie women’s volleyball or Giants baseball, e-mail him at sports@theaggie.org.


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