By Krista Pirtle
Growing up playing basketball, many of you would jump up and down after making a basket, celebrating your score. Coach would then pull you aside and tell you to act like you had scored before.
When you watch sports today, unless it is a buzzer beater or walk-off, there in no celebration in the middle of the playing surface.
Football even made a rule prohibiting it in the end zone.Point-by-point optimism seems to have disappeared from the modern sports world.
Oh wait, what about volleyball?
Baylor is no exception.
After every point, won or lost, the Bears enthusiastically huddle in the middle and then break to their respective positions.
In a sport where momentum dominates offensive performance, it is key to stay positive and expect to score every point.
If the team quiets down, the energy level begins to decrease.
When most other sports view this as distracting, Baylor volleyball head coach Jim Barnes sees it as a way to focus his players.
“The big part is keeping us focused point by point,” Barnes said. “We are motivated and trying hard, but you have to have that mental focus and doing your job every point. When we are disciplined and doing our job, I think we are a pretty good team.”
When watching a Baylor volleyball game, you will see how the exhortations affect the play.
Senior setter Brittany Ridenour is captain of this team. Also, as setter, she is like the Robert Griffin III of her team, controlling who touches the ball and the offensive attack point by point. Watch after every point as she corrals her troops to a huddle and offers a nugget or two of wisdom.
Senior middle blocker Briana Tolbert is becoming more of a leader for the 2011 squad in every game. After a big kill, you can bet you will see her excited, but also watch after the Bears lose a point. The focus never leaves her eyes as she leads her teammates by example to never give up.
Her counterpart, junior middle blocker Torri Campbell, is very expressive on the court. You know something good just happened when she screams and makes a little fist pump. Of course, there is no fist pump when they lose a point, but the joy of the game is obviously what pushes her point by point.
Sophomore outside hitter Zoe Adom is perhaps the most enthusiastic and expressive, which leads to the power behind her kills. However, Adom doesn’t yell just on the court, but she is just as excited on the sidelines. There are points when she will drop to her knees to watch a set when the score is close, and then rise to her feet to celebrate a won point.
Senior outside hitter Qian Zhang is little more quiet when it comes to celebrating. She still celebrates with her team in the huddle, but once she is in the zone, let her go because she is a threat both at the net making kills and in the backcourt making digs.
Senior libero Allison King, after running everywhere on Baylor’s side of the net, probably feeds off the energy the most. At libero, she is responsible for chasing down as many balls as she can since she has no attack responsibilities. She also is expected to pass the ball well and take the place of setter Ridenour if she is out of place.
Freshman utility Adri Nora is becoming more enthusiastic as the season progresses. Not to say she was never before, but with her improving match by match, the excitement naturally escalates as well.
Indeed there are more players on the team, but this should make you the reader want to go out and watch your Baylor Bears enthusiastically win their way to a conference championship.