Playing beach volleyball, 4 on 4, in record-setting heat is not for sissies. The finals are played in the late afternoon in October. One could expect a balmy 80 degrees, but it is 95 at 5 p.m., when the first game began.
To be honest, the heart of these teams also got themselves jobs at the Foy. They are outdoor activity junkies and they have lured a few more people with love in their heart to come out and play. But it is hot. In a 4×4 match-up, only three folks on each side actually dared to come to the match.
The first semi-final match was watched by two people in the audience. One of them was actually a player who was sidelined because of a turned ankle. Or she might have been sitting out and watching because it was so hot …
The scorekeeper, a student employee, shrank two inches just flipping the scoreboard and absorbing all that heat. Probably a good thing there is not a strong student employee union, what with the work conditions being just a degree or two below unbearable.
The athletes were skilled, but moved rather slow. A dive into the sand by an over-excited player who goes by JJ, resulted in sand sticking to his damp face, peppering his tanned skin with white mascara under and over his sunglasses. One of the players on the other side of the net, Dawson Wilson, chided him “You got your face paint on.”
Landry Webster forgot her shades. Playing into the sun, she positioned her head just right so that the large strap of cotton that anchors the net made a stripe of shade across her eyes while she waited on a serve.
One time a ball rolled away down into the Dunn Bowl. The referee, Ashlyn Manley, genuinely sympathetic, asked the scorekeeper “Do we have another ball?”. “Yes”, replied the scorekeeper, “but it is sort of flat.” Even the ball did not really want to come out and play. It thought it was just too hot.
If you ask the teams if they actually have a name, they shrug. “Not really”. They just come out and play because they love it and they have no sense. They probably had their team identity baked right out of them in that sun.
During the semi-finals, a team who actually goes by the name Scared Hitless, was eliminated rather unceremoniously in the third of three games.
Anja Shelton piped up “You know why we are loosing … we never played the third game before.” Because it is too damn hot to be out there for all three games in a match. It explains why they let their opponents clean them up so fast at the end.
No one seemed upset when the match was over, just dehydrated. The trash talk that had evaporated during the middle of the second game sort of came back to life after they each took a draft from their water supply, which was also hot,… but it was at least a little wet.
In the end, the Royals took their opponents out methodically, winning the season with 5-0-0-0 record.
A co-ed group called the Beach Bums forfeited 3 matches along the way and brought up the bottom of the roster. The attempt to interview them was unsuccessful because they would not come out of the air conditioning to talk about the things they would rather do than swelter out on the sand.
Tuesday’s loss by Scared Hitless was a surprise. They had been doing well. After their defeat, a player said it was a miracle they made it as far as they did, what with it being so hot and all.
For the Fall 2019 season of intramural 4 x 4 beach volleyball, Back to Back finished undefeated to top the Men’s Division. In the Women’s Division, Chi Omega squeaked out a contested championship against ADPI. The Royal topped the co-ed competition, led by Webster and her squinty eyes.
Manley, the referee was the one cool voice in the whole matter. It is her first year officiating and she is still really excited.
She said, “I am hoping they all come out strong and play to win” and then she grinned so big she blocked the sun. After that, there was a small breeze, and for a moment it felt like it was only 92 degrees out there. Or maybe it was just the heatstroke.