Volleyball players don’t get enough credit.
They don’t get enough credit for their ability to accurately pass a ball off a serve, set a ball for a kill, time their jump perfectly on an attack, or any of the countless other idiosyncrasies that go into making a talented volleyball player.
Often overlooked in the mix are the players’ celebrations after each point. Most volleyball players have the athleticism of a basketball player and the energy of a cheerleader. Needless to say, a simple fist-pump and “Yes!” does not constitute a proper expression of enthusiasm.
Most teams have choreographed celebrations for when they get a kill.
And a block.
And an ace.
Some are quite creative, like how Brewster players on the court take a knee and pretend to pray to their teammate who just served up an ace, but many teams have similar — if not identical — celebrations due to their simplicity.
Regardless of their level of difficulty, the habits themselves always left me with one unanswered question: “Do teams spend time in practice actually working on this stuff?”
Ursuline head coach Gigi Kemp said she tells her team it’s up to them to work out their own cheers on their own time. Yorktown head coach Katy Sherwood said that since most players do club volleyball in the offseason, they often bring cheers over from their travel team.
For some programs, like Westlake, incoming players learn through observation of the veterans on the team.
“It kind of just comes, to be honest,” Wildcats senior captain Kelly Martin said. “It’s kind of like a ripple effect. … Generally, it just passes down. It’s just a tradition, I guess.”
The cheers are simple, and easy to pick up on, because they have to be. The objective is to win the match, not impress your opponent or the fans with your sweet dance moves. The cheers are just a small part of the game, but players find them to be invaluable to the team chemistry.
When their teams record a block on defense, both Westlake and Yorktown stick to a traditional celebration — throwing two hands in the air while bellowing, “Roof!” in the lowest octave they can generate.
The hands are supposed to represent the roof, but what does a roof have anything to do with volleyball?
“It’s a roof because that ball can’t come into my house,” Yorktown’s Amanda Rolle said, causing her teammates to erupt in laughter. “That’s what it is!”
Huskers senior captain Toni Fiore said the chants also serve as a way to intimidate the competition.
“It definitely gets into their heads,” said Fiore, who earned all-section honors last year. “It’s just loud and kind of in your face.”
Players find the celebrations to be beneficial, and anyone who has been to section final can see that the crowd and players clearly feed off each other’s energy. It makes the sport fun to watch.
Then again, can these entertaining cheers be a detriment to a sport that is constantly fighting to get some of their classmates who attend football and soccer games to attend their matches?
On the contrary, Sherwood said.
“I don’t know if people are watching, but volleyball is by far the most exciting sport to watch,” said Sherwood, who has also coached softball and swimming. “I think it is a really electrifying game, and I’ve coached a lot of sports, but volleyball is by far my favorite.”
It’s hard to disagree with Sherwood.
Don’t believe volleyball is exciting? Go to a match and see for yourself.