Wednesday, February 28, 2007

So what in the world has Devin Scruggs been doing all this time?

As you probably know by now, Oscar Crespo, associate head coach at Nevada, has been named head coach at San Jose State. With the change of jobs, Crespo's extensive reponsibilities while at Nevada have come to light.

Amongst other things, Crespo was in charge of athlete training and development; opponent scouting and evaluation; recruiting; setter development; drill development and individual and team skill evaluation; development of defensive and offensive systems; statistical analysis of individual and team play; and team macrame projects for charity.

All this begs the question: What wasn't Crespo responsible for? What exactly was Scruggs in charge of? Is Nevada a house of cards ready to collapse now that Crespo has left? Is "associate head coach" slang for "guy responsible for everything but the big paycheck"?

None of that explains why I hear the words "fine Corinthian leather" every time I see Crespo's mugshot.


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Danielle Scott is SO big time

So has given us a lot of online journals from youngsters such as Candace Lee and Dani Busboom, so it's a nice contrast to have one from Danielle Scott, a USA veteran with a wealth of international experience.

The differences between these entries are subtle, but they're there. Plus, Scott is as big a player as we've had the last 10-15 years, and we don't hear nearly enough about her.

So why is Scott big time? Because she casually talks about things I have no concept of. Whereas journal entries by the youngsters talk about how much fun they're having in Colorado Springs, Scott talks about playing in the Brazilian Superliga for Cimed Macae. I don't even know where or what Macae is, but it sounds good. The youngsters talk about getting to know former colleges foes, while Scott writes things like "we drove from Sao Paulo to Paraty (Parati) during carnival," and "we stayed in a quaint Pousada," and doesn't bother explaining any of it to us. The funny part is I don't even mind. But I appreciate her letting us know that Paraty is better known as...Parati.

Scott closes up the article by telling us that Wiz Bachman (she became "Wiz" apparently when Lang Ping became "Jenny") is playing for Toshi in Japan, but has a cold right now because "it's freezing in Yamagata YIKES!" I have no idea what she's talking about, and yet I can't help but be intrigued. My new goal is to figure out a way to work "Yamagata" into casual conversations.

"I forgot my coat. Good thing I'm not in Yamagata! Ha! Ha-ha...heh."

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Leanne Felsing's gonna work the runway

The UWM Panthers, under the direction of Kathy Litzau, have been the pride of the Horizon League for many years now. And it might be due in part to innovative fundraisers such as the second-annual "Dig N' Dazzle" fashion show, set for the Milwaukee Hilton on April 1.

At the show, volleyball players will be strutting down the runway in fashions from Boutique B'Lou, a Milwauke area boutique with clothes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describes as "breezy," the kind of store that could just as easily be in "Florida or Nantucket."

Florida. Or Nantucket. Is that like South Carolina or Penobscot Bay? Georgia or Martha's Vineyard?

The article also describes the boutique as the kind of place that Katie Couric would shop at, which seems to skew a little older than the Panther squad. But, if Kellye Zaporski in non-threatening pant suits is your kind of thing, Milwaukee Hilton. April 1.

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Dream a little dream...

The teams and location of next year's AVCA Showcase have been decided, giving the head coaches of UCLA, Nebraska, Utah, and Tennessee a chance to dust off their moldiest platitudes about the great honor of being a part of the tournament, what a tremendous event, bleep blop blorp.

"UCLA is honored to be invited to participate in the AVCA Showcase," is a pretty typical quote, given here by Andy Banachowski. The quotes by Beth Launiere, John Cook, and Rob Patrick are all pretty much the same, straight out of the Crash Davis School of Sports Quotes.

Wouldn't it be nice, just once, to have a head coach with the candor of, say, Charles Barkley? Why can't Patrick just say, "Look, who am I kidding? We're gonna get clobbered at this thing, but even bad exposure is good exposure"? Wouldn't it be refreshing if Launiere said, "Honestly, I was fed up with people saying our top 10 ranking was a joke, so, hey, bring it beee-atch"?

Wouldn't that be more fun?

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Quote of the Day, re: Tailwind [whoooosh]

Two fun quotes from an article on Brandi Chastain, Hope Solo, and Logan Tom's new shoe line...Tailwind [whoooosh].

"This takes the low end to a new extreme."
- Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at NPD Group Inc., talking about the new Tailwind [whoooosh] shoe line. Who knew the low end could be extreme? Aren't we over the whole "extreme" phase? I mean we gave those rugrats the X Games, can't one thing in sports not be EXTREME?

"This is a huge opportunity. ... We needed to have an offense in this space."
- Clare Hamill, president and chief executive of Exeter, a subsidiary of Nike, commenting on the Tailwind [whoooosh] shoe using fancy-schmancy marketing terms that we don't think even she understands. "An offense in this space"? What does that mean? Are they running Phil Jackson's triangle inside shoe stores? Are Tailwind associates running a three-man-weave at your local Buster Brown's?

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Rules of Engagement: Second Installation

It's time for installation #2 of our official mockery of the history of rule changes in volleyball. There have been zillions of changes, and we'd like to make fun of each one, as well as tie them in to American society at the time. These are actual rule changes that have been made to the game.

1953 - Players were allowed to use any part of the body to play the ball: Long overdue repealing of above-the-knee rule, now that America was safe and free to injure themselves in any way they saw fit. It was an exciting time: the Corvette was introduced, a woman broke the sound barrier, and Lucy gives birth to Ricky Jr. as 68% of all TVs tune in to watch. Capitalizing on that newfound excitement, rulemakers say "Hey! Everything goes!"

1957 - Balls could be played off obstacles: Gyms were very small in the '50s. The term "crackerbox" originated in this decade. The Boston Garden was originally the size of today's mediocre middle school arenas. Most of America's raw materials were being used to build thousands of neighborhoods that all looked the same.

1960 - Gloves could be worn during play: Glove baron Clyde Isotoner exerted considerable influence upon American society at the beginning of the '60s, successfully persuading volleyball's governing board to adopt this odd rule. Some say that it was Clyde's glove designs that would later inspire artist Andy Warhol to do his greatest work.

1968 - Balls must be played above the waist: Upset with the Great Glove Debacle, volleyball developed a new no-nonsense attitude, which many believed to be a reaction to "dirty hippies" who many felt were ruining the game, what with their free love, which in the sport led to something called "free contacts." In response, nothing below the waist was talked about, nor permitted on the volleyball court. Players were encouraged to keep theirs eyes above the net.

1976 - Double hits were prohibited on any type of dig: This rule change can be directly linked to Watergate and it's extensive fallout. People were immensely distrustful of authority, of "the Establishment." Volleyball's governing board saw that they were being equated with that Establishment, and agreed to relax the rules of volleyball in order to gain the trust of its constituency: gymrats.

1984 - Player could make multiple contacts of a team's first hit if there was only one attempt and there was no "finger action" on the ball: "Finger action." One of the vaguest concepts to ever be introduced to the game, left open to the interpretation of all levels of referee across America. It's this rule that turned Andy Banachowski's hair gray. But the rule comes into effect just in time for USA setter Dusty Dvorak to mangle the ball just enough for USA to take the gold.


Odd recruiting trend at Temple

Temple University has announced their '07 recruiting class. Ariel Pierre (Bellerose, NY/St. Francis Prep), Cayleigh Ashman (Downington, PA/Bishop Shanahan) and Anissa Whitney (Cresskill, NJ/Cresskill) are all set to arrive in Philadelphia next fall, and are surely going to have a great time attending Temple and playing for the Owls.

Wait a minute...none of those people are from China! That's just...weird.

The Klinkenborg: Helloooo!

For the uninitiated, Florida middle Kari Klinkenborg is, well, she's hot. Can't put it much plainer than that. Along with being a stellar volleyball player, she's done quite a bit of professional modeling, and Sports Illustrated On Campus has posted a little article on her on- and offcourt accomplishments.
Couple of interesting quotes:

"Only a couple of her teammates know about her work off the court."

Well, until this article appeared on a major sports website, that is. But here's the kicker:

It's always been pretty difficult because I played for a club that was pretty strict as far as practicing, pretty time-consuming," Klinkenborg said. "I did have to pass up quite a few job opportunities for modeling because of practicing and traveling."

Way to go, Jim Miret. Thanks a lot.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Those brave, brave basketball programs...

Winthrop University is garnering attention these days because the men's basketball team is 25-4 and is the first Big South bball team to go undefeated in conference play. We're sure Coach McCartney got the same attention when he created the juggernaut volleyball program...

Anyway, there's an article in the Austin Statesman highlighting the achievements of the Winthrop basketball program, while marveling at the casual attitude of Coach Gregg Marshall in the face of unspeakable adversity:

Three hours to a Tuesday night tipoff at Winthrop Coliseum, and the women's volleyball team has commandeered the game court. They throw up a net, place tape on the floor to help with positioning and run through a quick workout.

Oh my God! It's a hostile takeover by the women's volleyball program! They're commandeering, the scoundrels! Surely Marshall will go nuts and boot the lowly volleyball team into the next county? Away, you ruffians! Away!

In his office 100 yards away, men's basketball coach Gregg Marshall shrugs off the news of the volleyball team on his court.

W-w-what? "Shrugs off"? How could he do that? Has he no sense of decency!

So sharing the court and dealing with some tape residue when the game against Liberty starts? No big deal, Marshall says.

This man has the patience of a saint, I tell you. Even though there exists the chance of deadly tape residue being on The Basketball Court--I think we all remember where we were during The Great Tape Residue Disaster of '93--Marshall remains calm, even indulging in shrugs, a scant three hours before tipoff.

Amazing. Maybe we're not too far from being accepted into the minds of mainstream newspaper sports reporters.



Hey! Hey! Let's leave the personal judgements out of the headlines, OK? Quit harshing our buzz.

Poor kid never had a chance in sports

Poor Texas freshman outside hitter Destinee Hooker. She's just all thumbs, barely chewing gum and walking at the same time with no appreciable athletic ability. If only she could--I don't know--jump, she might just have a future in this game, as well as track & field.

But bless her heart, she's out there every day, still trying, still giving it her all. Quite a testament to the boundless reach of the human spirit.

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Vanderbilt? OK State? Take note, fellas.

Snead State is the kind of school that Vandy and OK State should aspire to be. Why? Because Snead State (I know what you're thinking, and it's not named after Sam Snead), a community college located in Alabama, is considering adding women's volleyball to it's athletic program!

Of course, "considering" isn't exactly the same thing as a done deal, but baby steps, people. Baby steps.

So, step up Cowgirls and Commo...(Commodettes?)...female Commodores; If the fighting Sneaders can add volleyball, so can you. You shouldn't let yourselves get shown up like that. Represent.

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Kristen Fenton: Clearly bored out of her skull

Former Fresno State outside hitter Kristen Fenton is one of the 10 or so athletes that have been training with USA Volleyball for the past few months, and from reading her latest online journal entry, one thing is clear: She's bored to tears.

Now, she doesn't come right out and say that, but we're pretty savvy. We can read between the lines. Take these few sentences:

"As I mentioned, it has been pretty intense and coming from a hitter's standpoint, defense is not my most favorite aspect of the game to focus on for six weeks."

Translation: SIX WEEKS?! I'm a hitter, yo. How can anyone be expected to work on defense this long? Isn't there some kind of accelerated program I can do instead?

"However, it is a very important part of volleyball and I realized just how much I do need to focus on defense to better my overall game."

Translation: I realized this right about the time the USA coaches told me I needed to focus on it.

"I have been given some opportunities in practice to swing on the outside during competition drills and I look forward to that part of practice everyday!!"

Translation: It's the only part I look forward to. Other than that, I long for the carefree days of Child & Family Studies in Fresno, with the wind at my back and a song in my heart.

"Seeing that there are only 10 of us as of now, we haven't been able to play full six on six games."

Translation: What brain surgeon decided to only bring in 10 of us? Pingel, I'm lookin' at you.

"I'm not going to lie, I didn't know what to expect because we haven't been put in many game situations during practice."

Translation: See previous mention of the number 10.

"...there are still things that we need to work on, but it was good to actually get to play."

Translation: Did I mention the six weeks of defense?

"Overall, I had fun today and it was awesome to be able to play a full volleyball game."

Translation: SIX freakin' WEEKS! AUGHGHGHGHGH!!!

Of course, we could be wrong.

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Great Moments in Marketing

Logan Tom is joining forces with soccer's Brandi Chastain and Hope Solo to launch a new line of women's "fashion meets performance" footwear. It's called...Tailwind. [whooooosh]

Ignoring for a moment that Tom is a beach player now and doesn't really need shoes...Tailwind [whoooooosh]. That sounds familiar. Where have we heard that before? Well, a tailwind is what gets you to the East Coast in a plane in under 3 hours...tail..."tailhook," that was the name of that scandal involving women and the Navy...tailwind...

Oh, that's right. "Operation Tailwind" was the name of a covert military incursion into Laos in 1970, one where CNN, in 1998, claimed the U.S. may have used Sarin nerve gas, killing over 100 men, women, and children, an account that was later retracted and found to be dubious.

Sounds like one hell of a shoe.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Don't strain yourself or anything...

The Wisconsin Badgers have a neat little feature on their website, that we hope they'll continue to update, called "Where Are They Now?". People love to find out what happened to their favorite players and stars of the past.

Our only complaint is with their choice of whom to spotlight: Arlisa Hagan. Arlisa Hagan? Where is she now? You mean the head coach at Georgetown who was at Florida for many years? That Arlisa Hagan? She's figuratively standing RIGHT OVER THERE.

Don't get me wrong, Hagan was a great player, but...doing an update on her was pretty easy, wasn't it? Shouldn't these features deal with former players a little bit outside the volleyball scope of things? Next they're going to ask where former setter Colleen Neels is. Hey whatever happened to Rod Wilde?

C'mon guys! STRETCH a little, will ya'? How about Sue Wohlford? Or Brigitte Lourey? Tell me where Heather Dodaro is now. That's a concept I can get behind.

We also love this question from the article: "What is your favorite memory (academically or socially) from being at Wisconsin?"


"Um, I remember? This one time? I was taking a midterm in Intro to Sosh? And I almost answered 'D. All of the Above' for #32? But then I totally changed my mind and answered B! That was a great day."

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Well, sure, he says that now

“I’m excited for a new challenge and am excited to be going back to my home state into an environment that is familiar.”
- Dominic Yoder, new volleyball coach at Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan's long, national nightmare is over.

After the NMU athletic department's initial "Gamble" (Zing!) didn't come up aces, they doggedly went back to the drawing board and have now hired Cameron University's Dominic Yoder to be their head volleyball coach. Yoder compiled an impressive 25-4 record for the Aggies in 2006, and will take over for the deposed Qi Wang.

The bigger question is what is NMU doing to ensure that their coaching hire sticks around this time? We're envisioning something akin to the last 20 minutes of "Funny Farm," the lukewarm 1988 Chevy Chase movie where his character bribes the town to act nice while Chase and his character's wife try to sell their home.

Is NMU A.D. Ken Godfrey dispensing $20 bills to every citizen of Marquette, Michigan, who exclaims "It's really not that cold!" while in the presence of Yoder? Is he hurriedly arranging for it to rain Girl Scout cookies every day at noon? And we're talking the good ones -- thin mints and samoas -- not those crummy Trefoils.

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Ron Kordes. Secretariat. Two peas in a pod.

Ron Kordes is being inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame this year. The head man at Louisville Assumption High School and director of KIVA, winner of multiple state, mythical high school, and JO national championships, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone more deserving.

Also being inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame this year? Secretariat. And on the surface, you wouldn't think there's much of a connection between the two, but you'd be wrong:

Secretariat's nickname was "Big Red." Ron Kordes' favorite Big Red.

Secretariat is a horse. Ron Kordes' favorite saying is "Why the long face?"

ESPN ranked Secretariat 35th on its list of the top 100 athletes of the 20th century. Ron Kordes has read ESPN's list of the top 100 athletes of the 20th century.

In 1973, Secretariat was named winner of an Eclipse Award, for Horse of the Year. In 2005, Ron Kordes was named winner of a award, also for Horse of the Year.

Secretariat was born on March 30, 1970. Ron Kordes was born much, much earlier.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Thank you...?

So, messageboard mavens already knew that former Wahine Jenn Carey was leaving her position as director of volleyball operations at Texas A&M to become an assistant coach at Georgia Tech. But it was officially announced on the Aggie website Friday, along with the following quote from head coach Laura Corbelli:

"We are proud of Jenn for getting a Division I job at a very good program so early in her career."


There's just something off, something askew, about that sentence. After all, as DiVO (Director of Volleyball Operations, y'all) at A&M, didn't Jenn already have a DI job at a very good program early in her career? Isn't Corbelli congratulating Carey for doing something...she's already done? Yeah, the Ga Tech job is as an assistant coach, but six in one, half-dozen in the other, blah blah blah.

We can only assume that in every A&M timeout Corbelli tells her players she's proud of them for playing on a DI team at a very good program so early in the school year.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Mary reads us! She really reads us!

OK, we're not positive Mary reads us, or even likes us (It's probably assistant coach Ryan Theis trolling around the Internet on his lunch break). But someone told her about the Great Hosing Debacle, because as you can see from this updated snapshot, "hosing" has been changed to the entirely more appropriate "hosting."

Success! Huzzah! Huzzah! Although we're kinda disappointed, as we were hoping to drag this out for a long time. You know, "Hose Watch, Day 38," that kind of thing.

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Ouch. That's gotta hurt.

"Jenny" Lang Ping has been replaced at a coach's seminar in Ottawa, Canada, by John Cook.

Creative differences was cited as the cause for Ping's replacement. The USA top dog will appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" instead as part of a cooking segment with Rachael Ray and Andy Dick.

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Rules of Engagement: The first installation

Presenting our first official mockery of the history of rule changes in volleyball. There have been zillions of changes, and we'd like to make fun of each one, as well as tie them in to American society at the time. Let's begin.

1916 - Balls could not be touched two consecutive times by one player: [snicker] OK, one rule change in and we're already transported back to a 5th grade level of humor.

1937 - Multiple contacts were allowed in receiving a hard-driven spike: With Hitler's Germany on the rise, a cry went out across this great land to give Americans every possible chance to defend themselves against an attack, whether it be from a runaway fascist state or a formidable leftside attacker. After a successful dig, it was not uncommon to hear a player exclaim "Jawohl!", a patriotic move that symbolized standing up to the Nazis.

1942 - Balls could be played with any part of the body from the knees up: This rule was an obvious progression from the 1937 stipulation. America was at war, and every able-bodied man was needed to help with the war effort. In order to prevent disabling lower leg injuries from happening to valued future soldiers, foot digs were outlawed.

1952 - Blockers must indicate whether or not they touched the ball: With the War to End All Wars at an end, and Baby Boomers on the rise, America was reinvigorated with a spirit of kinsmanship heretofore unseen. Looking to take advantage of this newfound goodwill, players were asked to maintain honesty above all. This lasted until that Jimi Hendrix asked "Are You Experienced?" and destroyed the fabric of our society.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Baum back in the hizzouse

The doldrums of the off-season just got a little perkier with the return of...Baumer's Blog! This is the diary of Arizona Wildcat standout Kristina Baum, who is not lacking for personality or confidence ( article? Can I get a witness?). Baum's entries are pretty good, as this past fall she documented her ACL and meniscus tear and subsequent rehab progress, as well as her hope to be granted a medical redshirt.

Among her better entries:

Alright, alright. I’m back. So I took a little break, okay? Geez. When you get sliced open, have a dead person’s tendon or ligament (something, I forgot what it’s called) put in your body, have some cartilage snipped off, and then get stapled back together all why you’re sleeping... ummm... I think I deserve a break.

Mmm...dead person's tendon...that's good stuff.

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Really? A whole village?

Browsing through the Michigan volleyball web page, we stumbled upon "Michigan Volleyball Up Close," which includes the section "It Takes a Village." Quickly we clicked the link, hoping to be treated to a lovely ode to Hillary Clinton's thinly veiled stab at least that's what our Republican uncle calls it...only to find a couple of video interviews with Mark and Leisa Rosen, conducted by former Wolverine Ashley Buckingham.

The site says "In this section you can meet all of the people that work behind the scenes at Michigan Volleyball." Two people? That's it? We'll have to check with the census bureau or a more definitive authority, but we don't think two people constitute a hamlet, let alone a village, unless we're talking Last of the Mohicans or something.

We suggest that they change the name of this section to something more appropriate, such as "It Takes Two," a subtle nod to Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock. Or at least let us know when this so-called "village" is gonna get some more inhabitants.

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We're requesting a blood test immediately...

I tell ya', 18-year-old high school volleyball players don't look like they used to.



The Chief no more

Having been lucky enough to see Chief Illiniwek perform at Huff Hall in between games 2 and 3 of a women's volleyball match, I'm sad to see the tradition being banned forever from Illinois athletic events. Wednesday night was Chief Illiniwek's last performance.

I know, I'm not an indian, but I always thought the Chief's performances were very respectful of indian ancestry, unlike, say, the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo. I'll never understand the PCness that demands these performances be banned.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mary doesn't read us?

UPDATE: A quick check of this article reveals that the Gators are still planning to "hose" Georgia Tech this spring, a fact we pointed out last week. We're just disappointed because this means head Gator Mary Wise must not read the blog, for surely she would have had a dude from sports info's head in a vise the next day to correct the typo.

Ben Bodipo-Memba? Still outraged. This is just the kind of lack of respect for the "Wreck" that drove Sally to Winthrop.

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The end of fun at Wright State has arrived

Wright State head coach Trina Smith has hired Nels Rydberg to be her new assistant coach, which spells doom for the hoodlums and hooligans in the Raider program: Rydberg has been working as a cop in Pismo Beach, California for the last three years.

All Raider athletes have until next week to discard their stolen traffic signs, discontinue their rampant jaywalking, and return all overdue movies to Blockbuster. Those who fail to comply fully will be issued citations and fines commensurate with their infractions.

Furthermore, on road trips players will no longer be allowed to signal for passing truck drivers to honk their horns.

This continues the trend of non-traditional hirings started by IU a couple of years ago when they hired TV reporter Dottie Porch to be an assistant for the Hoosiers. Perhaps this is something new for the game? Have we arrived at an era where Joe Sagula's replacement for Lizzy Stemke will come from the garment industry?

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Stemke signs up to get heart broken again

Lizzy Stemke, nee Fitzgerald, has been lured away from the Joe Sagula Empire of the Southeast to John Cook's Oasis on the Plains. A bold move for Stemke, under the circumstances, as she was recruited to play at Wisconsin when Cook was the head cheese, only to see him scoot south to Lincoln a year later.

We hope Cook is more considerate of her fragile emotional state this time around.

And how about this picture of Cook? A T-shirt! Look how relaxed this guy is now! Winning the national title in December was the equivalent of spending a month with the Dalai Lama. Look for Cook to stop shaving soon and grow a full beard.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Volleyball players don't fly well, apparently

By and large, the mainstream sports media didn't really take notice of the Las Vegas Invitational's place in this weekend's hullaballoo along with the All-Star game, choosing to focus more on the M.A.G.I.C. convention and Chinese New Year's. In fact, the only reference we can find is on SLAM Magazine's website, where columnist Sam Rubenstein mentions sharing a plane with a girl's volleyball team that couldn't find a place to store their volleyballs. Rubenstein claims that his plane "sat on the runway for an hour, partially because" of this dilemma.

Rrrright. It took part of an hour to figure out where to store the volleyballs. Happens all the time since volleyball teams never travel...

Rubenstein continued:

Some rather crude gentleman heading to Vegas, made an unfortunate joke about balls, and me and Khalid just looked at each other with the “here we go” understanding. Another girl on the volleyball team was in tears, presumably because she was afraid of flying.

The first part of that snippet seems pretty typical of the weekend. The second part, well, we're not buying it. "Presumably"? Because volleyball players are known for their inexperience with air travel? If you see a basketball player crying at a ski resort, is it fair to presume that he's crying because he's afraid of riding the lift?

Frankly we're surprised there aren't more stories out there about the colliding of basketball/volleyball, but we'll wait a few days to let them filter through the grapevine, which owes us after giving us no warning at all about Jeff Nelson and the Lobos.


That tricky, tricky Internet

People, people, people! Have we learned nothing from the lessons of about the perils of online photo publishing? Apparently not, as photos from a racially insensitive party at Santa Clara were made publicly available recently. We don't think it's necessary to show you copies of the photos because you can surely find them elsewhere. We're just very disappointed in the youth of today. With all their Internet savvy, they still haven't realized that, you know, sharing photos means SHARING PHOTOS.

P.R. move of the week goes to Santa Clara good guy Jon Wallace, who "told his players involved not to try to defend their actions, 'just say sorry, and mean it.'" It's a refreshing change from the "Heh heh. Kids! Wadda ya' gonna do?" that football coaches often resort to. We tend to disbelieve the notion that those involved are racists, more likely the victims of their own bad decisions.

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I just flew in from Vegas, and boy is my tolerance for posers tired

I've gotta admit that I was pretty excited for this past weekend, what with the NBA All-Star Game being in Vegas, and the mass of humanity that would follow it. But now that the weekend's over, all I can say is good riddance.
Things got off to a very entertaining start. Despite my worst fears, my plane flight and effort to secure a rental car went flawlessly. Once into Vegas, gambling went well on Friday night (up $200), star sightings were decent (I think I saw Joe Rogan from "Fear Factor"), and the scenery was...bizarre.

Ask anyone who was in Vegas this past weekend and they'll tell you a story about a woman wearing barely any clothes, packs of roving prostitutes, and lots of guys standing around staring at them while texting someone else. Apparently not-so-subtle nudity is OK in Vegas during All-Star weekend. Who knew.

But, at about the halfway point for the weekend, the hoopla and hype of the weekend seemingly turned ugly. I couldn't get to sleep because people were screaming, running up and down the hallways of my hotel at all hours, and security didn't seem to care. And if you asked the people to please keep it down, you were met with an impressive barrage of obscenities.

Plus, as Bill Simmons talked about in his recap (a must read), walking down the strip was a legitimately dangerous endeavor. More lowlife posers lurking around than you could shake a stick at, and, yes, there were shootings. My favorite moment of the weekend was, while enjoying a meal at a restaurant, I had to listen to the group in the booth behind me and my friends give a review on the porn they had watched that morning, with plenty of details. That's classy, folks.

So while I at first enjoyed being in the middle of Las Vegas' perfect storm, 36 hours in I was ready to go down with the ship just like George Clooney, and like it.

Oh, and memo for Ann Davenport: You know that map you have in your program for the tournament? Yeah...IT STINKS. Take 10 minutes, have some SCVA intern redo it. I'm sure you've got lots to worry about, such as participating in the arcane practice of reseeding the tournament based on point percentage, Ten minutes. That's all I'm saying.

As for the actual volleyball.
- Klineman is still unreal. I don't know if Mizuno Long Beach won it all (UPDATE: they did, 2-0 over Epic) because, along with the rest of the civilized world, I was trying to escape Sin City before getting caught in a crossfire between Zach Randolph and Danny Ferry's posses.
- The most emotionally engaged team of the 18s was Golden Bear, a team that lives and dies with each and every contact.
- The best crowds for matches are any time a Hawaiian team plays a top seed. Imi Ike, Oahu, whomever. Watching 5'2" kids shrug off a bomb from a 6'4 middle, that's entertainment.
- Every single high school in Las Vegas has the same design. It's like the Brady Bunch movie where Mike wanted to use the design of his house for everything from a laundromat to a library. Over a couple of days, you don't know if you saw a kid play at Green Valley, Sierra Vista, or Del Sol, because they all look the same.
- Chris Geeter was onhand coaching Sports Shack, meaning he escaped the clutches of Albany. I saw no evidence of mental scars.
- Although there were a ton of college coaches, it's obvious that some schools are placing more importance on Omaha. The Big Ten was slim in its pickings in particular. This tourney is no longer the de facto choice of President's Weekend.
- The UCLA Knee Slide Celebration (patent pending), prominently featured in this past season's Final Four, has leaked into club ball, with many teams coming up with their own interpretation. But there's more work needed, as some players were knee sliding into standing teammates. Awkward.


Friday, February 16, 2007

We're talking about Long Beach, right?

As you know, it's banquet season, and volleyball websites are dutifully recounting the events by letting you know who won MVP, Most Inspiring, Most Improved, and so on.

But we doubt you'll find a more...curious description of a banquet's events than that given by the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Doug Krikorian. In a breezy style, Krikorian covers a variety of topics in one column, from a conversation with Tommy Lasorda (15 paragraphs) to Gary Anderson's coaching performance at Long Beach City College (one sentence).

But the Long Beach State banquet is described in the same manner Dorothy Parker might describe a night at the Algonquin. For example, take this paragraph describing Brian Gimmillaro's wife Dania's outfit for the event:

Naturally, Long Beach's very own Cindy Crawford, Dania Gimmillaro, dazzling 6-foot wife of the 5-9 Gimmillaro, stood out sartorially in her shockingly gleaming knee-high white boots and chic mini-skirt, and, oh, did she and I have an uncontrollable giggle together at the expense of, of all people, this city's zaniest character, Dickie (Too Fast Too Furious/Count Dracula) Babian.

And I stepped on the ping-pong ball! I just squashed it to bits. It was just ghaaastly.

Seems like an odd tone for a sports page. In Long Beach, California.

Krikorian goes on to describe with glee the source of their giggle, which was that zany Dickie Babian answering his cellphone. Oh, Dickie! You cad!

Read the whole thing here.

Photo from Algonquin Hotel.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Your Las Vegas primer

Probably won't get too many posts up during Vegas, but will for sure be back on Tuesday with a full report. Until then, here are some nuggets of info before you venture into Sin City this weekend:

Tim Hardaway? Won't be around.

Nor will Jason Kidd, but for altogether different reasons. FYI, this means Joumanna won't be there, either. Or maybe she will...

If you play your cards right, you could see David Arquette show off his skillz.

ESPN's Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, sez: "Every celeb and wannabe celeb will descend on the (Las Vegas) to party. (If you ever wanted to have Britney Spears puke on you, this is the weekend.)" Fingers crossed!

Also in town this weekend is the Men's Apparel Guide In California convention, aka "MAGIC." Apparently a very big deal. There's a masquerade ball, and a booth featuring an apparel line based on The Wizard of Oz. I kid you not. Thank goodness there aren't any stereotypes associated with the fashion industry and Judy Garland movi-- oh, wait...



Because nothing's worse than when your banquet is ruled a failure. Just sets a bad tone.


New agreement to bring us events we don't care about on channel we've never heard of

Look, we appreciate the Ivy League and that adorable "no scholarship" thing they've got going, but that's about it as far as where they are on our radar (although BearClause from VolleyTalk keeps us up to date on any NorCal kids in the League).

Imagine our relief, then, when we read this press release detailing an agreement between the Ancient Eight and The America Channel to broadcast Ivy League women’s and men’s basketball, football, women’s and men’s soccer, women’s and men’s tennis, volleyball and softball. So you know all those times you wished you could see the No. 2 doubles showdown between Brown and Dartmouth? NOW YOU CAN!

What? Never heard of The America Channel? Well, join the crowd. Apparently it's a "new programming network that will explore and celebrate our communities, campuses, real heroes, and ordinary people who accomplish the extraordinary." Isn't that what local access cable is for?

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Rules of Engagement: And so it begins

The rules of volleyball have changed more than any other sport with the possible exception of lawn darts. As we've documented a couple weeks' worth of inane volleyball news, we felt it was our duty to look back and mark the major rule changes in volleyball, so that future generations may have a better understanding of where we've been, where we are, and where we're going... it was just another opportunity to make fun of something.

Look for "Rules of Engagement" posts over the next few weeks, or however long we can drag it out. Might only be a couple of days. Here's an example to whet your appetite:

1925 - Balls could not cross the net completely outside the sidelines: It's the year The Great Gatsby was published. It was the height of the Roaring Twenties. And although speakeasies were doing bang-up business, Americans were extremely fastidious when it came to their athletic endeavors. Tennis was played in long pants, football games ended once anyone got dirt on their sweater, and it was customary for baseball infielders to ask permission before tagging out a runner.


Fun with Typos, Gator style

Hey, let's have some fun at the expense of someone's typing skills! What do you think it means when an article on states that Florida will be "hosing" Georgia Tech as part of their spring schedule? After all, the Wramblin' Wreck was 20-12, 12-10 in the ACC, nothing to sneeze at. So it seems rather presumptuous to say that the Gators will hose them, doesn't it?

Somewhere, Ben Bodipo-Memba is really insulted, outraged even.

(Yeah, yeah, we know it was a typo, but too much fun to pass up.)

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Breaking News: Huh. Didn't see that coming...

You know, you try to spread a little AVP goodwill, you try to grow the game, and this is what happens.

Eight AVPs stars -- Kerri Walsh, Rachel Wacholder, Jenny Johnson-Jordan, Elaine Youngs, Jake Gibb, Sean Scott, Todd Rogers, and Casey Jennings -- are stranded in Albany, New York, following their exhibition competition last night. We should have seen this coming, should have known that the gods of lacrosse, field hockey, and ice hockey would never let the AVP come walking into their backyard and escape unscathed.

That'll learn ya'.


Gee, thanks Mom and Dad...

Nice little article about surprise IU assistant David Jack and his wife, IU women's head basketball coach Felisha Legette-Jack, in Louisville Courier-Journal. It describes how they got together, and the path that's led them to Bloomington.

Best quote is from Legette-Jack, on how they're raising their son, 8-year-old Maceo:

"We're not into a third party raising our son," Legette-Jack said. "If it comes to missing a day or two of school, I don't think that's a major issue because of the cultural experience. He'll learn from the travel and hanging out with the team."

I'm not sure that road trip to Iowa City, Iowa, is the cultural experience you think it is. "Hey, it's an open field, Maceo!"

(photo ©Diana Horton, University of Iowa Herbarium)

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lookit, do we get to meet Harmon or not?

Seems that the hot trend lately in assistant coach hiring is the ol' married couple 2-for-1. First it was Kevin and Mary (Coleman) Hambly, Ryan and Jenny (Manz) Theis, Dave and Colleen (Neels) Bayer, Hugh and Stephanie Hernesman, and now...

The Killebrews! It's Gretchen and Mark, new hires for Washington State. Related to Harmon Killebrew?

The AVP goes to Albany and we are there...sorta

As we warned you they were going to, the AVP put on a showcase Tuesday night in tropical Albany, NY, and thanks to the wonder of, we watched the whole thing via webstream. Here's what happened, although when we say "happened" we're not referring 100% to the action on the court):

The whole thing got off to a rousing start with player introductions done by the voice of the AVP, Chris "Geeter" McGee. This guy nails it every time, and gets the Albany crowd on their feet, even impressing the Time-Warner Cable announcers who note that Geeter did the intros without notes of any kind. Michael Buffer's got nothin' on Geeter.

Unfortunately, it only looks like there are only few hundred on hand to enjoy the intros and subsequent action, though every chance they get, the AVP pros compliment the crowd's size and enthusiasm.

As the action in the first men's match gets under way -- a mish-mash of Todd Rogers, Casey Jennings, Jake Gibb and Sean Scott -- the announcers are concerned that people will be too confused as to who's who when the teams switch sides.

Jenny Johnson Jordan, on hand at the announcer's table confesses that this is her first time to Albany. The announcers let her know there's a snow storm on its way tonight, and if she gets stuck in town, they'll let her know where the good restaurants are. Thanks, but we already pointed out the existence of the Albany Applebee's.

Before moving on to the women's first match, Casey Jennings says the crowd is "a small little group, but they're great." If there's one thing these guys are doing, it's serving as great ambassadors to the AVP. Yeah, it's an exhibition event to promote the AVP, but everyone is going out of there way to be helpful, informative, and fun. And the announcers are doing a nice job, deferring to the players doing the guest announcing whenever possible.

In the men's second match, we get Rachel Wacholder doing color commentary (YES!). She let's it drop that she has a little family tree advantage, as her uncle lives in New York and is in attendance along with her cousins. A Wacholder in New York? Sounds about as natural as a Kiraly in Maine.

The announcers mention that Wacholder is part of two volleyball couples competing tonight: Married tandem Kerry Walsh and Casey Jennings, and dating couple Wacholder and Sean Scott. They also note that this info is mentioned on Wacholder's bio on, but that their own married status isn't included in their bios. Well, you're not, you know, really hot.

Scott says he's also enjoying the family tree advantage, and that the Wacholders had Rachel and Sean over for a "nice big lasagna dinner." "That sounds terrific" one announcer says, and he actually sounds enthralled by the idea, as if all he needed in the world was a lasagna dinner, and all would be right in the world.

The relationship theme makes its way into all of the announcers' conversations, and they tongue-in-cheek let each player know that they're not to applaud for their own sweetie.

With Wacholder at the mike, they also ask if she will share a distinct advantage when teaming up with Elaine Youngs. Wacholder, gracious to the last, mentions that, um, she and EY, you know...broke up their partnership. Awkward.

Jennings is now rockin' the mike, and he's concerned that the "girls are lookin' tanner than the guys," and then mentions Mystic Tan. Ouch. Dude, you're going to hear about that later I think. The announcers ask Jennings if he thinks Walsh gets nervous. "She wins so much, what's there to be nervous about?" Zing!

Should mention at this time that Johnson-Jordan is in incredible shape for a mom. She's easily the most rusty of the foursome, but you can tell she's still got it. Wacholder seems a little off tonight, too, whocking some jump serves and lineshots way out. But they both get better as the evening rolls on.

Walsh is in fine form, completely taking over the second match with three straight blocks and forcing a Wacholder hitting error. EY is EY. After another win, Walsh says that if the there's anything to be nervous about, it's that tonight is their "first time in bikinis; that's what all the ladies are worried about."

Interesting. Never considered that the bikini is in its first competition of the year, too.

Unfortunately, this is when our cable Internet service went out, so we missed the next few matches. It only came back briefly at the end, but in time for us to hear Rogers say that "Misty (May) is the best sideout player on the planet."

Sounds about right.

The winners for the event were Scott and Walsh, by the way, as well as the citizens of Albany (aww). It looked like a great event for the city.

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Former Wave becomes Pink Spider

Honestly, we just wanted to write that headline. That was half the fun.

Former Pepperdine Wave Katie Wilkins has signed with the Hungkuk Pink Spiders of the Korean volleyball league. Now, why they're the Pink Spiders, we don't know. Perhaps there's a rare, exotic breed of deadly spiders, indigenous to South Korea, that's known for its pinkish hue?

We wonder why they didn't go with something more recognizable, such as the Pink Ladies, Pink Panthers, or Pinky Tuscadero, but we thoroughly enjoyed perusing the team website, where we couldn't read or understand anything. Crazy foreigners!

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Gotta love messageboards

Nothing quite like the anonymous rabble-rouser.

Kitchen sink also expected to try out

USA Volleyball will be conducting what amounts to a two-day tryout starting at 6 p.m. on February 23 and ending at 11 a.m. on February 25, and they've invited a "tentative" list of 110 athletes to participate. (You can see the whole list here.)

With a list of 110 people, our question is, ONLY 110? Are you sure you don't want to go deeper than that? Who wasn't invited? (Besides anyone from Penn State.) And who are some of these people?

Case in point: Lea Rosborough is listed as a libero. As far as we can tell, she never played collegiate volleyball, but did finish second as part of the 4x100 relay race team for Forth Worth Dunbar High School in Texas in 1988. I'm sure I'll learn later that she's a tremendous player, but until then, aren't we covered in the libero department with names such as Ailes, Cusack, Jennings, and Blackburn?

Far be it from us to criticize Lang "Jenny" Ping, but are you sure you don't want to go deeper than just 110 athletes? I mean you've given yourself a whole three days (really two) to look at these players, why not ratchet up the degree of difficulty?

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Sarah Drury's Journal: More fun than we first thought

We anxiously awaited the next player journal from, hoping it would give us some insight into the status of senior citizen Tom Hogan's recent back injury. Unfortunately, Sarah Drury's entry doesn't help us out much.

After letting us know that the team calls her Puff Daddy -- or something like that -- Drury lets us know that Coach Hogan was a nice guy and gave them last weekend off. Well of course he did; he's in traction. There were no other clues as to Hogan's health, though, and Drury spent much of the rest of the entry talking about wrestling.

The best part might be another John Cook sighting in Puffy's action shot! If you squint, you can make out Cook and his Boy Wonder (yeah, that means Cook is Batman, we know), Lee Maes, cozying it up in the background of the picture. Is he living in Colorado Springs now?

If you recall, Cook was in the background of Courtney Thompson's action shot, chewing the fat with Kevin Hambly while an anonymous dude splayed his legs suggestively.
In this new shot, Cook seems to be showing Maes something: "And here's the gold-plated Winnebago I bought with my bonus." Or perhaps they're looking over a list of candidates for the vacant assistant coaching job:
"Hired by MSU-Billings."
"DAMN! OK, what about Hazelwood?"
"Went to Austin Peay just the other day."
"Well, you're just no help at all, you know that? What am I paying you?"

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Good luck with that

I don’t think there is one thing we need to work on. I think it is just about everything, so she is probably going to have to start over on almost everything with us.
Lehigh junior middle blocker Shannon Spafford, talking about what new head coach Jenny Maurer will need to focus on after Lehigh went 0-29 in the 2006 season.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Does Mick know something we don't?

Is there going to be another last-second East European transfer for the USC Trojans sometime in the next six months? Have Hodge, Pavan, Engle, and Klineman all decided to move to South Figueroa? Seems that way, either that or the SC sports info department is getting ahead of themselves, and of course there's no chance of that ever happening...

Why do we say this, you may ask? Well, head to the women's volleyball page at, and right up front you'll see a story letting all the Trojan fans know that next year's ('07) Final Four is in Sacramento. OK, that's harmless enough. Sure, the Final Four is 10 months away, and there's zero chance that it'll sell out in Sac City the way it did in Omaha, but nothing wrong with letting the Trojan faithful know about it, right? Because Trojan fans travel so well...

But then:

"USC women's volleyball fans are encouraged to buy tickets now."

Really? Now? Right now? Can they at least stop off and get a half-caff moca...someth--?

"USC will have a squad primed to make a run for the 2007 national championship."

Fair enough. But will there be enough experience on the fl--

"Five seniors, including All-America outside hitter Asia Kaczor, return this season for the Women of Troy."

Right, yes, and will Carico avoid the sophomore slu--

"Sophomore setter Taylor Carico is coming off an outstanding campaign where she was named Pac-10 Conference Freshman of the Year and All-Pacific Region Freshman of the Year."

OK, OK. But are Haley's frosh the kind of impact players that migh--

"Head coach Mick Haley and his coaching staff have added another stellar recruiting class with four top freshmen enhancing the roster this year."

And who are these so-called "top freshm--?"

"6-3 middle blocker Zoe Garrett (Laguna Beach/Laguna Beach HS), 6-2 outside hitter Kimmee Roleder (Pasadena/Pasadena HS), 5-10 outside hitter/libero Geena Urango (Los Alamitos/Los Alamitos HS) and 6-4 middle blocker Lauren Williams (Houston, Texas/Stratford HS)."

Sheesh. Fine, fine, USC will be in the Final Four next fall...sorry we asked.

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Vegas is coming! Worlds are colliding!

The recruiting trail starts in earnest this coming weekend with the Las Vegas Invitational and the President's Day Classic in Omaha.There have already been mandatories, power leagues, and central zones, but this weekend's two tournaments are the largest yet of the club season.

Omaha, as most college coaches discovered in December, isn't all that bad. It even has gambling "across the river" if you're worried about how to lose that $500 that's burning a hole in your pocket. But, it's still not Vegas, where you can lose that $500 in more sumptuous surroundings.

Vegas is a little different this time around, however. And, no, we're not talking about how they finally decided to have Open and Club divisions, so we don't have to watch Laguna Beach destroy Staten Island VBC's 18-5s. We're talking about the fact that the NBA All-Star Game is being played in Vegas this weekend, too. You know what that means? Worlds are colliding. The club and college volleyball worlds are running headlong into the NBA, and there's nothing we can do to stop it.

Will Vision's Amanda Gil walk past Steve Nash and say "Wassup, shortness"? Will Bond Shymansky lose $500 because Stephon Marbury takes his ace at the BlackJack table? And how many women of the volleyball community are going to get hit on by random NBA posse members? "Yo, I'm rollin' with Smush Parker. You wanna party with us at the Hard Rock?"

It might be more entertaining to just sit back and watch the action--in various hotel lobbies--than do anything else.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Nelson's New Mexico reconstruction dangerously unsound

So, it's clear that Jeff Nelson, new head coach for the Lobos, has his work cut out for him. But we're concerned that in his haste to rebuild, Nelson is taking shortcuts that will ultimately doom the program to collapse in on itself. Take this quote:

"Building a program is the foundation on what we are going to do here at UNM."

Now, we're more than happy to assume that there's a typo in that sentence, and "on" is meant to be "of." But that doesn't help much. Follow along: If you're building a program, you need a foundation first. So we have one foundation, of the program, that Nelson also wants to have serve as "the foundation on (of) what we are going to do here at UNM."

That's one foundation supporting two different purposes! And as any structural engineer--or rudimentary grammarian--worth their salt will tell you, that's asking for trouble. Next thing you know, Nelson's going to endanger the lives of modifiers by dangling them in front of participial phrases, or engage in logical fallacies that make apophasis look like paralipsis.

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Friday, February 9, 2007

Things we missed: Only our sport's anniversary, that's all

So, today is February 9, at least for a couple more hours. You know what happened on this day in history? Besides the Beatles playing on "The Ed Sullivan Show," of course. It's the birthday of our sport.

Yes, in 1895, William G. Morgan invented the game we know today as volleyball. We're not going to bore you with details about the origin, how whacky the original rules were, and so on and so forth. Let's just reflect for a moment that we have a sport that let's us appreciate raw athleticism, a dynamic level of play, cat-like quickness, big jumps and big swings...

...basically Rachel Wacholder, is what we're saying.

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Well, duh: The Sequel.

It's team banquet season, which means team awards are being doled out across America. Somewhere in Westwood, California, UCLA setter Nellie Spicer -- starter in 37 of 37 matches and First Team All-American -- was named...UCLA's Best Setter.

Other awards included head coach Andy Banachowski being named best UCLA women's volleyball head coach, Blue and Gold named best UCLA school colors, and oxygen named best life-sustaining gas.

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Thursday, February 8, 2007

Tom Hogan: The AARP tolls for thee

If you happened to read Candace Lee's latest USA Journal entry, you learned that USA coach Tom Hogan "blew out his back." Candace goes on to say that Hogan's taking "happy meds" while waiting for his back to stop spasming. Not having any medical training of any kind, we went online to make a completely unscientific diagnosis for Coach Hogan based on what we could find on the Internet (which is never wrong).

According to, back spasms are "a response to an injury or inflammation of the spinal region." More specific causes can be the "repeated rotational movements of the spine, such as the swinging motions" found in many sports. Thankfully, volleyball involves none of those, especially when you're coaching...

Mentioned on many websites is that age can be a contributing factor in the occurrence of back injuries. Osteoporosis, arthritis, vitamin deficiencies, all come with age. They can all lead to the spasms, too.

Well, that seals it: Tom Hogan is obviously getting too old for coaching, as evidenced by this photo.

The website goes on to recommend a number of different exercises to help combat back injuries, including, interestingly enough, picking up litter. So if you find yourself at the Olympic Training Center sometime soon, and you see Tom Hogan walking around the parking lot picking up pop cans and discarded gum wrappers, you know why.

Godspeed, Tom Hogan.

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