volleyball, game played by two teams, usually of six players on a side, in which the players use their hands to bat a ball back and forth over a high net, trying to make the ball touch the court within the opponents’ playing area before it can be returned. – Britannica
It sounds kinda genteel doesn’t it? Like badminton out on the English gentry’s lawn: languidly batting a ball back and forth over a high net before stopping for high tea.
To prevent this a player on the opposing team bats the ball up and toward a teammate before it touches the court surface—that teammate may then volley it back across the net or bat it to a third teammate who volleys it across the net. A team is allowed only three touches of the ball before it must be returned over the net.
I *guess* this was the game we were watching last weekend in Las Vegas at a tournament of high-school teams from across North America. I certainly saw efforts “to make the ball touch the court within the opponents’ playing area before it could be returned” and efforts “to prevent this.”
I certainly saw six strong young women “bat a ball back and forth over a high net” although I might have chosen a different verb, like “hammer.” Or “tip” as they surprised an opponent with a ball that just made it over said net. Or “spike” as they sent the ball “forth and down” with enough speed that it won’t–it can’t–come “back.”
I saw them “bat the ball up and toward a teammate before it touches the court surface,” even when that meant throwing themselves on that court surface to get their hands under the ball.
And I saw them run around the court without crashing into each other and yet, mostly, magically, be in position to support or to complete a play. It’s almost as if they knew what each was expected to do.
I curled as a teenager and played volleyball badly a handful of times in phys-ed classes, but that was the extent of my participation in team sports. Watching a good team in action is a wonderful thing: they do everything they can individually, and then rely on each other; they own an error, and then put it behind them; they celebrate success, and then get ready to get the next point; they are gracious in defeat and in victory, and then move on to the next game.
It gives me hope for humanity. If we can learn to do this, what can’t we learn to do?