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The mysteries of volleyball: Q&A with Brynden MacTavish

Over the last few months, I’ve spent some quality time in the Envision Athletic Centre, watching the UFV Men’s Volleyball team compete against some of the best talent in B.C. While appreciating the intricacies of high-level volleyball, I’ve also been formulating a list of questions about the sport and its more enigmatic elements.

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by Paul Esau (Staff Writer)
Email: cascade.sports at ufv dot ca

Over the last few months, I’ve spent some quality time in the Envision Athletic Centre, watching the UFV Men’s Volleyball team compete against some of the best talent in B.C.  While appreciating the intricacies of high-level volleyball, I’ve also been formulating a list of questions about the sport and its more enigmatic elements.

The following are some of these questions, the ones that don’t generally get asked about the game and its participants. Many thanks to UFV Men’s Volleyball player Brynden MacTavish for taking the time to provide some “inside” answers for me and the rest of the UFV student body.

What is, in your opinion, the best part of volleyball? In essence, what separates it from other sports?

Most team sports have an aspect where one dominant player can control the game, but volleyball is total team game considering how no player can touch the ball twice in a row. Even if a team has a dominant hitter they need good passing and setting to even get him the ball, and teams can easily pick on a weak link, so the six players on the floor need to play well together.

If you had to explain the game of volleyball to, say, a bunch of prehistoric tribesmen in three or four sentences, what would you say?

You have three touches to get the ball over the net however you want, but you can’t catch it – and a different person much touch the ball after every touch.

What is a libero and what purpose does he/she serve in the game?

A libero is a defensive specialist who comes into the game in the back row to pass and play defense in place of a “less skilled” defensive player.

Describe a trick play that you’ve always admired or wanted to use in an actual game.

Another guy on our team and I spent 15 minutes one time trying to see if we could set middle by letting the ball pass through our hands and heading it up like soccer…it was almost impossible to control, and I would never dream of using it in a game.

What is, in your opinion, the worst part of volleyball?

Easy, getting “packed” (ball to face)…it’s humiliating; luckily it’s only happened to me once.

What rule would you add to the game of volleyball if you were allowed to make a change?

Being allowed to try and block or spike a serve would be interesting.

Share your opinion on the current NCAA push to make spandex shorts mandatory for both Men’s and Women’s volleyball teams.  Do you believe spandex would be an asset to your game?

I’ve heard a bit about it, and I have to say I wouldn’t be a fan of it for guys without actual shorts over top for obvious reasons. I personally do wear spandex (compression shorts) under my actual shorts, and I find them helpful and comfortable for playing.

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