Although I’ve been around the professional volleyball world as the official AVP DJ for over a decade, I haven’t really had the privilege of getting too involved with our indoor national teams. However, I have had the pleasure of watching our men’s team twice, including the World League beat-down of Russia on June 7 in three straight sets. I don’t care if Russia didn’t have their full “A” squad on the floor, you can only play who’s on the other side of the court, and Team USA took care of business, beating Russia in both matches they played.
The only disappointment was not being able to see Reid Priddy play. Reid suffered a knee injury in the match versus Bulgaria in late May (hear him discuss the injury on the June 2 episode of The Net Live) and will require surgery. However, Reid was at the matches in Long Beach supporting the team and thanking all the fans for their support. With Reid out of the line-up, Taylor Sander and Sean Rooney filled the outside positions, with Sander delivering nine kills, one block, and one ace and Rooney tallying six kills. To the delight of the sold-out Walter Pyramid, Matt Anderson continued to compete like the world-class athlete he is, finishing the match with 15 points: 14 kills and one ace.
It has to be mentioned that the Pyramid being sold out had a lot to do with an individual named Matt Garthoff. Garthoff has taken it upon himself, without pay, to be the leader that our sport needs. For the past few years, whenever the men’s national team has played in Long Beach, Matt puts together an event known as the Vol-B-Que so fans attending the match can get together to socialize, play volleyball, eat, and have a fantastic time prior to watching Team USA compete.
I attended my first VOL-B-QUE in 2012 when our men’s team beat Canada to qualify for the London Olympics. My job was to play music and add to the atmosphere of the event, which that year brought a couple hundred people.
Fast forward to 2014, USA Volleyball (specifically Lauren Schoenherr, a development coordinator with USAV) and Garthoff combined their efforts to make the Vol-B-Que a must-attend event that tallied more than 500 attendees. Originally, they capped ticket sales at 400 but due to high demand ended up selling at least 100 more. People who attended were treated to grass volleyball courts, a Mizuno gift bag, AVP and ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball giveaways, delicious food truck fare, Matt Fuerbringer as the grand marshal, and some music provided by yours truly.
I was extremely impressed with everything Matt and Lauren put together. Being on the front lawn of the Pyramid gave the 500-plus attendees plenty of space to set up their lawn chairs and tents without worrying about someone from the grass courts careening through their picnic. The energy that built up on the lawn carried over as the fans in their red, white, and blue stormed the Pyramid, making for a very exciting and well-attended match.
The volleyball world gets a bad rap from time to time for not supporting its professional athletes as much as some—including this DJ—think they should, but I was extremely proud of the community that day. Just thinking about the dancing, chanting, and cheering that surrounded me in the fan zone still gives me goose bumps.
Athletes and coaches thank the fans all the time, but how often do you hear them thank a specific fan, like men’s head coach John Speraw did on Twitter?
I too can’t thank Matt Garthoff, Lauren Schoenherr, USAV, and everyone else involved enough. They put on an amazing, successful event, and I am grateful to have been a part of it.
Can’t wait for Vol-B-Que IV.