A day in the life of a volleyball player

July 24, 2011
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My name is spelled N-A-S-T-J-A, but it’s pronounced like it’s nas-tya. And I’m going to tell you a little story
about something that happened recently.
I grabbed the money from the counter and hollered, “Bye, Mom!” as I went out the door. Our dog,
Cootie, just barked. I know, who’d name there dog, Cootie? But our baby brother started it.
I fished out my car keys from my knapsack and dashed to my car, my very own second-hand red ’67
Pontiac Bonneville, a gift from my dad for my last birthday, right before that drunk driver hit his truck killing
him and my little sister.
I glanced at my wristwatch and started driving hurriedly, but carefully. When I got to Ravenport High
School Gym, I noticed my friends’ cars parked already. I was late.
I entered the gym and my team was warming up already.
“Let’s give a cheer, the setter is here!” My friend Stella grinned at me.
“Whatever,” I chuckled as I reached the team. “Sorry I’m late.”
“What the heck happened to you?!” screamed our coach. Only he didn’t say heck. Before I could
explain and think up an excuse he screamed again. “Better not happen again!”
Alice, one of our middle-blockers, flashed me a look. “Better shut up. Coach is in a bad mood,” the
look meant.
I nodded to tell her I got it.
“Now go out there and set!” Coach Taylor screamed again.
Our assistant coach, Mrs. Taylor, strolled over to Coach and whispered something to him, making him
calm down a little.
I heard a sarcastic voice from my back. “I am so not glad you’re here, Nastja.” Only she didn’t say
Nastja, she said it the way my name spelled.
“Don’t you have to go put make-up on or something, Joyce?” She was one of our opposite hitters. I
could hardly put up with her, but I guess everyone has to try to put up with something or someone, and in
this case, my team and I have to put up with Joyce. Needless to say, we really need her in our team
because of her skills. Joyce Meyer was a five-foot-eleven-inch, dark haired and blue eyed beauty, but that’s
not her skill. She can jump extremely high, sprint extremely fast and her spike was extremely deadly,
literally. She accidentally hit one of our opponent’s with the volleyball and broke the player’s nose. Ouch.
Joyce stalked out and I began to warm up with Maja, who is the youngest and the tallest player in our
team. Maja’s from Croatia and she’s exceedingly cute. She’s only fifteen, two years younger than me and a
year younger than most of the players. But while I’m five-foot-eight-inches, Maja is towering over me at
six-foot-three and still growing. Coach’s guess is that she’ll stop shooting up at six-five, and we agree with
I set the ball, Maja received it. I spiked the ball and Maja set it for me and so on. An hour or so later, we
were ready to play.
“Now you know how important this game is!” Coach hissed loudly to us when we huddled. “This is
the championship game, and Olympic scouts are here to, well, scout. And you girls want to play for the
USA National Team, don’t you?”
We all nodded, except Maja.
“Good. Now go out there and beat Highland’s butts!” Only he didn’t say butts.
“It’ll be easy to beat ‘em, they’re nothing but dumb blondes,” Kelli was our libero, meaning she’s the
undersized one in our team. She’s also exceptionally outspoken and has no tact. At all.
Two teammates gave her a look. Helen and Rikki were blondes. Kelli just laughed.
Everyone liked Rikki and Helen, who were outside hitters. Helen is gorgeous, and she was a part-time
model. Rikki was pretty too, but she doesn’t believe us. She’d rather go around in sweat pants and
hoodies than wear short, tight fitting dresses like Joyce.
We all had our uniforms on, I was number seven, with a line under the number showing that I was the
captain. We had Kelli, number 3, in for our libero. Maja(1) and Alice(5) were our middle blockers, and we
put Joyce(8) and Helen(13) in.
I thought we had a nice uniform, our uniform was black with some red. But Highland was bright
Highland had been our rival for who knows how long. Highland enjoyed nicknaming Ravenport a
cruel name, Trash-eaters, but as Stella always said, “Repay evil with goodness.” And so we only nicknamed
them Tulips.
The Tulips were all blondes, and there were about 10 of them. Sometimes we deliberated if you have
to be blond to join them; their coaches are all blondes and blue eyed too. Kelli used to say that there was a
Tulip who was brown-eyed and they made her wear blue contact lenses, but since she always makes up
facts, we don’t know whether we should believe her or not.
The first set.
Tulip served first, and Helen spiked, but one of the Tulip girls blocked her, very nicely, I must say.
Tulip 1, Trash-Eaters 0.
They served again, but Kelli digged the ball and passed to Joyce who jumped and spiked, giving us a
Was it just my imagination or did some of the Tulips look scared when Joyce jumped?
After 18-12, Tulips leading, their coach called a time-out.
Coach Taylor praised Joyce and Maja, who scored with 7 blocks. The setter is ignored.
We got back on the game.
Tulip made a service error, then we did, and then they did and then we did! My goodness! 4 service
errors in a row!
I could hear Kelli giggling from the back. We took Helen out and put Rikki in. And we took Alice out and
put Stella in.
“We got fresh legs, let’s do this!” I gave Stella a signal and when I set the ball, she jumped and scored.
The score was soon tied at 23 all.
Tulip with another service error.
24-23, Ravenport.
“Joyce, fake it. Alice, take it.” I whispered to them.
We could hear the crowd chanting DEFENSE! DEFENSE! DEFENSE!
One creepily tall Tulip girl jumped and spiked. Kelli received it and set it to me. I turned to Joyce, this
was gonna be hard. I set the ball and passed it backward, Joyce and Alice both jumped, but the blockers
were with Joyce.
Alice scored.
First set went to us.
The second set went to them.
So did the third set.
At the fourth set, everyone was tense. The score was 23-24 and the Tulips were leading.
But we ended up getting that set.
The last set is only up to 15 points.
“We have to get this so we’ll win!” Alice yelled. Kelli rolled her eyes. I can just imagine what comment
she’s dying to say. “Thank you for pointing that out, Miss Obvious.”
Joyce wiped her face and checked her mirror to see her good-looking face and to fix her make-up.
Maja just poured water on herself.
“Ew.” Joyce remarked, when she saw Maja.
The Tulips led by 5 points making it 5 to 0. Maja scored 3 points, Joyce scored 2. Five all.
One of the leading Tulip girl snarled at Joyce.
“Whoa, Tiger!” Joyce’s blue eyes were wide with shock. The Tulips were mad at her. Well, I thought.
they can’t hurt her.
Rikki and Maja kept scoring and so did that Tulip who snarled at Joyce.
I set the ball for Joyce, and she jumped…
And collapsed.
Something was wrong with Joyce, because she grabbed her knee and started to cry. My head started
spinning out of control, and I barely noticed the paramedics who came and took her to the sidelines.
“Focus on the game,” Joyce breathed as she was taken pass me.
The score was 13-12 and we were leading. We wanted to win this game for Joyce, who all in all had
scored about 29 points in the game.
Soon, Tulip scored making it 13 all.
Tulip scored again. 14-13.
“We have to get this!” Rikki yelled wildly.
Tulip served, and it was an ace.
They won.
I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I was in a dream as we shook hands with them and Snarling Tulip grinned
maliciously at me. “Good game!”
Our Coach kept telling us we had played a first-class game. Knowing he was disappointed, we vowed
to do much better next time.
As we sat in our locker room, Helen suggested that we go see Joyce at the hospital. Everybody agreed.
We were all silent as Rikki drove us in her van. Abruptly, we were tumbling out of the van and sprinting
towards Joyce’s room. We gasped. She looked as if she was half dead.
“It’s okay,” she told us. Joyce smiled, and put on a brave face. “I can still play.”
That was the moment when we realized how much we loved Joyce, after all.
I can’t quite describe the feeling I had, sitting on Joyce’s bright pink hospital room. I felt strangely
content watching the sun going down with my team.
“There goes the sun,” she said.
“And,” I said, “it’s alright.”

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