It isn’t everyday you get to witness something special, something unforgettable, something indelible. Last Saturday night, I did. The IUPUI Jaguars volleyball team won its regular season conference championship in the final game of the regular season.
It gets better. It was on our home floor.
It gets better. It was against our instate rival, Fort Wayne.
It gets better. IUPUI and Fort Wayne were tied for first place, coming into the match.
It gets better. The match went the full five sets to determine the champion.
After taking the first set, IUPUI dropped the second and third sets. It wasn’t looking good for the home team. But the Jags rallied and got the momentum to win the fourth set. The fifth and deciding set was nothing short of intense and nerve wracking. It takes 15 points to win the fifth set (and you have to win by two points). The Jags were down 13-12 and, after taking a timeout, rallied to win the match 16-14.
This was my third season working volleyball matches for IUPUI. I confess I still don’t understand all the rules. But watching this team win the championship Saturday night made me reflect on where they were two seasons ago: hovering around the bottom. Last year, they got to the middle of the pack. This season, they went 11-2 at home.
I’ve worked quite a few exciting men’s basketball games for the program, and this season-ending volleyball match is now on my list of most memorable moments. It’s not everyday you get to call a championship game.
Though it’s not about me in any way, if you watch that video, what you don’t hear are the conversations the stat crew was having. Associate AD John “JR” Rasmussen was working the scoreboard and sat directly to my right. Bear in mind, it is a major faux pas to cheer from press row. So, we didn’t. But it was impossible to hide our excitement during that fifth set. Nobody cheered. Nobody jumped out of their seats. We all maintained a professional posture. Well, one assistant AD was so pent up, they left the table to watch from behind the bench so as to not breach decorum. During that last point, JR was so anxious it was palpable. I think he might have hit me or something when the final kill was signaled and the celebration began. As a PA announcer, I can let off some of that steam in my announcements. And I did on that final point.
This match ranks up there with my first game at
Conseco Bankers Life Fieldhouse. This match ranks up there with that 2003 men’s basketball triple OT thriller we won against Oral Roberts University. That was the best basketball game I’ve ever seen. Last Saturday, I watched the best volleyball match I’ve ever seen. I can only hope next season we have more just like it.