It's not a major sport in this country outside of any beaches, but I've always been a big volleyball guy. I started playing when I was 12. I did used to be on the team at USC. Ever since I got cut, I've kept close ties with the program as their broadcaster.
Over the last three years I've been calling games for USC men's volleyball, I always tried to make sure I kept as much bias out of the broadcast as possible. Granted these broadcasts streamed online at usctrojans.com, so it shouldn't come as a great shock to anyone listening that there would be some slant toward USC. But I never felt like a part of the team. I wasn't part of the team.
Somehow that feeling changed last night during my final regular season broadcast for USC men's volleyball.
'SC took on Northridge in a battle to host the MPSF Tournament Play-In match. USC had to win 3-0 or have a favorable point differential in a 3-1 victory to host the first match of the post season. I along with color commentator Brooke Bentley detailed not only the playoff picture but also a look at the seniors who were playing their final game in front of the Trojan fans. While going over the accomplishments of the team's seniors, I couldn't help but think about this being my own "senior night" as the team's broadcaster.
Calling these volleyball matches has been the one thing I've truly enjoyed at USC. I don't get paid for it. I don't care that I don't get paid for it. I love the game, and I respect this program. The hardest part of broadcasting for 'SC men's volleyball over the last three year was the fact that once the regular season ended, that was it. The postseason, heh, that wasn't happening. To give you an idea of how bad the team was in 2003 when I got to 'SC, I was on the team! That's a problem.
Last night, even though USC lost to CSUN in four games, assuring the play-in match will be held at the Matadome, the Trojans secured a post-season berth thanks to BYU defeating Pacific this weekend. At the end of a bittersweet night, USC's seniors were sent off in style: into the post season for their first and final time.
As for that tall guy on the sidelines wearing cowboy boots and a headset, well, I'll be at that match Wednesday. My mic will be on, my notes will be ready, and I'll clear my throat, crack my knuckles and hit the air waves one final time. I'll miss being the self-proclaimed "voice of volleyball" but getting to call just one postseason game for this team is reward enough for the last three years of work. The one thing that I've come to realize is that I may not be a part of the team, but I'm a part of USC volleyball, and I'm proud to say that.
USC plays Cal State Northride Wednesday, April 18 at the Matadome in Northridge. First serve is scheduled for 7pm. You can listen to the broadcast of the match streaming live online at usctrojans.com/allaccess.