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Sand volleyball means sun fun

BY ETHAN SEBERT | APRIL 20, 2010 7:30 AM

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Sun, sand, and 74 students.

That was the scene at the Hawkeye Recreational Fields sand-volleyball courts when 18 teams showed up for the 2010 Intramural Co-Recreational 4-on-4 sand volleyball tournament on April 17.

The single-elimination one-day tournament began at 11 a.m., and the last spike didn’t hit the sand until around 5 p.m.

After around six hours of volleyball, T.O.T.S. beat Better Late Than Never two games to one in a highly contested final. The foursome of freshman Dan Hopkin, juniors Ryan Horan and Alicia Sieverding, and first-year medical student Rachel Bender won the final game, 25-20, against the threesome of freshmen Brittany Reynolds, Parker Valdez, and senior Chae Centeno.

But the final, which featured four males and three females, showed a new trend in sand volleyball on campus. Players battled the stereotype of volleyball being a “girls’ sport” — 40 guys showed up for the competition compared with 34 women.

“I think here in Iowa, it’s kind of shunned upon on dudes because girls play it,” Centeno said.

However, the old stereotype is slowly beginning to change.

“A lot of people think it’s kind of a girly sport, but I know a lot of guys who play, and I don’t think any less of them,” freshman Lauren Pigatto said.

One reason for the change is because volleyball is easy to learn, some of the intramural participants said. Although, getting guys to bump, set, and spike isn’t as easy.

“Around here, no guys really grow up exposed to it,” said Horan, an Iowa native.

“I only played like a couple of times, and I got a grasp for the game,” said freshman Greg Bender, a Waukee, Iowa, native and member of Sandstorm.

The males who participated had different reasons for playing, as well as different levels of experience — ranging from playing in gym class to four years of high-school volleyball.

Two players on Team Chadomon — juniors Jon Vazquez and Spenser Clark — play on the University of Iowa club team. Team Chadomon lost to the T.O.T.S. in the semifinals after Clark dislocated his shoulder while diving for a ball and had to be taken to the emergency room.

The junior is no stranger to dislocated shoulders. He suffered the same injury to his other shoulder earlier in his volleyball career —indicative of the potential dangers of the sport.

However, besides the shoulder injury, sunburn caused the only other pain at the tournament.

The weather meant higher participation than a year ago, when the contest were played in cold temperatures and mist. Many players said the weather weighed heavily on their decision to play.

“It’s definitely a sport that, when summer rolls around, people start playing,” Vazquez said.

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