As I have mentioned many times before on this blog, I love going to sporting events. Last night, I attended the volleyball match featuring Northwestern versus #9 Illinois. After starting the season very well, including a 3-0 mark in Big Ten play, the ‘Cats suffered a 7-match skid. Though out of the running for the B1G Championship, NU still has plenty to play for, with an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament still very much possible.
Pre-match, it was funny, because as I arrived just after the National Anthem, I saw in the student section, many people with purple on that looked suspicious. I knew what was coming, though, because I could see through their disguises–some of them had orange on underneath their purple and other non-orange colors. And indeed, shortly after the first serve, they revealed their true colors–the Spike Squad! I KNEW that they were impostor ‘Cats fans–they fooled me not one iota!
In the odd-numbered sets, the NU student section consisted of only 2 NU students–the Net Heads of Sigma Nu alternated sides each set. Yes, I can’t always out-yell a whole student section, but I’ve had plenty of experience being outnumbered (LSE at LNE 2005…) and I hold my own!
And it was quite a match! The first set had the ‘Cats take an early lead, and didn’t trail throughout the set. Still, it was a battle. In the second set, there was some back-and-forth, with the teams trading three-point leads up until 21-21. Though Illinois won the next point, Northwestern took the next four to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
However, in the next two sets, Illinois found a groove with one of their servers, and rode it to break open close openings. In Set #3, Illinois maintained a lead, and pulled away on the serve of Donnelly. The fourth set was even worse for the ‘Cats, as Stark turned a 12-13 tossup to a commanding 12-21 deficit. The ‘Cats didn’t last much longer in that one.
But then, the fifth set was back-and-forth until the changeover. The ‘Cats played with much better defense in this one, and more control. Six of the next eight points went to Northwestern, and that ended the match at 15-11 due to the fifth set being abbreviated!
Let me put a little spoiler space here. You’re probably wondering: what does this have to do with a piece of the action?
After the matches, the team will often sign autographs. I already have my schedule poster signed from an earlier match. I had brought a Terrible Towel that said “GO WILDCATS / BEAT ILLINOIS” and had the team sign it. But then, the Piece of the Action? It’s in my list of Bizarre Souvenirs.
I am very glad that the ‘Cats won. After the match, I got my Terrible Towel signed, and also picked up a Bizarre Souvenir, which was the main reason for this post.
As I was collecting my last autograph, I noticed the tape marking the court was being torn off. As the staff member passed me, he joked, “Would you like some of this tape?” I took it seriously and said, “Sure! I’ll take a piece of the court!”
So, thus I got a piece of the action in the sense of a Bizarre Souvenir. The great thing: the sticky side of the tape is blue, so that when it is crumpled up, it’s white-and-blue just like the NCAA volleyballs! Thus, it is quite an apt souvenir for this game. And to think that people will pay Big Bucks for pieces of the court. Sure, it has zero resale value since to anyone else, it’s just a piece of tape. But, the bizarre souvenirs always tell the best stories!
And here’s the picture of it.
Today is the three-hundred and tenth day of M.M.X.I.V. That makes forty-four weeks and two days.