Bump! Set! Spike!

Volleyball, for both men and women, has been on the rise in the US over the last few years. The MSA is no stranger to volleyball either – sporting multiple intramural (IM) teams and Slack channels throughout the years. I am excited about using data to learn more about this growing sport.

In the US, volleyball is traditionally considered a women’s sport. However, we have seen a huge rise in college men’s programs over the last few years. Men’s college programs have increased from 130 to 259, spanning D1, D2, D3, and NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics). This video by Soft on YouTube does a great job of highlighting some of the reasons this may have occurred.

A screenshot of a video about men's volleyball

The love for volleyball is just as prevalent in the MSA. The class of 2024 has over 30 students in a Slack channel dedicated to scheduling time for volleyball. Each week, there is a turnout of about 20 people, all excited to play around the net. We are involved in both Sand and Indoor, depending on the weather and temperature. In the past, the MSA has won IM Sand Volleyball in 2019. This year, the combined cohort hopes to bring home another first place finish. While the Fall IM team was unsuccessful, the IM team in the Spring is eager to bring home a trophy.

As the end of Fall is approaching at the IAA, our analytical skills have increased. I plan to use these new data skills to help us win the Spring league. By gathering data on different lineups and plays, I hope to gain a better understanding of what is working for the team and what is not. This marriage of data science and volleyball is one of the many things that make the MSA so great. Being able to learn the methodology for different statistical methods allows us to apply these teachings to whatever our interests, like volleyball.

For me, I became interested in IM volleyball in Spring 2022 when a friend introduced me to the sport. Volleyball allows me to be competitive, active, and constantly learning. I have always been involved in some kind of competition, whether by playing sports or video games; I had a great time playing with fellow IAA students: Rena, Shaun, Carlos, Eason, and TJ. I’m excited to play with other students and work together to compete. A nice byproduct of volleyball is that I can be active. As we get more and more into the content of the program, playing volleyball is a great way of maintaining my physical and mental health. Lastly, volleyball allows me to constantly evolve and learn. Figuring out how to better receive or bump the ball, generate powerful spikes, and set up my teammates for success has been an excellent feeling. I hope anyone reading this considers coming out and playing volleyball with the group. More players are always welcome when Spring rolls around! It’s an excellent way to learn more about working as a team and improving individually. These skills transfer very nicely to what the MSA values. By joining the group, you would be contributing to the evolution of a growing sport, while improving those soft skills that are essential to a data scientist.

Columnist: Parker Baker