Mar. 29, Kenyon Courts, sometime in the evening. Two teams, sweaty and exhausted—but ready to sweat some more—stand on either side of the court. Knees are slightly bent, torsos lean forward with eyes raised to meet the eyes of adversaries just a couple yards away. One team, known officially as “Best Team,” is up 14-12 in the third and final set of the intramural volleyball semi-finals. For them, an air of deja vu hangs just under the net; they’ve been in this position before. With that memory lingering in each team member’s mind, they prepare to receive a serve at the climax of the biggest sporting event since the 1998 NBA finals. Without spoiling the explosive conclusion, we should trace the tale of Best Team’s 2022 intramural volleyball season.
Like the start (or end) of most romantic comedies, Best Team’s origin story began on a rainy day in Poughkeepsie, New York. To find the magic behind this powerhouse of a team I interviewed Maxwell Sivers-Boyce ’25 about his vision for the best intramural volleyball team known to man. “I played on a team in the fall, but that team was very noncommittal,” he frustratingly expressed. So for the spring season, Sivers-Boyce and Julia Hale ’25, the original two members of Best Team, decided to cook up a storm. The pair quickly recruited two players who would become key players in Best Team’s arsenal; volleyball rookie, Sebastian DiPirro ’25, and the experienced, highly talented, 6’6”, Garrett Schmid ’25.
For those who don’t know, it is recommended that you have 6 players on your side of the court in volleyball, but due to the infancy of Best Team, the first few matches were played with the assistance of celebrity guests to fill the roster. “Every time we got someone to play with us, we were like, you should start coming more,” Sivers-Boyce explained. At first, no one returned.
“The season started off a little rough,” Sivers-Boyce admitted. The team would consistently play with only four or five members compared to more established organizations with rosters that went eight to 10 people deep. Scheduling issues also plagued the team, which, at the beginning of the season lacked management. “I had told everyone there was only one game a week,” said Sivers-Boyce. “Because that’s what I thought it was. So we went to play basketball and we missed our game.” They ended up forfeiting the match to the least successful team in the whole league. Remaining unnamed, said team’s single win of the season came from Best Team’s scheduling error.
The winds of favor would soon find Best Team’s sails with the introduction of some new blood both on and off the court. Victor Zhang ‘25 impressed the team with his athletic ability in his first game with Best Team and they thoroughly encouraged him to return. Last minute, in spite of being slightly sick, Zhang returned to play a second game with Best Team. Zhang broke the one game celebrity appearance curse and stayed with the team all season long.
Major moves also happened off the court with the hiring of infamous coach and spiritual leader, Max Norman ‘25. “They started yelling at us during the games and gave us all nicknames,” Sivers-Boyce explained. “I don’t even think of myself as a team coach. I think of myself as a team chaplain,” Coach Norman explained. Also, with the addition of Pranav Parekh ’25, the sixth player to this seven man squad, the team burst into a winning streak of six straight games where not a single set was lost. Parekh, despite never having played volleyball before, was recruited for his pure athletic ability. “He got good, fast,” Sivers-Boyce commented with DiPpirro’s agreement.
Best Team entered the 2022 intramural volleyball playoffs seeded 4th, but they were a little frightened to be on the same side of the bracket as Nice With It, the believed to be best intramural volleyball team that had beaten Best Team in the final game of the regular season. Despite this looming over the heads of Best Team, they secured a win in the first playoff game due to a forfeit and beat a team of soccer players who were trying their hands (or feet) at volleyball. Despite the other team’s finesse and unusual tactics, Best Team won the game 2 sets to 1.
Blocking the road to the finals was Nice With It, a team led by the captain of the Vassar Women’s Volleyball team, Sara Ehnstrom. Best Team’s loss to Nice With It in the regular season was a tragic one; Best Team had won the first set but as Nice With It kicked into gear, they took the next two sets winning 2-1. This semifinals game started in a similar fashion—Best Team won the first set and took an early lead in the second set. “We were leading at first but they kept up and drew closer and closer,” said Sivers-Boyce. “And they just ran it all the way up, winning the second set 24-25.”
So we have it, the third and final set—the last hurrah, Best Team’s time to set history straight by avoiding another comeback by Nice With It. By this time the other semi finals game has finished and its participants have made their way into the amassing crowd. “I was scared, like I was shivering and sweating,” Sivers-Boyce expressed. Before the final set Coach Normal gathered the troops. “I just started riffing,” Norman recalled. “Upwards of 80% of everything I said had some sort of biblical reference,” he continued. “This is the divine right of kings, this is the wholly oneness embodying itself in the game of volleyball,” Norman boomingly declared.
The final set began like the previous two—Best Team propelled themselves to an early lead off the back of consecutive well placed serves. Nonetheless, history again reared its ugly head in the face of Best Team’s lead as Nice With It began to catch up. History, however, does not always repeat itself; “We managed to hold them off,” Sivers-Boyce recalled. The third and final set went to Best Team, 15-12.
Compared to the climatic semi-finals, the finals were a breeze for the now ecstatic Best Team. When Best Team had first faced team Akatsuki they were just a rag tag group—coachless, at a roster of only 4 players and missing the Lord’s blessing. This time, with the trials and tribulations of an entire season behind them, Best Team worked like a well oiled machine, winning the finals 2 sets to 0.
As a humble champion, Norman offered me these words on his team’s victory as the 2022 intramural volleyball champions: “Athleticism is watched over by the Lord and we are only the stewards and shepherds of his light on the court. And beyond the court, shout out Portland (Sivers-Boyce), shout out, Sici (Schmid), shout out, Inhale (Hale), shout out, Lank (DiPirro) shout out Pnut (Parekh) and shout out Zhang Bird (Zhang), y’all know what it is.”
Best Team lives on as Willem Defoe Deluxe, the intramural basketball team and Daddy Patty, the intramural soccer team.