Manchester University
Oak Leaves

May 10, 2019

Mud Volleyball

Teams try to rotate in thick mud quickly so that their 5-minute game does not expire while they are behind. 

Photo provided by Emily Horsley.

MAC Hosts Annual Mud Volleyball Tournament 

Zoe Vorndran


Hidden away behind bright green bushes and trees with budding flowers is an outdoor volleyball court with a muddy “floor.” May Day marks the time of year when the usually vacant, abandoned court bustles with activity as hundreds of students filter in and out to watch or participate in the annual mud volleyball tournament.

The epic, five-hour battle for the annual mud volleyball championship trophy occurred on Saturday, May 4, beginning at 10 a.m. Manchester University’s undergraduates and graduate students dove, jumped and slid through knee-deep, foot-numbing mud.

The week preceding the mud volleyball tournament had a record amount of rain, and it is hard to imagine that the North Manchester local firefighters had to make the volleyball pit muddy. However, the firefighters and Manchester Activities Council (MAC) members set up the court by clearing the pit of sticks and weeds, filling the pit with water and stomping down the mud.

“This was my first year ever experiencing mud volleyball and I loved every second of it, from set up to clean up,” said Dilyn Dewey, a first-year MAC member. “Our team put so much time and effort into the planning of this event and the execution went perfectly.” Even though MAC had an early morning, they got to play and dance in the mud to the “Cha Cha Slide” before the tournament began.

The rain and chilly weather deterred some teams from participating. However, dedicated teams faced the rain and cold weather. “I wish Sunday’s weather was Saturday’s weather,” said sophomore Caylie Ganser, commenting on Sunday’s sunny, 70 degree weather. “Last year, we wanted to stay and watch, but this year, we wanted to leave. I didn’t even want to go in the first place.”

For the first teams to compete, the cold weather, coupled with the early start time, made it harder to get to the court on time. “We were almost late to our game,” Ganser said. “I feel like the games should have started later.”

Despite the rainy, slow start, the mud volleyball tournament was ultimately a success. MAC’s energy and the upbeat songs kept the tournament lively and entertaining as spectators watched the games. The sun eventually made an appearance as well. “The weather got better towards the afternoon,” said senior biology-chemistry major, Zoey Tran. “The morning teams had unfortunate weather since it was so rainy. Better weather, better mood.”

Each game lasted five minutes and the team with the highest score at the end of the five minutes won the match. The quick pace added pressure to competitors as they tried to earn as many points within the short amount of time. Throughout the games, teammates would encourage each other to rotate and serve faster in order to squeeze as many points in as possible. “I feel like the games should have been longer,” Ganser said.

She believes that her team would have had more of a chance to earn more points had the games been longer. Tran echoed her sentiment: “With only five minutes, you have to hit and pass the ball as fast as you can.” 

Due to the time restrictions, MAC members who managed the volleyball game had to be quick in order to keep up with the fast pace, highly intensive games. Their jobs were to keep score, manage teams who were waiting to compete and keep the volleyballs in play by passing them to the servers. According to Tran, there were some technical issues. “One downside was the fact that some newer MAC members did not run the game smoothly,” Tran said. “They passed the ball slowly and I feel like we could have won, or it could have been a better game. We could have tied the game if they passed the ball faster.”

For most people, the best part of the game was jumping around in the mud. “My favorite part was getting out there and getting dirty,” senior Sara Carder said. According to Carder, despite their loss, their team had a great time. They played against the Ace Inhibitors, a team composed of students from Manchester’s pharmacy program in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Sophomore Brittany Miller also loved playing volleyball in the mud. “My favorite part was standing in the mud,” she stated. “When else do you get to stand barefoot in a pile of mud?”

Ganser shared her experience about diving into the mud. “After the other team’s first serve, I dove for the ball and was instantly covered in mud,” Ganser said. “I also didn’t have time to put my hair up since we were late.”

Most participants did not walk away without having to use the hoses to clean off. Even the MAC members, who were managing the games, had splatters of mud all over their arms and faces by the end of the tournament from passing mud-caked volleyballs to each other and the servers.

Even though most though playing in the mud was fun, it was freezing. “My feet were going numb by the time I got out,” sophomore Thalia Vallejo stated. “The hose water afterwards didn’t feel so great either.”

The tournament came to an end after the teams Wombo Combo and Sets in the City competed each other for the championships. After an intense rock, paper, scissors match to determine who would serve first, the real game began. With many tips over the net, spikes and dives, Wombo Combo were victorious, winning the championship trophy after a hard-fought game with nearly a 10-point lead, and celebrated their win by jumping into the mud pit.

For Dewey, the championship game was the highlight of the event. “I loved seeing how competitive both teams got and their good sportsmanship afterward.”