NCAA volleyball first-round: ESPN+ with no early matches, plenty of overlap
November 29, 2023
December 29, 2022
We entered 2022 without the best volleyball photographer there ever was. But even without Ed Chan, gone too soon, our cadre of shooters stepped up in a big way.
I can’t express enough how indebted to and appreciative of I am of these guys, including Mark Rigney, Rick Atwood, Jim Wolf, Michael Gomez, Stephen Burns, Andy J. Gordon, Matt Smith and Tim Britt.
Trust me, they are not overpaid for what they do (they’re now all laughing as they read this) but their passion and devotion is incredible. Our sport — and VolleyballMag.com — is better because of them.
I went through every single photo we posted in 2022. We posted a lot of photos. A lot.
These are my favorite shots that our guys took this year. Some are from indoors, some from beach, and all captured the action in a way unique to a great group of shooters:
Matt Smith, who joined our team in 2021, was positioned perfectly when Texas beat Louisville two weeks ago to win the NCAA title. Logan Eggleston, right, is ready to join the fray. The pure joy on the faces of Emma Halter and libero Zoe Fleck on the left will make any volleyball fan smile.Â Saige Ka’aha’aina-TorresÂ has her back to us and Asjia O’Neal has fallen to her knees. And in the background the coaches embrace. Simply a great shot.
“I always say all sports shots have an element of luck to them,” Matt said. “You can do everything right just to have a back turned or someone block your shot. I waited on the sideline, shooting over other’s heads, with my Nikon d5 and the workhorse 70-200, praying to get one useable celebration/court-rush frame. This was that one.”
Look closely at how focused Trevor Crabb was in Fort Lauderdale for the task at hand. And in the other shots in this grouping, don’t say the players don’t keep their eyes on the ball:
Most of these are on the beach, but not all. The effort by the players is incredible:
Celebration photos can be cliche, but not when you get them at the right moment from the right angle. Michael Gomez did exactly that when Pittsburgh stunned Wisconsin on its home floor to clinch a spot in the NCAA semifinals. And we had plenty of other outstanding happy shots:
They don’t all have a category, but you know a cool shot when you see one. And we had some cool shots:
When the UCLA men play in the John Wooden Center, it’s a tough place for photographers. Andy Gordon got the cool shot nonetheless:
The veteran is a fan favorite and even at 42 is still a heck of a player:
At first glance, it’s just a player, Wisconsin’s Devyn Robinson, on the attack this past October 26 when the Badgers played host to Nebraska. But this shot by Michael Gomez so much more. Izzy Ashburn is coming down from her set. Everyone else is moving, including — and you have to look to the left to notice — Sarah Franklin ready to attack out of the back row if the opportunity presented itself. It’s just volleyball at its best and a fantastic shot by Michael Gomez. And it’s my favorite photo of 2022.
â€œEvery once in a while, I am able to capture the beauty of this amazing game,” Mike told us. “This shot captures the offense ‘in system’ and demonstrates the complexity of an offense and poetry in motion.”
Mike took the photo with his Sony a9 and the Sony 24mm 1.4 G Master.Â ISO 3200 | F1.4 | 1/1600ss).
It was really fun to go through all our photos and put this piece together. Mostly I cover indoor volleyball, but went to three beach tournaments this year, the NCAA Championship in Gulf Shores, AVP New Orleans, and AVP Chicago. And here’s proof that I was working in New Orleans (thanks, Rick):