Celebration Chips: Volleyball bench gets creative with sideline enthusiasm

The volleyball team celebrates a point against Akron at McGurik Arena on Friday Oct. 23, 2015. Sarah Klos | Staff Photographer

In some sports, being on the bench is frowned upon. In volleyball, it’s where the party starts.

The Chippewas have a unique way of keeping the energy high, and it starts with the bench. The players on the sideline are on their feet the entire game, and are enthusiastic at all times.

“It just keeps the whole team interacting the entire game, and we have a lot of fun doing it,” said freshman setter Kelli Combs. “The people on the court, the people on the bench and the coaches love the energy that we bring, so we just keep it up every point.”

After each point the Chippewas earn, the bench players can been seen running up and down the sideline, cheering and dancing with each other, and sometimes alone, which acts as a catapult to more success for the players in the game.

“The energy on the sidelines translates onto the court,” said sophomore middle blocker Paige Carey. “Whenever I think the whole team has a lot of energy, we can just see it flow through our playing. It helps a lot with just playing the game and having fun.”

Even in practice, the Chippewas try to find time to work on their energy level by jumping around, screaming and performing cartwheels.

“You can’t really cheer in practice because you’re playing all the time,” said freshman defensive specialist Emily Wenglikowski. “If we have the time in between drills, we go all out.”

The fun off the court doesn’t cause a distraction, but serves as encouragement to the players on the floor.

“They look to us for reassurance,” Wenglikowski said. “I think it’s good that they know that we’re in the game, and that we’re with them every point.”

Assistant Head Coach Theresa Beeckman said the energy from the bench is needed for the players on the court.

“It’s a momentum sport,” she said. “That energy isn’t tangible, you can’t touch it, but you can feel it. In volleyball, it’s tremendously important.”

Beeckman said players on the bench keep the energy high for the players on the court, a true testament of teamwork.

“If you got a bunch of goof balls having a blast, and they’re not on the court, that’s some unselfish stuff,” she said. “That’s true team stuff right there, and if they can provide that kind of energy to our team on the court, you can’t go wrong.”

Even when the team is down, that doesn’t stop the bench from staying engaged and excited during the match.

“When we’re losing, we want to make sure our energy is up,” Carey said. “Because if our energy goes down, then it’s harder to come back. If we’re energetic on the sidelines, we try to carry that onto the court.”

Because of the constant momentum changes in volleyball, enthusiasm is needed even more when a team is losing.

“Volleyball is like a game of runs,” Combs said. “We’re going to lose points here and there, but as long as we keep our energy up, we’ll be fine.”

Earlier in the season, Carey and Combs created their own signature celebration called “the ace cheer.”

The celebration starts every time a CMU player gets an ace on a serve. Carey and Combs perform the cheer by placing their hands over their heads in the shape of an 'A,' while wiggling their bodies back and forth.

There isn’t a leader on the team that coordinates the celebrations on the sidelines, as every player has their own style.

“We all do everything,” Combs said. “Everybody loves being loud and energetic, so everybody is a leader on the bench.”

Fans and parents also get into the celebration spirit when the Chippewas are fired up on the sideline.

“People come up to us after the game, and they’re like ‘your bench is so much fun,’ and we’re like ‘yeah, we try,’” Carey said.

As the Chippewas wild antics continue to become infectious, the players continue to embrace it.

“It’s kind of fun,” Combs said. “We just do it without even thinking about it. It’s fun to do, and apparently it’s contagious. People like seeing it.”