My Favorite Sixteen Purdue Volleyball Photos of 2016
This was a crazy volleyball year for me. I shot more than I ever have, and I loved every second of it. Volleyball is such an emotional sport that you get a lot of good stuff just by being focused on the players. The volleyball season started for me during the pre season match against a squad of former Purdue volleyball players. It was nice seeing some familiar faces again, and it was also nice seeing some new ones on the squad for Purdue. Over the course of the season I attended many games including two wins against Indiana. The second win was a five set thriller in Bloomington where I followed the team for the day. It was a little revealing seeing the players when the crowds were not around. The same could be said for the NCAA Tournament selection show when they found out where they would be traveling to play in the NCAA Tournament. I concluded my season with the team in Columbia, Missouri. They played a great match against Iowa State, and then fell to a very tough Missouri team to conclude the season. As I said a few times this season, this is a very young team. It was fun watching them grow as the season progressed.
16. The season started with the alumnae game, and so will this countdown. In a more relaxed atmosphere I was able to get a little closer to the court to try something. I put my camera on the grounds that the players would look like they could jump much higher than they actually can. Then Azariah Stahl jumped right in front of me. She can really jump anyway, and the camera on the ground made it look like she was even higher. It was a good way to start the season.
15. One thing that I wanted to capture on my trip to Indiana was a little more of the behind the scenes stuff that you don’t normally get to see as a fan. Here I had a lot working for me. I had a beautiful tree that had not yet dropped its leaves. The sun shining through the tree. The team bus with the motion P on it. I also had senior Faye Adelaja walking to the bus. Over the course of my last few shoots with the team I tried to capture Faye in these situations. Being the lone senior she was on her own so to speak as the season ended. She was the one player with a lot more on the line, and I wanted to capture some of that.
14. This season the early season tournament had a new name. It was named the Stacey Clark Invitational to honor longtime fan and supporter Stacey Clark. The announcement to rename the tournament was made last season with Stacey in attendance, but she lost her battle with cancer during the off season. A special moment early in the season was the Purdue squad posing with the trophy for the tournament. It may have just been me, but the team seemed to be on a mission that weekend to keep that hardware in West Lafayette. They accomplished their mission, and that is why this photo is on the countdown.
13. One way to guarantee a good shot every match is to point your camera at Ashley Evans. She is a very able player to begin with, but the celebration usually starts with her. She is a fiery player that helped me make some great images this season. This moment against Kansas was one of those times. She brings another level of intensity to the court, and she wears that emotion on her sleeve. That is really fun to photograph.
12. The moment that you find out that you will be dancing in Columbia, Missouri. As the NCAA volleyball selection show was coming up I saw many posts on the event that Purdue was having. They opened it to the public. I wondered if they had anyone there to shoot the event. I didn’t want to get in the way if they did, but if not I wanted to shoot it. Other sports on campus have this moment documented so why not volleyball? The moment that Purdue saw their name on the screen they had a great reaction. I love looking at the different faces in the photo seeing how the players chose to react. It is a fun picture, and that is why it is on this countdown.
11. Speaking of fun, here is some more. Normally I would not publish a photo with just the backs of everyone in it. The great thing about this photo is that I don’t need to see a single face to tell me what is going on. The emotion is in the body language of everyone on the court as well as in the stands. The Maryland player laying on the ground also lets you in on what has happened here. This is a fun photo that makes me want to get back to Holloway Gymnasium again.
10. We now go from a loud moment to a quiet one. Before the Boilermakers took on Indiana in Bloomington I had a lot going on. I nearly walked right passed this great moment between head coach Dave Shondell and his father. I was worried about getting my credential, and changing before the game started. Being the great SID that she is Wendy pointed me up to the stands. All of the other stuff was put on hold as I made a few photos of father and son a couple of hours before the game.
9. Here is another quiet moment leading up the game at Indiana. Freshman Natalie Haben was getting some last minute work in during the downtime between practice and the game. One thing that many people fail to realize is the heavy loads that many of these athletes have on their plates in addition to what they do on the court. I thought that this photo put a little of that into perspective. It is also a nice candid moment.
8. There are a lot of coaches who are great for their sport at a school. There are others that are great for their sport as well as the others on campus. One of those is Dave Shondell. I found his Twitter account a couple of years ago after I was tipped off that he was using my photo of him leading ‘Shout’ as his profile picture. If you have not seen that version of ‘Shout’ you have to find it somewhere. It was a rousing rendition that has not been matched yet. What I found on the Twitter account was someone that even in season was supporting all of the programs at Purdue. It was great to see the positive way that he looked at all sports here, and how he lifted up those that needed it. With that in mind I wanted to make a cool photo of Dave as he was talking to the fans prior to the match against Indiana at Mackey Arena this year. What I didn’t expect was the sun to be in just the right spot to help me make a really cool image. This was one of my favorite photos of the night, and it was still some time before the match would start.
7. This year Holloway Gymnasium had a nice new floor put in. Right away I saw some possibilities with the shiny surface for a few shots. Just before the first match of the season I made this image of the team in their pregame huddle. I love the reflection, and the way the gym moves in to the players.
6. Once again Faye makes the countdown. This was a photo that I was lucky to make for many reasons. One of them was that I was not shooting this match. I was hired to shoot the match immediately following this one. I made it to the arena early though to try out my new Canon 300mm f/4 lens. As I was getting my bearings with it Faye got a kill, and the team came towards her to celebrate. The arms in the air in front of her made this image for me. It was a good start with a lens that I would use a lot more as the season moved on.
5. One of the most fun matches to shoot this past year was the match against Kansas. Kansas came into the match ranked #4, and was probably the favorite to win the Stacey Clark Invitational. A really rowdy crowd helped push Purdue tot he victory. Here in set three the Boilers react to winning a point. I love a lot of what is happening in this shot. You have the Kansas player getting back up off the ground with Purdue celebrating the point in the foreground. Yet another shot that makes me want to get back to Holloway soon.
4. Yet another celebration shot. Isn’t that what makes volleyball so fun though? After a tough point the emotion that comes out makes this sport for me. Sometimes it is just one moment, and other times during a comeback or a big run it keeps building. I love shooting the Dig For a Cure night because of the uniforms. Everything just looks a little brighter in the arena that night with all of the pink around.
3. This shot took some stealth to get. During the NCAA Tournament I kept hearing about how the photographers could not make photos from anywhere but floor level. Volleyball can be shot down low, but you also need some things from up high. I snuck up for a while to make some shots from the upper media table. I loved this vantage point, but the location did not last very long. I was able to make a shot that had a lot of the elements that I wanted in it though. I wanted the SEC logo along with some of the signage for the NCAA Tournament. Danielle Cuttino came through with a graceful tap that really made the photo for me. Those two days in Missouri were a lot of fun. This was one of my favorites from the tournament.
2. The last two photos in the countdown are photos from the games against the rival Indiana Hoosiers. This was a shot that I had in mind on the way down to Bloomington. The arena really has all of the colors that make IU what they are in it as it should. I wanted a photo of our team celebrating with all of the Hoosier red in the background. In a tight match the emotion was getting high so it did not take long for me to get the shot I was looking for. The Boilers came away with the five set win that night to complete the season sweep.
- Each year Purdue and Indiana play a match for the Golden Spike. This traveling (in theory) trophy is meant to give the game a little something extra. Each year the match for the spike alternates between Indiana and Purdue. Last year I made my way down to Bloomington to shoot the spike game. This year I didn’t have to go nearly as far. The spike match was set in Mackey Arena, and I thought that the fans really came out for the game. I still don’t believe the fan estimates from that night. If they used the same counting method as they do for football the attendance would have been over capacity. After Purdue won the match the team went over to celebrate with the spike. I was with the other photographers on the other side of the trophy, but I wanted the side with the inscription on it in my photo. I liked this composition because of the inscription, and the dual Purdue logos in the background. This was my favorite photo of the year out of the many that I made of the Purdue volleyball team.
Narrowing a seasons worth of photos down to sixteen is not an easy task. I write these usually a few days or weeks before they post, and sometimes by the time this makes it to the internet I have already changed my mind on a few photos. It is not meant to be a serious top ten list, but rather a set of images that remind me of what a great season of volleyball I was just able to watch. The goal each year though is to make a better set the following year. This was a great year, and as usual that will be a tough task to accomplish. The fun will be going out and trying to do better next year. The first real match of the year usually occurs on or around my birthday. I can think of no better place to be than Holloway where I have spent my birthday on a few occasions. I sincerely cannot wait until next season already, and this season just wrapped up. I think this team has big things ahead of them, and I cannot wait to see it in person.