My 21 Favorite Volleyball Photos From 2021
This was an interesting year for my volleyball photography. I never photographed a high school match. I was able to get in a decent amount of college action though culminating in the NCAA Tournament here at Purdue. Here are my favorite volleyball images from 2021.
21. These are the fun little moments that are so much fun to capture. Here before the first game of the NCAA Tournament at Holloway Gymnasium the Marquette team has a little fun. I always love how fun and loose these teams play. As I write this it looks as if these NCAA games were the last games that I would photograph for my little company. It was a great ride, and this was a fun way to cap things off. It was a heck of a ride that started off with the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, and seemingly ended with the NCAA volleyball tournament. I am very lucky to have been able to do what I did for as long as I did.
20. This year we gained another Hornung as Marissa’s sister Ali joined the team. With freshman you never know what you are going to get. Late in games though with Ali on the serving line I started to really believe that she could close out matches. She has a bright future ahead of her for the Boilers.
19. This photo is a case of not really caring what is happening anywhere else on the court. Emma Terwilliger did not stay on the court very long. She would come in to serve, and then sub out. Knowing that I wanted to make as many photos of her as I could. If the Purdue can get a point she can stay in the game. Emma had a great celebration so I wanted to capture that. Here that thought process paid off, and I was able to make this photo.
18. I love the high flying nature of this sport. We get so excited to see a dunk in basketball because of how high they can jump. We see that on nearly every point at a volleyball match. These young kids are such great athletes. I am always struggling trying to find new ways to show that.
17. This year was the third time that I was lucky enough to be able to photograph the NCAA volleyball tournament. I don’t get to do it for Purdue anymore, but I always try and make sure that I make some photos of them in the tournament. Here I love the emotion as the team celebrates another block.
16. These are the moments that make photographing volleyball so much fun. A player coming off of the bench and doing well. The smile says it all.
15. When you have a big game or special game I always want to pull back a bit and show some of that atmosphere off. The NCAA signage is one time where that is especially true. It is the end of the year so you should have images for graphics and whatever else you need. Now you can focus on the history of the moment. That is one thing that I think is missing from photography now is giving the viewers that sense of place.
14. Dave will show up on the countdown again later, but this is one of my favorite photos of him from this season. Man this guy can coach volleyball. He comes from a great background, but what he has built at Purdue is really special. The foundation is there to keep this thing going as well.
13. Volleyball is a weird sport. I make a lot of action photos that I like, but for some reason the photos that end up on this countdown are almost always the emotional ones. Moments like this are too good not to share though.
12. That tournament atmosphere was tough to beat. Purdue was down and the people on TV were already starting to count them out. They came storming back, and during that comeback they brought the emotion. This was a fun match to photograph for that reason. I only saw a small portion of it, but I am glad that I did.
11. This year we got a bonus year with Jenna Otec. She fought for Purdue for a few years now, and this year she saved her best for last. She was a dig machine. If you pointed your camera at her chances were pretty good that you would get a dig sooner rather than later. Last year I thought that we saw the last of her in a Boiler uniform. The announcement of her return was so well done, and this team played as good as I thought that it would with her back as the libero.
10. Here is a photo that almost didn’t happen. I was not going to head down to volleyball that night. I was not technically working, and I didn’t want to steal space from someone who was. When I saw that they were down 0-2 though I knew that I wanted to go. If this was going to be it then I wanted to be there to see the end. Of course Purdue stormed back for the reverse sweep and moved on to Pittsburgh. This team had guts. You can’t teach that. They never gave up, and here in the fifth set Holloway might have been as loud as I have ever heard it. I am so glad that I made my way down to Holloway.
9. Volleyball emotion is so great. Maybe some of that is because in the fall you have football and soccer emotion which is almost always farther away from you. In football you have the facemask that hides some of the emotion too. In volleyball you are close, and they really bring the emotion. Here Emma Ellis brings all of the emotion after a big play.
8. Stacey Clark was an amazing person. Every year Purdue plays a tournament in her honor. Before the game I wanted to make a special photo, and when I saw freshman Ali Hornung and her number 21 I knew that I had it. One image that set the stage for the 2021 Stacey Clark classic.
7. These types of photos do not always work out. I want as many faces as I can get in the celebration. Here things worked out for an image that I really liked.
6. I love these quiet moments before the match. The video board is playing the pump up video, and the players are watching it. If you get in the right spot you can make these great little candid photos of them. This one is one of my favorites.
5. I love emotional images, and this is one of my favorites of the season. The match against Tennessee was just so much fun to watch. Purdue was playing so well that day, and they were feeling it. After a big play you can see just how much they were feeling it here.
4. Holloway Gymnasium is an amazing place to make photos. I try and show that off as much as I can when I am there. This is one of my favorite wide angle images from this past season.
3. I mentioned this in the soccer post, but 2021 was a cool season because Purdue had a chance to beat Indiana and hoist the rivalry trophy twice in one calendar year. They won the Monon Spike at Indiana this fall, but in the spring I was able to see them hoist it. I have photographed them with this trophy on both campuses, and it never gets old.
2. The win against Wisconsin was amazing. It was part of a great day on campus. Purdue knocked off a top 3 team in volleyball, and then won a Big Ten Tournament soccer game just down the road. I wanted something different when Purdue clinched the match. I was not making photos for anyone other than myself so I could gamble a little bit. I went behind the team knowing that one players arms of body could ruin the photo. This came out pretty good for me here, and I was able to make a pretty good frame. Most of the time this would be number one on the countdown, but then photo number one happened a few moments later.
- When Purdue wins Coach Shondell rarely comes into the post game celebration on the court. Here though he came right in wearing the lucky sweatshirt. A pat on the head made for a moment that I will never forget. The joy here was just so much fun. These are the moments that make sports photography so great. They are what drives me to keep going in this sport.
This list is not much different than the one that I came up with for Purdue a few days ago. This Purdue team was so much fun to watch that they really were the highlight of the fall for me. When I saw that our two super seniors were coming back I tweeted out that everyone had better watch out. This team beat the eventual national champion twice. That is how good that they were. As I said above the business side of my photography had a bad year. Things will not be the same for me this year. This was an amazing way to close things out though. Seeing some of the best athletes that I have ever seen in a great gym for volleyball. I am glad that I had this last little chance to see them play.