Match Point

The VHS tape was digitizing for about an hour, when I took a break from some other task (attempting to write, I’m sure) to watch the next play of the final game of the 1995 regular SCCAL season between Aptos and Harbor, televised on the local cable station as the Game of the Week. After a minute of color commentary, I’d determined it was the third game and all of a sudden match point, which didn’t make any sense to me. Why would we even have this tape if it was a loss? I couldn’t remember the outcome of the game, and I just couldn’t believe that Aptos, and my father, would lose the game. How did this game get to match point so quickly, and they were down so hard, 9 to 14?

Because Harbor had always been the rival, the brick wall of defense upon which my father’s career as head coach always ran into. I was riveted, all of a sudden, and nervous for this last point to be scored twenty-three years ago.

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Nine years later, with that same borrowed camera that I would take to the desert the following spring, I stood in the Harbor gym at the visitor’s match point, just behind the three-meter line with a 50-millimeter fast prime lens.

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I’d shoot about another, I don’t know, at least fifty thousand photos of volleyball in the next three or four years, but oddly enough, never again with that lens and from that angle.

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