I tried out for nine-man volleyball today. I am now a member of the Toronto Warriors! Oddly enough that matches my snowboard :)
So 9-man is like a complete bastardization of the sport of volleyball. The court is slightly bigger, the net is slightly lower, there are no rotations, and there are 9 people on the court! 5 hitters, 1 setter, and 3 passers. It's not uncommon to see 4-man blocks! You can do all these weird things too, like throwing the ball (looks like you're dunking it), and lifting/scooping the ball. It just feels so wrong doing those things. The weirdest rule is that if you hit the ball into the net, it doesn't count as a hit, and even weirder is that you can purposely throw the ball into the net, and then set it or something. It's bizarre. The game is also played on concrete rather than in a gym. That is not pleasant on the knees when jumping, or skin if you hit the ground...
The whole 9-man thing gets even more bizarre. The big tournament we play in, the North American Chinese Invitational Volleyball Tournament (the official website is down and there was no Wikipedia entry, so I made my own!) has built-in racism. 2/3 of the players on the court have to be 100% Chinese, and the rest have to be of Asian descent. For those of you slow in math, that's 6 Chinese dudes, and 3 other Asians on the court. That bodes well for me, as I should get more play time because of that :). The girl's team plays regular 6's (not sure if any of the rules are different), but the same racist rule applies.
I wanted to try 9-man b/c frankly, I've tried all the other variations of volleyball (men's, co-ed, reverse 6's, beach in various #s). I also know a bunch of people that play 9-man and they're all really good, so it's good ball. Lastly, it would mean that I would get coached again after a 8 year hiatus.
If you want to see 9-man in action, here's a video of a game between two really good teams. The video is great b/c it cuts out all the crap and it's just serve and play, and then serve and play, no time-outs, no arguing calls, no fetching balls, etc. The funny thing is that I've played with and against a couple of players in this video (Jon So, JP, Jeff Chung). My team is not nearly as good as these teams. Everyone on the team can play, but we don't have any superstars that will just murder the ball or hit over the blocks. It's understandable as the club was just formed this year and the team was built from scratch. The good thing is that since it's new and most people haven't played 9-man before, there won't be a big hazing thing (if any), since almost everyone's a rookie :)
The other interesting story of the day was just trying to get to the try-out...
I needed to get to Bloor and Yonge to meet up with Donny to get picked-up by James that who was gonna drive us b/c the gym was bloody far: Scarborough. I figured that I'd take the subway East bound for 3 stops to get from Spadina to Bloor-Yonge, but then at the St. George station, I'm told that the subway is messed and the East bound train is going to start heading South bound... I was like screw this, and I got out at St. George, and just ran the 2 subway stations to Yonge. I later found out that I could've got off at Museum and then crossed the platform to go back "North", which would've taken me "East". It's messed up. Today was the first day of all this crap. It's b/c they've shut down the Bay station to do construction of the tunnel.
The history of the subway is pretty cool. The two main lines used to be intertwined, which is why in some of the stations there are signs that can flip and that say "Finch", "Kipling", "Union", "Downsview", and "Kennedy" so you could figure out which train was which. There also used to be a "Lower" and "Upper" Bay station where the trains would cross between the lines. It was weird and it only lasted 6 months :p. Since then, they closed off the Lower Bay station and now it's used mostly in movies and commercials. Some people snuck into the station a few years ago and took pictures. Since the construction is on the tunnel around Bay station, the trains are being routed through Lower Bay, so you can actually see the secret station now! The subway doesn't stop, but it goes through it. I need to go check it out! Anyone wanna come?