On Court 3 we have a group of young professionals who know one another from church playing co-ed recreational beach volleyball. This is the volleyball we learned in grade during rainy days and played at company picnics and family reunions.
It's where the ball is served out of bounds, or soars over the back line, or hits the net and falls softly to the sand. It's where two players on the same team both go for the ball and both fall down and the ball fails to clear the net. It's where the one tall guy who sort of knows what he's doing is all over the court hitting the ball that was headed toward the uncertainty of a smaller, less-skilled player.
It's volleyball as a social activity, instead of a sport. It's a reason to get together with friends on a Sunday afternoon in Festival Park when the sun is out, there's a nice breeze, and it's too early in the year to go to a real beach.
"It's Orlando, Florida, and sand and sunshine. We feel like we're on the beach," says Whitney Pitsch, a 24-year-old development manager who organized the group.
This is volleyball for those who like the people they are playing with more than the game they are playing.
"It's sort of a restful sport. You don't have to get too crazy and wear yourself out," says Luke Kelly, 25, a Lockheed-Martin . "You're just enjoying the company of a bunch of young professionals you enjoy being with."
On Court 4 are four guys playing two-man competitive volleyball. They are bare-chested, athletic, and keep the ball in the air for long minutes at a time. They are here every weekend, they play after work before the sun goes down, they sometimes compete in tournaments.
They grunt a lot. They talk a lot.
"Oh, I had that!"
They slap the sand when they miss a shot. They high-five when they execute a perfect play. They know how to hand-set a shot with open palms that stops the rotation of the ball so their teammate can spike or dink or roll the ball over the net. Or they can bump-set with closed fists that sends the ball high enough for the teammate to get under it.
It's a game of skill and strategy and coordinated movements between two teammates.
"It's probably the most rewarding [form of volleyball] because you are an important part of every play," says David Perry, 35, a engineer, who has played volleyball since he was 15. "You have to understand the whole game. It's not just who can hit the ball hardest."
The sand slows the footwork, but softens the impact when diving for a ball.
"It's pretty light on the body," says Ron Lupianez, 43, a project manager. "It's not as hard as playing indoors."
Between Court 3 and Court 4, there is Terry McDermott, a 60-year-old USDA who has been playing volleyball for 40 years. He likes beach volleyball because it's a game that can be played with abandon — diving for balls without fear of concussion.
He wears sunglasses and his ball cap on backward while offering a running commentary between the recreational game to the left and the competitive beach volleyball to the right.
The rec players have no plan, no communication, no anticipation of what is happening. The competitive players are synchronized, thinking ahead of how to attack and looking for the weak spot on the other side of the net.