Thursday, October 17, 2019

Reviews of 100-Page Giant Batman and Villains and a Pitch for Comic Magazines

I think I decided I was done with so-called “facsimile” comics, but I was still open getting more comics.  These two 100-page Giant comics for $5 each got my attention in the solicitations for the week.  At Wal-Mart a couple of years ago, DC offered a large square-bound comic for $10.  I didn’t pick it up because the stories inside were all random recent reprints and most seemed to be continued.  In other words, it was just a tease. 

These new Giants featured half new material and half recent reprints.  I had, long ago, advocated for something sort of like this.  I posted this position on my MySpace blog ten years ago.  (Yes really, and I wasn’t the only person blogging there.)    

From 2-1-09
I propose for Marvel and DC the publication of their monthlies in a standard
magazine format.  Specifically four titles each, coming out about one every
week.  The price point should be about $5 to $6 and it has to be sold on the

Marvel: Spiderman, X-Men, Avengers, Universe (Featuring Ironman, Hulk,
Captain America, etc. on a rotating basis)

DC: Superman, Batman, JLA, Universe (Featuring Wonder Woman, Flash, Green
Lantern, etc. on a rotating basis)

Each issue contains three full-length stories per issue: a standalone story, a team
up story, and a chapter of a limited series story.

The Standalones: Experimental, new talent, alternate takes, low-key character
development or interaction, or just a good short story.

The Team-ups: In the solo books, this is pretty obvious.  In the team books,
feature a story with just two or three characters. These stories should probably
not run for more than two or three issues.

The Limited series: The centerpiece of each issue, a chapter of a multi-part
storyline.  These stories should not probably not extend more than six issues, if
for no other reason than, if the story is bad, it least it hopefully won't cost you
regular readers.  If it's good, it leaves you room for a sequel.

Oh, but wait.  There's more to this.

These stories won't build on each other, like a serial, but would be independent of one
another, both within the titles and between them.  I know this is counterintuitive
to how the comics industry runs now.  Realistically, stories are just fodder for the
trades anyway.  The goal is to produce more good stories, not shoveling out
more monthly filler in-between the epic-mega crossovers, which have made
superhero comics distasteful and impenetrable to anyone not collecting regularly.
If you want a major event, do it in the Avengers or the JLA book with a bunch of
guest stars.  Resist crossover epics between magazines and overbearing
continuity between stories in the magazines.  That's how the current audience
for comics was bred, and how everyone else with any interest in superheroes
was shut out.

There needs to be a core continuity of characters, teams, and major events. 
These guidelines should be loose, sketchy, and brief.  They should establish a
character's personality and how they got that way, so that there can be some
consistency between different writers and artists.  Writers can place stories
whenever they wish in a character's life, as long as it doesn't change that core
continuity (barring a few Elseworlds or What If sort of tales). 

Won't this keep the characters from really ever changing?  As opposed to how
things work now?  How lasting is any change in a comic book?  I hate to make
this comparison, but why not look at Archie Comics?  The gang is always in high
school.  The love triangle between Archie, Betty, and Veronica is never resolved. 
The characters never really change.  Hardly anybody ever complains, and there are actual Archie fans that quibble over continuity.  (I'd be tempted to pitch a change to the digest format for Marvel and DC, but the effect on the artwork would way too detrimental.) 

The point being, if Marvel and DC's superheroes are meant to on-going
characters that don't age or die, then anal retentive continuity needs to go. 
Freed from the tyranny of having to match up with decades of old, outdated
baggage, the characters can always be written within current society or even
placed in a retro or future setting.  As long as there is a core origin and some
reference is made to the time frame, anything goes, as long as it's a good story.  

Where does this leave the friendly, neighborhood comic shop?  Nowhere.  There
are some big stores that will stay in business selling comics and those that have
diversified into other fields, but as for the rest, I can't think of a graceful way
exiting the business.

Would this idea really sell?  Well, at least I'd try out more comics in this format,
which is more than I can say for the current one.

Back to 2019, things have changed.  The MCU movie series has made superheroes more popular than ever.  Unfortunately at the same time, “floppies” have gotten more expensive than ever.  All their stories are completely intertwined and, let’s face it, are unreadable because of the real world agendas of the writers and publishers.  It’s the best of times and the worst of times. 

I also posted a version of this on an Archie Comics fan website.  (The website crashed and wiped out everything I’d ever posted there.  So much for, “The Internet is forever.”)  I’d pitched for a couple of magazines, one for Archie and Jughead and one for Betty and Veronica.  There’d be rotating features for other characters.  They did actually do it, after a fashion, with their Married Life With Archie series.  However, it only focused on adult Archie.  They only “rebooted” their continuity with their floppies instead.  Archie did publish Marvel reprint digests for about a year.  It was an interesting experiment.  It was kind of uneven, but had potential.

These two Giant comics are, I think, a better idea than a standard-size magazine.  Mostly, it has to do with the format of the original comics and the size of the pages that the artists work with.  They’ll still fit on a magazine rack.  Certainly, the price point is great, but I’m sure it was just done for promotional purposes.  (By the way, back in the day, DC did do regular 100-page comics, so this is a throwback to that.)  If it was all new material, it’d be more expensive.  I still like my idea of doing four titles a month with a mix of ongoing and standalone material.  So, I liked everything about these books, except the content.     

Batman 100-Page Giant #1

First up, the new Batman versus Clayface story was the best in the issue.  It was a good story and well-drawn.  But, it was deeply ambiguous about Batman’s heroic nature.  Clayface seemed to be the one administering vigilante justice.  Just a question, does the current Batman not know how to shave?  Bat-stubble looks strange. 

The new Batwoman story also questioned Batman’s/Bruce Wayne’s method of justice.  (Shooting an immortal villain into orbit seems a bit ridiculous as a means of incarceration.)  Batwoman promised to be an advocate for criminal’s right, while punching the guy into wet concrete to immobilize him.  This story is here to promote the new CW Batwoman TV show.  The character looks cool in costume, but just doesn’t have Batman’s backstory to make her a worthwhile character.  She’s just a gender biased dilution of the concept, much like what Marvel has done to Spider-Man.

Two other stories involved reprints of the Court of Owls storyline.  The Batman story seemed absurd with the amount of tech he’s using.  It makes you question why he doesn’t have jet-boots and replusor beams in his hands.  (Seriously, why doesn’t he have a flying suit like Ironman?)  The Nightwing story again questioned Batman’s actions and teachings.  These stories were okay, but were just a teasing slices of larger stories. 

There are Harley Quin stories in both comics.  She’s got a new movie coming out with the Suicide Squad.  She might be DC’s most popular female character.  (Wonder Woman is just better known.)  Strangely, in the Batman book, Harley is a straight-up evil psychotic in this origin story.  Here, she targets children for mass murder.  I’m not sure this is how I’d want my valuable IP being portrayed were I a DC executive.  This story left a really bad taste in my mouth.

Villains 100-Page Giant #1

The first new story was again good with a somewhat ingenious Joker plot to cause chaos.  Just like in the real world, the Joker has a Twitter (-ish) account, like actual terrorists and various racist organizations.  (Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos are still banned.)  However, there it was again.  There was this deep-gray questioning Batman’s existence and methods.  The current writers seem to question why there’s a Batman.  I’m not entirely sure if the writer was doing an elaborate satire on government welfare with this story or was bemoaning a lack of it.  Take your pick.   

Next up was a new Deathstroke story.  He has a contract on Jimmy Olsen.  It’s still the real Jimmy here, not the fake Jim Olsen from the Supergirl TV show.  Supergirl shows up to save him, but Deathstroke does accomplish his mission.

Then there’s another new Harley story.  This time she’s getting assistance from the Huntress in hunting down a villain.  The captions even acknowledge that sometimes she’s good and sometimes she’s bad.  She looks more attractive here and does take out a bad guy.  He was mean to her in high school and had to die.  This was feminist revenge porn, not terrible, but it is what it is.  The other story was reprint, so this more heroic version might be the more current take on Harley in the comics.

Strangely enticing was this ad for a Harley Young Adult graphic novel.  I looked it up.  It features Harley in high school with Poison Ivy and the Joker as a bunch of teen anarchists. 

I think the writer should be sued by this guy from a few years ago who pitched a Gotham High animated show.  Over the weekend, I was at Barnes & Noble and ran into a Raven YA graphic novel out in the aisles.  I guess there’s a whole YA superhero franchise in the works.  She’s a teen girl in high school with magic powers and a demonic father.  I thought I saw the rest of the Teen Titans as regular students playing D&D with her in one scene.  (That’s probably a misunderstanding on my part.)  The artwork was good, but not fully colored.  Interesting.  I’ll think about it, but only if I don’t have to go into the Kid’s section to pick it up.

The reprints were origin stories for Darkseid, Reverse-Flash, and Poison Ivy.  The Darkseid one skipped over a bunch of stuff and seemed to show him triumphant over Superman in the end (unlikely, I should say).  The Reverse-Flash origin was really good, but again incomplete in showing how he actually became a villain.  Lastly, Poison Ivy’s origin was beautifully illustrated, but here again, she’s a villain because she was wronged by the men in her life and wants revenge on them.  She’s basically portrayed as an eco-hero, who kills bad people (just men). 

These two books were disappointing overall.  In some places, it’s the disturbing content.  In others, it’s the incompleteness of the stories presented.  They look good, but don’t “taste” good.  I do like this format.  DC could do more and better with this sort of presentation.  Editorially, they need to not undermine their heroes.  They should draw a line to show who the superheroes are, how they are different from the villains, and what their role is in society.  It’s okay to question things, but you have to provide some sort of answer.      

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

NM State Aggies vs GCU Lopes Volleyball 10-12-19

I woke up an hour late and had an accident in the kitchen with a large cup of spilled water this morning.  I did get to watch the start of the Petit Le Mans sportscar race while exercising.  Very cool.  When Ron called to pick me up, I wasn’t ready and had to rush out the door.  I should have set an alarm.  This was a big game after all.  I was wearing my crowd-pleasing “Aggie Empire” shirt for the autograph session afterward.  I tried to look my best.

Out front of the Pan-Am Center, the Lady Aggies Tailgaters club was having a get-together.  Inside, AD Mario Moccia’s wife and daughters were manning a stand for the wife’s insurance business.  The older daughter had obviously just come in from a softball game.  This reminded me to tell Ron about a story from the Aggie Coaches Show.  Mario had faced a current Aggie pitcher at the alumni game recently.  After striking out, he’d demanded the kid see him later in his office about his scholarship.  Of course, Mario was joking, but the pitcher was terrified.  (Less amusingly, I also found out that all of departed Coach Green’s committed recruits had left with him.)  

Out on court, the two teams were warming up.  This match up was between the number one and number two in the conference, the Aggies and the GCU Lopes.  Both teams came in with the same 14-3 record.  The Aggies were undefeated in conference, while the Lopes had one loss.  I’d been worried about this game, because the Aggies had already played two games this week.  They’d shown some exhaustion in the last match.  Here was the toughest challenge at the end.

I have to admit.  The Lopes are a pretty good-looking team.  I’ll refrain from naming names this time, but probably only because I didn’t note the player numbers during practice.  Once again, this team had some very attractive assistants.  A lot of these visiting teams have those.  I’m starting to feel a bit cheated with my team. 

GCU also had some impressive team dancing drills.  They got going to a Billie Eilish song and were impressively synchronized.  Surprisingly given the relatively short distance between the schools, there were only a couple of GCU fans with them.  An attractive Lope player mom danced in the stands.  Later, her husband joined in the dancing.  One of the players immediately turned around and hid her face in her hands saying, “OMG!  You guys are like so embarrassing me!”  (Just kidding.)  

With that song, PA Ed was back in the house announcing.  He brings a good playlist.  Actually, I’m sure he doesn’t have anything to do with it, but the music was different than with the Softball PA guy.  Speaking of family, a fellow with tattoos and the word, “Salanoa” across the back of his shirt was taking video of the Aggies warming up.  I’ll take a stab that was Julianna Salanoa’s dad.

Yikes, Kelsi Meredith was looking good today.  I’m sorry we weren’t getting a radio call today, but these TV games with her as the color commentator more than make up for it.  Down in front of us, that guy with the hamburger last time was back.  This time he had a concession hot dog.  The crowd in general was pretty good, maybe a tick less than on Thursday.  Annoyingly, the stats from Thursday were still up on the scoreboard and would remain unchanged for this game.  Somebody needs to take over the scoreboard this season.  While the You Don’t Own Me team video played up on videoboard, Kassi Stolz danced on the sidelines.  She’s hard to miss.  The coach is wasting her energy by not putting her in the game. 

The best thing that happened for the match was actually the player introductions.     Some members of the Aggie Kids Club, including Mario’s daughters again, stood out with the girls.  All of the players’ interactions with the little boys and girls was precious beyond words.  It’s great to know that Megan Hart isn’t just beautiful; she’ll be great with our children too (hopefully making up for my bad parenting).  Some of the girls gave their souvenir balls to the kids to toss into the stands.  A couple of them with little bitty kids, just gave them the balls to keep.  They even took the kids with them to the net to greet the opponents.          

Set 1
The match started with a bang for the Aggies.  Julianna got the first point with a kill down the middle.  She then pointed into the stands and shouted, “That one’s for you, Dad!”  No, but she may as well have, because her name’s going to be coming up a lot here in this recap.  2-0 Aggies, Ashley Anselmo went crosscourt for a kill.  The GCU reserves began the match making a lot of noise.  They were very spirited as the Lopes scored a couple of points.  4-2, Megan and Savannah Davison combined on a block.  Breaking up the potential run though, Krysten Garrison served long at 4-3.  7-3, Megan and Lia Mosher combined on a block.  Then, Sav served long on the next point.

Undaunted, Meg came back with a crushing kill at 8-4 Aggies.  The Lopes started a comeback and got it to 8-7.  Sav and Lia each made a great save on the point.  10-7, Kaboom!  Jules put down a thunderous overpass kill.  10-8, Natalie Mikels served long.  This was getting uncomfortable, or perhaps too familiar with some previous games.  11-8, no problem, Jules crushed another one.  She then combined with Sav for a block.  And then, Cat Kelly served long.  They weren’t going into the net at least.  (Trying to look on the bright side.)

13-10 Aggies, Julianna could do it smart too, as she put in a tip here.  15-10, at last, a good serve.  Jules hit the corner with an ace and hit the line judge on the bounce to boot.  She was doing it all.  That took us to the media timeout.  I’d brought my radio to listen to Aggie Football during the match, but this was too interesting.  I ended up turning it off to concentrate. 

16-10 Aggies, PA Ed called it, “Booyah!  Megan Hart with a kill!”  I think that interjection slipped out.  He’s a fan of hers too.  17-12, Ash had hit one out on her last swing, but came back here with a kill.  Brigette Lowe came in.  She’d be getting some quality time in this match.  17-13, GCU setter Klaire Mitchell put in a good dump shot here.  She could do it with some heat on it.  18-13, Sav had been frustrated on a couple of swings.  She took it out here on a hard kill that deflected high into the stands.            

20-14 Aggies, Megan made one of her “Ole” kills.  I’m sure there’s a technical name for that kind of shot.  That’s just what I call it.  It’s the kind of kill you can make with a wrist snap when you’re 6’5”.  21-14, Jules won a joust at the net for a kill.  Timeout GCU.  22-16, Jules with another tip.  The GCU reserves had gone quiet as the Aggie crowd noise had picked up.  GCU took their other timeout a few points later.  23-17, Analyssa Acosta missed a dig on a dive.  She pounded the floor afterward.  24-17, Julianna boom kill.  Jordan George came in to serve, but the Aggies took Set 1, 25-18, on a GCU net serve. 

Set 2: Aggies 1, Lopes 0
Savannah was smiling as the teams exchanged ends.  It was almost a guilty grin.  I felt about the same.  The Cheerleaders took the Kids Club out to toss out some stress balls to the crowd.  Pistol Pete then danced with the kids to the PA music.

1-0 Aggies, Cat started the set off with a kill.  A GCU player nearly ran into a line judge trying to get it.  He laughed at the contact.  2-1, GCU wanted a net violation.  Their coach sent their captain over to talk to the up official.  “Ball don’t lie,” though.  The Lopes went into the lead, 3-2, as Nat ran into photographer, Gary Mook, on the sidelines trying to recover a bad dig. 

4-3, the Aggies went back into the lead.  Jules had a near out-serve, but Ashley buried a kill for the point.  6-3, Meg slapped one down.  8-3, Meg and Ash made a wall for a block kill.  Timeout GCU.  10-4, Jules served long.  She’d gotten too amped up and was flirting too much with the backline.  11-4, no problem, here was Megan again with a kill.  Brigette again cycled in.  12-4, there was a long rally on this point.  Mitchell made another great dump attempt that was saved.  After another Aggie save, Megan ended the point on a tip.  

13-5 Aggies, Megan with another kill.  She was making this look too easy.  14-5, a lift was called on the Lopes.  15-7, GCU took the point, but Sav and Annie both put in the effort into trying to save the point.  16-7, Brigette killed one down the line.  Alright!  16-8, GCU took this point on a long rally.  There were two out-shots that were brought back in accidentally.  Cat went for a dig at the broadcaster’s table between Adam Young and Kelsi which ended it.

17-8 Aggies, Jordan G was back in to serve.  20-9, Sav made a crosscourt kill at an impossible angle.  I had to see it on replay to believe it.  20-10, Jules was still too juiced with another long serve.  21-10, Meg again.  GCU wasn’t even trying to stop her.  23-10, Krysten put in an ace.  Katie Birtcil came in with Autumn Gentry serving.  Autumn is Ron’s favorite, so he was thrilled.  24-10, Brigette got a block kill.  Autumn then had an out-serve as GCU fought off three set points.  Finally, Megan ended it with another kill, 25-13.

Set 3: Aggies 2, Lopes 0
I don’t think there was any halftime entertainment while I was in the bathroom.  That’s what happens when there’s only a five-minute break.  I just got back before the first serve.  1-1, Jules got the first Aggie net serve.  Still too much energy.  2-1 GCU, they finally blocked Megan at the net.  Their reserves let out a yell.  The Lopes followed that up with an ace.  On the next point, they were called for being in the net.  Brigette came in early.  Her and Meg combined for a block to tie it at 3.

4-3, the Aggies took the lead on an ace by Krysten.  5-3, Sav got a tip kill on a block.  6-3, Megan blocked a dump shot and got the kill.  7-3, Sav pounded one into the middle.  9-4, Megan pounded another nail herself.  Timeout GCU.  We still weren’t in the Raising Canes coupon giveaway section.  So much for a cheap lunch. 

9-5 Aggies, Sav went long on another serve.  10-5, Meg tip kill.  11-6, Cat fastball kill.  11-7, Nat with a long serve.  It’s a good thing the Aggies didn’t need clutch serving this afternoon.  12-8, Jules was unblocked with a kill into the middle.  13-9, Sav same thing.  14-9, Megan same thing.  Coach Jordan was yelling for some reason.  14-10, Jules touched a GCU out-swing and they took the point.  The coach had his head in his hands. 

15-10 Aggies, the Lopes took this strange point, as both teams traded overpasses.  15-13, the Aggies took their first timeout of the match as GCU went on a run.  Coach Jordan had a short, animated talk with the team.  Let’s see if we can discern his strategy from the next few points.  16-13, Megan kill.  Halle Razo came in to serve.  17-13, Megan kill.  18-13, Megan kill.  19-13, timeout GCU.  Let’s guess what their coach was telling his team, “I think they’re passing it to the tall girl a lot.” 

20-13 Aggies, Halle was still on serve and aced out of the timeout.  21-13, Brigette with a big block.  Sav was on the bench.  She was shouting out encouragement to the team.  22-15, GCU out-served.  23-15, Sav was back in with a kill.  Krysten and Brigette took each other out on a set and both went to the floor.  24-16, they were okay, as Brigette buried one at a defender’s ankles.  25-16, Nat finished off the 3-0 match with an ace!  Exclamation point!     

50 kills in 3 sets.  That’s about all you need to know to analyze this one.  (The stat line was 50-18.)  Megan Hart had 19 kills (more than GCU total) with 6 blocks.  So beautiful.  More than I’ve seen before, the team really leaned on her and she responded.  Savannah Davison had 11.  Julianna Salanoa had 8.  I feel like the coach took my advice (11-29-18) about having her family here for games.  However, she might have gotten a bit too excited and disappeared later.  Jules needs to regulate that energy.  I’m not sure if putting Brigette Lowe in more was a strategy move to keep the blocking players fresh, or if Lia Mosher was hurt in Set 1 diving for a ball.  She was in a jacket late in the match.  Brig stepped up well.    

Wow, the Aggies demolished the number two team in the conference.  I don’t even have any outstanding Lopes players to mention here.  Reality check.  The Aggies weren’t that sharp today.  Blocks were a surprising 9-8 to the Aggies.  It felt like they had more.  The Aggies had 10 service errors, but also had 5 aces.  I’m not sure if the coach can live with that.  This match looked a whole lot like that 9-13-19, 3-0 loss, versus Portland.  I attributed that to team illness.  I wouldn’t be surprised if GCU hadn’t had the flu run through them this week.  In any case, they played like a deer caught in headlights.  I don’t think the Aggies embarrassed them more than they did it to themselves.    

There weren’t any.  That was disappointing.  I’m sure they mentioned them last week for today, but they didn’t on Thursday or during the match.  I wanted to congratulate them after this great win.  I think Ron might have wanted to meet Autumn. 

Brigette ran up the stands on our side to see her parents.  Coach Jordan gave her a low-five when she went by as he was getting ready to be interviewed.  She was all smiles and excited.  Ah, that was good to see.  A senior lady tapped me and asked if I was working for the team.  Someday, somebody is going to show me what I look like while I’m taking notes during these games.  At that point, I’ll probably stop writing about them. 

Outside, I looked at the time.  This deconstruction match had taken less than an hour and a half.  That was efficient.  Getting a pizza for lunch ended up being more work than we thought it’d be.  I had a coupon for Papa John’s, but they wouldn’t take it because it was online only (which it didn’t say on the coupon).  Ron spent ten fruitless minutes trying to login to their website from his phone, before he gave up. 

Fortunately, Roadrunner Pizza was next door.  I go there on occasion, but Ron had never been.  One of the guys there asked me where I got my cool shirt.  I get that question a lot too.  At least someone noticed.  We took the pizza and breadsticks back to my apartment.  Ron was impressed with the food.  He also got filled up after just a couple pieces, so I was impressed with its density.  I like their pizza, but it always changes from visit-to-visit.  I’m afraid to really recommend it.        

There were a couple of disappointments after the meal.  We checked in on Aggie Football.  They lost 42-28 to Central Michigan.  I was encouraged that they put up 28 points.  AD Mario, who was there with the team, had some serious envy for their facilities during the pregame show.  I feel bad for him.  Everywhere he goes, the opposition has better stadiums and more money. 

The worse disappointment was when I went for froyo at Orange Leaf next door.  After a trip to the mall, where I picked up some more shirts at Sears’ closing sale, I came back and found out that Orange Leaf had suddenly beat them in going out-of-business.  There was a sign saying they’d try to find another location, which will likely not be within walking distance of my apartment.  I wish I hadn’t had my gotten my heart set on ice cream.  I could have walked back to the ice cream place in the mall, but the baseball playoffs were about to come on, so I got a milkshake at 5 Guys next door.  It was good, but my heart still hurt.  There is a new place opening soon next door with Mexican fruit bars, so we’ll see how that goes over. 

Never mind.  The important thing isn’t the ice cream or the autographs.  It’s the win.  (And the pizza.)  

Friday, October 11, 2019

NM State Aggies vs CSU-Bakersfield Roadrunners Volleyball 10-10-19

Here’s a little bonus coverage of the Aggie road game this week to start.

10-7-19 vs CBU Lancers
I didn’t realize the Aggie Volleyball girls had three games scheduled this week, until I heard the Monday game mentioned on the radio in the morning.  I might have missed it otherwise.  They were playing against the Lancers on the road.  I was able to bring it up at work and keep an eye on it.  The CBU announcer was very complimentary of the Aggies.  It’s always gratifying to hear the opposition praise your team.  He said the Aggies really only had one weakness: their serving was poor.  Oh boy, this guy was prescient. 

The Lancers lead basically all the way in Set 1.  The Aggies’ bad serving kept them from catching up.  They had 5 in the set.  Meanwhile, the Lancers had three aces.  It went 25-19 to CBU.  Set 2 went the Aggies’ way as they built up good lead.  Natalie Mikels had a five-point serving run, though that ended on the team’s seventh service error.  The Lancers nearly caught up, but, there was beautiful Megan Hart with a kill to end their run.  25-20 Aggies to tie the match. 

The Aggies had their eleventh service error, but got out to a lead in Set 3.  The Lancers closed in late with an ace.  The Aggies lost their first set point on their sixteenth service error, but did prevail to win it, 25-22.  In Set 4, with Megan hitting .500 by this point, the CBU announcer called her, “Incredible.”  The team was doing well hitting.  Savannah Davison and Nat both had good serving runs that built up a nine-point lead.  The Lancers did not quit.  Nicole Abreu put in three aces in a row as part of a four-point run.  Sav ended it with a tip.  Meg made a couple of kills that finally broke their spirit.  The Aggies took the set, 25-17, and the match, 3-1.

Between serving and serve receiving, Coach Jordan must have been losing his mind.  At least the team hitting was still excellent.  Savannah Davison led with 17, Megan Hart followed with 15, and Julianna Salanoa had 10.  While many teams have one primary scorer, the Aggies have six who can hit double-digit kills on any given night.  That can be overwhelming, 59 to 35 tonight. 

Blocking was also excellent with the Aggies up 17-7.  Jules, who was the WAC defensive player of the week, had 11 blocks.  The downside was the 18 service errors.  Yikes.  They did have 6 aces, while the Lancers had 8.  After the match, Coach Jordan talked to the team on court.  After the team left, Sav stayed and had an animated discussion with him and Coach Rubio as the coverage ended.  Hmm . . .  Sidebar, CBU plays in a small gym.  In the game, two balls hit the rafters.  Those were still in play.

10-10-19 vs CSU-Bakersfield Roadrunners
Did you know Wendy’s released a tabletop RPG?  Yes, that Wendy’s, the fast food restaurant, and yes, RPG like in Dungeons & Dragons.  Why?  We’ll chalk it up to “interesting marketing.”  In any case, I downloaded it and found it interesting.  I gave Ron a longer version of this story to explain why I was suggesting going to Wendy’s for dinner before tonight’s game.  The marketing worked on me.  It was a good choice and a tasty meal.

This may be the CSU-Bakersfield Volleyball team’s last visit here, since they’re going to a new conference next year.  The game was on TV tonight.  Adam Young and the lovely Kelsi Meredith were doing the call below us.  Kelsi was in a, yikes (!), tank top.  It was a good thing we were only seeing her from the back and just her long luscious hair during the match.  Otherwise, she would have been terrible distraction.  The Softball PA (whose name I still don’t know) was here tonight, instead of PA Ed.  I hope he’s okay. 

There was Analyssa Acosta peeking out from behind the locker room curtain several times.  She always does that, as she is the player who leads the team out after they change into their game tops.  The fight song was muted as the girls came out to do their twin circle dance on the sidelines.  I hoped that wasn’t a bad omen.  The crowd was listed at 976.  It didn’t seem that big, but we’ll go with it.  There were a bunch girls there were likely volleyball players.  A team from Tularosa was in attendance wearing t-shirts.  The Aggies tossed little volleyballs into the crowd during their introductions.  Basically, all of their throws went awry.  It’s not their forte. 

Set 1
The opening ceremonies were rushed a bit, but then delayed for about 30 seconds for TV.  And the first serve of the match by Natalie Mikels sailed out.  This was an uncomfortable flashback to Monday’s game.  I need not have worried.  Cat Kelly’s next couple of serves were good.  Julianna Salanoa got the first Aggie kill at 2-1 Aggies, and another at 3-1.  Jules and Ashley Anselmo combined on a block next at 4-1. 

A couple behind me and Ron were getting vocal already.  The good news was that they were Aggie fans.  The bad news is that they were also the loudest and most obnoxious.  6-1 Aggies, Ash and Jules combined on another block.  At 8-1, CSUB called a timeout.  “Why do they wear kneepads on their shins?” one of the loud fans asked.  He had a point.  11-7, CSUB started making a comeback.  A kill by beautiful Megan Hart broke it up.  12-8, Cat made a killer tip on a bad set. 

13-9, the team looked completely disorganized on this point.  They had to make saves on a couple of their own hits, but Cat ended the point with a kill.  16-9 Aggies, Nat put in an ace at the ankles of a CSUB defender.  That’s better.  17-11, Savannah Davison ducked under a Bakersfield serve that flew out.  She came up smiling.  19-12, Meg had a solo block.  20-12, Ash had a block and then ducked under a return swing that went out.  Timeout Roadrunners.  All of the breaks were going to the Aggies so far. 

In the row below us, a guy was eating a Burger King burger.  One, how did he get that thing inside?  Two, really how did he get that thing inside the Pan-Am Center?  It was the size of a manhole cover.  We could smell it all the way down the row.  Ron and I both felt a bit cheated on our meal. 

21-13 Aggies, Ash got the kill on this point, but the Roadrunners got a great pancake dig to keep the point going.  23-14, Sav got in a great serve.  That was good to see.  Meg got the kill, but again there were two more great CSUB digs.  Autumn Gentry and Brigette Lowe came in late and combined for a set and a kill respectively at 24-14.  Jordan George served on the next point.  The Aggies lost it on a long rally, but won the set on the next point, 25-15.

Set 2: Aggies 1, Roadrunners 0
An interesting promo pic came up on the video board with Krysten Garrison and Natalie for the game on Saturday.  It was an odd pose for them.  We’ll leave it at that.  Kassi Stolz on the Aggie reserves started dancing when she noticed she was on camera during the break.  She’s definitely the one to put the lens on for those kind of shots. 

2-0 Aggies, Jules put in an ace.  I’m liking this serving.  3-1, Sav got her second point of the set.  4-3, CSUB won the point, but Cat and Meg made a pair of saves.  Analyssa nearly went headfirst into the sideline table trying to get the last swing.  5-4, the Roadrunners went into the lead on a rare out-swing by Megan.  5-5, Cat tied it with a kill and got the next two Aggie points.  8-5, Annie made a save at the net that led to an Aggie point on a block. 

9-6 Aggies, Cat got another kill, but put it into the net on her next swing.  10-8, Annie got a pancake dig that led to a kill by Ashley.  11-8, Jules got a block as the Aggies started pulling away.  16-10, coming out of the media timeout, Nat made a great dump shot attempt that was dug out.  Meg finished the point on a kill that deflected high into the stands.  17-11, Meg then combined with Lia Mosher on a block. 

Halle Razo came into serve.  It went just deep.  She came back out.  Coach Jordan gave her low-five as she went by.  He didn’t seem mad, so he may have approved of the attempt.  20-12, Cat made a tremendous slam on an overpass kill.  Timeout Roadrunners.  22-12, Sav with a backcourt court attack.  It was hit hard enough that I heard some thunder afterward. 

Brigette and 4’9” Brenda Hernandez subbed in.  Brenda got some extra cheers.  She made a couple of digs.  Brig came out after a CSUB swing went off her for a point.  The Coach talked to her for a while on the sidelines.  Again, he wasn’t angry.  It was an instructional talk.  Ash ended it on kill.  25-16 as Aggies took Set 2.

Set 3: Aggies 2, Roadrunners 0
For the half, the Cheerleaders came up into the stands to hand out free rolled tacos.  Ron, strangely, wasn’t interested in more food or meeting the Cheerleaders.  I just don’t like rolled tacos.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a ruined taco, but I’m in the minority.

The Roadrunners came out swinging.  4-2 CSUB, Sav was blocked on the point, as the CSUB bench erupted.  5-5, Krysten had a serve that went just out.  She was still serving much better this match though.  7-6, Megan got her second kill of the set to give the Aggies the lead.  8-7 CSUB, the Roadrunners went back up as a Cat swing went out.  Annie made a save off-court during the point.  She was really selling out tonight. 

9-7, Analyssa was also taking the hits, as she was hit in the face on an overpass kill.  She was okay and laughing afterward.  The down official was not laughing.  He went over and checked the ball that was used on the point.  There was also an extended stoppage, as a stadium staff member came out to clean a spot on the floor under his direction.  Did Annie slip there?  Maybe.

10-8 Roadrunners, a service error broke up a CSUB run.  10-9, a tape serve by Nat dropped in for an ace.  13-10, a swing by Ash was called out.  The crowd murmured, except for the couple behind us, who were yelling about it.  14-11, another CSUB service error broke up their run.  15-11, media timeout.  Raising Canes coupons were passed out by the Cheerleaders in the next section.  Ron complained they’d gotten coupons before.  A few students ran over to sit there as the coupons were being handed out.

16-11 Roadrunners, Ash fired one out.  The coach started yelling at the girls from the sidelines.  16-12, yet another CSUB service error.  They were keeping the Aggies in this one all by themselves.  20-14, “Double!” the guy behind us screamed, wanting a double touch call on the Roadrunners.  This became a steady refrain.  Was he right?  I don’t know.  I can’t tell those DT’s.  Timeout Aggies.  The Roadrunners took the set, 25-17.  The guy was shouting, “Lift,” during the last point.  Him and his girlfriend took it out on the refs.  “That one’s on you, Ref!”  “Yeah, you can hear us!”  “Are you from Bakersfield!”      

Set 4: Aggies 2, Roadrunners 1
The Cheerleaders tossed some candy into the crowd.  That didn’t seem like the best delivery system.  The Aggies were flat in Set 3.  I feel like Monday’s game caught up with them more than the Roadrunners’ play or the Aggies not playing hard enough.  Early in this set, the Aggies looked outright tired.

The Roadrunners took the first point as the Aggies made a campfire around a shot, but a quick pancake dig saved it.  3-1 CSUB, Ash and Sav combined on a block.  They looked gassed.  4-3 CSUB, all together now, a CSUB service error.  I appreciate writing about the other team’s net balls and out-serves for a change.  5-4, Annie took another shot off the face.  She’s tough and still cute.  7-7, the Aggies tied it on a tip by Megan after a long rally.  9-8, the Aggies took the lead on Analyssa’s serve. 

CSUB briefly went back in the lead.  10-10, Lia and Jules combined on a block to tie it.  The Roadrunners went up again.  Megan was on the sidelines yelling at the team.  I don’t think I’d seen that before.  The Aggies went back up, 13-12, on a Meg and Ash block.  14-13, CSUB took this point.  Kiley Tonge’s serve was going out, but was accidentally dug.  Ashley’s swing was called out.  She was unhappy and the crowd was angry.  14-14, a swing by Megan was called out and the crowd got really angry.  15-14 Aggies, Meg took, I think, three swings on this point and finally got the kill on the last one.  Media timeout.  

From here, the Aggies finally started pulling away.  17-15 Aggies, Jordan Pleasants came in to serve.  19-16, Brigette came back in.  20-17, Cat buried one.  21-18, Cat again.  22-18, there was an overrule on what looked like a good shot on the backline by the Roadrunners.  It was ruled out.  During the CSUB timeout, the line judge and the up official had a quick, confidential talk.  A large student danced for the camera for the second time in the game.  Honestly, he’s got better moves than Kassi.  23-19, Sav with a kill.  25-21, Megan killed it to give the Aggies the set win and the 3-1 match win.

I barely said anything about the Roadrunners here didn’t I?  The team was frankly a little chunky in places, but they could play.  They were digging well.  The Aggies got very few easy kills, which is what they thrive on.  CSUB was hurting themselves on serve.  Brooke Boseau and Hanna Makonova led with 10 kills each.

The Aggies had just 5 service errors in the match.  I can guess what the coach had them working on after Monday’s game.  I hope this wasn’t why they were exhausted by the end of this game.  They led 48-44 in kills.  Neither team was able to overpower the other.  Aggie digging was also good in this game, along with being up 14-3 in blocking.  Cat Kelly led with 13 kills, Ashley Anselmo had 11, Savannah Davison had 10, and Megan Hart had 9.  The Aggies have so many good scorers, it’s very hard to keep any three of them from getting double-digit kills. 

I hope they can keep up this serving and digging, since those were this team’s main weaknesses.  There were some out-swings keeping down the kill totals.  Also, they didn’t seem to be sharp blocking.  I could see those two issues being caused by tired legs.  I doubt they’re going to get well-rested before their next game on Saturday afternoon.  Hopefully, they’ll grit it out.  All I did after the game was write this, so nothing else to report there, and we’ll look forward to that next game.