First impressions are everything, and to the Loyola men’s volleyball team, the best first impression has a soundtrack.
Speakers roar to the sound of a carefully selected song that best encapsulates a player’s personality and taste in music. Gentile Arena shakes with each beat as the Loyola men’s volleyball team’s bench mouths the words to the songs.
Head coach Mark Hulse praised the atmosphere created through the songs that are played as a player prepares to serve. He spoke at length about how energetic and intense the games are when the student section is there cheering them on.
“Who’s having more fun than 22-year-olds in a sporting event?” Hulse said.
Junior middle blocker Kyle Piekarski said pre-service songs are a great way to get the crowd pumped up for a Loyola service as well as to add a bit of personality to the players on the team.
When asked about his choice of “Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake, Piekarski said a primary reason for his song choice was to reflect the team’s dashing good looks.
“I mean … for this team … it’s a bunch of good looking guys. It’s volleyball, so people don’t think much of it but I want people to come here and think ‘Oh this team is sexy, I like these guys’,” Piekarski said.
Piekarski joked the team had aspirations of following in the footsteps of Timberlake as it reminds those in the stands that everyone on the court is having fun playing the game they love.
“I feel like it just gets the crowd going. People [at Gentile Arena] get happy and when [Justin Timberlake] is on, everyone is happy,” Piekarski said. “Last year, I had a [Justin Timberlake] song with Madonna … I just wanna stick with my boy.”
But not everyone gets to pick their walk-up songs. The senior players pick the first-years’ songs. For example, first-year opposite hitter Luke Denton walks up to “Mahna Mahna” from “The Muppets.” This year, sophomore setter Garrett Zolg was able to pick his pre-service music for the first time and chose “Shoota” by Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert.
Zolg joked the song was a match made in heaven as the lyrics of the song truly spoke to him and he found himself relating to the message of the song.
“I listened to the song and I was like, this is a perfect walk-up song right there,” Zolg said.
Zolg said pre-service music reminds everyone in the bleachers that under the uniforms, the players are students, too. He added pre-service music is something fun that players get to do to connect with each other and with fans. From rap to country to rock to pop, all genres of music are covered in the pre-service tunes.
“I kind of felt like the lyrics on a certain part of [Shoota] kind of related to myself,” Zolg said. “I thought it was a good song that I felt the crowd would enjoy and sing along to every time I went back to serve.”
Zolg also added players choose the music they want to hear to create a fun and exciting way to get the crowd involved and on their feet for every serve. Because the song plays before every serve, the consistency of what they’re listening to helps players get into “the zone,” according to Zolg.
Piekarski added the music helps provide a boost of energy to the bench as success becomes even more celebrated and the second unit only seems to get louder and more energetic as the game goes on.
The Ramblers are scheduled to continue their season Jan. 31 at 7:00 p.m. against University of California Los Angeles at Gentile Arena.