From head to toe, Bryant's Julia Flynn is college volleyball's most creative player
Julia Flynn doesn't resort to using the traditional bump, set, hit sequence for Bryant volleyball.
Over the past 2½ weeks, the Bulldogs' junior outside hitter had some of the more unconventional shots, using almost every part of her body from head to toe -- literally -- to save a point.
"We don't exactly practice it, but in a pressure situation, it comes naturally," she said.
Let's start up top: her face.
Bryant was playing Manhattan on Sept. 8, and when she went up for the kill, Manhattan blocked it right back in her face. Only thing was, instead of going out of bounds, the ball went back to Manhattan's side of the net and the rally continued.
While Manhattan reset its formation, Flynn regained her composure, thanks in part to teammate Alisi Motu'apuaka, who spun her around and told her the ball was still live. Then she had another opportunity for the kill. And she delivered.
"I felt like I needed that for myself to make sure that I knew I was OK," Flynn said.
From the court, she heard her teammates gasp and the crowd's "Ooooohhhh." She was dizzy at first, but after she recorded the kill and celebrated in the huddle, that's when she took it in stride.
"We all were just laughing at what just happened -- especially my coach, too," Flynn said. "I looked over at her and she was dying laughing."
A few matches later, when Bryant played Hofstra, Flynn was hit in the face twice in the same game.
"Nothing cool happened, believe me," she said with a laugh.
Something cool happened on Sept. 12, though. On game point against Holy Cross, she and junior Kirstyn Sperry both went for the dig. Sperry got to it first but only hit it a few feet in the air. Laying on her back, Flynn then did her best Alex Morgan impression and kicked it over the net.
"A lot of people asked me after, they're like, 'Wait, can you even do that?' " Flynn said. "The ref never called it, so I was like, 'In volleyball, you can use any body part you want to get it over the net.' Everyone's like, 'What?!' "
Let's break down the kick. It wasn't so hard that it would go long. It wasn't so short that it would give Holy Cross the point. It was angled perfectly to go over the net and give the Bulldogs enough time to reset.
"I just used whatever body part was closest and just tapped it over with my foot and it seemed to work," Flynn said.
Oh, and Bryant eventually won the point. And the game. And the match.
"We were shocked for a little bit," Flynn said. "And then when it happened, everyone's like, 'OK, we're getting this point. We're making sure we win this off this point.' "
She was too focused on the play to hear coach Theresa Garlacy yell from the sideline to kick it since nobody else was close enough to the ball.
Not only was the play so unique that it landed in the No. 3 spot in the NCAA's plays of the week, but she and her teammates started kicking the ball around in practice a few times and juggling volleyballs with their knees and feet to see who could get the most touches.
And then, as Flynn reminds: "We play volleyball, not soccer."
Because in volleyball, you usually use your arms and hands to control the ball. Like she did last Tuesday -- in her own unique way -- against Providence.
Flynn lunged to her left and dove so she could receive the serve. Instead of passing it to her teammate to align a set and then possible kill, the ball sailed back over the net and landed in the back left corner of the floor for an obscure kill.
"Definitely more of a lucky play," Flynn admitted.
Garlacy jokingly asked Flynn what body part she would use for her next trick. Flynn thinks her elbow or knee would be next. But frankly, she can't predict the future.
"It's all about instincts," Flynn said. "It's not like we're going to be practicing kicking the ball."