Italian beach volleyball player Adrian Carambula is using the Olympics’ big stage to show off his wacky, signature serve.
Carambula has mastered the “skyball,” his trademark serve where he sends the ball rocketing into the air, creating a sense of unpredictability for opponents. Not only is the trajectory of the ball’s descent part of the challenge, but Carambula adds a little spin to it, occasionally making it difficult to play.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Carambula is believed to be the only professional player on the volleyball tour using the serve, at least with any regularity.
Here was Carambula hitting a skyball vs. Canada in a preliminary match at Rio.
In a video for the International Volleyball Federation, Carambula explained how and why he uses it.
“Skyball is pretty much a serve I use to get people off rhythm,” Carambula began.
“I think it’s part of my game because it’s different and people don’t really train against it. It’s just a movement that, for me, comes naturally. I just know that I wanna put the ball up, I feel the wind, and then I let the ball and my body and everything come natural.”
Here it is in action at another tournament:
Carambula loves the attention that comes from being associated with the serve. He told the Wall Street Journal:
“Whenever I go to a tournament they don’t even say ‘Adrian’ anymore, they just say ‘Mr. Skyball.’ So it’s a pretty cool thing.”
While WSJ notes that a Brazilian volleyball player used the same serve in the 1980s, Carambula doesn’t think he should be emulated.
“If you wanna do something like [the skyball], let it come to you naturally,” he told the FIVB. “Don’t try to do it like how I do it, because it’s not gonna work for you.”
If Italy manages to make it to the beach volleyball finals, the skyball could become a lot more common. While the effectiveness of the skyball may be doubted compared to a regular serve, it’s certainly entertaining.
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