Regardless of the outcome, Saturday was bigger than sports.
There was a match between two teams in the top-three in the Big 12 conference preseason poll — a close one that lived up to that billing, even. Iowa State and No. 19 Baylor needed five sets to decide a result, thanks to a valiant comeback attempt from the Cyclones.
Ultimately, though, the home team couldn't pull it out in the final set and the Bears escaped with a 3-2 match win in Ames. It was the first conference loss of the season for Iowa State, and a disappointing result for a team still trying to find a way to make everything click.
When looking around Hilton Coliseum, however — and Jack Trice Stadium earlier in the day — the amount of yellow worn by people from all walks of life shows the result of a sporting event isn't nearly as important as we sometimes make it out to be. No matter who won the match, Saturday was about showing support for a family and community in mourning.
"We understand that this is just a game," said coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. "It's not about your sport or where you are in the country, it's about people."
This week was a painful reminder that senseless, evil people do exist, and that the world can be a confusing and unjust place. However, out of that evil emerged an even greater reminder of just how much more kindness and empathy exists in spite of evil.
Throughout the week, athletes, media, teams, universities and entire athletic conferences paid tribute to the memory of Celia Barquin Arozamena in some way.
Rivalries were put aside, sports took a back seat and the entire country stepped up to show their support for the Barquin Arozamena family and Cyclone community. It was a reminder for everyone — whether it be players, coaches or regular everyday people — that human life is fragile.
"I think after this week, there are a lot more things that are more important than sports," said senior outside hitter Jess Schaben. "The team, I think we've held each other a little bit closer this week and we're really thankful for each other."
So yes, there was a volleyball match on Saturday. A thriller in which Baylor won, thanks in large part to an astounding 39 kills from outside hitter Yossiana Pressley in a spectacular individual effort.
Iowa State hung tough despite being down three of its key contributors in sophomore middle blockers Avery Rhodes and Meegan Hart, as well as freshman outside hitter Brooke Andersen. The Cyclones got some big performances of their own, as players like Schaben and current middle blocker Candelaria Herrera combined for 36 kills on the afternoon.
There was a volleyball match on Saturday, and there will be another one for the Cyclones next Friday in Lubbock, Texas when the team takes on Texas Tech. There will be many more matches, many more wins and many more losses. Players and coaches will be happy, and they'll be upset. That's sports, and sports are very important to a lot of people.
But this week was a reminder for many that sports is a small part of peoples' lives, and that we're all still human beings at the end of the day. Many people lost someone dear to them, and many people are hurting as a result.
But the great thing about sports is its ability to unite people from all walks of life. From Baylor to West Virginia, from Akron to Texas Tech, thousands of gold-clad athletes, coaches and fans showed that at the end of the day, kindness and empathy can overpower any evil in this world.
"It's been pretty incredible to see that everybody cares," Johnson-Lynch said.