Marquette Wire

Club volleyball holds tryouts, looks to return to nationals

Photo by Helen Dudley

Photo by Helen Dudley

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After losing setter Alex Shulski and libero Craig Belluomini to graduation, it’s a whole new ball game for the men’s club volleyball team.

Last year, the Golden Eagles ended the season on a hopeful but disappointing note, making it all the way to the national semifinals before losing to Ohio State. They did, however, defeat UW-Oshkosh in the Conference Championship game, winning in two sets, 25-21, 25-20.

Club president Chandler North, who was named to the First Team at last year’s national tournament, has been with the team since his freshman year and has seen the program grow into what it is today.

“We’ve created a culture where the reps we get in practice are at such a high level of volleyball,” North said. “We had guys trying out this year giving me feedback, ‘Wow, this feels like a (Division I) team, like a varsity program.'”

Senior outside hitter Dani Rivera expects the incoming members to maintain the team’s high standards.

“This year we have at least five guys that are really good all around that have played volleyball before in clubs,” Rivera said. “I don’t think it will be hard for them to get involved with us.”

Rivera has been with the team since his freshman year, but he’s been talking volleyball with his family at the dinner table since long before that.

“I’ve been playing volleyball since five years old. My dad coached and played,” Rivera said. “I have two brothers that also play, so I have always been in the court.”

Photo by Helen Dudley

Though the official season doesn’t start until spring semester, the team plans on getting in as many tune-ups as possible. Marquette will host a fall tournament in the Helfaer Recreation Center Oct. 16 and looks forward to traveling to other schools.

“We’re also going to travel to Purdue, Michigan State, and Northern Illinois University to compete in some bigger tournaments against some tougher competition,” Tommy King, junior middle blocker said.

With the loss of two key members, the team’s main focus is getting that chemistry back that took them to nationals.

“If you know the guys on the team, you know what moves they’re going to make on the court,” King said. “Knowing what’s going to happen and what each of the players is going to contribute to the team really helps.”

The dynamic is going to change a bit, though. With a new setter distributing to the returning hitters and a libero directing the defense, the team is going to look more toward its offense to make big plays.

“It’s gonna be tough to match that defensive power,” King said. “So now we’re going to have to come back with some offensive strategy,”

That shift is what the Golden Eagles are counting on to bring them another banner to hang over court No.5 in the rec center.

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