Men’s club volleyball team wins Hawkeye-Illini Classic

By Alex Iniguez

The Illinois men’s volleyball club’s blue team smashed its opponents en route to an easy tournament victory at the Hawkeye-Illini Classic on Saturday.

After a tough loss to Wisconsin in two games, the Illini unit came together and did not lose a game the rest of the tournament.

The Illini defeated Augustana and Northern Illinois in pool play, and then beat Augustana a second time, Marquette, and St. Ambrose to get to the title game.

“This was some of the best volleyball I’ve seen us play in the three years I’ve been here,” said junior Doug Burchett, the volleyball club vice president. “We definitely played strong from start to finish and we’re just connecting on all parts of the game.”

The club came up huge in the championship game, crushing Quincy 25-17, 25-14 to claim the title.

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Junior Kevin Deeke led the team with 35 kills in the tournament, and sophomore outside hitter Emmett Culligan wasn’t far behind with 31.

“Culligan has definitely stepped up his level of play and has become another go-to player on our team,” Burchett said. “Joe Toth played phenomenal at libero; he really set the tone of defense for the team.”

The Illinois men’s volleyball club is composed of three teams. The blue team competes in about 12 tournaments per year as part of the first division of the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, and the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association.

The orange team travels to about eight tournaments a year, competing in the second divisions of MIVA and NIRSA. The white team competes in local competitions, participating in about six or seven tournaments a year.

The blue and orange teams take the court on Nov. 10 in East Lansing, Mich., in the 18th annual Spartan Back to the Hardwood Tournament.

The Illini squads are two of 60 teams competing in the tournament.

The white team is idle until Dec. 1 when it travels to Ames, Iowa, for the inaugural A-Town Throw Down Tournament.