Club volleyball looks to repeat last year’s record

By Troy Murray

Despite being largely overlooked on campus, the men’s volleyball team is one of Ilinois’ best-performing club sports.

The first team placed third at Nationals last year, finishing with an overall record of 45-24. They also finished second at the Big Ten Championships, losing to Michigan in the final game of the tournament.

The club is divided into three teams: blue, orange and white. The blue team is made up of the most advanced players; orange has the next highest level of skill.

Although the first team graduated five players last year, the second team finished second nationally in its division and should be able to step up and fill the spots left open by those graduates.

“We always expect to do better the next year,” said sophomore middle hitter Ryan Fabrizius. “We graduated a few players, but we have a ton of returning guys and we’re really hopeful we’ll improve this year.”

Men’s volleyball has had a lot of success in recent years.The team has been ranked in the top five of the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association five times and has won the Big Ten Championship four times in the last six years.

Because it is a club sport, the team operates differently than varsity programs on campus. The team elects a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. Those officers make the important decisions for the players and act as coaches.

“We’re open to suggestions by the players,” said Alan Urban, senior setter and team secretary. “We know they’ve all played a lot and they could see things we don’t. It’s definitely a group effort in practice.”

The players practice Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, and have extra practices whenever needed. They hold their practices at IMPE, Huff Hall and Kenney Gym.

“The intensity of the practices depends on the time of the season,” Urban said. “During the fall it’s a little more laid back; during the spring it picks up. We definitely want to win a national championship every spring.”

The team plays in five or six tournaments each semester. Transportation varies from tournament to tournament; for Nationals, they took a coach bus to Charlotte, N.C., but for other tournaments they usually car pool.

Since the players fund the program, the team holds fund-raisers throughout the year. Indiana and Illinois co-sponsor the Hoosier-Illini Classic every year. The tournament is held in Bloomington, Ind., and is open to any club team in the country. “It’s probably one of the biggest tournaments of the year, behind the national championship,” Urban said.

Tryouts for club volleyball begin this Sunday at 5 p.m. at Kenny Gym. For more information, contact president Rob Tupuritis.