Strong preseason has men's club volleyball thinking big

By Kristen Davis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 19, 1996

A week ago, the men's club volleyball team wasn't sure if its youth was capable of surviving a complete game.

Yesterday, the team was thinking of a national championship.

It took two strong showings in the two preseason tournaments to get the team excited to begin regular season play. The players are hoping the wins will fuel the momentum for their first tournament, the Santa Barbara Invitational, the biggest Division I tournament in the country.

Trouble is, it's not until Jan. 10.

"It'll be a real big test," head coach Skip Greenberg said. "It will be a chance to put our guys up against the top guys in the country. We are hoping to finish in the upper bracket."

The team, which has been practicing since mid-October, captured first place in the United States Volleyball Association Tournament at the Student Recreation Center on Saturday, winning nine of 10 matches.

The tournament featured 15 teams, including Arizona State and Northern Arizona. The Wildcats swept ASU 15-7, 15-11 in the final match, despite the absence of one of their strongest hitters, sophomore Vince Rooney, a middle blocker who is nursing a sprained ankle.

"I was very, very happy with how we played," Greenberg said. "There were a lot of question marks with how we would do and mesh together with the new players, and recruits we brought in and the guys we lost last season. I find that our mental focus tends to be up and down this early in the season, but it stayed up the whole tournament."

The team's one loss was against NAU in the early pool play.

"We were a little worried whether we would stay focused after the loss against Northern Arizona," senior outside hitter Mark Pabst said. "Sometimes after a loss we tend to lose focus and get down, but we stayed confident."

Greenberg said the team still has a lot of work to do before the season begins.

"We played very good defense and controlled most of the games we were in, but we need to be more consistent on our siding-out game," he said.

Arizona finished in second place in its first preseason tournament, on Oct. 19.

"We weren't sure how we would do, but we played pretty intense through the whole tournament," Pabst said.

Although the regular season has not yet begun, the Wildcats are setting their goals high.

"Our goal is to win the national championships," Pabst said. "With our talent we now know that we have a lot more potential to win it this season."