Men's Volleyball Notes
It's waiting time for the Arizona men's club volleyball team, as the Wildcats take a breather from the conference championships last weekend to prepare for the national tournament next week.
The top-ranked Wildcats took first place in yet another club tournament, their forth tournament win out of five this season. They placed seventh in the first tournament this season at UC Santa Barbara against not only club competition, but also Division I, II and III teams.
"Talent wise, our team has been far superior to any club team this season," graduate student setter Steve Walker said. "And when we are threatened by a team that thinks it can beat us, we have been able to play to that level of competition. We step up."
In last weekend's conference championship in Las Vegas, UA defeated both Washington State and UNLV in two games each on the first day of play. They continued streak through the playoff bracket, defeating Washington State again, Salt Lake Community College and Utah Valley State College.
The Wildcats squared off against No. 3 Utah Valley in the championship round, and beat them 25-9, 25-18.
"At this tournament, right after spring break I thought we'd be out of synch," assistant coach Skip Greenburgh said. "And the first day we weren't sharp and we did look like we were on spring break. But when the big match was there the team stepped up against Utah and put on a clinic played very well.
"We (Greenburgh and head coach Steve Carlat) were both very impressed."
Because of an illness, junior middle-hitter Nick Thompson was sidelined for the conference championship.
"We didn't have Nick for the last tournament and we thought that would hurt," Greenburgh said. "But Nick Cheever filled in and he didn't skip a beat. He really stepped up."
The switch of the Nicks' (Thompson and Cheever) pulled the Wildcats through last weekend, and it is uncertain how the coaches will divide playing time at the NIRSA Championship, Cheever said.
"I've been playing a lot more lately and the coaches thought I was consistent through the tournament. This is great work in preparation for next year, too," said Cheever, a sophomore.
Before heading to the national tournament, a few Wildcats have already received national recognition.
Walker, Thompson and senior middle-hitter Vince Rooney were named to the All-Conference first team. Walker was slated the conference's MVP.
"This was the first time I was named to the conference and I just wish other guys on the team got the accolades they deserve," Rooney said.
Walker also emphasized the importance of the team being recognized.
"It's a nice honor and it feels good, but the team is first. If the team isn't winning and continuing to play to its caliber than awards mean nothing."
Next stop on the Wildcats' agenda is Reno, Nev. and not to hit the slots and collect gold coins, but rather to defend a greater prize, the National Championship.
The team departs Tucson next Wednesday to begin play Thursday at the National Championship that will consist of 60 teams, the largest number ever.
"It'll be interesting to see how we'll do," graduate outside hitter Ken Murczek said. "If we get tested, we have to see if we can do it because that really hasn't happened to us this year."