By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Last April, the Arizona men's club volleyball team entered the club championships at Arizona State University unranked and unnoticed.
The abundance of volleyball powerhouses that were at the tournament did not give the Wildcats a second thought. They should have.
The unproven Wildcats came in and made noise right off the bat by beating seventh-ranked Texas, and almost upsetting a very strong Minnesota team. Through their opening-round success, the Wildcats moved on and faced cocky powerhouse Southern Cal. With their top-of-the-line equipment and great athletes, many thought the Trojans would roll over the seemingly outgunned Arizona team. Yet when all was said and done, Arizona had hammered USC in straight sets.
UA head coach Keith Martin reflected on his team's success: "We took USC by surprise. We used a match-up blocker system and knocked them out of their rhythm."
But Arizona was just getting started. They would go on to defeat three more teams (including No. 15 Tennessee) before losing to Bucknell, a nationally-ranked team from Pennsylvania.
Wildcat assistant coach Skip Greenwood attributed the team's success in the championships to their efforts at various junior college tournaments.
"Our performance in the Grossmont junior college tournament really solidified our lineup," Greenwood said. "That was the point when everything started to click."
In addition to hard work ethic, Martin credited the Wildcats' success to the intelligence of his players.
"In our program, we put academics first," Martin said. "If someone has an important test or paper we try to work around that. Therefore, I have a lot of intelligent guys who understand the game."
In order to continue its success, the team needs solid efforts from its returning players. The performance of junior outside hitter, Jared Scherrill will be a major factor in the success of this year's team.
According to Coach Martin, "Jared has a great attitude. He is willing to play nearly every position, and his great versatility and leadership make him a key member of our team."
In addition to Scherrill, junior president Edwardo Fiallos and junior treasurer Mark Pabst should provide leadership for the new crew of younger players. Some of the young blood include three talented freshmen and Arizona natives: Jeremy Crutchfield, Mike Bagesse and Cody Sweet. As for the rest of the team, it will be decided on after the Sept. 20 date for tryouts.
Once the team has been decided the real fun will begin: the conditioning. Through a few months of rigorous training, Martin feels confident that his team will be ready for the jump into the United States Volleyball Association season on Jan. 1.
Said Martin: "We have the opportunity to be in the top ten for club teams, and one of the top three in our region."
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