Men's volleyball tuning up for 'potential' national championship

By Ian Parkman

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona men's club volleyball team is thinking national championship after evaluating this year's recruiting class.

"When we came here, mine and head coach Keith Martin's goal was to win a national championship after five years," assistant coach Skip Greenberg said. "This season is our third and we already have the potential after our last two recruiting classes to win one this year."

Last weekend, the Wildcats won a friendship tournament involving Northern Arizona, Arizona State, a team made up of UA students and a team made up of UA men's volleyball alumni, called the Iguanas. The Wildcats played the tournament with a split squad and finished with three wins and a loss, beating the Iguanas 15-7, 4-15, 15-12 in the championship game.

"It was a great tournament for our team," Greenberg said. "Our setters and middle blockers played exceptionally well, seeing it was the first tournament for two of our players ever."

Last year the Wildcats started four freshmen and finished 18th in the country in the final United States Volleyball Association poll. This season three of those freshmen are returning, and they will be aided by a recruiting class that includes three of the top high school players in Arizona, including state player of the year Jason Hamernick. The other freshmen, Vince Rooney and Adam Geach, were both first-team All-Phoenix selections. Junior college transfer Mike Hogan makes up the rest of this year's class.

"This year we've brought some big guys in, some big, strong guys," team captain Mark Pabst said. "We have a lot of talent and we have the potential to win a national championship."

This year's team plays in several tournaments against club teams as well as Division I squads. The season starts in January, when the Wildcats will host Arizona State and Utah. Then the team travels to Santa Barbara, Calif., to play in the largest men's volleyball tournament in the nation. This is also the first year of Desert Thunder, a tournament Arizona will host involving the top 30 university club teams.

But the biggest game of the season is always the Arizona State game.

"Last year we beat ASU for the first time in a long time, and we beat them at the national tournament," Greenberg said. "This year the Devils should be mediocre they have banked on their huge recruiting class from the monster team they had a few years ago. Last year's win was a real high for our guys."

"It's great that I'm a freshmen, and I'm going to be playing against the highest level of competition possible," Hamernick said. "Our schedule is really tough but we are good enough to play along with anyone."

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