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Men’s Club Volleyball Heads to Nationals

Team aiming for first US championship

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Coming off an unbeaten regular season, the 14-0 BU Men’s Volleyball Club is now in Louisville, Ky., hoping to capture its first national championship this weekend.

With 48 teams competing for the title, the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation Collegiate Club Volleyball Division 1-AA Championships begin today. If the Terriers advance to the final match, they will play Saturday at 4:45 p.m.

“We’ve got a really special group this year, and I think our undefeated season speaks to that,” says captain and club president Matthew Lee (Questrom’16). “Nationals means everything to us, especially the seniors like myself. You can never take it for granted. We’re just excited to get out there and get going already, especially with how well we’ve been playing this season.”

The club began the spring season with a win at the Marty Open tournament, followed by victories at the New England Collegiate Volleyball League North Divisional and Division 1 Interdivisional competitions. Because of injuries, the Interdivisional tournament saw the club playing without three of its eight starters, but the Terriers won despite that, which head coach Eddy DelSignore (CAS’10, SED’11) says is a testament to the club’s depth.

“It’s very special and very rare that you’d see the 18th guy on the team be just as good as the first guy on the team,” says DelSignore. “Having that sort of depth, in competition or amongst players, pushes everyone to be as good as they can possibly be and work as hard as they possibly can. And because everybody is so good, we’re never scared that if someone gets injured, there’ll be a big drop-off in production.”

More than 40 students tried out for the team last September and 18 made the cut, 12 of them returning players. With just 8 starters, the other 10 players are the practice squad, competing against the starting team at Tuesday and Thursday night practices at FitRec.

“Those guys on the practice team, they want your position,” says club secretary Steve Stratford (Questrom’16), one of the eight starters. “And it’s a really good thing. Those guys want to take over, especially since most of them are the younger guys. When the seniors and juniors are gone, they want to run this club better than we ever did, and I’m confident they will.”

This year’s surplus of talent marks the club’s significant progress. Just four years ago, the team lacked balance, and starters were coasting during practices, says DelSignore, leading to disappointing tournament finishes. But with a recent influx of talent, players believe this year offers their best shot at a national championship.

Matthew Lee (Questrom'16)

Matthew Lee (Questrom’16) at a BU Men’s Volleyball Club team practice at FitRec.

“It’s not every day you coach a group of guys who truly care for each other and push each other to be as special a team as possible,” the coach says. “This is the most talent I’ve ever seen on the team. And I believe if we play at our capabilities, we’re a team that can win our division at Nationals.”

Players attribute much of their success to the annual James Walker Memorial and Alumni Tournament, which commemorates alum and team member James Walker (SAR’07), who was killed in a car accident in 2011.

The tournament, pitting current players against alumni players, began 10 years ago and was named for Walker after he died. Players say the annual event, this year on Saturday, April 23, at FitRec, builds camaraderie and support for the team. The first few years, only 2 or 3 alums returned, DelSignore says, but now as many as 30 show up, along with Walker’s parents.

As they prepare for a shot at their first national championship, Stratford says, players are not focused on just their game—they’re also focused on their hair.

“Every year, people do crazy stuff with their hair at Nationals,” he says. “I can’t even tell you what I’ve seen. Last year, I had a red mohawk. It’s just part of the culture. But whatever I do this year, I’ll be ready to go. We all will.”

The Boston University Men’s Volleyball Club will play in the first round of the NCVF Collegiate Club Volleyball Men’s Division IAA National Championship today, April 7, at the Kentucky Exposition Center, 937 Phillips Lane, Louisville, Ky. If the Terriers advance to the championship match, they will play Saturday, April 9, at 4:45 p.m. at Freedom Hall, 937 Phillips Lane. Find a live webcast of the championship match here and more information about the tournament schedule here. 

The club’s 10th annual James Walker Memorial and Alumni Tournament will be held Saturday, April 23, at FitRec Courts 3 and 4, 915 Commonwealth Ave., at 9 a.m. Anyone with a FitRec membership is welcome to watch.

 Tryouts for the BU Men’s Volleyball Club team are held in September. Find more information about the club here.

Emmanuel Gomez can be reached at mannygo@bu.edu.

1 Comments

One Comment on Men’s Club Volleyball Heads to Nationals

  • Club Fan on 04.07.2016 at 11:14 am

    Congratulations on your undefeated season. Best of luck this weekend!

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