Men’s volleyball club recap
April 19, 2012
Filed under Sports
When the UW- Eau Claire men’s club volleyball team’s season began with just three returning players, the experienced players wondered if they could continue their longtime tradition of being a powerful team.
With so many fresh faces, juniors Steven Wert and Tommy Moriarty said they were a little apprehensive about how their season was going to go.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Wert said. “We knew it was going to take a lot of work to go into this season, and we were just hoping for the best.”
Starting the season with several losses, the team reached a low point, Wert said.
Eau Claire has been in the top 10 in the nation for the past 10 years, so with alumni watching them closely, Wert said he knew they needed to turn things around.
After some hard work, Wert said the inexperienced team steadily got better as the weeks went by.
“A lot of (the players) have never played volleyball before, so a lot of that first semester was teaching them the skills and getting them up to the Eau Claire standard,” Wert said.
However, the disappointments did not last long. The team first began to gain momentum with a convincing victory against St. Olaf College (Minn.), and then was able to build off it at the conference tournament where they earned a second place finish.
Wert and senior Eric Schweiner each received all-conference awards and Moriarty earned the conference MVP award, marking the sixth year in a row that the award has been handed out to an Eau Claire player.
Following the new success, the team then traveled to participate in the 2012 NCVF National Championships April 5 through 7 in Kansas City. They entered the competition No. 18 in the nation.
The team went 3-0 on the first day of competition, then battled to a 1-1 record on the second day. The performance earned them ninth place overall and ensured the team would finish in the top 10 nationally for an 11th year in a row.
Wert and Moriarty were again recognized for their individual performances, as each earned All-American Honorable Mention.
“We came together as a team,” Moriarty said. “Some of the guys that haven’t really been playing stepped up and did really well for us.”
As for next season, Wert said that they will only be losing one or two players, which leaves him with a positive outlook on the future of the volleyball team.
“I’m hoping we will have a couple of freshmen who will work hard and learn a lot over the summer and really step up and do well for us,” Moriarty said.
Wert said he believes if the team keeps working hard, a national championship may not be out of reach for them in the year to come.