Men’s club volleyball performs well at nationals

Athletic club allows high school athlete to remain competitive



Story by Nick Erickson, Staff Writer

Kansas City, Mo., is famous for its barbecue.

But two weeks ago, cheese reigned supreme in the city as UW System schools, including UW-Eau Claire, had strong showings at men’s club volleyball nationals.

The Blugolds finished ninth in their out of 48 teams while UW-La Crosse won that division. UW-Oshkosh won its division, beating the University of Arizona in the finals.

While Eau Claire fell in the early rounds to defending champion Messiah College (Pa.), it bounced back and won some big games in the back half of the tournament.

“We played them well, but we just didn’t finish out how we wanted to,” junior Taylor Gilbertson said. “It was pretty cool, though. Wisconsin was represented well.”

Gilbertson, from Chetek, helped the Blugolds at a national meet that featured 52 courts and four different divisions, despite never having played volleyball until college.

A one-time varsity high school athlete, Gilbertson wasn’t ready to say goodbye to his competitive playing days. He heard through a friend about the club volleyball team at Eau Claire, and he wanted to join.

Two years later, he was on the A-team at the national tournament.

“If you’re looking to get into an athletic outlet, they bring an athletic person to a volleyball player,” Gilbertson said. “It takes some time, but it’s definitely worth a shot.”

The club volleyball team is split up into an A-team and a B-team. Both squads have winter weekends filled up with tournaments, usually either in the Twin Cities or at other WIAC campuses. The outcomes at these tournaments determine the seedings for the national tournament.

They practice three nights a week for two hours apiece, and Gilbertson said the gym time is sporadic due to availability. They will sometimes practice from 10 p.m until midnight.

The men’s and women’s club volleyball team begins at the end of September each school year. Contact University Recreations if interested.