Club SportsSports

Men's and women's club volleyball dual champions at PIVA Winter Warmup tournament

Oregon women’s green team and men’s club volleyball both took first place at the Pacific Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Winter Warmup tournament held at Oregon State University on Jan. 24-25.

The victories should provide each team with a boost in the rankings come April 9, when they will be seeded for the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation national tournament in Kansas City based on their body of work in tournament play during the season.

The women’s team chemistry has reached new levels this season. The Oregon Green (Team A) roster boasts 13 returning players and seven seniors, all of whom have played all four years.

“This is one of the better teams we’ve ever had,” senior Monica Frick said. “Before when we played big teams we didn’t do well. But now we’re just as big as them.

In its six matches, Oregon Green lost only one set to its stiffest competition, Washington State, but managed to win the decisive third set. Green defeated Western Washington in the first match of pool play as well as in the championship to win the title.

“It’s really exciting this year,” senior Hannah Carle said. “We’ve improved a lot. Our expectations are high because of how we’re playing right now.”

Oregon Yellow (Team B) competed alongside Green, but fell to Washington in the consolation bracket. Two years ago, Green and Yellow played each other in the championship match of the same tournament and Green took home the trophy. The tournament was snowed out last season.

Both teams will face their toughest tests of the season in the upcoming stretch, in which they will compete in two ranking tournaments in Davis, California and Las Vegas, Nevada before traveling across the country for nationals.

Historically, Green has suffered against the fierce competition from schools in Southern California, a hotbed for competitive volleyball. This year, however, the team has already proven it can hang with the best, finishing third in a big tournament at UC Santa Barbara earlier this year.

Green won the bronze division at nationals last year, but aims for a gold finish this year.

The men’s team, which has also brought home a bronze victory in nationals, won the championship match of the Winter Warmup against Oregon State, last season’s National Tournament Champion.

Unlike the women, the men’s team welcomed a lot of young new players this season, all of whom have managed to keep their teammates’ intensity high. The men came in first in their pool and ran the table from the third overall seed, taking down the Huskies and Beavers in the process.

“Definitely Oregon State was (our toughest competition),” said Dan Stern, senior and team captain. “But we just had so much momentum going into it, we could have beaten anyone.”

A point of pride for the team, and an important element of the sport, is the ability to intimidate the opponent. This tactic proved particularly successful in their pool play match against Walla Walla.

“(Walla Walla’s) best hitter was getting frustrated and it was game over for him,” Stern said. “A lot of young guys bring a lot of energy and our older guys joke around. We’re the loudest team out there for sure.”

The men have high hopes for nationals this season. The team’s next NCVF ranking tournament is Feb. 15-16 at UC Davis.

The women play in the same tournament on Feb. 22-23.

Follow Kenny Jacoby on Twitter at @kennyjacoby

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