A year after capturing the Ivy League title, Yale volleyball has once again brought a championship to New Haven. Only this time it was a national championship, and it wasn’t the varsity team that won it all.
On Saturday, the women’s club volleyball team captured its first national championship at the Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., defeating the University of South Carolina two games to one.
Playing in a large arena with announcers and fanfare for the first time, the team dropped the opening game 23–25.
“I’d like to think the different atmosphere is why we lost the first game,” team captain Christina Marmol ’12 said. “We were kind of out of it, and didn’t know what we were doing at first.”
But with their backs against the wall and the Division II National Collegiate Club Volleyball Organization title on the line, the Elis rebounded to win the final two games 25–20 and 15–6, respectively.
While many of the teams they faced lacked coaches and access to facilities, the Bulldogs benefited from the leadership and coaching of David Dantes, who also serves as a volunteer assistant coach on the women’s varsity volleyball team.
Composed of five freshmen, two sophomores and five seniors, the team finished its season with three other tournament victories and a semifinal appearance in another in addition to its victory on Saturday.
Marmol praised team members for their commitment throughout the season, noting that they averaged roughly 75 percent attendance at all practices. She said she was especially impressed by the freshmen’s dedication despite the amount of other extracurricals available to students.
“I made volleyball my number one extracurricular this year,” Caitlin Parmer ’13 said. “It’s just been really fun to play with this group of girls, I look forward to playing with them for years to come.”
A member of the Northeast Women’s Volleyball Club League, the team competed against more than 40 other teams all the way from Delaware to upstate Vermont in weekly tournaments this season. The team chose what tournaments it would participate in based on travel distance and expenses covered by Yale, Marmol said.
Though all of the members of the team had some previous experience playing volleyball, many came to Yale without the thought of pursuing it as a varsity sport, Marmol said.
But for former softball player Tracy Timm ’10, the reduced time commitment of club sports made volleyball a more enjoyable alternative to varsity athletics.
“I consider joining the team one of my best choices during my time at Yale,” said Tracy Timm ’10, a former varsity softball player. “For me, the biggest difference between varsity and club is my enjoyment of the sport. … With volleyball, I love every minute of being on the court, whether that’s during practice or games.”
And while club sports are certainly more relaxed than varsity sports, the satisfaction one gets from winning a national championship is the same regardless of what level of competition.
“There are few feelings in the world that rival winning a national championship,” Timm said. “For me, it was the poetic fulfillment of a dream. I loved every minute of it.”
Looking ahead to next year, the team hopes to attract even more talented players to make another run at the national championship. Marmol said being defending national champions will definitely help the team’s recruiting efforts next year.