Members of the men’s club volleyball team knew the odds were against them going into Sunday’s Ivy League tournament held at the Lanman Center. What they didn’t know was how well they would handle those odds.
One win and four losses later, the Bulldogs (15-7, 1-4 Ivy) knew they were not yet at the level of their professionally coached varsity competition. The men dropped matches to Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Cornell, salvaging the afternoon with a victory over club-team counterpart Dartmouth. Brown and Princeton did not attend the tournament.
Because there were only six teams participating in the tournament, the first round consisted of a round-robin format in which each team played every other. The top four teams then advanced to the semifinals for a single elimination playoff. The Bulldogs did not qualify for the semifinal round.
In most contests, the Bulldogs were simply outmatched against varsity programs like Harvard during the first round.
“We didn’t connect as a team,” right side hitter Joshua Friedman ’01 said. “Our guys were 5-feet-11-inches, Harvard’s were 6-feet-2-inches to 6-feet-5-inches. That makes it a little difficult to compete.”
Because they were overpowered, the sons of Eli never got into a rhythm on offense and were never able to set up properly to defend.
“The other teams were better disciplined at getting in their spots,” setter Steve Shafer ’01 said.
The Cantabs also stifled the Bulldogs with double and triple blocks on defense.
“[Harvard] was more disciplined,” middle blocker Roger Kuo ’04 said. “With the blocks they were setting, it was hard to capitalize.”
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, Sunday was the first and last time they will face Ivy competition this year. The team usually plays in the Northeast Club Volleyball League (NECVL) against Division III colleges.
The Ivy League tournament is a chance for the Bulldogs to hone their skills against better competition before the Northeast championships this weekend at the University of New Hampshire.
“I expect us to do well this weekend,” Friedman said.
The Bulldogs are seeded third going into the 20-team tournament. The championships will consist of four pools of five. After round-robin competition, the top two teams in each pool will advance to a single-elimination tournament.
After winning the South division of the league during the regular season, the Bulldogs hope to live up to their high placement in the tourney and gain momentum for nationals April 13 and 14 in Kansas City.
“We had a bad weekend and are disappointed with playing so poorly,” Shafer said. “We’re looking to next week as a chance to prove ourselves.”