A team you should know about

Eastern volleyball remains undefeated in conference.

Sound familiar? This announcement, however, holds slight differences from those in the fall. For one, it is spring; two, the conference is not the PAC and three, it is not referring to the successful women’s team.

Confused? Most likely, especially since this team remains non-existent to most of the campus: the men’s club volleyball team.

While many may be unaware Eastern has a men’s volleyball team, since they are a club instead of a funded athletic team, their results are nothing short of impressive.

Playing in the Mid Atlantic Conference Volleyball Club (MACVC), the team competes against other schools in the tri-state area. Eastern has played two matches within the East division and won both without losing a game. They also took fourth place in a talent-filled tournament at Rowan.

“Our toughest competition [in the division] will probably be Temple,” senior Derek Landis said, “but I think we could go undefeated. Messiah’s the best in the MACVC. They aren’t in our division, but we will see them in the championships.”

Two years ago, the club finished fifth in the nation for Division II teams, their best finish yet. While Eastern is typically a DIII, school clubs are divided differently. Only ‘B’ or JV club teams are allowed in Division III. Divisions I and II consist of clubs, not actual NCAA teams, which are then divided by student population.

Due to a lack of finances and experienced players, no official team was put together last year, even with such a successful season. Since club teams provide all of their own funds, they need to play at a high enough level to make it worthwhile.

According to Landis, the budget for the season is not difficult to swing, especially since most matches are away. Funds mostly go toward the national tournament on April 11-13, which costs over $3,000.

“We do a lot of fundraising,” he said. “We send out support letters, hold March Madness pools and hold volleyball tournaments. This year, I want to try something new and set up [landscaping and handyman] jobs for the team to do.”

No home matches have been scheduled yet, but Landis said he has some in the works.

Finances are not the only issue the team must deal with. Each day they must wait to see if the gym is available for practice, since spring sports get priority.

In addition, the guys also provide their own volleyballs and uniforms. As far as transportation, they can use school vans, which is nice for games at Temple and St. Joe’s, but only when the vans are available.

“Athletics just doesn’t have the resources to take on another team,” Landis said.

Still, the team is content with their club status. The time commitment and schedule are not as strenuous, and the team members run everything, from practices and scheduling to actual game day decisions.

“Most of the guys like being a club,” Landis said. “A lot couldn’t play varsity ball, but intramurals are far from fulfilling for someone involved with organized volleyball. It’s a good medium.”

Many of the players had no high school volleyball experience, with the exception of seniors Alex Sawatzky and Matt Lesuer, and have only picked up the game in college.

According to Landis, anyone is welcome to join the team and come out to fall open gyms.

The actual season begins after Christmas break and ends in the middle of April.

“Our offense is very good,” Landis said. “[Our] ball control, not so good, since a lot haven’t played before. We have a lot of talent but lack the finer skills. So far, our offense has been enough, but against better teams it will be tougher.”

Men’s Volleyball Schedule

PSU Delco (Away) – WinPrinceton (Away) – WinRowan Tourn. – 4th placeMarch 10th – Messiah Tourn.March 13th – Temple (Away)March 17th – Lehigh Tourn.March 20th – Haverford (Away)March 25th – Villanova (Away) 12:15 pmApril 12-14th – Nationals @ Louisville, Kentucky*TBD: St. Joes and Drexel

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