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Last Updated: December 21, 2016
Irish Head to Nationals, Leave with A Championship
In the second week of April, the Irish dodged a surprise South Bend snow storm to head to the deep south with their sights set on volleyball immortality and good barbeque. The national championship tournament this year was held in Louisville, Kentucky and played host to about fifty teams. The Irish headed into the tournament as the definite dark horse favorite, having started the season with a three-set, two-point loss to the eventual national champions and then going relatively quiet in subsequent tournaments.
Day one of the tournament proved a test in patience as the squad lost some very close matches to some of the nation's best teams. The Irish flashed moments of greatness down the strecth but struggled to get into a good rythtm on the court. Day two proved just as frustrating, but as the thousands of spectators at the Louisville Expo Center would soon come to learn, the Irish were saving something special for day three of competition.
The difficulties on days one and two meant the Irish would get to compete for the coveted copper-bracket championship. The Irish waltzed their way to the championship match and defeated a solid Michigan State squad with ease, only needing two sets. Originally thought to have only been given a piece of paper for their hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, the team turned in a certificate for a copper plaque and carried their hardware high above their heads as fans hoisted the players on their shoulders out of the convention center.
Despite the loss of key seniors like standout libero Andrew Lee, the team will be returning a solid core next season. However, due to their incredibly selfish decisions to study abroad, setter Mike Rosetto and OH Nicholas Pittman will be abandoning the team in the fall and spring, respectively. Nonetheless, newly-elected team president Max Balzer looks to bring a variety of changes to the program including a fast tempo offense in hopes of returning the Irish to the national championship glory they experienced some short time ago.
Irish Turn In Spotty Performance at Hoosier Illini Classic
In the wake of what cahn only be referred to as a Justin Timberlake-scale betrayal, the Irish journeyed south without setter Michael Morris. The team was without many of the usuals, but these other absentees turned in excuses far more honorable than deciding to play another sport. Nonetheless, the team ventured to Bloomington in hopes of recreating some of the magic they captured at the Michigan Invitational.
The squad had difficulty finding their footing on day one, experimenting with different lineups and making adjustments in response to injuries. The squad ended up dropping matches to Florida, Purdue, Virginia Tech, and a MIssouri team with a penchant for ankle socks and lackluster trashtalk.
Day two proved much more successful than the first as the Irish trounced inferior opponents on their way to a silver-bracket championship match. Loyola Chicago's late night out seemed to be their downfall, and the Lousiville Cardinals reaked of fear when they met the Irish on the court. The auxillary gym used for the Irish's championship match against DePaul seemed more fit for a 1950s high school basketball montage than for a collegiate volleyball match. It was undoubtedly the horrible glare and poor air circulation that doomed the Irish, as everyone knows the DePaul squad reguarly practices in such conditions and pays off the home institution to recreate the setting. Overall, day two was better on all ends, with setter Mike Rossetto and OH Jorge Diaz turning in especially stellar performances.
While the end result left something to be desired, the Irish showed brief moments of brilliance down the stretch, not diminsihing all hope for a potential dark horse run at nationals in April. The Irish hope to use the spring break to fully restore HP and PP, so that they can be ready for battle on the eve of Easter at Purdue University.
Irish Finish Runner Up at the Michigan Invitational
The Irish headed to the depths of Ann Arbor, Michigan in order to compete at an early season tournament. The 16 team tournament was clearly conspiring against Notre Dame from the get go when in an unbelievable slap to the face, the Irish were not even given the 1 seed in their pool. The slight proved to be the fuel required as Notre Dame made a bludgeoning run through pool play, only dropping one game against valiant Grand Valley State.
Their opponents in the playoffs fared no better, especially first round opponent Baldwin Wallace who went down without much of a fight. Semifinal opponent Oshkosh B Team came in with all of the swagger of the typical Oshkosh squad, but was unable to sustain their strut through a three game slog as the Irish overcame them with grit and determination typical of the hardnosed Notre Dame team.
However, Oshkosh B would have their revenge as they were selected as the refereeing staff for the final which pitted Notre Dame against three time consecutive national champions Oshkosh A. With the odds stacked against them and fatigue beginning to set in after the long 12 hour day of volleyball, the Irish battled bravely, particularly behind the offensive performance of an unusually agitated Spencer Castillo, but ultimately fell 29-27, 25-23 to claim second place at the tournament.
A promising start to the season, the Irish retreated back to the safety of South Bend to continue their training with an avowed spirit to defeat the Evil Empire of Men's Collegiate Club Volleyball, University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.
Irish Don a New Look
With big shoes to fill left by last year's seniors, particularly Team Apparel Manager Andrew Lee, the squad was hopeful heading into tryouts this year. Though it seemed the universe itself was conspiring to prevent the team from even holding tryouts this year, the squad was able to corral a strong group of six new players to add to the ranks. At the setter position, freshmen Angelo Lui and Dan Laskowski look to make immediate contributions with their athleticism and buttery hands. At the middle blocker position, freshman Slater Chesser and Sophomore Jack Waltrich have already begun construction on the spacious, two-story town home that will roof any defender that dares hit near it. Pin hitter Kevin Shin will surely dazzle on the court this year with his versatility and ability to hit around any block. Lastly, defensive mastermind Brian Messina will surely bolster the Irish's defensive presence this season, that is, if he can tape his wrist in time to make it out onto the court. The Irish eagerly await the return of setter Mike Rossetto from his Aussie adventures while marching on toward the regular season with high hopes of solidifying this fine university's status as a men's club volleyball school.
To all incoming freshman and anyone else who has an interest in playing club volleyball, sophomore to senior, we are holding open tryouts on Tuesday September 6th and Thursday September 8th from 7:30 to 9:30 in the Joyce Center Blue Room. Whether you're a high school all-american or just pretty good at keeping a balloon off the floor, you're invited to tryout. Try to make both nights if able. If you have any questions about tryouts or the team in general, please contact president Max Balzer at email@example.com or anyone else listed on the "contact us" page. Looking forward to seeing everyone.
Alumni Game Set for September 16th
Drop all of your real-world responsibilities and hit the treadmills, former players, the date for the alumni vs. current team game has finally been set. The game will take place the Friday before this year's Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game at home. Details including the time and location on campus are to be determined, but stay tuned for updates.
It was with heavy hearts and watery eyes that the Irish said goodbye to four outstanding seniors at the end of the 2015-2016 campaign: Kevin Weithers, John Rumer, Spencer Castillo, and Andrew Lee. Kevin, known for his good looks and impecable fashion sense, will be dearly missed on and off the court. Never again will collegiate club volleyball bear witness to a buttery John "Johnny Hammastix" Rumer cross-court back set, and for this, we weep. The team will surely miss Spencer, the squad's fearless leader, who with his intuition and thrift, was able to save the team a couple of dollars when we needed it most. Though it is not certain exactly how much he actually worked on acquiring team apparel, Andrew Lee, the "Team Apparel Manager," was a vital asset to the team's success and will be missed. We wish these club volleyball veterans a successful and restful retirement. Thank you for your service, gentlemen.