Despite a rough patch earlier this year, the Cal Poly men’s volleyball club team finished its season tied for fifth in nationals in April, its highest finish since placing ninth in 2004.
Additionally, four members were recognized as all-Americans.
“It was a great turnaround for us,” junior setter Brian Houlihan said. “We’ve had the same team for about three years and we’ve never done this well. It was a good way to end for our senior class.”
This year is the first time the team has played without a coach, instead relying on each other to “coach by committee,” Houlihan explained.
“We worried about it at first, but it worked out really well,” senior center Greg
Lawrance said. “Everyone did a good job of coaching themselves and each other, and we ended up pushing ourselves farther than before.”
Most team members have enjoyed playing together for years.
According to Lawrance, the team’s strong chemistry helped it excel.
Going into the league championship, Cal Poly lost in the semifinals, and ended up seeded 15th after being in the top ten in the national rankings all season.
The drop was a disappointing blow, but the team recovered to upset two-time defending champion Wisconsin Oshkosh 2-1 on April 10 before making it to the gold bracket and eventually losing to the eventual champion, Lakeland, 25-22 and 25-21 April 12.
“It felt really good,” Lawrance said of the Mustangs’ run. “We started the season really well, but started to tail off. But when we went to nationals and made a really strong showing, it was very satisfying.”
Now, the club is enjoying its offseason, but most players are routinely practicing and playing beach volleyball.
Tryouts will recommence at the beginning of fall quarter, with the season renewing in winter.