Mens volleyball in effect
The team hosted the Asics-Spartan Back to the Hardwood Classic, one of the largest tournaments in the nation with 42 competitors, including the varsity team from the University of Findlay.
This competition helps determine the regular season rankings, and with a 4-1 record in the tournament, MSU is off to a good start.
Sante Perrelli, 12-year volunteer head coach, said the team is young, but has handled that and other obstacles well.
We had to overcome a lot of adversities by running a tournament this size and playing well for two days, but the team handled it well.
MSU began its run by defeating Michigan, Louisville, Purdue and, in a close game, Findlay. The team lost to Wisconsin in the first round of the playoffs.
With their backs against the wall versus a strong Purdue team, MSU had to fight its way back after losing the first game. Down 15-16, MSU needed a turning point and got one from a higher source - a basketball hoop. Purdue sailed the ball overhead, bouncing it off the raised basketball hoop. The ball trickled down, barely missing the net, and fell for MSU, giving the Spartans a point. The team took the advantage and finished the Boilermakers 25-20 and 15-10 in the deciding matches.
Varsity status - something MSUs team doesnt have - brings many advantages, said Findlay graduate assistant Curtis Conser.
We should be the best team here, but only half of our team came, Conser said. We do receive scholarships and funding but were probably the youngest team in a tough pool with Michigan State, Purdue and Illinois. The Big Ten could have a good NCAA division.
With no funding from the university, the MSU club must provide all its earnings through fund raising and $500 dues each year. The team spends three to four days a week practicing and devotes much of its time to organizing tournaments or traveling to them.
Practices and tournaments can be difficult without university funding, Perrelli said. For 10 years he has tried to bring a varsity mens volleyball team to MSU.
I consider us student athletes, said biomechanical engineering junior and assistant coach Eric Meyer. We put in just as much time and work as hard as varsity teams.
With two squads, the experienced Green team and an up and coming White team, MSU promises to keep its winning tradition despite the lack of varsity status. Meyer saw much improvement in the White team.
All of our players but four are freshmen, said Meyer. During tryouts we had to teach everyone the game, but they all had the dedication.
The club has managed to maintain high grades as well as high expectations, graduating 98 percent of its members since 1989 with a 3.0 grade-point average or higher, Meyer said.
Mathematics junior and club president Dan Bonarigo would like to see more appreciation of his sport, he said. Coming from Illinois where high school volleyball is covered by many major newspapers and played on local television, he notices the difference in Michigan. The lack of recognition and especially the time commitment causes some players to leave.
Its hard to keep guys on the team sometimes, said Bonarigo. There is a great amount of time committed to get better, and some guys dont understand that.
Receiving help from the university for recognition and support has been a goal of coach Perrelli since he began coaching.
Hopefully MSU knows how important it is to have university supported activities, Perrelli said. Organized acts are beneficial and give students structured ways to get involved. We would be a level above where we are as a varsity team. The desire to win is there.