Bump, set, spike
Tryouts for volleyball team start new season
They didnt know each other by name, only by the green and white felt numbers pinned to their backs.
But the camaraderie between the 70 men trying out for the Mens Volleyball Club Team last week told a different story.
For nearly three hours Wednesday through Friday, men from as close as Macomb and as far away as Anchorage, Alaska, gathered on the hardwood courts of the IM Sports-West working as a team in an effort to show coach Sante Perrelli what they had to offer. Even those with no experience showed up in hopes of earning a spot in the club either as members of the Green Team or the White Team, the equivalent of junior varsity.
Were looking for people with a desire to learn a new sport, said Perrelli, who is in his 13th season of coaching at MSU. This is a club sport and we want people who are willing to compete and contribute to the club, whether its raising money or coming to practice.
As they played match after match, Perrelli walked the courts occasionally asking for scores and observing how well his players communicated as well as areas in need of improvement.
No-preference freshman Luke Baldridges only experience playing volleyball was with friends, but he attended last weeks tryouts anyway.
Im coming from being the best, at the top in sports back home, to being on the bottom here, he said. But when I see how great these guys are, it makes me try harder.
I came out because I wanted to see if I could make it, and even though I dont have much experience, the guys here are really helping me out.
Danny Campbell, an economics freshman, said he was glad he decided to tryout, despite not having played on a team in his high school in Alaska.
The camaraderie is great and Im looking forward to the road trips and practices, and just hanging out with the guys, he said.
Perrelli said he hopes the combination of new players, many of whom are freshmen and sophomores, with some of his stronger returnees like seniors Dan VanBrocklin, Daniel Bonarigo and Daniel Engelhardt will earn the team more championship titles.
Weve got a solid core from last season - four out of six starters, Perrelli said. Plus, we have a lot of new, young athletes competing for positions on the Green Team, which is exciting for me as a coach.
Engelhardt appeared confident in the new group of players that came to tryouts. He and some of last years members offered the newcomers advice and said in just a couple of days he has seen 100 percent improvement.
I feel like a lot of the new players look up to me and that makes me feel cool, said the electrical engineering senior. They listen to me and respect what I tell them. We have some really talented players, and with four returning starters, Id like to think well make it in the top four this year.
The Green Team placed no. 9 in the country last year and has ranked in the top four in the Midwest for the past three years with an overall record of 248-72. It has also earned five Big Ten championships and six Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association championships.
Of course, hopes for more championships wont come without practice. Players can expect to spend at least six to eight hours a week in practice, Perrelli said. Those practices will prepare them not only for the seasons games, but four major competitions including the Back to the Hardwood Classic, Holiday Classic, Can-Am Friendship Tournament and the Columbus Buckeye Invitational.
As a beginner Baldridge said he has his hopes set on simply making the team, giving himself a couple of years before he aims for a spot on the Green Team.
This is just a start, he said. Im still trying to learn and I know I have to work my way up. Seeing how great these guys are just gives me more incentive to try and pull it off, and I know I can do it.
For more information go to http://www.msu.edu/user/msuvball/vball.htm