As soon as the fall semester begins, so does the season. This rings true for a majority of Division I programs, but not necessarily those school’s club athletic squads. For Marist’s Men’s Volleyball Club Team, it’s different. The team plays at the Division II club level, and their fall season begins as soon as they finish lugging their belongings into their dorms at the end of the summer. Jam packed from the beginning, the preseason normally consists of four to five tournaments. And that’s merely the start: league play begins in the Spring.
This spring semester came with an excellent start for the team — likely a by-product of that preparation early in the year — as they dominated the conference, finishing the regular season with an undefeated 8-0 record. This season’s success has been little to no surprise as the team finished last season ranked 19th in the nation for Division II club volleyball. After getting an early season ranking of 12th, the squad managed to spike their way into the top ten, sitting pretty at ninth. That was all but temporary, in the best of ways.
Two weekends ago, the men continued their hot streak by winning championships for the second straight year, this time at the hands of the University of Rhode Island. The obvious dominance has propelled the committee to mark the Marist side as the sixth-best team in the nation.
After only losing one outgoing senior coming into this season, the men were very confident with their core squad.
“Being able to play alongside the same players two years in a row builds relationships on and off the court,” said Captain Dan Kelerchian. “It’s almost like there is an unspoken language.”
The high flying confidence of the players is unwavering as they seem to be clicking on all cylinders. The court awareness that the men are playing with comes only from constant practice and familiarity of playing together seasonally.
The team flew to Denver, Colo. on Wednesday, April 17, for the National Championship Tournament. A three day event of intense gameplay with a national title in their sights is exactly what the team wants and has been working toward.
“We have a target on our back walking into this tournament,” said head coach Rich Kelly. Speaking to the team’s mindset heading into this week’s title matchup, the squad definitely has a chip on their shoulder as the program got its first national ranking in 31 years last spring.
Unparalleled work ethic, stellar recruiting classes, and focused practices are the main factors that have led to the team’s success this season. Some would look at Coach Kelly’s effort and commitment and think he was a Division I coach. Whether it be scouting teams before games, motivating players or attending coaches’ conferences, Kelly puts a lot of pride into his craft with the ultimate goal of winning in mind.
The volleyball squad have stuck together like a cohesive unit this season. This year’s squad looks to accomplish something the side has not done in its 31-year history: bring home a national championship.
Stay tuned to all of the team’s matchups and updates this week by following @maristmensvolleyball on Instagram and Marist Men’s Volleyball on Facebook.
Edited by Will Bjarnar and Lily Caffrey-Levine