by Kimberly Marshel
This season, the men’s volleyball team will have quite a bit more to work for than in years past. Aside from the Division I NCAA National Championship title, the team will also be working towards a berth for the National Small Colleges Championship sponsored by the Men’s National Volleyball Team and Molten Volleyball.
According to head coach Don Flora, the new championship is a very tangible goal for the men’s volleyball team.
“Our goal is to win the Small Colleges Championship and, yes, it is a very tangible goal, and it’s an exciting option for the future of men’s volleyball as well,” said Flora.
The tournament is not officially sanctioned by the NCAA, but it is recognized. The chance it will one day be sanctioned is promising because of the popularity of men’s volleyball.
“The growth of volleyball for men is huge now all across the nation,” Flora said, “and many of the smaller colleges like La Verne have trouble competing with the big schools like Pepperdine and USC. This new championship gives us the opportunity to build our program and gain experience so that one day we can win a National Championship.”
Unlike the NCAA championship, only four teams get the opportunity to compete in the National Small Colleges Championship. One is chosen from the East coast, another from the Midwest region, the West region gets one berth and one “at-large” bid is awarded, according to Flora.
La Verne, which finished last season with a 5-21 record, was ranked fourth in the nation for Division III and sees its chances for a berth very positive.
“We definitely have a chance,” said Flora, “but we have three big games ahead of us that will be a big factor.”
Those three big games are two against UC San Diego and one against UC Santa Cruz. ULV played Santa Cruz once last year and lost in a close five games. They split with San Diego. Coincidently, these are the only two other teams in the West besides La Verne that fit into the small college category.
Flora says he had a good recruiting year this year bringing in four transfers and four freshman to go along with his five returners, including All-American Rob Sneider. It could come down to who beats who on a good night.
The first annual National Small Colleges Championship takes place April 4-5 on the East Coast, site TBA. ULV takes on Santa Cruz on Feb. 14 and San Diego on Feb. 4 at home and Feb. 21 in La Jolla. Tonight the men play an alumni match in the Supertents at 6:30.
Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.