Men's Volleyball Season Preview: New faces and new opportunities are aplenty
Athletics - posted on 12/16/2010
Chad Schreiber and the Lakeland College men's volleyball team have one goal each year - to win a national championship. The Muskies are shooting for their seventh straight top 10 national finish and second-ever national championship.
"Early on, we need to figure out our strengths and weaknesses," said Schreiber, who is entering his 14th year as head coach. "We know some individual strengths and weaknesses, but need to work as a team. We need to improve on our weak areas, and some guys will have to improve in areas they haven't worked on before. We need to figure out where we are and what we need to do to get to where we want to be."
Last season, Lakeland finished 39-9 and won its third Wisconsin Volleyball Conference (WVC) Tournament title in the last four years, defeating the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The Muskies finished second in the nation after losing in the Division I National Title match to Ohio State at the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) National Championships in Louisville, Ky.
"We lost to a great team," Schreiber said following the match. "It hurts that we didn't play at the high level in that match that we had played at during the rest of the tournament. However, we're very proud of the fact that we've played in three of the past four national championship matches."
The Muskies lost seven players who had significant touches last year, including three First-Team All-Americans, so Lakeland will turn to some new faces to maintain national distinction.
"It's dangerous to try to replace people," Schreiber said. "We have to figure out who we are and who we can be. If we try to replace people, we'll fall short. You can't replace the caliber of talent that we lost. We need to play differently and play to new peoples' strengths."
Dane Maier a sophomore from Middleton, Wis., returns as a starting outside hitter. Competing for the other outside hitter position are freshmen Brett Kaczmarek (Kenosha, Wis.) and Glenn Frost (Hanover Park, Ill.). Both are good options, as well as the veteran Perry Ringfelt (Elwood, Ill.), a defensive specialist and right side hitter who can also play at outside hitter.
Dan Sheets-Poling, a junior from Plainfield, Ill., will start at the right side and has shown tremendous growth in the past year. Frost and Kaczmarek could also see playing time at the right side position.
At setter, senior Chris Kubacki (Vernon Hills, Ill.) is still recovering from a shoulder injury, but will be Lakeland's first option. Kaczmarek has also had reps in the preseason at setter and is competing for the position.
At middle hitter are senior Beau Bradshaw (Oak Lawn, Ill.) and junior Jared Sparrey (Oak Forest, Ill.). Sparrey is nearly recovered from a leg injury last season and has brought a lot of excitement to every point. Bradshaw's experience playing middle last season will only help his development.
Freshmen Ralph Kokoszka (Palos Heights, Ill.) and Matt Bilinski (Bartlett, Ill.) could also see time in the middle. Kokoszka is very fast from pin to pin on his blocking and Bilinski has shown good power on offense.
Andrew Cheever, a junior from Milwaukee, Wis., returns at libero after earning Libero of the Year for the Midwest 10 Conference and All-WVC last year. Other defensive specialists that will make contributions are Ringfelt, Brandon Robinson (Burlington, Wis.), Dan Campos (Joliet, Ill.) and Andre Glass (Kenosha, Wis.) All four of these defensive specialists will get their chances to contribute to Lakeland's rotation throughout the year.
Lakeland's 2011 schedule is highlighted by some tough WVC matches, as well as Midwest-10 and Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) tournaments, which feature the top National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) Division I teams from around the Midwest.
Several teams in the WVC could challenge for the league title. In addition to Lakeland, UW-Oshkosh, Marquette and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater have been regulars in the National Tournament in the past five years. All four teams finished in the Top 25 of the 2010 NCVF Division I rankings.
The season is highlighted by the annual Hoosier-Illini Classic on Feb. 26-27, where many of the nation's best teams compete. The NCVF National Volleyball Championships will take place on April 7-9 in Houston, Texas.
Lakeland begins its season on Monday, Jan. 24, in Stevens Point, Wis., against WVC foe UW-Stevens Point.
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