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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
All aboard the DIII men's volleyball train!
by David Portney
I’ll tell you, if you haven’t caught yourself up on the DIII men’s game I recommend you get on the bandwagon now before it’s too late.
More than 1,000 fans packed the Kidera Gymnasium this weekend on the campus of Nazareth College for the championship match between the host college and Springfield.It was a thrilling match between two DIII heavyweights that the Golden Flyers pulled out in four sets (25-23, 22-25, 25-23, 25-22).
This was the final year of the Molten Final Four as DIII men’s volleyball will have their first NCAA DIII Championship starting next year at Springfield College with Stevens hosting the following year.See the official NCAA releaseHERE.
So now with DIII men’s volleyball having an officially sanctioned NCAA championship, there is no more excuse to ignore these talented programs and the quality of play they bring to the court. I’ve heard rumblings of how anyone with a pulse can walk on to a DIII team, but the people that say that have never seen these men play.
Have you seen Ellis Walsh (insert-right)?Hans Schroeder?Erik Kowalski?These guysare 6’4-6’6 with incredible leaping ability and power.You can’t look me in the eye and tell me they aren’t worthy of our recognition.
Most of the attention dedicated to men’s volleyball is centered on Southern California with it becoming sporadic once you leave the Golden State.It is that mind-set that doesn’t allow the masses to fully accept a phenomenal outside hitter like Chris Vrooman (Juniata) of Baden, PA or DIII Player of the Year Cal Palumbo (Springfield) of Rochester, NY simply because they stayed in the northeast.
The major question remains whether programs east of the Mississippi can drum up enough fan interest and attendance to their team’s matches.If this past weekend was any indication, it appears those programs will be just fine.I attended school at Ithaca College, which is about an hour and a half from Nazareth in Rochester, and know first-hand that volleyball in general isn't always the talk of the town in that part of the country. But if Naz. can pack a gym with 1,000 spectators in upstate NY, then maybe the tide is turning and others schools in less than ideal volleyball locations can follow suit.
I can’t sit here and predict what DIII men’s volleyball will look like in the coming years, but I can promise you it's moving fast…so hop on board.