Men’s club volleyball captures league championship
At the beginning of April, the Pacific men’s club volleyball team wrapped up an outstanding season with a Northern California Collegiate Volleyball League Championship title and an appearance in the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation Championships. After entering the season unranked in January, the Tigers fought their way to a 22-11 record, including a second straight season of undefeated play at home, and finished the year ranked No. 19 nationwide in Division II. The team was ranked as high as No. 14 during the regular season and entered the national tournament at No. 9.
“This team is by far the best and my favorite team that I have played on,” said right side hitter and Club President Carl Wheeler. “Every game, we proved our heart in the face of adversity and our care for each other on the court.”
On April 2, the men confirmed that their dominance during the regular season was no fluke, as they defeated quarterfinal winner UC Davis three sets to one in the NCCVL semifinals: 25-21, 25-20, 26-28, 27-25. The following day, the Tigers willed their way to victory in the championship match over rival Humboldt State, 3-2.
The victory did not come easy, as Pacific found themselves down 0-2 after initially possessing leads in the first two sets, falling 21-25 and 23-25, respectively. Pacific did not panic, though, and returned in the third set ready to mount a comeback. Outside hitter Joe Herbert ’17, who was later named League MVP, helped lead the effort in the first of three must-win sets, as did outside hitter Micah Goshi ’17, who received All-Conference Second Team honors. After taking that set 25-18, the Tigers looked even stronger in the fourth, evening the score with a 25-16 win.
In accordance with indoor volleyball rules, the fifth and final set was played to 15, and the Tigers completed their tremendous comeback with a 15-8 victory to take the NCCVL Championship. All-Conference Second Team libero Jason Wu ’18 played a big role in securing the victory, leaving it all out on the court as he made some excellent plays late in the set.
“This match told the story of our season,” said Wheeler, who also received All-Conference Second Team honors. “We knew if they had the will, they could take it from us, so after the first two sets, we knew that we had to earn what we deserved, and we delivered.”
After the Tigers won their division, they headed to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the NCVFC. Unfortunately, Pacific was knocked out of the gold bracket and later the silver final four bracket, but they did not walk away discouraged, as they went 4-4 overall at Nationals. And while some standout players, such as All-Conference First Team middle blocker Byrne Belden ’16, will be graduating this year, the Tigers will have plenty of talented and driven individuals who are determined to take home a National Championship next year.
For now, though, the Tigers will celebrate their NCCVL Championship, which they dedicated to player-coach Justin Gibbs ’16. Gibbs suffered an injury early in the year and took on the role of coaching the Tigers from the sideline. The men credit Gibbs with helping build the team into the powerhouse it was this season and, with the hard work and dedication displayed this year, it will surely continue to be. Congrats, Tigers!
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