Men’s volleyball wins fifth national title

Alonzo Fuller

The UW Oshkosh men’s club volleyball Division I team returned home as the 2015 National Collegiate Federation champions, with the Division II team winning second in the Division III championships. The men won their second consecutive and fifth overall national DI championship on April 11, thanks to the coaching of head coach Brian Schaefer. “The guys had very strong team chemistry,” Schaefer said. “They worked hard, and the guys relied on each other to win that championship.” To get to the national tournament, they played a couple of small tournaments before the conference tournament. “We played the Midwest 10 [tournament] and the Hoosier Invite, just to name a few,” junior and club president Travis Hudson said. “These are small tournaments for rankings and to help build up the seeding into nationals.” Hudson and Schaefer said tradition was the main drive to why the Titans won the championship. “Tradition is our program’s philosophy,” Schaefer said. “We have taken third place or better within the last 10 years, which we’re the only college club team to do that. Everybody understands that they don’t want the team to falter and want to be successful because of all the other years we were successful.” During the Wisconsin Volleyball Conference tournament, the Titans were able to win in impressive fashion. They did not lose a set in the conference, which was the first time in conference history. They did have some setbacks throughout the season, which were losses to Marquette and Illinois in the regular season. “We knew we had a lot of work to do after losing to Illinois,” Schaefer said. “We won a tournament at Las Vegas, and that turned our season around.” After winning the conference championship, the Titans entered the nationals ranked second overall before reaching the championship game. To reach the championship game, they went against a tough team in seventh-ranked Purdue University, which they only lost one set in the whole tournament. They did beat the Boilermakers before reaching West Virginia University, fourth-ranked Air Force, 15th-ranked Arizona Wildcats, 25th-ranked Missouri Tigers and finally the sixth-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils. “Arizona State was kind of an upset team,” Schaefer said. “We were expecting to face Air Force again.” The Titans finally defeated Arizona State to win their fifth national title. “The guys did a good job of handling the pressure to repeat,” Schaefer said. “We knew we had a very good team since we had people coming back and the guys being looser this year. It was tough to repeat, but they handled it well.” “I would say the team bonding is another reason,” Hudson said. “We were really close and it was like a family.” Along with their championship, the Titans ended the season with a 62-2 overall record with an undefeated conference record. The Oshkosh II volleyball team took second at the D-III Championships after their hard-fought battle against the ‘B’ team of the second-ranked Arizona Wildcats. “They had high hopes, and they have nothing to hang their heads about,” Schaefer said. “They were very young, and since they didn’t back down against Arizona, they surprised a lot of people and turned some heads.” Schaefer does not coach the D-II team, but he said they were very strong against a stronger Arizona team. They lost 14-25 and 23-25 in two consecutive sets to take second. Junior Adam Landgraf was part of the D-II team and loved the experience of being on that team. “Even though we lost, it was a one-of-a-kind experience,” Landgraf said. “Being in that environment of about 3,000 fans was just amazing.” However, the D-II team won all of its sets in the tournament before the national championship game. Landgraf said it was because of the team chemistry, the D-II team was able to go far. “We didn’t start the season well,” Landgraf said. “We lost some key players, but when our team chemistry came alive, we were able to make it pretty far this season. We didn’t think we would make it this far.” Nerissa Vogt of the women’s volleyball team said all the men’s teams are close. “They are extremely supportive of each other. They are all close,” Vogt said. Landgraf said the team bonding was one of the keys to their success. “The team bonding was unreal,” Landgraf said. “It’s like anything you could ever dream of. We just had connections from small ball to hanging out at others’ houses. It was something else.” Oshkosh D-II ended the season with an overall record of 36-10-2 and an undefeated conference record with both regular season and conference tournament championships.