Men’s volleyball continues its winning fashion

Jordan Fremstad

The UW Oshkosh men’s club volleyball team proved it is the team to beat in 2017, winning the Las Vegas open and extending its winning streak to 14 matches.

The Titans took down seven opponents: Salt Lake City Community College, Colorado Mesa University, UC-Davis, University of Arizona II, Arizona State University, San Diego State University and University of Arizona on March 17 and 18.

Head coach Brian Schaefer said the tournament was used as a model of what needs improvement heading into the final stretches of the season.

“Coming into the tournament, we wanted to use these matches as a barometer as where we are at as a team offensively and defensively,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer said the team took some hits with the loss of some key pieces, but found a way to get it done.

“We entered the tournament, due to graduation and injuries, with only two starters returning from last year and we grinded out a championship,” Schaefer said.

Sophomore Devin Hudson led the team with six kills against Colorado Mesa. Sophomore Tony D’Acquisto added five himself. Senior Peter Nordel and graduate student Brandon Schmidt added four put-aways each.

Nordel shined in the team’s first match, hitting all five of his kill attempts, along with four blocks. Senior Travis Hudson provided 18 assists and six blocks. Schmidt and Devin Hudson each supplied four kills. The Titans dished out an impressive 18 block assists in the match.

Nordel is a student who transferred to UWO from California who was not aware of the success of this program.

“I came here after a couple of years at a junior college and I didn’t even know they won the national championship,” Nordel said.

The Torrance, California native said the choice of coming to Wisconsin was in part because of the engineering program offered at UWO.

“I am in electrical engineering and the program here is not like a lot of other programs out there,” Nordel said. “It is a lot more hands-on.”

The Titans knocked off one of the best Division III teams, No. 1 ranked University of Arizona, 26-24, 25-19. The Hudson brothers, Nordel and Schmidt helped with five blocks each and senior Sammy Pedersen had four of the Titans’ 26 total kills in the match.

Travis was named the tournament’s most valuable player to add to an all-tournament team honor he received in 2016. Schmidt and sophomore Jake Martin also received all-tournament team honors.

Travis said the fact that this team has only lost one match this season with all the new players on the team is remarkable.

“We have a bunch of new faces so to be able to carry a 26-1 record is very good going into our last few weeks here,” Travis said.

Senior Michael Wamboldt said winning the tournament was huge, but the team still needs to reach a higher energy level to reach the program’s goal.

“The guys played very well,” Wamboldt said. “Even when we were down we found ourselves and fought back to get the victory. I would like to see our energy get even more hyped than it has been. I am all about keeping the energy high in the gym.”

Oshkosh dominated Marquette University II in straight sets, 25-17, 25-15, 25-19 in Wisconsin Volleyball Conference play on Friday in Milwaukee.

Nordel led the Titans with eight kills to go along with three blocks. Martin had ten digs and Pedersen mustered up eight digs and four kills. Travis also had six kills and nine assists.
The Titans did not stop there. UWO took out UW-River Falls in sweeping fashion, 25-18, 25-16, 25-15 to remain on top of the WVC on Saturday in Oshkosh.

The Titans are in a position to win the club’s fourth-straight national championship. The Titans are currently tied with the University of Arizona with three straight championships and tied with the University of California-Berkley with six total.

Keep in mind the both of those schools have enrollments exceeding 40,000 students and Oshkosh has around 13,000.

Schaefer said it has been quite the ride with what the program has accomplished since 2002.

“I am not a very arrogant person, but we are pretty astonished of what we have done,” Schaefer said. “We are a dynasty in terms of consistency, that’s more of the pride for us. Every single year we have guys that step up into bigger roles than they had the year before.”

Travis said the team doesn’t worry about the whole dynasty title as much as people with an outside perspective.

“For us, it’s just another day and another year,” Hudson said. “Obviously winning the national championship is a successful year, but even if you don’t win it, you can still be successful as long you go out there and give it your all.”