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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Undefeated men’s club volleyball heads to nationals

    The intensity of the dynasty that is the No. 3 Arizona men’s club volleyball team is embodied in its practices.

    Players dive and dodge with excessively quick reflexes, smashing the ball toward the net as opposing teammates jump in unison to deny it. Sweat flies to the floor.

    “”The finesse of the game (is what I love) – the sheer power and strength of some of these hitters is unbelievable,”” said senior team president and captain Mike Fow, an outside hitter.

    Make no mistake; with six out of the last seven national championships won by either their varsity or junior varsity squads and a perennial top-five ranking during that span, the Wildcats deserve the moniker of dynasty. And this season has been no different – they have lost none of the close to 30 matches that have spanned the course of their four-tournament season.

    The Wildcats are justified in their confidence at the approach of nationals, which take place today through Saturday in Salt Lake City.

    “”Honestly, I think we’re going to win,”” said senior outside hitter Owen Allen, MVP of the Las Vegas Open.

    Brash self-assurance aside, the players’ attribute much of their success to one thing: the return of their long-time coach and founder of the Arizona men’s volleyball club, Steve Carlat, after a year-long, personal break from coaching.

    “”We have been able to step it up because of the influence of such an inspiring coach,”” said senior opposite hitter Drew Manusharow.

    That sentiment is echoed by the other senior leaders, namely outside hitters Alan Brown, Kasey Harwell, Allen and setter Chris Lishko, who form the core of what Fow calls an incredibly deep squad.

    “”We are what Carlat makes us,”” Allen said.

    But Carlat, who has coached either men’s or women’s volleyball squads since 1980, would rather have the recognition go to his players than himself.

    “”I just play chess,”” he said. “”These are a hardworking group of talented athletes with versatile skills. Every guy on the team can play against almost any opponent.””

    What is even more interesting about the success of the team is the fact that practice time and season length have been severely reduced from when Carlat began coaching, as the team is only allowed to meet three times a week for two hours.

    “”We don’t get the chance to play much,”” Carlat said. “”In the past there was more coaching.””

    Despite the lack of bonding time, the team has really been able to gel, Allen said.

    “”We have a really strong work ethic,”” he said.

    In the team’s last tournament, the Las Vegas Open, Arizona defeated No. 4 Michigan State in the finals to solidify its perfect regular season.

    No.1 Wisconsin-Oshkosh and No. 2 Lakeland are the only other teams that are expected to present a challenge for the Wildcats in the tournament. Last year, Lakeland took Arizona down in the quarterfinals of the National Tournament, ending their chances for a seventh straight national championship.

    This year, the Wildcats insist, will not end the same way.

    “”We’re fully prepared,”” Fow said. “”Our heads are in the game, and we’re ready to go out there and show them how Arizona takes care of business.””

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