Like most club sports, the men’s volleyball team doesn’t have a head coach. Responsibilities a Division I coach handles like running practices, setting lineups and budgeting are handled by the club president, junior setter Jake Reynolds.
“All the players are there to play in a competitive environment and have a passion for the sport, which makes a student-run organization easier to handle,” Reynolds said.
Even with the players all working together, there are still struggles they have to overcome.
The funding to head to the conference tournament is usually completely covered, but not the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation championships. Junior outside hitter and club treasurer Alex Androkites said planning the trip can be “very expensive” because of hotel, travel and round-trip flight costs. Last year, the Owls tied for 41st at the national tournament in Louisville, Kentucky. This year’s event is in Kansas City, Missouri from April 13-15.
The Owls hold a fundraising tournament, which is a good source of revenue and practice for the team, at the beginning of each season. Temple invited 20 schools, double last season’s total, to this season’s tournament on Nov. 4. The club raised $2,000, a new high, and reached the quarterfinals. Former NCAA athletes participated, Reynolds said.
“It was a huge fundraiser for us because you can’t accept money,” said Tyler Phifer, a junior middle hitter and the club’s vice president. “So it all went to nationals and affording our plane tickets to go.”
The university also gave the team more than $9,000, or an average of about $300 per player, to go to the national tournament.
“All things considered, we get pretty good support from the university to help make it pretty affordable for everyone on the team to go,” Androkites said.
Still, the national competition isn’t the Owls’ top priority. Temple wants to make a deep run in this weekend’s conference tournament.
Temple clinched its spot in the Middle Atlantic Club Volleyball Conference tournament after a four-set win against Rowan University on March 25 at the Pearson Hall third floor courts.
The team lost its second match of the day against Stockton University. It was the Owls’ (7-1, 5-1 MACVC East Division) first divisional loss, but it didn’t affect playoff positioning. Temple will face Penn State Harrisburg in the first round of the day-long tournament on Saturday at Shippensburg University.
Last year, Temple’s bid to repeat as conference champion ended with a semifinal loss to Drexel University. Phifer and Reynolds earned all-tournament honors. Messiah College won the tournament by beating Drexel in the finals.
Sophomore opposite hitter Liam Ridings said the Owls’ improved defense, led by freshman libero Jared Silverstein and his brother Aaron, will help on Saturday.
“Winning the MAC championships has been my standard ever since we won [in 2015],” senior opposite hitter Dan Rodenbach said. “I didn’t really play for a good high school team, so I’ve never won anything like that.”
Demetrius Mason can be reached at email@example.com.