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  • Zach Sturgill

Men's vball has 12 players, renewed attitude

The Olivet men’s volleyball team enters the 2017 season with poise and determination to play well on the court.

This is their second year playing competitively in the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League (MCVL) under the NCAA. The inaugural season in 2016 finished with the Comets winning its only game at home against the Adrian Bulldogs near the end of the year.

Eight players were on the team, all coming into the season with little to no experience in high school volleyball. This was the first ever NCAA men’s volleyball team in Michigan.

With one year in the books for Coach Casey Hilts, he looks forward to the upcoming season. “Every program needs to have a first-year learning curve and ours is behind us. As a result, we start out at a much higher place than last year with four returning starters back.”

A 12-man roster will be playing under Hilts in 2017, eight of whom are freshmen. One of the only returning players from the inaugural 2016 season, Jeremiah Cowham, had this to say about last year’s development period: “Most of the players have never played volleyball before, or if they did, that was their second year. Last year taught us a lot about keeping our heads high and playing through tough situations.”

Cowham also said, “The way we played showed how much we can grow and improve, and I think this year we will be a team to fear.”

Hilts had this to say about his new players: “The athletic and volleyball IQ of our freshmen, added to our returning starters, should make this a fun team to watch.” Before games start, the junior right-side hitter also talked about team bonding: “We are all pretty close, and I feel like the team is more like a family. We always eat lunch and dinner with each other…no matter what happens in practice or games, we are all here for each other and no one is left out.”

With a new season approaching, practicing has already begun for the Comets. One of the freshmen players on this squad, Matthew Caamal, said this about practice: “It is really everything to me, it means working hard and always doing your best to improve. To improve, you always have to be in the mind set that teams you’ll be playing against are going to be better than you.”

Hilts said, “Just having the numbers on the team to have a competitive scrimmage every day in practice creates a big advantage over last season.”

The setter from Middleton, Wisconsin , had this to say about this upcoming season: “I’d say I’m most excited to see everyone’s reaction to this year’s team compared to last year’s. We’ve had a couple of new recruits come, and all of them have a pretty good knowledge of the sport…seeing that in action on the court is going to be exciting to me!”

Olivet men’s volleyball will play 24 games, travel around 2,000 miles in seven different states, and will try to improve from the first-year win total of one.

The men’s team starts its schedule Jan. 20, with a home double header at the Cutler Athletic Complex. Both the Brooklyn (New York) College Bulldogs and the Fontbonne University (Missouri) Griffins will be on the court, facing off against the Comets. One week from the season opener, Olivet will be playing Carthage College (Wisconsin) on Jan. 27 at home. The only away game Olivet will be playing in the month of February comes on Feb. 3, at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Comet volleyball squad will then continue the month with three straight home appearances. The first will be Feb. 15 against Adrian, the second will be Feb. 17 against Benedictine (Illinois), and the final game in February will be played against Mount St. Joseph.

March is the busiest month for the team at Olivet, with a total of 12 games being played by the Comets. The squad travels to Chicago, Illinois, for a double header against Illinois Tech and Robert Morris University March 3. Olivet then plays a third straight Illinois opponent at home on March 8, that team being the Dominican University Stars. The Comets then travel to Wisconsin to have a two-day stretch of games March 10-11 against Marian and Lakeland, respectively. Then it is a trip down the Mississippi River to play Greenville (Illinois) on March 17 and Fontbonne on March 18. On March 21 and 22, Olivet clashes with Northern Central College (Illinois) for back-to-back games at the Cutler Athletic Complex. A third and final trip to Illinois will come on March 24 and 25. The Comets will be playing Benedictine on the Friday and Dominican on that following Saturday. Olivet finishes off the month of March with a home game against the Milwaukee School of Engineering on March 31.

On the next day, the team hosts an April Fool’s Day triple header. The Comets will play Wittenberg (Ohio) twice, at noon and 6 p.m., and Illinois Tech at 4 p.m. To end the month of April, Olivet will have two away games. They face off against Adrian on April 5 and Loras College (Iowa) on April 8.

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