Joey Spahn – Editor-in-Chief
Earlier this week, the Men’s volleyball team was selected with an at-large bid to play in the Division III NCAA tournament. In the programs 7th season this will be the first time they have been selected to play in the tournament. In a twitter video released by @BenUMensVB, it shows all of them waiting patiently until they here the name “Benedicitne” called, at which point the locker room bursts in excitement knowing they made program history.
This news came after a heartbreaking loss to Dominican University for the NACC Conference Championship. The Eagles were swept 3-0 in that match, but that loss didn’t break their spirits.
“Dominican showed us exactly what our weak points are. We know what we need to work on to ensure that we have success in the tournament now,” said Senior Libero, Tommy Samaras. “There is no time to hang our heads over this loss. We were blessed with another week of volleyball and we are going to make the most of it.”
Nothing has come easy for the Eagles this season. Right as their respective season was about to begin their long-time head coach, Dan Buehring, left the program with no replacement in mind. After some interviews with potential coaches, the Athletic department put their faith on Christian Staple, who served as an assistant for both the men’s and women’s programs at McKendree University since August of 2017.
“Having a new coach join our team a few weeks before the start of our season made me a little nervous at first. When the interviews began, we were lucky enough to have Christian Staple apply,” said Senior Setter Mike Legros. “What made the situation even better was the lack of awkwardness in the transition. Coach Staple knew that we had a goal in mind, and he was excited to just get in the gym to start working with us.”
Since the conference championship has concluded, the NACC released its all-conference teams and major award winners for the 2021 volleyball season. Coach Staple was recognized by his peers and was named NACC coach of the year.
To add onto the already impressive run by the Eagles, Junior middle hitter, Chase Olson, was named NACC defensive player of the year. According to naccsports.org, “Olson has been a leader for the Eagles both offensively and defensively this season, posting a league-best .438 attack percentage that is .041 better than any other player in the league. He has also been a one-man wall at the net, registering NACC-bests with 64 total blocks, 46 block assists, and 18 solo blocks.”
The Eagles look to continue this historic season with a win in the first round of the NCAA tournament as they take on Endicott College (9-3) in Salem, Virginia.