Wittenberg’s Men’s Volleyball team “set” themselves up for a great season this weekend at the second annual Jim Coleman Memorial Invitational. The team left the tournament 3-1 with victories over Hilbert, Lincoln Memorial and Southern Virginia.
The Jim Coleman Memorial Invitational honors one of Wittenberg’s own, Jim Coleman, 2015 Athletic Hall of Honor Inductee. Coleman played volleyball during his time at Wittenberg, and went on to pursue a coaching career that included leading the United States Men’s National Team, seven Olympic Games and co-founding the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.
The Tigers honored Coleman with their playing this weekend, the team hitting average of .202, outstanding kills in every match and an average of 9.86 assists per set. Sophomore Ross Russell kept that average high throughout the four games with 25, 31, 34 and 42 assists, respectively. This performance earned him a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
“Our biggest asset this weekend was our depth,” Nathan Matthews, a sophomore libero, said. “We had so many guys come off the bench in crucial situations and perform extremely well. I think that will be a huge asset for us throughout the season.”
Also leading the team this weekend was sophomore Joel Sotos, who averages 3.13 kills per-set, with a high of 10 kills against Southern Virginia.
“Having another year of experience under my belt helped me mentally prepare and relax,” Sotos said. “My main goal for this season is to be more of a ‘we’ teammate than a ‘me’ teammate.”
Both Matthews and Sotos said they expected to see the team continue to grow throughout the season. With a young team, they expect to see the freshmen mature in skill as they did. Last year was the inaugural season for the men, and, after graduating only one senior, the majority of the team has returned for a second season. With a roster made up of one junior, 18 sophomores and four freshmen, the team will surely continue to progress as the season goes on.
Matthews says that he expects the team to makes strides in the conference this season, despite the strong conference competition. The non-conference teams they will play throughout the season should prepare them, he says.
The Tigers will be on the road next weekend to face Juniata, New Paltz and Thiel.