Ten – the number of victories the men’s volleyball team tallied in their second season as a program. The team’s 10-16 record in 2016 is a huge improvement from their inaugural season record of 3-20. The Duhawks also improved their conference record from 1-13 to 4-9. Even though the team did not appear in the postseason, the squad has a lot to be proud of this 2016 campaign.
On Jan. 16, the Duhawks recorded their first home win in program history with a 3-1 victory over Briar Cliff at the Loras Invitational. The team went 3-1 as hosts of the tournament, and went on to record a total of four victories on the Lillis Court.
The Duhawks also experienced a successful spring break trip. While traveling to Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania, the team posted a 3-2 record with victories over Adrian, Olivet and Hilbert.
As well as improvements in the team’s performance, there were personal milestones set and records broken. Freshman Alfredo Lopez broke the program record for service aces in a set with seven against Illinois Tech. With his 0.42 aces per set, Lopez ranked fifth in the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League. Sophomore Jimmy Combs ranked third in the conference for blocks per set with 1.09.
With the season at its end, head coach Jeremy Thornburg is already looking ahead to next year. In a postgame press conference following the final game of the season, Thornburg said the team needs to refocus. Going forward, the team’s depth will be the topic on everyone’s mind.
“I think it (depth) poses challenges to the kids who have been playing or who want to play in their next 2-3 year career; it shows them what they need to get better at. I think with me recruiting it helps push this team even more and shows them that when we say we want something, we have to do what is needed to back it up,” Thornburg said.
With Thornburg already thinking about recruitment, the men’s volleyball team’s third season will likely be an exciting one. The team has already come so far since its creation, and they have the potential to keep this trend of improvement going through next year.