Men’s volleyball team shows signs of growth in 2nd season

After a tough inaugural season in their 2015 campaign, the Loras men’s volleyball team started their second season in the best way possible: victory. The Duhawks opened 2016 with a 3-0 win on the road against the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) on Jan. 15. The team currently sits at a 5-6 overall record on the season. There is already evidence of growth as the team finished 3-20 last year, and head coach Jeremy Thornburg is more than pleased.

“I think that we have made growth from last season to this season and it shows, not just in our win/loss record, but in our overall level of play. Our team has bought into the hard work needed every day to be better than the day before, and that is our goal,” Thornburg said.

This hard work has definitely been showing, and the stats prove it. The Duhawks are not even halfway through the season, and they are already performing better than last year. In 2015, the Duhawks averaged 8.62 assists, 9.20 kills and 1.71 blocks per set. The team’s attack percentage was .110. In 2016 the team is averaging 9.98 assists, 10.71 kills and 2.16 kills per set while recording a .215 attack percentage.

The cause of this success is truly a team effort as each member of the Duhawk roster plays an important role. Due to the nature of volleyball as a team sport, coach Thornburg explained that any number of his players could stand out this season.

“I think that our team will continue to show its depth, and with our leaders from last season and new ones developing and emerging, anyone could make an impact any given night,” he said.

Thornburg is right as not one but several Duhawks have made their way into the spotlight this season. As for the returners, Dylan Ross has been a dominating force in the front row averaging 1.90 kills and 0.85 blocks per set. He tallied a season-high 14 kills in a victory against Calumet College of St. Joseph (CCSJ) earlier this season. Another strong player at the net is sophomore Dawid Kasprzak. In a match against Lakeland at home in February, Kasprzak recorded his 100th career kill after just 1 ½ seasons of collegiate play. Returning setters Shayne Marquez and Danny Krasich continue to impress with their 5.29 and 4.05 assists per game, respectively.

While these Loras veterans are providing leadership and experience for the team, the recruiting class has been a source of new talent. Freshmen Greg Kinney and Ryan Galvan lead the Duhawks in attacking with  Kinney’s 2.25 and Galvan’s 2.03 kills per set. Freshman Alfredo Lopez has already broken the Loras all-time record for service aces in a match with seven against IIT. He leads the team with 0.58 aces per set.

The combined contributions of the team has led Loras to victories over IIT, CCSJ, Benedictine and Briar Cliff so far this season, but there is still a long way to go. As conference season gets underway, the Duhawks have a tough schedule ahead of them. Not only are they facing their opponents from last year in the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League (MCVL), they will play some new competition as well as six teams joined the MCVL in 2016. Nevertheless, coach Thornburg is hopeful for the rest of the season.

“Our conference is deep and we have to show up every day to compete and have the opportunity to win matches. Our goal is to get better every day and we hope with that goal, we can make some waves in the MCVL,” he said.

The Duhawks will travel to Naperville, Ill. on Friday to face North Central in conference action.

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