The South Carolina men’s club volleyball team hosted its first tournament in over two years and finished second as the team prepared for its spring season.
On Nov. 13, the Gamecock men’s volleyball team hosted six other schools – Alabama, College of Charleston, Elon, Georgia Southern, Georgia State and UNC Charlotte – at the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center. Each school competed one team, with the exception of Alabama and South Carolina that competed two and three teams, respectively.
The Carolina teams included the A team, the men’s volleyball team that participates in the Eastern Collegiate Volleyball Association, and two development teams, the Black and Garnet teams. The tournament had a group stage and a playoff stage. The group stage featured three matches for each team, with each match consisting of two sets.
Following the group stage, teams were ranked according to their total set wins and played best-of-three set matches. The Carolina squads had the following set wins going into playoffs: A team, 6-0; Garnet team, 5-1; and Black team, 1-5.
“We put together a pretty good team this year. Everybody is playing super well, not a lot of mistakes, and we're really just playing our best game," senior middle blocker Ryan Stabile said.
In the playoffs, the A, Garnet and Black teams were ranked No. 1, No. 3 and No. 9, respectively. Following a three-set win against Georgia Southern, the Black team went up against the A team in the quarterfinals, where it lost in two sets. The Garnet team lost in the same round to College of Charleston in three sets.
While neither of these teams will play for USC on the national level, the tournament served as a good opportunity to let younger players get some playing time as they prepare to play for the A team in the future.
Sophomore outside hitter Nick Strivieri played for the Black team and was full of energy following the team's final match against the A team, emphasizing how good this tournament was for development.
“There were a lot of younger kids on our team,” Strivieri said. “So, overall, I think it was just a good thing experience-wise, because, some of these guys, it's their first tournament they’ve played. So, I think it’s good especially being a home tournament, that we could get everyone involved on all three teams.”
The A team beat the Black team in two sets and UNCC in two sets en route to the finals. There, the team met up with Alabama’s A team, the only other team at the tournament to finish 6-0 in pool play. The A team fought hard against Alabama, but ultimately lost in two sets (24-26, 22-25).
Ray Rose, senior Garnet team setter and club president, said he was "super satisfied" with the performance by the Gamecocks, and he said the tournament was a valuable experience developmentally.
“In terms of development and getting guys touches, I really can’t ask for more. These guys really fought hard," Rose said. "Super proud of these guys and excited for next semester.”
Beyond the tournament
While the Gamecocks were unable to take home the championship in the tournament, the team still has a lot of games to play this upcoming spring semester. This tournament was the final tournament of the semester, but the Gamecocks will have conference play and national seeding play coming up in the spring, according to Rose.
The team will finish its season in April by competing at the 2022 National Collegiate Volleyball Federation Championships in Phoenix.
For those interested in joining, the club is open to players of all levels. Visit the team's page on Garnet Gate to find contact information to join the club.