Men’s volleyball goes to California

Teresa Taylor — Staff writer

For spring break, the men’s volleyball team flew to northern California to compete against three teams from the California Pacific Conference and one team from the Golden State Athletic Conference, as well as strengthen their team’s connection on and off the court.

The coaching staff began planning the trip last year, and the team began fundraising during late summer. By January, they settled the details of the trip.

Though the team has spent previous spring breaks across the region playing volleyball, this trip was a first for the program, according to Head Coach Chad Hanson.

“[It] was only possible because Dordt University said yes, and our athletic department said yes, and the people who supported it from inside and outside said yes,” Hanson said.

The team left early in the morning on March 4 from Omaha, Nebraska, and flew to San Francisco, California. Throughout their California experience, they drove 1,000 miles in two 12-passenger vans.

“Most of the time, we were on the bus,” sophomore Rob Piekarz said. “I honestly thought we would get sick of each other at some point, but I didn’t experience that.”

In fact, when the team arrived back to Dordt the day before housing reopened, many noticed the contrast between being around each other 24/7 and the empty dorms and apartments they returned to, according to senior Luke Nelson.

“The life lived with each other in those off-court moments will be what these guys stand on when they’re in the on-court problem-solving moments,” Hanson said.

On Monday, March 6, the team competed against Simpson University in Redding, California. Despite the two previous days of travel, Dordt won in four sets.

The next day, they drove to Atherton, California, and lost in three sets to Menlo University.

Wednesday, March 7, the team won in five sets at the University of California, Merced.

“We had a larger fan section than UC Merced,” sophomore Brady Frost said, “which was awesome to see how much Dordt support we have over there.”

On Friday, March 10, Dordt won in four sets against Pacific Union College in Angwin, California.

“This has allowed Dordt University Men’s Volleyball to be on a bigger stage of national competition,” Hanson said.

In California, the team saw a glimpse of the level of competition they will see if they advance to nationals. While the team is familiar with the schools in the region, they learned what it takes to adjust to the unknown teams. The opposing teams also learned of Dordt’s skill on the court.

When Hanson shook hands with the other coaches before the matches, some told him they had not heard of Dordt or its men’s volleyball program before Hanson asked to play them.

“Now they know,” Hanson said.

During their time in California, the team stayed at sophomore Lukas Van Groningen’s family’s almond and walnut farm and had the opportunity to tour the facility. They also visited Intel, Shasta Dam, Levi’s Stadium, and downtown San Francisco.

Before the UC Merced game, Dordt ate lunch with the Stone Ridge Christian High School boy’s volleyball team and spent 40 minutes playing volleyball with them. They watched Ripon Christian’s volleyball game the following night and played their own scrimmage after Ripon Christian won in three sets.

“We had around four meals a day,” Frost said, “with most meals being provided by people with connections to Dordt.”

Community members hosted meals in their homes and at churches, and Dordt alumni congratulated the team on their season so far and the California games.

“It made it feel much bigger than Sioux Center,” Nelson said. “The community isn’t just here.”

As the team readjusts to the on-campus portion of the Dordt community, they hope to carry the momentum they built with each other in California through the rest of their season.

Contributed photo

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