Building fun: MTU women’s volleyball club is looking to keep growing

Provided Photo Michigan Tech volleyball club members pose. Team members include, in the back row (from left): Ali Gering, Autumn Tallman, Jenna Hoyer, Brittany Bradley, and Rylee Price. In the front row: Lindsey Shearer, Lauren Fallu, Gabby Heinz and Erin Shearer.

HOUGHTON — Michigan Tech senior mathematics and psychology major Rylee Price joined the Huskies women’s volleyball club team in the Spring of 2016. Volleyball is an adaptable sport that can be played inside and outside and at any skill level. The Michigan Tech women’s volleyball club prides themselves on both their adaptability and competitiveness.

“I joined (in the) Spring of my freshman year, (in) 2016,” said Price. “The main objective of our club is to provide a fun, yet competitive environment where people can just come and play volleyball (because) it’s a really fun sport that people can play for a really long time. It can be played (both) indoors and outdoors, so we just try to provide that environment.”

Price also mentioned that having a club where women can get together and play is good for everyone involved.

“It offers a good environment (for) a good group of women,” she said. “You have to have 6-12 people in order to be able to have a team.

“It’s a good group of women that have a lot of similar interests. It’s really where your group of friends comes from. We spend a lot time together. Just having that group of woman to stand by you is important.”

For many athletes looking to continue playing volleyball after high school without playing at the varsity level, a club like Michigan Tech’s is often the best fit.

“A lot of the girls that joined our club were probably athletes in high school and then just didn’t have the skill or the want to go (onto play) at the varsity level, so it just offers them (an opportunity) to still play competitively while being able to focus on school,” Price said.

The club has been able to balance fun and competitiveness.

“We’re in a conference,” said Price. “We just joined last year, so we still have a decent amount of play dates and competitive play dates against other club teams and a lot of that happens in the Spring. (We are) able to just play in practice (in) the Fall semester to be able to gear up for that Spring semester. We have have a lot of time to be able to get ready for when our actual games hit.”

Playing on a club volleyball team can also mean more flexibility for students and players.

“We (have) a lot of playdates (that) are tournament-style, so (we) get a lot in one day, rather than having to travel (on) a lot of weekends. (It) is nice because school gets busy. Being able to do homework on the weekends in really nice.

“We do offer a lot more flexible schedules. We practice about three to four times a week (but) our only mandatory practices (are) right before we travel, just to get that (higher) level of play going. We’re pretty flexible at night so that (players) have time to get everything done (and) we don’t do morning workouts, so I think it offers (players) that more flexible schedule.”

Both the men’s and women’s Michigan Tech club volleyball teams are part of the Wsconsin Volleyball Conference (WVC), which the ladies team just joined last Spring. Price says joining the conference has helped the club’s gameplay grow.

“We’re in the Wisconsin Volleyball Conference (WVC). Our men’s team has been part of it for a number of years, so it just made a lot of sense,” said Price. “We’ve been playing a lot of the teams in the conference (prior to joining) because it’s a lot closer to travel for us. (We) have already played a lot of those teams, and it’s not too far away.”

Price said that she has already seen the program grow.

“When I joined my freshman year, we were trying to be competitive. We hadn’t joined the conference yet (and were) just playing tournaments when we could, We’d often go and play really hard (with) good skill, but the numbers were not there and we weren’t winning a lot of games,” she said. “Last spring when we joined the conference, things were already looking so much better. We were winning games here and there. Then, this year we actually just had our tournament this past weekend, and we ended up taking third overall in the state tournament, which is huge.”

The club recently competed in the WVC Tournament, where they went undefeated in pool play.

“We went undefeated in pool play (and) beat the No. 1 team in the league, so we we’ve seen massive amounts of improvement and growth as far as being competitive,” she said. “Even on the back end side of things, seeing our program develop and build (into) being able to be a sustainable (club) rather than a year-to-year (club).”

Adjusting from player to player/coach has been a good learning experience for Price, who has learned to lead by helping her teammates improve their overall game play as a group. Price is in her down to her final month with the team, but has some big goals that she hopes to see archived in the future.

“It’s easier to be just a player focusing on your own game and what you can do better, but having to have both midsets of here’s what I need to work on, but here’s what the team needs to improve on, and here’s how I can help other individuals with their game, having the outside options really helps,” she said. “I think we just really want to continue to build the program. We did a lot of groundwork this year in just trying to make (the club) more sustainable. Just trying to continue some of those processes and procedures that we put in place this year (and) making those stick and being more sustainable.

“We saw a huge growth this year in the number of games that we were able to walk away with wins. Just being able to continue with that, (along with) fundraising and recruitment (is important).”

She wants to impress upon those considering the club that you do not need to be the best athlete, you just have to love the game.

“If you love volleyball, we’re open anybody, any skill level,” said Price. “We offer a couple of different types of memberships. If you just want to come play and practice with us because you enjoy the sport (but) if you want to play and be competitive, we have opportunity for that.

“I think people think that they have to be all in or nothing, but if you just want to come play volleyball, that’s what we’re here for. So, whatever you’re looking for, we’ll work with you to offer.”

COMMENTS