With the start of a new season, the Ricks Men’s Volleyball team traveled to Ellensburg, Washington, the weekend of Nov. 5 to compete in the Wildcat Warm-up hosted by Central Washington University.
After coming off a very successful season the previous year — ranking 7th nationally by the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation — Ricks traveled with high hopes of setting a tone for the rest of the season to come by going for gold against some of the toughest teams in the nation.
Through the first day of matches, both teams went undefeated after facing tough competition from the likes of Washington State University, the University of Portland and more.
Both Ricks teams were able to secure the number two and number three seed going into playoffs with a looming Ricks vs. Ricks semi-final set in place if both teams were able to win all their matches.
As the Ricks B team faced off against the University of Washington’s B team, Ricks A faced off against Oregon State University A. Through a couple of thrilling matches, both Ricks teams were able to pull off sweeps, winning 2-0 in sets setting up a Ricks A vs. Ricks B semi-final match.
With tensions high and the pressure on, the match was a grueling battle as both teams traded blows with big play after big play.
“It was competitive,” said Natalie White, the head coach of Ricks B. “By the end, everyone was watching the match and my boys were just trying to play their best against Ricks A. I told them at the beginning they were gonna have to fight for every point if they wanted a chance to win this match and they did just that.”
After tying up the match one set a piece, the match headed into its third and final set. With no one seeming to gain any sort of ground in such a tight game, Ricks B was able to win a crucial rally to put them ahead by two points. With the score at 14-12, Ricks B was able to finally finish the match with a crucial kill by Ryan Hansen, an outside hitter on Ricks B, winning the match 15-12 knocking off Ricks A.
“Being the B team, it felt like a bigger achievement to us just because of the weight that the match had,” Hansen said. “We felt like we wanted to win more and we showed that on the court with every point we got.”
With the sudden upset, Ricks B was lined up to play the University of Washington’s A team in the championship while Ricks A played Central Washington University’s A team for bronze.
While Ricks A was able to pull out a win against Central Washington in another three-set match, Ricks B fell short against the Wolves, losing 15-13 in a very close and competitive final match.
“I’m proud that when it would’ve been easier to give up, they pushed through,” White said after the championship match. “Obviously we still have a lot to work on, but receiving second and third at our first tournament was a great place to start. I feel like these boys have only touched the surface to reaching their full potential.”
With two more tournaments coming up this December, Ricks is excited to continue on and hopefully claim gold at the next two.