Brand New Bearcats
BY LAUREN APETZ
This year, McKendree University began a new sports program: men’s volleyball. This team is young, with 15 freshmen making up the roster. Nicki Sanlin, who is assisted by Ben Duckworth, coaches the Bearcats. Because the team consists of freshmen, there is a lot of room to grow and develop as a team. This season serves as a growing season for the program and the only direction this team can go is up.
The Bearcats began the year by going to three different venues. The first venue was Ball State University (Muncie, Ill.) on Jan. 24. Ball State proved to be a tough match for the Bearcats, who unfortunately lost their first game ever three sets to none.
The Bearcats then took on Dominican University (River Forest, Ill.) on Jan. 25. After a hard-fought match that went to four sets, the men’s volleyball program got its first win ever as a program. Freshman right side Maalik Walker led the Bearcats with 13 kills, with Dustin Borenstein right behind him with 12 kills. Jack MacLean (right) added 38 assists, with Brice Miller breaking into double digits with 10 kills. This has been the only win for the Bearcats so far. The Bearcats played the College of Mt. St. Joseph’s at Dominican University on the same day and unfortunately were swept.
From Illinois, the men traveled to Milwaukee, Wis. to take on The Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) and to play a rematch against Dominican University. Unfortunately the Bearcats lost by a set count of 1-4. The men’s volleyball team wrapped up the weekend with a record of 1-4.
History was made in the Harry Statham Sports center on Tuesday January 28. McKendree hosted its first ever men’s volleyball home game. The Bearcats challenged Missouri Baptist. As the gym packed with fans, the team received a lot of support from their peers. Sadly the Bearcats were swept 3-0, but the experience the team gained from the night was priceless. The team then played in a tournament held by Lindenwood University 1/31-2/1. The Bearcats faced Coker College, Lees-McRae College, and Pfeiffer University. The Bearcats fought hard against Coker College, but just could win in the match deciding set five. The Bearcats also fell to Lees-McRae College and Pfeiffer University 0-3 and 1-3.
Even though the season seems to be getting off to a slow start, the men’s volleyball program shows a lot of promise in becoming a force to be reckoned with. The Bearcats will be playing ranked teams Lewis University (10) and Loyola University, the top ranking team in the nation on Feb. 7 and 8. Following this road trip, the Bearcats will return home to take on Grand Canyon University on Feb. 9. The Men’s volleyball team hopes to win a home game, so support the team and go to the MPCC at 3 pm on Sunday, Feb. 9 to witness history in the making.