Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

UC Men's Volleyball Program Going Big Right off the Bat

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

UC Men's Volleyball Program Going Big Right off the Bat

Article excerpt

When the University of Charleston's men's volleyball team concludes its two-game home stand with Princeton University at 4 p.m. today at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Complex, it will have hosted its second Division I program this season. For most Division II schools, that's unheard of. For UC men's volleyball, it's just part of conference play.

The Golden Eagles are thinking big for their 2-year-old program, which is in its first season as a member of the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. The hope is that, by jumping into the deep end of the pool right away, the team soon can swim strong among the sport's big fish.

UC coach Michael Crane relishes the opportunity to join a conference full of Division I opponents.

"We've always been sink or swim, he said. "When I draw up my schedule, I schedule the hardest teams anyway, so this conference is like playing the regular season for us.

This season's schedule is no different, with four teams in the current American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 15 on the list. Two of those teams, No. 8 Penn State and No. 15 St. Francis, are fellow EIVA members. The rest of the conference includes UC, George Mason, Harvard, Princeton, NJIT and Sacred Heart. George Mason visited Charleston for a match on Jan. 16. UC is the only Division II member of the conference.

Division I and II teams often cross paths in men's volleyball. There are 43 teams nationally, so the chances of joining a league with Division I schools are pretty good. There were other options for UC, like Conference Carolinas, which consists of smaller schools. But UC athletic director Bren Stevens said, ultimately, the EIVA was the best fit.

"It aligned us with some pretty prestigious schools and it would be a great opportunity to get into it, she said. "What they wanted to know was how we'd support the program, so it could be competitive in the EIVA once we get up and running. …

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