By any standard, what the UC Irvine Men’s Volleyball team has accomplished so far this year is impressive, to say the least. We wish to congratulate the team. Unfortunately, they have largely gone unnoticed by the general student population.
We at the New Univeresity came to this bitter realization when, while we were discussing the team’s success, an editor asked, ‘Our team is No. 1?’
A quick look at some statistics reveal that they may be destined to be one of the best teams, if not the best, in UCI history: a No. 1 ranking in the nation, 25-3 overall record and a 19-game win streak that dates back to January.
In the process, the team has taken down some of the perennial powerhouses like Brigham Young University and defending national champion Pepperdine.
Also, the Men’s Volleyball team has drawn record attendance at their home games, packing the Bren Events Center with as many fans as the Men’s Basketball team does, and playing in front of a soldout standing room-only crowd in Crawford Court.
This editorial could go on to rant about general student apathy, the age-old phenomenon that will most likely plague UCI indefinitely. However, the volleyball team’s season isn’t over yet and UCI can still salvage the next month and make their presence felt on campus. Why should students care? For one thing, it should already be apparent that UCI, as a Southern California school, has to compete with many other schools for the same highly touted high school recruits. For the team to distance themselves from the other talented teams in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, and the country, and rise to the top the way they have this season is remarkable.
In addition, the campus has to realize that there is more to UCI athletics than Men’s Basketball. The success of the Men’s Volleyball team gives the campus another good team to support. It’s OK to be a bandwagoner.
Sure the b-ball team is good, but let’s face it—in the past decade, despite all the talent and support, none of the Men’s Basketball teams have even been able to reach the finals of the Big West Conference tournament. The volleyball team has shown this season that they can play through pressure situations and come out on top.
While some students may decry the lack of a football team as the reason for their apathy, the Men’s Volleyball team should be promoted for the reason many want a football team: to create a sense of community.
The success of the team has the potential to galvanize the community into proudly displaying their UCI pride and Rip ‘Em Eaters sign.
UCI is in first place in the MPSF with two matches left to play against fifth-place Cal State Northridge and eighth-place UC Santa Barbara (the season finale is at the Bren this Saturday night). The prospect of UCI earning the No. 1 seed in the MPSF tournament is looking pretty good right now. If UCI wins the No. 1 seed, they will host the MPSF semifinals and finals in a little over two weeks. This event, which would be a first in UCI history, would present UCI with a great opportunity to give the volleyball team some muchdeserved love.
If the tournament is in the Bren, which it should be, to accommodate all those fans, the UCI students and community have a responsibility to sell it out and give the Anteaters a true home-court advantage. But before this happens, a few things have to be done. The Department of Athletics has a responsibility to put its full-fledged support behind the team by getting the Completely Insane Anteaters, the CIA Band, Peter the Anteater and cheerleaders out to the matches. Those perks shouldn’t be reserved for only the basketball teams on campus.
The athletics department Web site also needs some redesigning. The homepage currently gives no indication that we have a No. 1 team on our campus (and judging by the featured picture, one might be led to assume soccer season is still going strong).
We, as Anteaters, have an opportunity to end this year strong by hopping on the volleyball team’s bandwagon (don’t worry, we’re sure all students are welcome) to see this final push for a national championship through.