This year will mark Milligan’s fifth year with the men’s volleyball program. The program began in the 2013-14 academic year, with coach Doneva Bays, also the women’s volleyball coach, at the helm.

Unlike the women’s volleyball team, the men’s team is not a varsity sport but instead operates as a club program, which means it is not NAIA sanctioned and therefore does not compete within a conference. This also means that the men’s team is not required to meet the same quota of practices and matches in a week as the women’s team.

“Club sports still provide scholarships that help pay tuition and allow students to make new friends with the guys or girls on the team,” senior Blake Stanley said. “However, club sports don’t get to practice as much because varsity teams take precedence, which is understandable.”

While not being sanctioned means the team is not able to participate in conference tournaments, it can still have its perks.

“We can play other club teams from outside of our league, which means Division I, Division II and Alumni teams for example,” graduate student and returning player Drew Doehring explained. “I think in those games we get some of our toughest competition, which makes for a fun and informative time where we can learn a lot about how we stack up against other eastern U.S. teams.”

Since its start, the men’s team has grown overall with more members and more experience. Doehring admitted his only experience before joining the team was at a summer camp in the fourth grade, but his supportive teammates and the coaching staff helped him to become an important part of the volleyball team.

The team ended last season 7-6 overall in matches and completed the season with a win over a close rival, the University of Tennessee.

“That was an incredible moment!” said Stanley. “Everyone was performing at such a high level, and it was great to see all the hard work pay off. It was a privilege to play with those guys.”

This year we are excited about the guys returning and the new guys we have added,” Bays said.

Also joining Bays for the 2018 season as assistant coach is Kylie Whaley.

“We are showing a lot of promise, and our new coach, Kylie Whaley, has been helping us improve and get ready for the upcoming season. It should be another good year for us,” Stanley said.

The men’s volleyball season will not begin until the spring semester, but you can show your support for Coach Bays and Milligan athletics now by supporting the women’s volleyball team.

“As men’s volleyball becomes more and more popular in the U.S., our program will only continue to get better as an early adopter of the sport in our region,” Doehring said.

Cover photo via milliganbuffs.com

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