CUNY with the Spike!

With the 2011 CUNY Men’s volleyball season reaching its home stretch, it is fair to say that this season was a special one. After going 34-14 in the regular season, including a dominating conference record of 14-0, The Baruch College Bearcats were selected to represent the North East Collegiate Volleyball Association in the Molten Final Four. This is the first time that a Baruch team has made it to a Final Four in any sport, so the Bearcat nation definitely has its eyes on this exciting team as it heads into the tournament.

Anchored by their two Division III All-American Seniors, Eryk Kowalski and Pablo Oliveira, the Bearcats have scorched the competition with many decisive wins, including the CUNY title game against Hunter in front of a packed crowd.  Dean Wang, a student from Hunter College who came to root for the Hunter College Hawks, said that, “For the final game, the crowd was electric, and the Baruch team was able to take advantage of that. It was a great atmosphere and great matchup. You saw two really strong teams play relentlessly for a championship.” This victory helped catapult Baruch into the Molten Final Four and improved their chances to land a bid to play for the Division III title.

The Bearcats weren’t the only CUNY team to make some noise in Division III volleyball this year. The Hunter College Hawks finished the season with a record of 19-16, including a conference record of 12-2.  They finished second in the CUNY championships, and have been selected to participate in the ECAC Division III South Championships. Led by Eric Barty ’12, the Hunter team has a young core of players that will continue to develop and elevate the Hunter program. Freshman Aroup Sorijum, who is the libero for the Hawks, expressed, “This year was a learning experience for us and it was difficult to adjust to the college level of play. Despite that, I think we played really well and with another year of experience, we hope to play at a higher level next year.” Hunter is the three-time defending champion of the ECAC Championships and look to earn another title in this prestigious tournament. They enter as the number three seed.

Hopefully, the Baruch Bearcats and the Hunter College Hawks can cap off the season in grand style by bringing home tournament championships. Regardless of whether they win or not, they have represented CUNY well, and have made CUNY Athletics more relevant. Furthermore, the 2011 season looks to be even more promising as Division III Volleyball will receive NCAA sponsorship in the future. The new system will replace the Molten Championships and will create an NCAA Division III Men’s Championship, beginning in 2012. The tournament will involve eight teams and occur during one weekend in order to determine a Division III Champion. This new system will infuse more talent into CUNYAC and allow men’s volleyball to flourish at the DIII level. The 2010 season was a great success and 2011 should be even better.

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