The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh men’s volleyball team won its second consecutive and fifth collegiate club Division I national title at the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation championship Thursday through Saturday (April 9-11) in Kansas City, Mo.
With the title, the Titans have now won five Division I titles, trailing only the University of California-Berkeley (six) with the most in the history of the tournament.
UW Oshkosh (62-2) went 9-0 over the three-day event while only dropping one set. The Titans beat seven teams ranked in the top twenty-five in the nation on the way to the championship and ended the season with a 36-match winning streak.
The Titans entered as the number two seed overall after tournament titles at the University of Iowa Challenge, the Las Vegas Open and the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Championship during the season. UW Oshkosh also won both the regular season and conference tournament in both the Midwest Ten Conference and Wisconsin Volleyball Conference. The Titans beat seventeen teams ranked in the top twenty-five in the nation during the season.
UW Oshkosh started the tournament on Thursday by sweeping the University of Dayton 25-16, 25-16, the University of California-San Diego 25-17, 25-18 and #23 Santa Clara University 25-19, 25-17 to finish first in their initial pool.
Jake Ahnert (Sr. – Burlington) led the Titans against the Flyers by going five for five in kill attempts. Tyler Range (Jr. – Kenosha) had four kills and four blocks, including two solo stuffs and Travis Hudson (Jr. – Wauwatosa) dished out 19 assists. Allen Grunert (So. – Muskego) added five kills and Wesley Morioka (Jr. – Chicago, Ill.) put down four kills.
Grunert led the team against the Tritons with 11 kills on 16 attempts. Tony Mack (So. – Muskego) and Morioka added seven kills each as the Titans slammed down 36 kills in the match on a .549 hitting percentage. Hudson provided 21 assists and nine digs, Tyler Wiedenhoeft (Sr. – Mequon) scooped up six digs and Range and Mack each had two blocks.
In their last match of the day against the Broncos the Titans had five players register at least five kills, including a match high eight by Grunert. Mack did not have an error on six kills and Morioka pitched in four service aces. Hudson distributed 24 assists and added six digs and Wiedenhoeft also had four saves. Range tallied three blocks to lead the Titans at the net.
In Friday’s action, UW Oshkosh needed to take first or second place in their three team pool to advance to the 16-team gold bracket on Saturday. After dominating the first set 25-11 against #7 Purdue University, the Titans lost a tight second set 28-26 and then came back from a 12-10 deficit to win the third set 15-13.
The Titans controlled the net with 16.5 team blocks as Grunert had seven, Range and Ahnert six and Morioka five stuffs. Wiedenhoeft had five digs and Hudson ran the offense with 28 assists. Ahnert led the team with nine kills and recorded a service ace.
After Purdue University defeated West Virginia University in the next match, the Titans needed to defeat the Mountaineers to avoid a three way tie in the pool. UW Oshkosh responded in dominating fashion in a 25-16, 25-9 victory over the tenth ranked team in the country. Ahnert led the team with eight kills and Mack slammed down six kills on six attempts. Hudson dished out 19 assists and Range had four kills and five blocks. The Titans hit .605 in the match, including a mind-numbing .833 hitting percentage in set two. UW Oshkosh had 15 kills on 18 attempts to reach the gold bracket of the 48-team tournament for the twelfth time out of the last thirteen seasons.
In the first round of the single elimination portion of the tournament on Saturday UW-Oshkosh defeated #4 Air Force Academy 25-22, 25-19 in the first round. The Titans had 13 kills in each set, led by the six kills by Ahnert. Mack and Morioka each had five kills and Hudson provided 22 assists. Ahnert led the team with three blocks and Grunert, Hudson, Mack and Range each had three stuffs. Wiedenhoeft had three service aces, Erik Harke (Sr. – Kimberly) had four digs and Morioka and Michael Wamboldt (So. – Kenosha) each had three saves.
In the quarterfinals UW Oshkosh defeated #15 University of Arizona 26-24, 25-18 behind the eight kills by Morioka. Wiedenhoeft piled up eight digs and Hudson had 24 assists. Close to running out of substitutions in the close first set, Mack delivered a service ace to end the first set in his only serve of the tournament.
In the semifinals, UW Oshkosh dominated #25 University of Missouri 25-21, 25-14 to reach the title game for the seventh time in team history. Ahnert and Hudson each had seven kills and Mack and Range each had four blocks. Hudson ran the offense with 21 assists and the Titans combined for five total service aces in the match.
In the championship match, Grunert came up big with nine kills on 14 attempts in a 25-22, 25-20 win over #6 Arizona State University. Ahnert led the Titans with five blocks and added four kills and Hudson tallied four blocks and 19 assists. Morioka added two service aces and two blocks and Wiedenhoeft scooped up five digs.
With the win the Titans continued an impressive run at the national championship. The Titans have now finished third or better in eight out of the last ten years with five titles, two runner-up finishes and two third place results.
“I am so very proud of this team and how we approached this season,” said head coach Brian Schaefer. “One of the hardest things in any sport it to repeat and that was their goal the entire year. They did not take anything for granted and worked hard all season. Another team goal was to give our senior leaders, Jake Anhert, Erik Harke and Tyler Wiedenhoeft a season to remember. This team is full of great young men in not only talent, but in heart and they deserve to be called NATIONAL champions.”
Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to contribute calendar items, campus announcements and other good news to UW Oshkosh Today.