Men’s volleyball begins action as 21st Wilkes varsity sport

Men’s volleyball shined in their first official matches of their inaugural regular season, scoring two wins against Bard College and Lehman College. After a strong performance in their first-ever weekend of play, junior Daniel Sales said he is confident in their ability to succeed.

“We have a decent amount of experience and the ability to keep up with some of the better teams,” Sales said.

Sophomore Kyle Price, a Crestwood High School product, believes this team has bonded much quicker than someone might expect.

“A good part of the team is already from the area, so I think we have an advantage when it comes to team chemistry,” said sophomore Kyle Price.
Six of the other 13 roster members are just like Price, coming to Wilkes from local high schools.

A member of the initial club volleyball team, Sales was part of getting the program to the varsity level.

“Getting volleyball established at the collegiate level in this area, in this state, was my ultimate goal,” Czopek said of the addition of the program.

Czopek pointed out three areas when it came to getting the program “Ready for Liftoff”: filling a roster, finding enough gym time, and building a match schedule.

Getting volleyball established at the collegiate level in this area, in this state, was my ultimate goal

— Head Coach Joe Czopek

This year’s roster features two seniors, Dylan Smith and Mike Morrison, and two juniors, Sales and Michael Henne. Not to be underestimated, the remaining ten underclassmen have a good amount of their own playing experience.

“I pulled heavily from my experience in the high school game,” Czopek said reflecting on his 20 years at Wyoming Valley West High School when recruiting for this year’s team. Czopek also mentioned his affiliation with the Northeast Alliance club volleyball program as a benefit.

With gym time, it can be difficult to find enough available time with both the men’s and women’s basketball teams in the middle of their own seasons.

“It worked out well with the other coaches. We’ve had a couple of stumbling point where we’ve had to shorten practice time but it’s all worked out,” Czopek said.

Beginning with the 2017-18 academic year, the Middle Atlantic Conference will sponsor three additional sports, including men’s volleyball. Starting out, there will be eight teams competing in a single conference format, so the traditional lineup of the Freedom and Commonwealth designations will not be used. For its inaugural season, Wilkes men’s volleyball is competing as an independent school with no conference affiliation.

The schedule features 27 matches over 18 playdates. Two of the 19 opposing schools, Arcadia and Alvernia are first-year programs as well, while others like Bard College and Lehman College have been around for a few years.

Since Czopek also coaches the women’s team in the fall, forming a relationship between both team is important.

Czopek said it will be an asset to have players from the women’s team available during the men’s season to fill roles such as score keeping and libero tracker.

He said it is important to have someone with volleyball rules experience working in these positions.

“It’s nice to have them help out one another,” Czopek said of the new bond.
Colonel Volleyball will take the court for their first-ever home game on Mar. 1 against Lancaster Bible College. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.