IM volleyball: Spike’s Peak faces stiff competition in repeat championship bid

As summer transitions into autumn, we say goodbye to the sand and sun of beach volleyball and welcome the squeaky floors and fluorescent lighting of indoor volleyball. As such, the 2015 Intramural Indoor Volleyball league is officially underway and for all players it means the opportunity of attaining the much-coveted IM Champions shirt.

Spike’s Peak are the defending champions and are returning to the league with confidence and focus. Their no-nonsense attitude can be attributed to team captain, senior Hershall Cook. Cook, a former Junior Olympian, is “the best [captain] on the market,” claims teammate Jonathan Wenegieme. “His passion for the game and his commitment to making the team better are the main reasons why we are a hard team to beat.”

Like any other IM team, the Spike’s did not survive the offseason unscathed—they lost four players to an especially damaging graduation. Wenegieme admitted that his team was initially “a bit rusty” in their first game before finishing strong against their first opponent, The Cougars.

“It’s a new season for everyone,” Cook pointed out, “and right now we’re still in the midst of finding our attack. We all have to reestablish our level of performance, and we all have a lot of ground to cover between now and the playoffs.”

spikespeak_ardenfeldman3While the Spike’s may be former shirt-winners, they are not this year’s favorites, at least according to Chris Starr. Starr, the Director of Campus Recreation, believes that team Big D and the C Lord are poised to win the league, which she based on their notable volleyball résumés. Opponents of Big D and the C Lord will be facing two former CC varsity volleyball player: seniors Devon Lucero and captain Kiersten Knoppel.

Knoppel is particularly invested in this season. “My team won state championships three years in a row in high school. I played for CC and we won the SCAC (Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference), and now in my senior year, I am looking to win the IM volleyball championships. I think it would be the best culmination to my 12-year volleyball career.” She also described her team as highly experienced, having great depth, and very competitive. Furthermore, she was justly flattered to hear Starr’s prediction. “That is a great thing to hear, especially because Chris has been around the intramural competition for a long time and knows how these things play out.”

When informed of Starr’s comments, Spike’s Peak responded stoically. “We are a very confident team and we welcome any opposition,” countered Wenegieme.

spikespeak_ardenfeldmanOf course there is more to this league then just Spike’s and Big D; Starr believes that the league is brimming with competition and talent, a result of the increased participation in the last several years. Teams that could prove to be the league’s black swans include Bump, Set, Destroy and Unprotected Sets. Bump, Set, Destroy played Big D Tuesday night and while the outcome is unknown (the game occurred after my deadline), Knoppel seemed somewhat anxious about facing 6-foot-7 middle blocker Abe Binder. Binder, a freshman, “could be a real threat at the net,” she admitted.

Meanwhile, Unprotected Sets boasts equally experienced players. After a productive offseason, former CC varsity volleyball players, and seniors, Karina Guerrerro and Emily Phillips were added to the roster. Their talent is complemented by a couple of former high school players as well.

Senior captain Brad Green is very proud of the team he was able to assemble, “If you’re looking for raw talent, risky moves, and questionable judgment, look no further than Unprotected Sets.” Knoppel calls Unprotected their most significant challenge.

Cook, for his part, wasn’t much for speculation. “With such a long season, anything could happen.”

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