Inside the East Gym of the Kinesiology Building, the squeaking of sneakers and the slapping of volleyballs echoes through the halls with the intensity of a Friday night game at the Walter Pyramid.
A few hundred feet away from the enormous banner donning “Back-To-Back National Champions” that covers the side of the Pyramid parking structure, the enthusiastic bunch responsible for this noise is the Long Beach State Men’s Club Volleyball team.
Being the club team at CSULB, which is home to one of the nation’s best Division 1 volleyball programs, can leave big shoes to fill, but this group feels no pressure in its pursuit of success.
“I feel like other teams look at us differently, but we don’t compare ourselves to anyone else,” said Kenny Brittain, senior club president. “We just go out and try to play our best.”
The club holds tryouts every semester, and although some clubs at the Beach are struggling to find enough members to field a full team, the volleyball club has the opposite issue.
“We had almost 90 sign-ups last semester,” Brittain said, “but for the actual tryout, we had about 30 or 40 people show up.”
Established in 2002, the club is entirely student-run and supported by fundraisers, member dues and a grant from the university.
“We are our own coach,” Brittain said.
The club is made up of 21 members, but the traveling roster for tournaments has to be cut down to 16.
The deciding factor for reducing the total size of the club comes down to financial issues.
“With our budget, we have to really limit the number of people we take, because traveling out of state to [Las] Vegas and nationals is not cheap,” said Kodie Redongo, senior club treasurer.
The woes don’t end with the club’s finances.
The practice conditions are less than ideal, as often times throughout drills and scrimmages the ball will ricochet off of support beams of the low gym ceiling.
The club even had some of its practice time taken away this semester due to having to share the East Gym with other campus clubs.
Despite the struggles, this year’s seniors feel more confident about the success of the team than in years past due to an influx of new recruits that are passionate about the sport.
“Our last tournament in San Diego we finished third, losing to [No. 2] ASU in the semis,” Brittain said. “The fact that we were able to hang in with them shows how strong our team is this year.”
With the season of tournaments underway, the club will be looking to have its name added to the “Volleyball Nation” sign outside of the Pyramid with a championship of its own.
“This is our most skilled team we’ve had in a while,” said Tyler Power, senior club secretary. “Our goal is to finish high in the gold bracket this year at nationals.”
The CSULB Men’s Club Volleyball will compete in its next tournament March 7 at UCSD.
For students interested in more information contact the club through its Instagram @csulb_mcvb.