Augustana men's volleyball team ready for inaugural season
Last spring, Augustana College announced a new chapter in Viking sports, and that chapter will soon begin when the men’s volleyball team's inaugural season gets underway in January.
Head Coach Mark Lau told Rock Island Today that he is excited about the first year and thinks the team will surprise some people.
“We are not like a first-year team,” Lau said. “The school gave me a whole year to select the team, and it gave me a chance to study and evaluate what I'm good at, what personalities do I work best with, and then I was able to select a group of guys that make team choices.”
The majority of the players on this year's team are freshmen, and Lau said he wanted to get an early start working with them.
“We did a preseason all through the fall,” he said. “We started up sooner than we typically would, but I just want them to understand what offense is and what defense is when playing for me. They’ve been doing captain-led practices all fall, and the season will get going in January.”
According to Lau, the preseason camp was successful, and he thinks the early start will help the team during the regular season.
“I had high expectations, but going into it there was a lot of questions about what having 12 freshmen and two club transfers was going to be like,” Lau said. “There was a lot of praying, but gosh dang it worked good. We are nowhere near where a first-year team should be; we’ve exceeded my expectations. I am really excited and we have a high level of talent.”
Lau attended Augustana from 1995-97 and has a lot of experience in the volleyball world. Before taking the job at Augustana, he spent two years as the head coach at Graceland University. Last year, the Graceland Yellowjackets finished the year with an impressive 25-8 record. While at Augustana, Lau played for a club team that finished in second place at the NIRSA Division II Championships.
Lau said he has enjoyed being able to work with the players to lay the foundation for the volleyball program at Augustana.
“There are some really cool experiences,” Lau said. “You get the chance to sit down with the team and say ‘We’ve got a chance to custom create this program. What do we want to do? Do we wanna to ease into it and just win a few games and be happy? Or come out of the gates and really surprise some people?”
The season will begin Jan. 12 when the Vikings travel to Lisle to face off against Benedictine University. The team will play its first home game Jan. 20 against Judson University.
The Vikings are members of the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League, which includes schools such as Loras College, North Central College and Greenville University. The conference tournament will get underway April 13.
To view the team’s full schedule or for more information about the upcoming season, visit www.athletics.augustana.edu.