Article by Zach Avery, Editor-in-Chief
Photos courtesy of Zach Avery
AQ Men’s Volleyball began their SP22 season with an impressive 2-0 record against Cumberland and Olivet Nazarene this past weekend at Cornerstone University. After a difficult run last year, this tight-knit group, led by player standouts Julian Armendano and Matthew Richmond, set a tone for what we might expect from this team moving forward.
This is all coming after a recent pre-season poll from the WHAC coaches placed Aquinas College at a prospective third place in conference standings, hinting that there is more to this team than meets the eye.
“I think that the third position in the conference poll after finishing sixth last year shows that the WHAC coaches know how much our team and roster has improved, but they still don’t know what we are really capable of,” said Armendano, who led AQ with 37 total kills on Friday, “With the talent that we have this year, our expectations are to win the conference and get a spot for nationals, maybe even reach the championship.”
A Nationals-bound team isn’t so farfetched, considering this group had managed to reach the tournament during their inaugural season back in SP19. Many of these current players have competed with the team for all its history, including Armendano’s reliable setter, Matthew Richmond.
“It’s a balanced relationship between a hitter and a setter,” said RIchmond, who earned 60 assists total against both Cumberland and Olivet Nazarene. “I’m just looking for the best possible swing and my hitters are the ones who finish the play. Between Julian and I, it comes down to repetition. We’ve had time to form chemistry, and it can really blossom this season.”
This entire group exemplifies the strong sense of camaraderie, friendship, and fair-play that is so necessary in team sports. Especially in volleyball, where split-second decisions are made based on instinct and trust with your fellow teammates. Leadership from some of these more experienced players like Armendano and Richmond can only solidify their team’s spirit.
“As far as a legacy goes, I just want the team to be like a family,” Richmond said. “As Men’s Volleyball is a small sport in Michigan, we are from all over the world. Our families are all back in our hometowns supporting us, and all we have are each other when we’re here at school. I hope that same sense of family value will be reflected in teams to come.”
Catch AQ Men’s Volleyball this Friday night at the Sturrus Center as they go up against Goshen in their first WHAC match of the new year.