Men’s Volleyball Set for Another Great SeasonHawks looks to make another run at the CUNYAC crown and beyond
The men’s volleyball team is 1-6, but that’s no reason to worry. A slow start has never bothered the Hawks before. After dropping six of their first eight matches, last year’s team finished 19-17 (a dominant 12-2 in CUNYAC play) and made a run all the way to the CUNYAC title game, where they lost to their nationally-ranked rival, Baruch.
For the eighth straight season, the Hawks are led by head coach Ray Bello, a former player (Class of ’03) and four-time CUNYAC Coach of the Year. They boast seven returning players from last year’s team, including CUNYAC All-Stars Eric Barty, John Gamegah, and Braien Otsla.
Barty, a senior, has had a spectacular four years at Hunter. As a freshman, he was named CUNYAC Rookie of the Year, and has been named a CUNYAC All-Star every year since, collecting a wide range of other honors along the way. Otsla, a junior, was also named Rookie of the Year in his freshman season and racked up an impressive list of accolades last year as a sophomore, being named to the CUNYAC All-Tournament Team, the Endicott All-Tournament Team, and the CUNYAC All-Star Team. He also took home the Hawks’ Most Improved Player Award.
“I personally think and believe we will go much further than last year,” Otsla said. “The real key is for every single person to realize what they are capable of. I can sense that there’s only a few pieces missing for us to be 100 percent and leave a mark on division three volleyball.” He wants to make Hunter into a team to look out for. “Once everyone realizes what they can do, I don’t think there’s any team that can stop us,” he continued.
This Hunter team is not taking a backseat to anyone, and especially not to the CUNYAC powerhouse, Baruch. “I personally have never played a winning match against Baruch,” Otsla said. “But what I do know is that we are very close and Baruch knows it.”
One thing is for certain, this year’s Hunter team will have at least one goal that no other Hawks team has had before: an NCAA Championship. 2012 will be the first year the NCAA will hold a tournament for Division Three Men’s Volleyball.
“Our mentality is to win CUNY and succeed in the NCAAs,” Otsla said.
After getting so close to beating Baruch a year ago (Baruch is ranked #12 in the country at the time of this article), how could we doubt him? When the inaugural NCAA tournament takes place in April, it is hard to imagine that this wiser and more experienced Hawks team will not have something to say about which CUNY squad makes the biggest impact.