Warwick, R.I. – April 13, 2015: CCRI traveled to the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) National Championships in Kansas City, MO last week. The NCVF National tourney had 53 volleyball courts, 204 Men’s teams and 168 Women’s teams. CCRI had an amazing weekend and the Knights were able to finish No. 3 in the Bronze Bracket for Division III. The biggest upside to the entire tournament was that CCRI was the only community college competing and the Knights proved they were ready!
The Knights took on some big name schools the first day of competition. CCRI’s first opponent was Penn State, followed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and then a match against Texas State to end the day. The Knights and their coach were proud after the day as they were able to hold their own and be on the same court as big schools like those.
Day two of the tournament was another competitive filled outing. The Knights first opponent was the University of Illinois-Springfield. The Knights played very well and were able to quickly take the first two sets and the match, 25-15 and 25-15. Their win was followed up by a loss to another big name school in the University of Pittsburgh.
On the final day of the tournament CCRI Club Volleyball made its presence known! The Knights game was against Utah Valley and the game was in front of a huge crowd, all wanting to see the only Community College out of all 204 teams at the nationals. CCRI once again proved its right to be there and defeated Utah Valley in three sets, 26-24, 24-26, and 15-3. The Knights final game of the tourney and season was against the University of Texas-Austin, whose height was too much for CCRI, taking the game and becoming the eventual champs of their bracket.
Head Coach Anne-Marie Balboni had this to say about the crazy weekend, “What a great tourney, what a great season, what a great accomplishment for CCRI.”
Chris Fitta (Warwick, RI) had a phenomenal tournament leading the team with a remarkable 124 assists. Derek Lewis (Boston, MA) once again played great and led the team with 27 kills while also providing 11 blocks. Jake Johnson (Warwick, RI) put in a very solid effort providing eight aces, 25 kills and 25 blocks. Shawn Mulso (Scituate, RI) led the team with 25 blocks while also chipping in eight kills and Jakeem Gonzales (New Bedford, MA) led the team with an outstanding 82 digs.
Coach Balboni was proud of her team and glad they had the opportunity to play on that stage and she had this to say “My first thought when we started the tourney against Penn State was ‘shoot’ but it was the best thing for this program. To play against these large schools motivated the team and pumped them up for next year. The returning players are psyched for next season and already talking about off season conditioning and helping recruit for next year.”
The Community College of Rhode Island, New England’s largest comprehensive community college, enrolls nearly 18,000 students in credit courses and thousands more in non-credit and job training classes. Its athletic program boasts 12 varsity programs and an academic support program for all student-athletes.