Lourdes University men's basketball coach Andre Smith, left, says goodbye to head volleyball coach Greg Reitz as the volleyball team boards the bus.
Lourdes University’s men’s volleyball team is on the road to Denver.
The Gray Wolves are one of six teams set to compete in the NAIA National Invitational, quite an achievement for a program only in its third year.
Lourdes is one of six teams to qualify for the national competition and will journey by bus to Colorado.
It will be an almost 15-hour bus ride, but coach Greg Reitz expects his team to perform well despite having to travel the farthest among the qualifying teams.
"The good thing for us is we're going to get out there two days before we play," Reitz said. "We'll get there and we'll have some time to recover."
The Gray Wolves (17-5) were expected to arrive today and are scheduled to play in the first of two matches in a three-team pool beginning Thursday at noon against 26-2 Grand View (Iowa). They'll face 23-5 Clarke (Iowa) in pool play on Friday at noon.
"If we go out there and compete and give ourselves a chance, we've got a chance to advance," Reitz said.
The six teams are split into two pools with three teams in each pool. Winners advance to a semifinal round before the winner of each pool meet in the title match.
Reitz, who was named the Great Lakes Confernce coach of the year, said it's going to require a solid team effort.
Outside hitter, Jo'Lon Clark, who was selected as the GLC player of the year and newcomer of the year, will be key if Lourdes expects to do well.
The Compton, Calif., native, a junior college transfer (Long Beach City College), leads the Gray Wolves with 279 kills and 121 digs. He ranks fifth nationally in service aces with 39.
"He's very athletic and a pretty well-rounded player," Reitz said. "He's a strong player and he jumps really well. He's been pretty successful and we hope he plays pretty well."
Chris Lockwood (outside hitter), Frank Craig (outside hitter), Brad Miller (defensive specialist), Bryan Downs (setter) and Steve Barcus (setter) have all been top contributors.
Lourdes qualified for the national tournament by winning the GLC tournament for the first time.
"We knew what we had to do, win the conference tournament to earn a spot," Reitz said. "The focus has shifted. Now we want to do well once we're there."