1993-94…The year it all started. The club was basically the idea of a few guys who were playing intramural volleyball but wanted to compete at a higher level. The main two guys who wanted the program started were Jason Messick (97) and Bob Fleming (97). After convincing Guy Dierikx (85), who was working as an admissions counselor, to be the coach, the team was born. That first year consisted of 6:00am practices and a lot of time spent on the very basics of the game. We would participate in a few tournaments, we actually won our first pool play game then never won another game for about 2 months. All in all, it was a rough beginning but everyone worked extremely hard to try and get better.
1994-95…The team made a huge jump in its skill level this year. There was a core of students who were really developing and we added some new players who actually played before they came to Augustana. We competed in a Conference for the first, going 2-8 (we should've schedule Loras College more often). Jon Kern (96) even qualified for an All-Star tournament as a middle hitter. Early in the year we won a small tri-angular tournament with Knox and ISU.
1995-96…All our hard work was finally paying off, we finished the year with a 10-2 match record. The squad had grown to a membership of around 18 players. We could've dubbed this year "The year of the middles" because of the number of quality players we had at that position that year. We played in USA Volleyball for the first time and was very competitive at the tournaments we entered. The year ended on a down note when we lost to Bradley in the Conference semi-finals and had to watch Knox win the championship (I think I still hate Knox because of this year).
1996-97…I used to say all the time that "You have to get an ass whipping before you can give an ass whipping" and this was our year to start whipping ass!!! Everyone played like they had a chip on their shoulder and they weren't going to let anyone knock it off. We either won or got second in every tournament we entered and finally got even with Knox. At the National tournament, Tucson AZ, we went in as an unranked and unknown entity. All it took was the first match against Western Washington (ranked 3rd) to realize we were something special. The only match we lost was in the championship against Duke University.
1997-98…Even though the team lost a lot of talented players there was still enough heart and sole to make this a top 10 team in the Nation. We would win our first Western Division (MCVA Conference) title and finish 2nd in the conference tournament. The team basically had only 7 players that played at the national tournament in Austin TX, yet we still finished 9th overall. Our only two loses were against the teams that finished first and second.
1998-99…Even though graduation took a heavy toll on this team, we were able to stay competitive through out the year. We were able to win our second Western Division title and remained ranked in the top 25 nationally. The national championship tournament became a story of close but no cigar. We ended up losing all 3 matches that went to a third game tie-breaker. The main highlight was watching the team dismantle a cocky Susquehanna team for our last match.
1999-00…A new Millennium and a new beginning. After coming off our lowest finish at the national championships this team embodied the meaning of "true grit". We would yet again win our Division in the conference and then earn a hard fought second place at the conference tournament. Then it was off to nationals, in Reno NV where the team was unranked for the first time in several years. We basically had a starting lineup that consisted of two former soccer players and a baseball player yet we still finished 21st in the tournament. The highlight of the tournament came when Gerken (02) had a stuff block to beat 3rd ranked Los Medinas.
2000-01…This was probably the biggest recruiting year that the team had ever seen. There was at least 6 new players that would be able to contribute to the team immediately. As a young team there were some growing pains, even an early loss to that hated Knox team. But everyone worked hard and the team came together to finish 9th at the championships in Kansas City MO. This tournament was highlighted by Jason Deibert (01) delivering the hardest 6-pack that I've ever seen on some poor middle hitter for Western Illinois..
2001-02…This team had all the makings of a great team, talent and experience. The biggest issue was consistency, we could go out and beat a top 5 school like MATC but we would turn around and lose to team that we should've killed. Season highlights included a 2nd place finish at a tough DePaul tournament and another 2nd place finish at the conference tournament. The national tournament in Dallas TX summed up our season. We finished 3rd in the nation but all three of the matches we lost were to lower seeded teams.
2002-03...This year was kind of like a fish story, when a fisherman is talking about the one that got away. The talent level of this team was as high as any team (including the 96-97 team). We beat several varsity programs, including our first victory over Clarke College and we won the huge Loyola Tournament in January. At the Loyola Tournament we easily dismantled Lakeland College, which would finish 2nd at the National tournament. But at Nationals we lost a heartbreaker to Washington Univ. on the second day which forced us to play the eventual champions, MATC, in the first round on saturday. We lost to them but we scored more on them then any other team in the tourney.
2003-04...We were probably closer to winning a National Championship this year than any other previous year, even though we only finished 5th in the tournament. Carthage beat us in the quarter finals (the 2nd year in a row that we lose to the eventual National Champion), with the score of the 3rd game being 15-13. We had 1 second team All-American (Aaron James) and 2 Honorable Mention selections (Joe and Mike Gustafson). This all happened with our best all around player (Craig Steinhauser) sitting on the bench next to me, with a torn meniscus. All in all, it was a good year (such as victories over Clarke and St. Ambrose) but I think we all know that we came up just a little short of our ultimate goal.
2004-05...Do you believe in Miracles?!?! By the time the end of the year rolled around, we were down to 8 players total and we had no middles. So, with 4 weeks left in the season we changed our offense to a 4-2 and had our setters blocking middle. Then to add another degree of difficulty, we changed our defense the week of Nationals. But the two things we had were heart and 2 of the best outside hitters in the land. We ended up getting 2nd in the Nation and lost the last game 23-25.
2005-06...Only 9 players and no seniors. Many thought this would be more of a transition/rebuilding year for us but we proved a lot of doubters wrong. With 4 returning starters from last years 2nd place finish, it was up to them to help carry the load. The team played very consistent at the National Tournament and knocked off some very good teams. A few mental errors in the quarterfinals loss to Ohio Northern prevented us from going farther, but a 5th place finish is nothing to feel bad about. Every player is returning and hungry for another shot at the National Championship.
2006-07...By far, one of the most successful seasons in the club's history. The year was highlighted by winning 3 tournaments throughout the season including the first ever MCVA Conference Championship. Seeded number 1 at the National Tournament, we easily dismantled teams the first two days of pool play and retained our ranking. We showed a lot of heart in a come from behind victory over Claremont College in the quarterfinals but fell to Providence College in the semi-finals. It is the 7th straight year we have placed in the top 10 at Nationals but we all know we once again fell short of the top prize.