Men’s volleyball raises season expectations



Self-motivation has set the UK men’s club volleyball team to score unprecedented success this season.

“Pride,” “preparation” and “perseverance” are the principles that guide the rising program, which senior setter and team president Scott Laffin believes dates back to 1989.

Despite the potential for a watershed season, the Cats aren’t taking themselves too seriously.

Freshman outside hitter Brett “Sunshine” Fountain is just one of the team members who enjoys to keep things light around the sport.

“It’s been interesting,” Fountain said. “These are definitely the weirdest people I’ve played volleyball with.”

UK men’s volleyball practices three nights a week for about two hours, but each player does conditioning on his own. The players practice with an intensity in execution but a relaxed demeanor.

“We try to have a lot of fun,” UK head coach Isaac Wong said. “It’s very player-driven. There’s not a lot of rules.”

Most of the UK players come from outside the state. At the high school level, “There (aren’t) a lot of boys volleyball in Kentucky,” Wong said. On the team, there are four players from Chicago, two from Cincinnati and two from Columbus.

Wong believes his team to be “one of the most organized club programs” and it does a “very good job of raising money to go to tournaments.”

UK men’s volleyball has admittedly struggled in the past, but Wong said the team did particularly well last season finishing second in the silver bracket at nationals.

The expectations for this season are even greater. According to Laffin, the team has two quarterfinal finishes already at tournaments in Indiana and Dayton.

Like many John Calipari-coached basketball teams, Wong said his roster is “a little young,” but has “a lot of talent.”

The team has competed in nationals for the last eight years since Wong became coach and it plans to participate once again. But this year, in Houston, the Cats plan to make the Gold Division. According to Laffin, “We’ve never done that before.”

The team will rely on its experience from being in good tournament positions in the past.

“This bunch returns many players from last year,” Wong said. “They are very motivated and fun to coach.”

The players also have very high hopes for this season.

“This is the most talented group since I’ve been here,” Laffin said. “We should finish in the top four in our conference.”

Fountain believes one of the keys to the team’s success will be, “If we can get our 6-foot-7 guy to start jumping.”

The team will start back up with Greater Midwest Conference and seeding tournament play in January.

“We’ve just got to get it all together,” Fountain said. “We’ll do a lot of damage.”