For most teams that win championships in collegiate or professional sports, there comes a moment or ceremony when they relive their triumph and hang a banner, or some other kind of marker, to commemorate their great achievement.
For the Ohio State men’s volleyball team, which captured the 2011 NCAA Championship, that moment arrived on Saturday night at St. John Arena when a black veil covering the team’s 2011 NCAA Championship banner was lifted.
Among the eight other flags hanging high above the student section, the largest honored the players, coaches and alumni who took the team to its first national title in a five-set match against University of California, Santa Barbara last year
“It was awesome,” said senior opposite Shawn Sangrey. “We saw it (Friday) when it was still covered up and we were all pretty excited.”
Sangrey was one of those recognized during the ceremony as he stood surrounded by teammates and players from the 2011 season. At the championship game, Sangrey posted a game-high 30 kills.
OSU was prepared to play Penn State after the reveal. The Nittany Lions watched on and applauded as the arena erupted with cheers, although this banner brought back memories of a season cut short for PSU.
It was in the NCAA Semifinals in State College, Pa., where the Buckeyes met No. 6-ranked PSU and earned the opportunity to move on to the championship after a four-set match.
Matt Ripley, a 2011 graduate in zoology and environmental science, said he and his friends have been following the men’s volleyball team for years.
“We were there last year,” Ripley said. “They had a make-shift paper banner that they carried around after the game. It was great.”
OSU’s coach Pete Hanson said his team will need to play very hard to win another national title.
“It will take time for the group we have to get better and trust each other. They’ll have to go through some highs and lows,” Hanson said.
Before the matchup against Penn State, the Buckeyes were 2-2. That should come as no surprise to the coaching staff, as the 2011 team posted the same record last year after falling twice to Pepperdine and defeating George Mason and St. Francis.
“We play for May and April,” Sangrey said.
The Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Tournament starts April 21 and the fight for the NCAA Championship begins in early May.
Some of the players from the 2011 season could not be present at the ceremony due to commitments with professional teams, jobs and families.
“It’s too bad those who won it couldn’t be here. This is a great tribute to them,” Hanson said.
Some of OSU’s 2011 champions have moved on to play professionally.
John Klanac, an outside hitter from the 2011 season, tweeted Saturday that he watched the game from his computer. Klanac resides in Germany where he plays professionally.
Steven Kehoe, last season’s setter, also moved on to compete at the professional level in Finland.
Klanac finished with 372 kills in his final season with OSU, second only to Sangrey’s 380. Kehoe delivered 65 assists in the championship match.
The Buckeyes have played four nationally-ranked teams so far and could play several more before the end of the regular season. Among those waiting for a chance to play the defending national champions are No. 4-ranked Stanford, No. 9-ranked Lewis, No. 14-ranked Loyola-Chicago and No. 15-ranked Pacific.
The Buckeyes fell to Penn State Saturday in straight sets, 3-0.
OSU will continue its home stand against Sacred Heart on Tuesday and against George Mason on Thursday. Both matches are set to begin at 7 p.m. at St. John Arena.