GREENVILLE, Ill. - The Greenville University athletic department has announced that it will transition its men's volleyball program from an intercollegiate sport to a club sport for the 2020-21 academic year.
Over five years as a intercollegiate program, the team accrued 52 wins under the leadership of three head coaches. Tom Ackerman served as head coach in 2016, followed by Phil Davis in 2017 and 2018. Chad Nelson was the head coach in 2019 and 2020.
The program started with a record of 16-11 in its inaugural campaign, winning six of 13 conference matches and finishing in the top half of the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League. The team had the most conference wins of any first year program in the MCVL in 2016, finishing seventh in a league of 14 teams. Daniel Bilinski earned Greenville's first MCVL all-conference team selection as a second team choice.
After year two, the team went 10-16 and was 6-1 in non-conference matches as they reached the double-figure mark in wins for the second straight year. Manuel Benitez set the program's single-season record with 426 kills and was selected to the MCVL first team. Benitez brought home the MCVL offensive player of the week award on March 19.
The men's volleyball team improved their win total in 2018, going 11-18 and 10-10 in non-conference play. Johnny Milabu picked up honors as a member of the MCVL second team and was honored as MCVL offensive player of the week on April 3.
In the program's fourth season, the team completed their final season in the MCVL with a record of 14-15, and they were 12-8 against non-conference competition. The team featured five seniors - Nick Corrigan, Kyle Ward, Johnny Milabu, Peter Binder, and Tanner Smith - who were all part of GU's inaugural team.
In 2020, the team joined the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin as the conference sponsored men's volleyball for the first time. The team was led by George Black with 217 kills as the season ended prematurely.
Ward ended as Greenville's top producer in kills and tallied 717 over four years. Smith was GU's primary setter for four years and produced school records of 3446 assists, 114 service aces, and 630 digs. Milabu finished as the Panthers' leading blocker with 57 solo blocks, 202 block assists, and 259 total blocks.
Corrigan played in 105 matches to conclude as Greenville's leader in matches played, and Ward, Smith, and Milabu all surpassed 100 matches.
Due to the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 season, the Panthers want to provide special appreciation to seniors Logan Dameris and Black whose seasons were cut short.
Dameris is a native of Pana, Ill., who ended third on GU's career list with 492 digs and fifth on GU's career list with 91 assists.
Black, of Rogers, Ark., finished third on the career list in kills with 612, fifth with 64 block assists and 74 total blocks, sixth with 10 solo blocks, and seventh with 262 digs over his four years in the Panther uniform.
Greenville University will move forward with men's volleyball as a club sport, allowing those student-athletes who were on campus to continue to have an opportunity to play men's volleyball.