COD Men’s Volleyball Places 4th in NJCAA Invitational Tournament

The Chaparrals hosted the first ever men’s volleyball NJCAA Invitational Tournament and came in fourth with a 2-4 record through the two-day event.

Claire Valenti, Sports Writer

The College of DuPage men’s volleyball team hosted the NJCAA Invitational tournament on April 21 and 22 and played against five other teams. After three matches on the first day, the Chaparrals earned the 4th seed for the tournament. With three more games the following day, the Chaparrals placed 4th in the invitational with a 2-4 record, bringing their historic first-ever season to a close and leaving their overall record at 8-13.

“We’ve gotten a lot better; there’s no doubt about it,” head volleyball coach Tolis Koskinaris said. “They’ve improved in almost every area of the game. From my part, that’s very cool to see compared to where they started. We’re very proud of them and very happy for them.”

Game One VS Union County College

The Chaparrals started the tournament off strong with powerful serving and kills against Union County College. With their first home win of the season, the Chaps shut out the Owls 3-0. The final scores of the sets were 25-23, 25-15 and 25-16.

Freshman left side Erik Perez attempts to spike the ball through two Ocean County College blockers. (Rachel Wagner)

Freshman left side Mike Fenley led the team with 15 kills on 25 attacks with four errors through the three sets. He also tallied six service aces to score 21 points overall with four service errors and nine digs.

“Union is definitely the best squad to play against,” Fenley said. “Their team morale is always through the roof. I always say that if we had their team morale, all of their energy, and [got] how hyped they get, there’s no way we could lose. Those guys have so much heart, and they’re nice guys at the end of the day.”

Sophomore setter Michael Lipowski recorded seven kills on 11 attacks throughout the match. He also had one dig and made one solo block to earn eight points.

“I really like that group of guys,” Lipowski said. “It was a really high-energy match against Union, and we got the result we wanted.”

Game Two VS Monroe College

Monroe College had the top seed going into the tournament, and the Chaps were shut out by them in their two previous matchups this season. COD was able to take a set from the Mustangs early, but lost three straight shortly after to lose the game. The final scores of the sets were 25-22, 15-25, 13-25 and 21-25.

Freshman outside hitter Blake Huberty goes for the kill to get past two Monroe College blockers. (Rachel Wagner)

Freshman setter Phurin Kosumapinun logged eight kills on nine attacks with zero errors throughout the game. He also had 29 assists, eight digs and two service aces with one service error.

“[Monroe] had a higher technical aspect of the game with their ball handling,” Kosumapinun said. “Monroe has size, speed and ball handling. They were definitely one of the tougher competitors.”

Freshman setter Bo Parker landed seven kills on 17 attacks with four errors through the four sets. He also had six digs and three assists.

“I do wish we [placed] higher in the [tournament],” Parker said. “We played really well against Monroe, and we really should’ve taken that.”

Game Three VS Bryant & Stratton College

The Chaparrals established a rivalry with Bryant & Stratton College early in the regular season after losing their first-ever game to the Bobcats at home. COD gave them a loss on the road later in the season, and they entered the tournament even before playing their last game of the first day. Bryant & Stratton defeated COD to earn the third seed in four sets; the final scores of the sets were 17-25, 25-13, 24-26 and 16-25.

“Bryant & Stratton, since we’re close to each other, is always going to be our natural competitor,” Koskinaris said. “I think those matches are a lot of fun for the guys.”

Lipowski had four kills on 14 attacks with two errors through the four sets. He also had three digs, one solo block and four block assists.

“I don’t think [Bryant & Stratton] were the strongest opponents, but they just got the best of us,” Lipowski said. “We know that we can beat those guys. We go into those matches 100% fired up, and then they just kill momentum from us.”

Freshman setter Phurin Kosumapinun sets the ball to sophomore setter Michael Lipowski. (Rachel Wagner)

Game Four VS Ocean County College

After taking the 4th seed in the tournament, COD battled Ocean County College for the first time on the second day. With stronger serving and defense, the Chaparrals took down the Vikings in four sets. The final scores of the sets were 25-18, 23-25, 25-22 and 25-23.

Parker landed four kills on 14 attacks with two errors in three of the four sets. He also made three digs, one solo block and four block assists.

“Coming into the tournament, we knew nothing about [Ocean],” Parker said. “Nobody had played against them in our conference, and they still came in with [the 2nd seed], so I thought they were going to be a really good team. I was just thankful that they weren’t as good as I thought they were.”

Game Five VS Finger Lakes Community College

COD took on Finger Lakes Community College in their second match of the day and was surprised by their blocking and serving. The Chaparrals were shut out by the Lakers, who went on to win the tournament. The final scores of the sets were 22-25, 16-25 and 16-25.

Freshman libero John Valencia made seven digs and three assists through the three sets. He said he felt himself begin to tire in the match against the Lakers.

“I could feel myself metaphorically crack,” Valencia said. “Midway through [the match against] Finger Lakes, I cracked. I was able to keep myself together, but by the last game, the cracks started growing.”

Fenley landed nine kills on 20 attacks with two errors throughout the match. He also made seven digs.

“Finger Lakes got to us because we knew we should have beat them,” Fenley said. “We figured Monroe were the favorites to win the whole thing, but Finger Lakes came out of nowhere and gave them their first [loss]. It was completely unexpected. They came back and obviously got better; they wanted to beat Monroe, too, but they wanted it more.”

Game Six VS Bryant & Stratton College

The Chaparrals played their third and final game of the day against their newfound rivals in the Bobcats, hoping to split their series in the tournament. Although COD out-blocked Bryant & Stratton, the Chaparrals couldn’t keep up the momentum against them, losing to the Bobcats in four sets to take 4th place in the tournament. The final scores of the sets were 16-25, 17-25, 25-15 and 17-25.

Kosumapinun landed four kills on seven attacks with two errors throughout the game. He made 24 assists, eight digs and three block assists. He also scored three service aces with zero service errors.

Sophomore outside hitter Ryan Impey serves the ball. (Rachel Wagner)

“I think we definitely could have done much better, maybe even [placed] 3rd,” Kosumapinun said. “Overall, I think we really did well. [With this] being our first year, and us being a ragtag group of dudes who never knew each other before, we still managed to pull off 4th place. I’m very proud of the team.”

Valencia made seven digs and three assists through the three sets. He said the final match against the Bobcats made him realize how much the team and himself have grown.

“It’s really bittersweet, and of course, our final game was against Bryant & Stratton,” Valencia said. “I think we made them our rivals. Looking at the silver lining; we’ve all grown so much. I’m proud of [my team], and I’m also incredibly proud of me because of all this growth.”

The tournament ended with Union in 6th place, Ocean in 5th, COD in 4th, Bryant & Stratton in 3rd, Monroe in 2nd and Finger Lakes as the NJCAA Invitational Champions.

Koskinaris reflected on the inaugural year of the men’s team, saying next season will be about learning how to win.

“The feel-good of year one was great,” Koskinaris said. “Everybody supported it. The administration supported it. Now, we’ve got to try and win this thing. That’s what year two is going to be about. Let’s get better, and let’s try to be the ones playing in this championship match instead of watching it from the sidelines.”

If you want to read more about COD’s first men’s volleyball team and their season, visit For more visuals from the tournament, check out our photo gallery.