College Set to Begin Defense of EPCC Men's Volleyball Title
Charlie Baum coaches men's volleyball at Pennsylvania College of Technology, but, at times, he sounds more like a philosopher.
"The key to the season is going to be chemistry, just getting the guys to play together," the first-year coach said. "We have all of the talent, but if you play against a team with guys who have less talent than you but play well together, you're going to lose.
"We've got to get the chemistry worked out and we just have to get everybody on the same page with the setter. Our setter, Shawn Hackman (a 6-footer from Ephrata), runs the show. He tells you what they're going to hit, when they're going to hit and where they're going to be. We've just got to get everybody on the same page with him . . . and I don't see us having any trouble getting right through the whole thing," Baum said.
A year ago, when men's volleyball became an official varsity sport at the College, Baum was a player and helped guide the Wildcats to the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference championship. He feels this year's squad has the same potential, and he'll learn more after the team's opener Saturday in a round-robin tournament at 11 a.m. at Lehigh Carbon.
Other starters include Rick Campbell (5-11, from Troy) and Kevin George (5-11, from Lebanon) in outside hitter positions, Brian Barrett (6-4, from Bloomsburg) at the opposite hitter spot, Kurt Gladfelter (6-2, from Dillsburg) and Ryan Shultz (6-2, from Altoona) in middle hitter positions and Derrick Shofkum (5-9, from New Milford) in the role as "libero." Strictly a defensive player who can't serve or attack, the libero can enter the game at any time with no limitation on rotations like the others.
Also traveling with the team this weekend will be Greg Davis (6-8, from Kutztown), Dustin Yocum (6-3, from Morgantown) and Joe Hunsberger (6-2, from Middleburg).
Although only Barrett and Campbell return from last year's team, Baum isn't concerned.
"All of these kids have played a significant number of years in high school and/or Junior Olympics. We have a real solid team this year - I'd say as good, or better, than last year. I'm very optimistic," the coach said.
Also on the team are Scott Eichelberger (5-10), Chris Weary (5-9), Jason Eckman (5-11) and Phil Cornish (6-foot).
While only nine or 10 players travel to matches, Baum keeps everyone involved to maintain interest.
"Everybody shows up two nights a week and out of that you build your traveling team. I decide who we'll take the week before each tournament, so the actual starting lineup may vary from tournament to tournament. It makes people come out and want to keep working for that spot," the coach observed.
Baum sees most of his competition coming from Lehigh Carbon and Penn State-Berks for the title.