Platteville Men's Volleyball was started in 1990 as the squad competed in the Northern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (NIVC).
Platteville has been a member of the Wisconsin Volleyball Conference (WVC) since it's inaugural 1992 season. In 1996, Platteville introduced a
second squad to the conference that has been competing in the WVC Division II bracket.
Platteville volleyball had been player-coached from 1994-1998. The team saw it's greatest success under the leadership of the Julius twins.
Chad and Jason developed the program into a Wisconsin Volleyball Conference (WVC) powerhouse. Platteville finished first in the WVC two years in a row, 1994-95and 1995-96.
Led by two-time WVC 1st team all-conference and Conference MVP, Mike Radtke, the Pioneers decided to try out their talent in Division I NIRSA Nationals.
In 1994-95, Platteville took their first crack at Division 1 Nationals and ended up finishing 32nd. The following year, with all but one starter back
and rookie-of-the-year candidate Dan Hansen filling up the spot, The team had it's best finish. Platteville finished first in the WVC with a 12-1 record
and their lone loss coming to Marquette University. Marquette would prove to be a thorn in the Pioneer's side as they knocked them out of the semi-finals of
the WVC Conference tournament. When Mike Radtke went down early on in the season with a torn ankle, Pete Foerster stepped right in and quickly developed into
one of the better outside hitters within the conference. This proved crucial as Mike Radtke would once again dump his ankle at the National Tournament in Toledo,
OH in the challenge round vs.. Northern Colorado. While Platteville still lost that match, they were fired up the rest of the way and went on to the consolation
championship vs.. (#8) Park College. Platteville won an exciting 3-game match to come away with the prize. The 24th in the Nation (Div1) is the highest the squad has ever made it.
With everyone graduated and the transfers of Mike Radtke (UW-Oshkosh) and Pete Foerster (UW-Milwaukee) to other colleges, the team would once again have to rebuild.
Dan Hansen, being the only returning varsity player from the year before, and Scott Riggs and Greg Vanness were now given the task of running the team.
They provided experience as Riggs had been a defensive fill-in for the varsity squad and Vanness had played varsity two years prior. The first year was rough,
but the squad kept improving. With a disappointing 3-10 conference finish, the team finished next to last in the WVC. Losses in crucial matches at Nationals in Arizona
led to a disappointing final ranking of 41st (Div 2)while coming in with a 25th ranking.
||The experience paid off in 1997-98 for the Pioneers. They had reached a #6ranking in Division 2, representative of a great showing out
east in the Maryland tournament where they won the silver division over Duke (previous year's Div. 2 champion and ranked #2 when defeated by Platteville).
The team went into the national tournament in Texas with a 16th ranking, but would see that fall 10 spots to 26th by tournament's end.
||The 1998-1999 season saw one large difference in the squad from previous years. It was decided by the Club officers that a coach could give the
guidance the squad needed to win the close matches that have gotten away in the past. The squad hired on Heather Gundlach and Kari Klaas to assist
in coaching the squad and help them get over that hump in the tough matches by giving much needed insight. This paid off as the team finished fifth at
Div-II Nationals in Maryland. Dan Hansen and Terry Sorce both were honored with 2nd-Team All Conference awards as well as being voted into the 1st Annual All-Star Match.
||The 1999-2000 season was just as successful as the year prior as the squad returned everyone from the previous season other than their setter, Matt Dietzenbach.
Scott Riggs moved from OH to setter and did a commendable job. With the addition of Freshman phenom Wes Schwab in the middle, Dan Hansen was able to take his talents
outside and this allowed for the best blocking team in Platteville's history with an average front row height of 6'4". At Nationals in Reno, the squad finished 5th in
the Nation after being knocked out by eventual tournament champion Eckerd College out of St. Petersburg, Florida. The 7-1 record in Reno was the best record for the
squad in a National Tournament. Wes Schwab was the WVC Rookie of the Year, Statistical Winner for blocks/game, 1st Team All Conference, and made the 2nd annual All Star team.
Dan Hansen and Terry Sorce made their second All Star teams. This season also marked the most successful "B" team which finished 3rd in the WVC Div-II Conference.
||In 2000-2001 Jake Luther and Troy Schneiker took over running the program after the graduation of Dan Hansen and Scott Riggs. With R.J. Messling setting for the
team and a dominating crew of hitters and blockers, the team was set for a great season. The conference season did not go quite as well as the team had hoped, but in
what was starting to be typical Platteville volleyball style, the team would end the season with a fantastic performance. At the conference tournament the team dominated
the competition and came away with the conference tournament championship after crushing the favored MATC-Milwaukee team. The squad continued to breeze through the
competition at nationals with great performances from the front row of Mike Kren, Wes Schwab, Terry Sorce, Dan Jensen and Travis Miller. After getting all the way to the
final four in Division 2 at Nationals in Kansas City, Platteville had a heartbreaking loss to Biola College in three games. The 3rd place finish was the best the team has
ever seen in Division 2. Mike Kren was named to the All-National team, the first player from UW-Platteville to ever achieve that honor.
||For the 2002 season the team had a lot of changes to make. With the loss of Mike Kren, Dan "Tree" Jensen, and R.J. Messling, other players had to step up and fill the roles.
Troy Schneiker stepped in from his Libero position to set for the squad and Jake Luther stepped in to hit strong side for the team. The biggest addition to the starting
lineup was Steve Samson, who would turn out to be one of the top hitters in the conference. The team finished with an average conference record, but once again picked it up
for the national tournament. The team finished 9th in the Nation in Dallas, TX after going into the tournament with a 21 ranking. The team was knocked out after losing to
MATC-Milwaukee , the #1 ranked team going into the tournament, in the first round of the gold division playoffs.
||The 2003 season was definitely a rebuilding year for the team. The squad lost both it's starting middle hitters who had been essential to Platteville's
dominating blocking core. However, the team did have some newcomers such as Dave Knowski, that would prove to be great additions to the team. Steve Samson
improved drastically once again and led the team to a respectable finish of 25th out of 64 teams at Nationals in Columbus, OH with a ranking of 30th going in.
The team would have liked to do better, but played respectably throughout the tournament.
||Troy Schneiker and Jeff Siedschlag are now running the squad with the graduation of Jake Luther. Wes Schwab returned for one last hurrah, hoping to lead
the Pioneers to the promise land. It turned out to be a typical season for the team. Platteville didn't fare well in conference match, losing every match that
was expected and then some. Tournament play brought out a different side of the team. They finished 2nd at the Iowa Classic with Steve Samson being named to
the all-tournament team. They also beat #6 ranked Eau Claire at the Iowa tournament along with the Marquette all-star team. The team traveled to Charlotte,
NC for the National tournament and saw themselves seeded 2nd in the same pool as St. Louis, who was one of the favorites. Platteville lost in the showdown
match in two games between them and St. Louis. The won the challenge round the next morning and were placed in a pool with the every so spirited Stevens Point P
ointers and the #1 ranked Santa Clara. Platteville swept Point in 2 and lost a heartbreaker to Santa Clara in 3. Platteville was seeded #14 in the gold bracket
and had to face #3 Western Illinois (they stole the seed). Platteville won in 2. The quarterfinal matchup was against St. Louis once again. Platteville ended up
losing 25-23 in game 1 and St. Louis took it from there. Platteville had a great finish of 5th place and somehow spotted nobody on the All-National Team. Good Season!!!
||2005 continued on the success from the previous year with the return of the high flying Steve “Scuba” Samson on the outside, who’s hidden talent lied within
Serve-Receive often taking over half the court in times of need. Dave Knowski, Lefty, continued to be a threat for all other teams with a giant block on the
weak-side and an iron fist on and off of the court, having both hands bandaged at nationals. Other returners included Outside Jeff Siedschlag and Cracker at
the middle. New roles were Joe Arbinger with the clip-board, Marcus Frana as starting setter, and Dan Louchbaum, Rocket, into the Lebaro spot. New face
Mike “The Ocho” Makeever made a presence on the court as outside and middle, and off the court as the “Kansas City Kid” making a run down the off-ramp. Nationals
brought out the best of the team as we took the entire squad (Yes, even Lemmi Winks came) having the loudest bench shouting on the spot cheers. Anyone there will tell
you about the most memorable match against Sonoma St. where the rowdy fans went five deep all thinking the California team was going to walk all over us. A back and forth
epic battle continued with the 1-2-3 dominate which lead the team to a 25-21, 26-24 victory in two, singing Silver Bells in joy, leaving the crowd in silence, and even
landing pictures in USA Volleyball magazine. Platteville continued to play great and landed a 9th place finish at Nationals. Scuba earned honorable mention for
conference and Lefty landed Honorable mention at Nationals.
||2006 brought out some fresh talent from Dan “Big Cat” Eldred jumping into Scuba’s retired shoes, Steve “Nutz” at middle, and Trevor Benford, Vegas, bringing sexy back.
Lefty returned to Pville while working, only to play volleyball and cramp up frequently.
… .(someone please continue, I’m getting old and years blend together now)…Random Rocket thoughts:
-Kyle added to Rockets thoughts…
- Cracker’s + Lefty’s last year
- Salt Lake City Nationals
o 9th place I believe, all records/games/scores archived on Nirsa website for others to verify
o 20 hour drive for some (Cracker, Tapps, Dickmann, Nutz, Kyle, Ian, and ???) There were 7 in Ian’s van.
40 hour round trip
o Marriott Roof – pictures?
Taps frog-splashed Baseball.
Nikki was there
||Notes: Rocket thoughts :
- Annable and Christoffersen’s rookie year
- Ian stepped up to setter
- Nationals: Louisville KY
o both teams competed.
o Baseball Spiderman
o 3 girls teams clinging to us
o Good finish (2nd in Silver) … long day
||The 2008 season was a rough one for UWP. Throughout the season we toyed with a 6-2 and a 5-1, had three different setters, three outside hitters, and three liberos all looking for starting spots and no coach to make those decisions. Our most notable win of the season came at Marquette University as the Pioneers won a 5-set thriller against the Golden Eagles. When the end of the conference season came to an end, Rocket took home an award for recording 4.4 digs/conference game.
Our trip to Nationals in Dallas, Texas started out on a good note. Donald Driver, wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, happened to be on our flight. He sat next to Mike Mackeever (a Bears fan, none-the-less) on the plane, playing his PSP for most of the trip and only putting it down to happily sign a few autographs – one of which was written on President Baseball’s green T-shirt. After landing, Mike asked DD if he would hang around for a few minutes and take a picture with our team. He was happy to smile for our cameras. After waiting for Nutz and Zach to finally exit the plane half an hour later, we got our picture.
Some of the memories from Nationals include Russ arguing with lamp, Trevor chatting with the homeless guys at the train station, our team dinner at the House of Blues, “Wait, you’re THE Mike Mackeever?!” - Hotel management, and Kim’s “food poisoning” on the plane ride home.
At the close of the season, we saw the departure of Russ Johnson, Dan “Rocket” Louchbaum, Tom Dickmann, Jon “Baseball” Steffes, and Justin “Hippie” Baumgartner.
||The 2009 season began with the addition of a new coach. Samantha Rogers stepped in to lend her guidance while Dan Louchbaum assisted and took over when Sam couldn’t make it to a match or two. The 2009 Pioneers were a tall team. All the starters were over 6 feet, and 5 players were over 6’3”. Steve Knautz again topped the list at 6’7”.
Dan Eldred returned for his 4th straight year as a starting outside hitter and Kyle Hunzeker stepped into Russ Johnson’s vacated shoes opposite Dan. Steve Knautz moved from Middle to right side for the 2009 season. Ian Brown and Trevor Benford set a 6-2 and Zach Christoffersen moved from JV to Varsity to play Middle. Newcomers Alex Wiener and Kyle Stoltz earned starting roles at middle and libero, respectively. Mike Annable was hands down our most versatile player. He played every single position on the floor at one time of another during the season but found his home at libero for Nationals because Stoltz couldn’t make the trip to Kansas City with us. Rookies Karl Hubbard and Mike McManus also contributed to the 2009 season at defensive positions. Freshmen Mark Shultz, Eric Frietag, Bruce Botcher, and Nick Zompa also played.
At the Hoosier-Illini Classic, Platteville won a match against #6 ranked D1 Michigan State in a 3-set thriller. The conference season that followed was average, for lack of a better word. P-ville beat who they were “supposed” to beat, and lost to the teams who were “supposed” to beat them.
The Pioneers finished the Conference season as the 6th place team in the Wisconsin Volleyball Conference. At the conference tournament, the team stepped up their game to play #3 Whitewater, and won the match in 3. Platteville lost to defending D1 national champs Lakeland College in the semi-finals and finished tied for 3rd in the WVC.
NIRSA Nationals was held in Kansas City, Missouri. Platteville somehow dropped 5 spots to an 18 seed after their strong showing at conference, and was placed in Thursday’s pool with #7 seed UW-Eau Claire, Robert Morris University, and Baylor University. The Pioneers finished tied for first place with Eau Claire at 2-1, but lost head to head giving them a 2 seed and an invitation to play a challenge match against UNC-Wilmington. Platteville won it in 3.
In the 3-team championship flight on Thursday night, Platteville beat Kutztown University in 2 and lost to Claremont 13-15 in the third set. The Pioneers made the gold bracket, and drew Michigan Tech, who had just beaten #3 overall seed Grove City in 3.
Steve Knautz decided to step up and shut down Michigan Tech’s stud outside hitter by starting the first set with 4 thunderous blocks. It was all Platteville from there on out, as UWP won 25-22 and 25-21.
The team seemed to come into the 2nd round firing on only half their cylinders. Platteville dropped the first set to SUNY-Cortland 14-25. Set 2 was a different story. The Pioneers emerged on top in a 28-26 battle in front of a big crowd that was made up of almost entirely Cortland fans. The team gave all they had but it wasn’t enough to overcome the eventual tournament champions of SUNY-Cortland. Set 3 was a 13-15 heartbreaker. Platteville finished tied for 5th in the Nation and Kyle Hunzeker received recognition on the All Tournament Team – Honorable Mention.
The season ended with the departure of Seniors outside hitters Dan Eldred and Kyle Hunzeker, setters Trevor Benford and Ian Brown, and setter/middle/right side/outside/libero Mike Annable. 2009 was filled with memories that will never fade, and a team we will never forget.