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Vinay Singh is part of the Penn men's club volleyball team. The squad is headed to the national championships. (Trevor Grandle/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

One of the few Penn sports to own a national ranking doesn't receive University funding. In fact, the Penn men's volleyball team doesn't even have a permanent coach. The sport, formerly varsity, is currently club. Penn has a varsity women's volleyball team, but male spikers and setters at the University must settle for club status if they want to compete. Still, the Penn men's club volleyball team has turned its program into one of the top squads in the nation. Next week, the Red and Blue will travel to Kansas City, Mo., to compete against the best men's volleyball squads from all over the country at the national championships. The Quakers won't be entering as the underdog or the "Cinderella" team. At worst, Penn should be ranked in the top-15 after an impressive performance last weekend at its EIVA conference championships in Maryland. After a marathon of playoff matches, Penn emerged second behind James Madison University -- its best finish in the history of club volleyball. "That clinched a No. 1 seed in our pool going into nationals," junior President Scott Mooney said. "We're definitely very stoked about it." Creating a nationally ranked team has not been easy, but the Penn men's volleyball squad is an exceptional collection of players. Last year, the team gained five new freshmen and a sophomore transfer student. The underclassmen took charge of the team and soon developed it into a much stronger program than before. "Almost all of us came in new last year," senior Ben Oren said. "We learned a lot from the mistakes of our predecessors." One of the greatest challenges for the team is the fact that they do not have a permanent coach. Instead, team captain and setter Jordan Wadsworth, in collaboration with Mooney, assumes the responsibilities of a coach. "I was surprised at how well we perform without a real coach," freshman Brent Wagner said. "We all have our strong points, so we all help each other out. We coach ourselves." And so far this season the tactic has worked. The Red and Blue are successful for one main reason -- they love playing with each other. Going to practice isn't a chore, its just another chance to hang out with friends and play around. "Because of the club atmosphere, we can be a lot more fun and have a lot of enthusiasm about the sport," Oren said. "We spend a lot of time together on and off the court. We keep volleyball very much a part of our lives." The Quakers are so successful because they get along and because they all want to be out there playing. The absence of a coach forces the players to learn from each other and collaborate. "Were a really well-rounded team," freshman Sam Fort said. "We really focus on every different area of play." The Red and Blue are hoping to continue their successful season at nationals, but wins in Kansas City won't come easily. "We're getting a lot more time on the court together and we're working together better," Wadsworth said. "We're peaking about now, which is perfect timing since we're heading into nationals." At the same time, the Quakers are trying to gain some respect from the Penn community. "Club men's volleyball right now produces more wins and represents Penn on a higher level nationally than a majority of the varsity teams," Oren said. "To some extent we should be given something for that." The Quakers aren't necessarily looking for recognition in the form of funds, but they would like to become a little more well known around the campus. "No one really even knows about us," Fort said. "Most people don't even know what I'm talking about when I say I'm on the volleyball team." The club volleyball team believes the Penn community won't be able to ignore a top-10 finish at a national tournament. And that's just what the team plans to accomplish in Kansas City.

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