June 13, 2024
Michael Yurk and Reese Monnin

Bailee Lyons: What are your backgrounds in volleyball?

Michael Yurk: I am an outside hitter on Wittenberg’s Men’s Volleyball Team. I played club at The Academy in Indiana, I also played at Circle City in Indiana for 1 year and Indy Elite in Indiana for 1 year. I attended Bishop Chatard HS in Indianapolis, IN. 

Reese Monnin: I am a middle hitter on the team. I am local; I live in Dayton. I played at 4 club teams: Air City Men’s Club in Dayton, A2 West in Lewis Center, OH, Vanguard in Columbus, OH, and Cincinnati Attack. I attended Carroll HS part-time and took college classes at St. Clair Community College. 

BL: How long have you played? 

MY: I have played volleyball since about 5th grade. 

RM: I think I have been the same, since about 5th or 6th grade. 

BL: What got you started in volleyball?

MY: My dad played club volleyball in college so when I got old enough to play, he told me to try it out, and I thought it was fun, so I kept playing. 

RM: My parents met at a YMCA Rec League, and when I got old enough to play, my mom decided that I should try volleyball, so she put me on the team.  

BL: What is your major? 

MY: I am a Finance and Business Management major.  

RM: I am looking to major in Marketing. 

BL: Are there any challenges with your major that may interfere with volleyball? 

MY: My teachers understand. Most people that go to Witt play a sport so if you tell professors, that you play a sport they are accommodating, and work with you if you have to go on a road trip. 

RM: I have had zero struggles with balancing class and volleyball, I think it may be different if you get hurt. My roommate (also a men’s volleyball player) Brooklyn Hollander (freshman) got a concussion in pre-season and had to miss a whole month of school, he is working it out, and I do not think he is struggling. 

BL: What are you involved in on campus outside of sports?  

MY: I am in the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. 

RM: I am looking at Greek life, but I am unsure.  

BL: What made you choose to come to Witt? 

MY: I got recruited by many schools in OH, but it was our coach Nathan Matthews and his dedication and passion, the picture he added for the program, I wanted to be a part of that. 

RM: I also got recruited by a lot of schools in OH, but Witt stuck out because of the location. I knew some of the guys in (Michael) Yurk’s class because I had known, played with, or played against most of them. It was a built-in friend group; a group of people I knew I would connect with. I really like Michael. 

MY: I like Reese enough. 

BL: Who would you say is your biggest rival? 

MY: Baldwin Wallace, they are the only team to beat us twice last year, they knocked us out of the tournament, so we are trying to change that this year. 

RM: I have not played yet, so I guess Baldwin Wallace. 

BL: What is your favorite part of Witt?  

MY: The people, because of the size of the campus you can get to know and see all your friends multiple times a day. 

RM: The volleyball team, mostly because I am with them all day every day. I also like seeing people around campus. 

BL: What is your main goal as a player throughout your career at Witt? 

MY: To keep growing and get better, and to win the NCAA tournament, see where the volleyball road takes us. 

RM: Try to get better by one percent every day. Coach Nathan Matthews and Ryan Roark like to talk about while we are here for volleyball; there will be more of life outside of volleyball. The end of our college journey and volleyball career should be changing the person you are when you get into it versus the person you are when you leave it. 

BL: What is the biggest piece of advice a coach has given you? 

MY: If you make a mistake just let it go. If you make an error during the game, you are worried about making more errors. Letting it go and having a short-term memory and moving on to the next play, you cannot change the past, but you can change the way you approach the way you are going to get the next ball. 

RM: Volleyball is a sport where you have breaks in between sets, unlike basketball where you keep moving. You have that physical break, but that pause allows negative thoughts to settle. Nathan and Ryan try to help dispel that murk and keep moving forward. Nathan and Ryan are big on physical health, so we have lifting, stretching, and yoga. They have tried to help me eat more and keep a healthier body, a lot of us are thin so I am trying to help take eating and nutrition to heart.  

BL: If you did not play volleyball, what would you play instead? 

MY: I would play baseball, I played baseball for about 13 years and stopped because I knew I could do more in volleyball. 

RM: I would play soccer; I enjoyed that more when I was younger until high school. Volleyball is where I wanted to go in college. 

BL: What is your pregame ritual? 

MY: I go to the training room for a heat pad and to loosen up tight muscles, listen to music to clear my mind to focus on the game we are going to play and be prepared for whatever happens.  

RM: Right after pregame reps I spend half of it listening to my music. I spend the other half of pregame with the guys in the locker room or in the training room. 

BL: What’s your favorite pregame song?  

MY: “Welcome to the Jungle”, but the songs change a lot. We like “Family Ties” by Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar.

BL: What is your pregame meal? 

MY: We do not really eat a meal, but it is usually Tropical Smoothie, either flatbread or wrap, and a smoothie until after the game. 

BL: What’s your go-to smoothie? 

MY: Beach Bum; chocolate-covered banana. It’s really good. 

RM: Pomegranate Plunge, with 2 protein and half sugar. A little healthier. 

BL: Ever thought about coaching?  

MY: I did some coaching over the summer, but I do not think that is the type of person I am. 

RM: I helped our assistant coach, Ryan Roark, with a smaller club team nearby, but I do not think I have the patience for that, I might do some of it on the side or some personal training. 

BL: What’s your favorite part of practice (not 6’s)? 

MY: Minigames, coach tosses a ball, and it is 6 on 6 or 5 on 5 and 1 specific situation where the setter cannot get to it, and you must be out of the system and off-speed attack over the net. 

RM: Minigames focus on one right side one right side so it is a one-on-one but the whole team is still playing. Middles must block and attack each other, but it is more competitive. Sam Richardson blocking Eli Halverson is good rivalry during practice. 

BL: Who’s your biggest rival on the team? 

MY: Probably Eli, We are the same grade and same position so we have a friendly competition, getting better one day at a time. Based on personality my rival is Brooklyn Hollander, we have beef all the time for no reason. 

RM: I would not say there is a rivalry based on position; it is based on personality. Everyone is extremely competitive, but some voice that more. Sam and Eli love talking crap to each other, especially when they are on opposite sides of the net all the time they yell back and forth. It never goes too far, it is a consistent rivalry, they just laugh about it. 

At the time of this interview, Michael Yurk got recognized as NCAC Athlete of the Week. 

MY: It feels good, a little warm-up to start the season, and hopefully someone on the team can get recognized as Athlete of the Week so we can highlight that Witt is a good volleyball program. Eli winning Rookie of the Year last season showed the school that we are back and competitive again, and you should come to our games because of how good his season was, we are not as bad as we were, only going up!  

RM: You hear that guys? Michael Yurk with a 17-kill game season opener is a warmup.  

BL: How can you go up from there? 

MY: Playing the #4 team my top kill was 25 or something against Kentucky State in 5 sets. Even if I do not have the best game, if we win, that is a bigger deal for everyone. Everyone has a job to do and has individual goals that lead to big team goals. 

RM: Everyone needs to back up Eli and play as a team, he cannot do it by himself, and Michael cannot get 17 kills by himself.  Our first big road trip this weekend is down in VA, and we need to come out of that with good results. Continue to work towards goals. Eli has a small sprain in his ankle, so we are still having him come back and get treated for that. Other than that, our team is feeling good so far.  

BL: If you had one word to describe your teammate, what would it be? 

MY: Reese is aggressive, especially on the court because he knows when to take a big swing, but he can take speed off the ball and get it in the court and score an off-speed point.  

RM: Michael is a cornball. No, but really, the word would have to be talented; he is naturally a physical person, athletic but he has a lot of game knowledge and is smart as a player. Michael is resourceful! We can throw the ball and swing it to Michael.  

MY: The more you play the more your game sense goes up, so it is nice to make better decisions, swing at a situation, and find a spot to put the ball on the court to mess up the other team instead of going up without a thought, ripping the ball, and seeing what happens. 

What is the backstory behind “cornball”?  

RM: He is corny, and he is a ball, especially this team we all have the same mindset, so we say whatever, and it is unrestrained conversation. When we get done with drills, we all yell “sixes” and coach say we are not done yet. We have more to do.  

MY: You are corny and quirky too, we all have our cornball moments as a team. It feels like you are talking to yourself because we are all so similar. After all, we are with each other 24/7. It is like 18 of the same people as volleyball guys, we are all kind of the same guy, so we all think the same thing, and all think the same stuff is funny. One big happy volleyball family.  

Last thoughts: Go Tigers! 

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