Parkland Press

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTOParkland graduate Reno Kriz led the Vassar College volleyball team to a ressurgence that nearly got the Brewers into the NCAA Division III Tournament last spring. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOParkland graduate Reno Kriz led the Vassar College volleyball team to a ressurgence that nearly got the Brewers into the NCAA Division III Tournament last spring.

Kriz puts name in Vassar record books

Thursday, August 11, 2016 by Todd Kress tkress@tnonline.com in Sports

Ever since his sophomore season, there has been steady improvement. After Reno Kriz and the Vassar College men’s volleyball team endured a tough 2014 season that resulted in a 10-21 record, the rise back to success began.

As a junior, Kriz helped guide Vassar back to the United Volleyball Conference Tournament and 20 regular season wins.

A few months ago in his senior campaign, he led the Brewers a step further in the UVC Tournament as they eventually fell in the semifinals to Stevens Institute of Technology while finishing with the second-most wins in program history at 24.

“My sophomore year was a pretty difficult year,” said Kriz, a Parkland High School graduate. “We had lost almost all of our starters, so we didn’t have anyone taller than myself at 6-3. We struggled to compete with a lot of the good teams. We still did compete, but it was difficult to pull off any wins. But my junior year we brought in some very good young players.

“This past year those young players had another year under their belts, so it was nice to see them mature and see their potential as we beat a lot of good teams.”

Kriz was the focal point of that group. By the end of the season when the Brewers fell to Stevens in four sets, he was the lone senior starter on the squad. He rallied a relatively young group to one of its best season’s in program history.

The only Vassar men’s volleyball team with more wins credited to its name was in 2008 when the Brewers qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament and played in the championship.

As the wins started to stack up, so did his career milestones. Kriz capped his senior season with 385 kills, a mark that placed him third among the conference leaders. His 3.38 kills-per-set was 29th in the NCAA.

But more than just the 385 kills, or the 68 blocks, or the 147 digs, Kriz played a crucial role between the lines. As a captain since his sophomore year and a starter in every match but one (due to injury), his leadership role was on display in his final season more than ever before.

“It was nice to try and help the younger players build around me,” Kriz said. “It’s exciting to see what they’ll do this year. Unfortunately I won’t be there with them, but we were already so close to making NCAAs [this past season]. We were basically the last team out.”

Kriz can recall one instance in particular that he witnessed that younger group of players mature before his eyes.

“Our first game against NYU, we went down to New York City and that was a tough environment because that was a really small gym and there were a lot of fans screaming and making it loud,” Kriz said. “We were upset by them in four sets. When they came up here later in the year, we beat them pretty badly in three and then repeated that the next week in the conference playoffs.”

Kriz is credited with a total of 1,352 kills, a number that ranks him third all-time in Vassar history. He headlines the top of the list in total attack attempts (3,381), sets played (426) and matches played (125). His 243 blocks is sixth in program history.

“Coming into Vassar, I definitely did not think that I would have 1,350 kills or whatever,” Kriz said. “It was just about me trying to work hard as a freshman, get to know everyone there, and then maybe get a starting spot. I was lucky enough that they had five senior starters my freshman year, but the position I played was the one position that they had open. It kind of fell into place there.”

In between his sophomore and junior years, Kriz was invited to Scotland to play on a tournament team called USA Athletes International.

“I was the only Division III player,” Kriz said. “It wasn’t really too serious of competition. I went over there for the experience. It was pretty cool.

“We played in a tournament and we played a couple different semi professional teams over there, which was a cool thing.”

His playing days at Vassar officially ended a couple of months ago, but Kriz still has plans of continuing the sport he’s been playing for so many years. He’ll be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall to pursue a PhD in computer science.

“I plan on possibly playing club there,” Kriz said. “We’ll see how that goes. It’s nice to be on a team environment to get to know a lot of people.”