Lukas Van Groningen loves competition, no matter the sport.
He dabbled with soccer in middle school, gave football a shot in high school and always had a passion for baseball.
Basketball, however, was always going to be his ticket.
So, on Friday, he signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball for Dordt University.
“If you asked me three years ago I would have told you I wan to play basketball at any university that would have me,” he said moments after signing at the Ripon Christian gym.
“I would have never expected myself to play volleyball. I actually enjoy volleyball much more than basketball now, so this fits perfectly.”
Van Groningen played baseball his freshman year when Ripon Christian re-established its boys volleyball program. He decided to join coach Kevin Tameling's squad as a sophomore, and the 6-foot setter helped the Knights roll to the Trans-Valley League title and their first final-round appearance in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
“We saw that he could set very well, there were just some things he needed to work on,” Tameling said. “His athleticism helped get him through that. That year when we had that run to the section final it was trial by fire for him and our
“His desire and passion for the game started to manifest and he really started to put more time and commitment into it.”other setter, Michael Kamps. Our season really hinged on how quickly they could progress because they were both in their first year of playing volleyball that year.”
Van Groningen is joining another young program in Dordt, which played its first varsity season in 2016. Chad Hanson has been the Defenders' coach since 2015. Dordt competes in the Great Plains Athletic Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Van Groningen visited the Christian university in Sioux Center, Iowa in October and committed weeks later. The campus is like a second home to his family. His parents, Chris and Laurie, are Dordt graduates. Lukas will study agricultural business.
“Dordt has been part of my family for awhile,” he said. “My parents went there as did a lot of my uncles and other relatives. It's a good Christian school and they recently came out with their volleyball program so I thought it was a perfect opportunity for me.”
Van Groningen would like to finish what he started with Ripon Christian's volleyball team. He has already experienced great success with the basketball team, which claimed the California Interscholastic Federation Division VI NorCal Regional title last year.
Lukas and cousins Braden and Jacob Van Groningen, also basketball standouts, jumped right into the volleyball season two days later. Tameling had high expectations for these Knights, considering the returning talent, but that match — an impressive sweep of large-school West of Tracy — would be the only one of 2020. Coronavirus pandemic concerns caused the high school spring season to get cut short, and the 2021 is in danger of meeting the same fate.
“I would love to get a few more games in as a senior, especially with Braden,” Van Groningen said. “Just to get another game with Ripon Christian would be a blessing.”