Spikeball: UA students find success in unique club sport
If you take a look around campus when the weather is nice, you’ll notice there is always a group of people out on the lawn playing Spikeball, and they play a lot. The University of Akron (UA) Roundnet Club is one of the most successful club teams on campus, and members understand that practice brings success.
You may not have heard of roundnet, but the game has been around since the 1980s. It began to peak in popularity in 2015 when it was marketed as Spikeball and appeared on the television show Shark Tank.
A few years later Spikeball appeared on ESPN2 for its coed SummerSpike tournament, making the game a household name.
And for the past five years, it has been a staple on the UA campus.
“During New Roo Weekend, I saw students playing it for the first time and was fascinated,” said freshman Michael Smith of Akron. “I am not good enough to play competitively because UA players are really talented, but it’s something fun to do with my roommates when the weather is nice.”
Spikeball rules are simple, and it is easy to set up, which is why it is adored by many, especially college students. The game accommodates four players (two teams) centered around a circular net. One team begins the game by hitting a small yellow ball onto the net toward the opposing team. After the serve, the opposing team can move in any direction to spike the ball back on the net, however, they are only allowed three touches to do so. If the opposing team can’t get the ball on the net in three touches, or if the ball hits the ground, the serving team gains a point. Think of it as reverse volleyball but, instead of hitting the ball over a net, you hit it onto a net.
Today, Spikeball sponsors a tour series across the country and within Europe, which has become a large part of its brand. At the college level, there are three main tournaments: Fall Sectionals, Spring Sectionals and College Nationals.
UA’s Roundnet Club team is no stranger to competitive college Spikeball. The team competes in Division 1 and has proven to be successful.
“We have worked really hard and have won our sectional twice — last spring and this fall,” said Luke Nickel a senior from Bay Village, Ohio, who is president of the Roundnet Club.
Not only has the team proven to be successful in sectionals, but they are the best college team in the nation.
“The team was ranked #2 in 2021 and is currently ranked #1 in the nation by The College Board of Roundnet,” Nickel said proudly.
The team’s success doesn’t come easily. Like any other sport, the UA team practices multiple times each week to achieve its prestigious reputation, both in groups and individually. Nickel and his teammates can often be seen practicing near the Union and the soccer fields and regularly invite others to step in and learn the game.
The UA Roundnet Club is at the top of its game, representing UA in a unique sport, but the team has a big goal for the rest of the 2022–2023 season. “We hope to win the national tournament,” says Nickel.
Story by Beau Balizet '25