Feature Photo Credited to Matt Allibone – York Daily Record
I’ll keep the intro short and simple. With the world of Division III Men’s Volleyball heading to Kansas City for the Boys’ Junior National Championship, high school athletes (both current and recent) are in the spotlight. So let’s take a look at a few who have the chance to SPICE things up next year as impact freshmen.
Ethan Weislo (Setter, Springfield)
I know what you are thinking, Springfield is definitely in need of more talent, depth, and controversy at the setter position. Running the offense for one of the East Coasts top 18s teams, Weislo has great tools at his disposal and the knowledge to use them effectively. Weislo runs a varied, dynamic offense which has been a huge factor in Niagara Frontier’s success.
In addition to his ability to huck the ball around the floor, Weislo has an absolute cannon from the service line; rocking a southpaw jump serve reminiscent of former Pride national champion Eric Johnson. At worst, we could see Weislo make an instant impact as a serving sub if he is unable to break onto the floor.
Riley Oh (Setter, MIT)
Another set of D3VB twins are heading heading to Massachusetts for Division III volleyball (more on that later), Riley Oh is the setting half of the Oh brothers of Balboa Bay. The 2nd MIT setter featured in our series (Part I here), Oh has a great set of wheels that allow him to get to the ball quickly and create a consistent, high point of contact (my favorite thing about him).
He is going to need to refine his location a bit on slightly out of system passes and digs- but when things are in system, he is looking good. I definitely think we will see Oh in action during the 2022 season and I am excited to watch him ENGINEER the offense at the college level.
Photo credited to Scott Varley
Ryan Givens (Middle, Messiah)
I’m going to keep this simple. Messiah’s incoming class is very good from top to bottom. But there is no doubt the star of the show for them is Ryan Givens. While their search to replace Ian Parzysek (a man on fire to finish the season), may be more important- Givens will be a huge addition in the middle alongside All-American Nate Bowman.
Great size (something Messiah was missing), athleticism, and offensive ability– Givens is a natural when it comes to spacing and should help reduce the swing count for reigning NPoY Mason Nissley. He has to clean up some work with his approach, but he and his fellow freshman have the opportunity to help launch Messiah into the Top 5 discussion.
Tim Flanagan (Outside, Stevenson)
The first pin on my list may be one you haven’t heard of. Flanagan has stayed under the radar for two distinct reasons:
#1 Playing for CJVA’s boys program this club season
#2 NJ being home to some of the strictest COVID-19 protocols throughout the pandemic
Either way, if you haven’t seen Tim compete, you are missing out. A pin attacker with good size, Tim can swing both outside and opposite; matching this versatility with a bag of shots from his doubles experience on the grass/beach.
While Flanagan has nice variety to his game, he is at his best when he is jumping high and swinging hard. He needs to tighten up his ball control a bit, but I can see him joining the likes of Austin Jacoby (2014), Landon Shorts (2019) and Logan Smiley (2021) as the next great in a long line of elite Mustang outside attackers.
Aaron LaPlaca (Middle, Rutgers-Newark)
This one is all about the fit. There will be bigger, faster, and more athletic middles in the Class of 2021, but not a single new middle in the country will slot into a lineup as seamlessly as LaPlaca at Rutgers-Newark. Having won a state championship with future (and past) teammates Justin Tuhoy and Andrew Zaleck- LaPlaca has a ton of chemistry with the two most important members of the Scarlet Raider squad.
LaPlaca will compliment their lineup well, and even if he isn’t able to break into the starting group immediately- he will make an instant impact just by being a 3rd middle who can train after RNU was left with just 9 players during the 2021 season. I expect more than that, and I assume so does Aaron.
Stay Tuned for Part III – July 30th
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