As the Summer draws to an end and the faint whispers of Fall get louder, student athletes are returning to campus. The non-traditional season is upon us! This also means we need more hot takes and way too early predictions. I’m going to keep it going with the Midwest conferences this time we’re starting with the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League (MCVL).
Now, it needs to be said it isn’t the MCVL of the olden days. However, I do believe this will be an exciting conference to watch. With Fontbonne coming out on top last year, they are going to be looking at making another run.
Fontbonne– This portion is going to cause me a lot of pain … but Fontbonne is GOOD. Ryan Lively is a baller, simply facts. Ripping a blistering .352 on the year, his efficiency was the main weapon propelling the Griffins to the NCAA tournament. He’s the OH1 every team hopes to land, a six rotation player that puts balls away. He and break out player Cameron Graves are an explosive pin combo. The Griffins have the target on their back as top dogs in the MCVL. Will they be able to rise to the challenge of fending off hungry teams? Only time will tell. I’ll be watching them.
Mount Union– This is the program I’m most excited about. In last year’s MCVL tournament, they were right there and almost beat Fontbonne. Losing in a close 4 set match, the Raiders of Mount Union will be an X factor this upcoming season in the conference. I think they can beat Fontbonne for the MCVL bid. Matt Mihelic is taking this program to the moon, in 4 short years the teams 40-26 record outpaces the majority of young MCVL teams and has positioned themselves as the foil to the Griffins in conference. No real analysis here. I just like the Raiders. Beat Fontbonne.
Mount Saint Joseph– MSJ, The Mount, The Lions. A storied program looking to turn a new page in their history. The last few seasons for The Mount have been tough. But, the night is always darkest before the dawn. With the expansion of boys volleyball in THE state of Ohio, we could see the talent sticking around and develop. Cincy is a great town with good ball happening around it. I’m calling it here, The Mount is going to have another 2-3 years of rebuilding before making another run. As for now, they will be the gate keepers to the upper echelons of the MCVL. Not a bad place to be. Beat Fontbonne.
Trine– I am pretty hyped on Trine. New Head Coach, Will Dowdy did amazing things at Indiana Tech growing their program into a nationally ranked NAIA team. I think he’s making the right moves in creating a foundation to a future national standing. Here are the numbers I like for the Thunder (arguably one of the sweetest nicknames in D3). 11.92 kills/set, they’re putting the ball away at a decent clip. I don’t have their transition statistics handy but, you can pretty much tell based on their kills per set how well they are putting the ball away.
Not to mention, home court advantage has been a real thing for Trine. The test for them is, can they schedule a tough non-con schedule and can they win away from home. That is going to separate them. Give trine about 2 years and I think it’s going to be a true 4 horse race for the MCVL. Beat Fontbonne.
Adrian– Adrian will be middle of the pack in a bottom heavy MCVL, but should be strong enough to make their conference semifinals this year. I like the Bulldogs to pull off at least one upset this year by sneaking a win away from either Trine or MSJ. This wouldn’t be a snipe but, a moment that is worked up to in the season. One slice of magic where everything comes together. Other than that, I want to see Adrian come out strong this season with some non-con wins and take that energy into the conference schedule. Don’t be surprised if Adrian gets scorigami-ed into the conference tournament because of their upset win. Beat Fontbonne.
Wittenberg– First things first, there’s a new coach in town and he’s young. Nathan Mathews returns to the court just two years after graduating from Wittenberg. Prior to being named head coach, he was a graduate assistant with the University of Kentucky’s women’s volleyball team which won a Natty. So, you know he’ll be wearing that ring around.
The thing I like about him is that he brings in a great knowledge of statistics. While at UK he acted as the technical coordinator. He knows how to break down film, he knows how to scout, he knows what the numbers mean. I think this could be super exciting. Give it a few years, and Nathan will do some good stuff. I think he’s surrounded himself with the right people, and while big things aren’t on the horizon just yet, I’ll keep my eyes on them over the next three to four years. Beat Fontbonne.
Baldwin Wallace– Another young program, which is generally a theme in the MCVL. They went 6-10 last year winning, but recruiting wise they are in a good spot. They can get out of state kids from hotbeds like Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, and New York. Bringing in 8 freshmen (from what I could see) to a young program is big. Not to mention, they were getting athletes from good club programs. Could this program bring men’s volleyball to Cleveland and be the next big thing? Time will tell. My guess, definitely maybe. Beat Fontbonne.
Wabash– A young program that went 2-14 with their wins coming against the aforementioned Wittenberg. This Indiana institution is near a hot bed of an expanding high school boys’ volleyball scene, which is super exciting! I really want this team to do well. I think they are going to at least double up on their wins from last year. It’ll be an interesting year of growth for Wabash, as their schedule includes the MCVL gauntlet and 5 matches against NAIA schools. One of them being a pretty good Indiana Tech. Beat Fontbonne.
Olivet– In ’21 Olivet went 3-13. All of their matches were double header conference matches where they split with Wittenberg and beat Wabash twice. They had a roster of 8 guys, 6 of which were freshman. They hit a combined .068 on the year… As Forest Gump once said, “and that’s all I got to say about that”. Beat Fontbonne.
Way too Early Rankings Prediction
- Mount Union
- Mount Saint Joseph
- Baldwin Wallace