The FrogJump Top 20

A long time ago, in a landscape ages past… the AVCA Coaches Poll wasn’t the only ranking system available to the D3VB community. For all the old hats who can remember, the Pablo Power Rankings were the second (and arguably more useful) model teams had to compare programs. What made PABLO special was both its methodology and purpose, as it was a probability based system meant to explain the likelihood of an outcome if two teams played each other.

In Layman’s terms, a team with a higher PABLO rating was X percent more likely to win against a team with a lower PABLO rating based on the difference between their scores (This is a beyond oversimplification of the PABLO system, and if you’re truly interested you can read more about it here). PABLO stopped keeping track of D3VB rankings in 2018, and so a special piece of the landscape had been lost. 

FrogJump is proud to announce the newest addition to our coverage here at the Pond, the FrogJump Top 20. Contributor Bradley Schneider has spearheaded this project, creating a power ranking algorithm which will refresh each week during the season for our readers here at The Pond. Bradley has a B.S. in Mathematics and currently works as an Actuarial Analyst for Willis Towers Watson. His work revolves around risk analysis and predictive modeling, whatever that means. He’s best to explain the project in his own words. 

“I’d like to start off by clarifying to our readers that this model does not do any “predicting”, meaning that we are not attempting to estimate the likelihood of a future event/outcome occurring. This is a power ranking system, which takes historical data, runs the data through the algorithm that I created (with the help of Ramius and Harvey along the way), and spits out a result.

When Ramius first proposed the project, the first question I had was “Is the data available?”. For any statistical analysis, this is the most important question. Us math nerds like to say “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. If your data is poor, your results will be as well. Thankfully, the data is readily available and of sufficient quality. The NCAA aggregates data and provides this data at the exact level of granularity that the model requires.

There is an old saying, “All models are wrong, but some are useful”. This is something that I have learned throughout my professional career. With each model, there is a certain level of “noise” and there is a certain level of “signal”. These terms are also commonly known as unsystematic effects and systematic effects, respectively. The goal, when modeling, is to find a balance where noise is limited and signal is captured. If there is too much noise, your model is underfitting and if there is too much signal, your model is overfitting. With all of this being said, I will humbly admit that there is noise in the model. This model includes some correlation between variables and does not fully capture strength of schedule. I will continue to monitor results and adjust the model as needed, as any decent mathematician would do. 

I will not release all of the information on the baby that I created, however I will note that there are currently 10 rating variables that are included in the model. A few of these variables include Latest x Week(s) Win %, Hitting % and Points/set. There are 7 other variables which make up the entirety of the FrogJump Power Ranking System. Each variable has a scientifically calculated tiering table, which enables each team to fall into a tier through a banding technique. The final result is generated from a multiplicative algorithm, with each variable assigned a certain weighting.

While the final product does indeed rank all of the teams in the landscape, we have decided to include the top 20 teams as the “official” FrogJump Top 20. Everyone else is irrelevant until proven worthy by the model. Get after it.”

-Bradley Schneider

Why is it different from the AVCA ranking? Our Power Ranking will most likely always show different results from the AVCA rankings because they measure intrinsically different things. The AVCA ranking is, at its heart, an opinion poll based on the observations of coaches across the country (which has its merits). The FrogJump Top 20 is data driven and doesn’t care about the opinions/feelings of FrogJump personnel, as it takes into account accumulated performance based metrics (kills/set, blocks/set, etc) to produce a numerical value. Further, as the landscape has expanded, so too has the depth of quality programs. In this sense, there is value in listing the top 20 programs in our calculations as opposed to 15. 

Why is my team not listed? Mathematically, your team is excluded because your team’s performance metrics included in the model are insufficient for the FrogJump Top 20 list. If that’s not clear, it’s because your team isn’t good enough… yet. – Ramius

The FrogJump Top 20 – 12/6/2021

  1. Carthage College: The reigning national champions begin 2022 at the top of the mountain in the FrogJump Top 20. The Firebirds return starters Slivinski, Schmidt, Bulthuis, Cohan, and McNulty after an undefeated season, and can’t be blamed for having their eyes set on a repeat. 
  1. Dominican University (IL): The Stars sit at number two in our ranking to start the season. Fresh off a final four run, Dominican returns a championship level core headlined by “The Godfather” George Kougan alongside “Old Man” Jack McGuire; Matt Molloy will continue to sport the best hairstyle in all of D3VB while Trey Cowan looks to break onto the scene as one of the top Outsides in D3VB. Sky’s the limit for the stars. 
  1. Springfield College (MA): The Pride start the season 3rd in our power ranking, and return a who’s-who of D3VB All-American level players in Brandow, York, Lilley, Reynolds, Parker, and Mussa Robles. They have the most complete roster in the nation, and are on everyone’s short list to make the finals this year.

  2. Vassar College: Headlined by All-Americans Andrew Kim and Gavin Van Beveren, the Brewers sit at four in our power rankings to start the season. Largely considered the favorites in the UVC this year, Vassar has the talent to be a top-5 team throughout 2022.

  3. Benedictine University: The Cinderella of last year’s dance rounds out our top 5 to start the season! The Eagles fly into 2022 returning Klimisch, Grygo, Radomski, Folliard, and Olson from last year’s NCAA championship run. Sanchit Khaitan (transfer from Augustana) has been rumored to be running the offense after LeGros’s departure, and Benedictine is determined to show the landscape that 2021 wasn’t a fluke.

  4. Southern Virginia University: The Knights of SVU got huge news with the confirmed return of Kaipo Tagaloa to the roster for this season. Alongside perennial All-American Nahuel Recabbaren, the Knights will seek to defend their CVC Championship in a much more competitive conference landscape.

  5. Messiah University: The breakout program of 2021, the Falcons start at 7 in our power ranking. Much has been said about the remarkable upgrades to the Messiah roster this offseason. Headlined by former player of the year Mason Nissley, many peg this year’s Falcons to eventually be one of the best programs in D3VB come April. They start the year as heavy favorites in the MAC.

  6. State University of New York at New Paltz: The new look Hawks begin the year at #8 in our Power Ranking. Shanley, Spulnick, and breakout candidate Pat Wing are the remaining weapons from last year’s starting roster, with Kyle Shaffer looking to take over the setting responsibilities in the post-Matt Grace era. The landscape is predicting a drop off from the perennial contenders that were the Hawks from 2013 onward, but as one coach recently told me “What has anyone ever gotten from underestimating New Paltz?”.

  7. Juniata College: The Eagles start out at #9 in our power rankings, but have the potential to rise faster than most. Kevin Duffy stands as the best middle in D3VB, and the young Exeter trio of Hoffman, Goldsborough, and Ganter come back with a full year of experience. Covid math prevented the Eagles from the NCAA tournament last year, it won’t happen again.

  8. Wentworth Institute of Technology: Fresh off an NCAA Quarterfinal appearance, the Leopards round out our preseason top 10. Jacob LaBouliere and Hunter Oshman have impressed many in the off-season, and Anthony Krzykowski returns after a stellar first year campaign. They’ll start the season as favorites to win the GNAC.

  9. St. John Fisher College: The Cardinals start the year at #11 in our Power Ranking, and have their eyes set on claiming their first UVC Championship. Josh Bigford, Paul Hackford, David Cerqua, Ivan Lopez, and Jake Baker all return to the floor, and barring any covid/injury mishaps, this squad has what it takes to win it all in the UVC.

  10. Stevenson University: The Mustangs sit at #12 in our Power Ranking to start 2022. Stevenson ended 2021 with a tough 5-set loss to Messiah, and will be seeking to claim MAC supremacy in 2022.

  11. Rutgers University-Newark: The Scarlet Raiders start out at #13 in our rankings, but I’d hazard a guess it will be their lowest ranking for the remainder of the season. Returning a roster full of studs alongside standout transfer Jared Ray, many in the landscape have this team pegged as a possible final four team come April.

  12. North Central College: The Cardinals of North Central College start the season at #14 in our Power ranking model. Returning their full line up from 2022, the once young Cardinals aren’t so young anymore. Headlined by All-American Jared Moser and breakout candidate Jeremy Cardenas, Coach Exline has this team primed to challenge Carthage in the CCIW. 
  1. Kean University: The Cougars begin 2021 at #15 in our power ranking. The Cougars have been a contender in the CVC for as long as I can remember, and enter 2022 fresh off of last year’s CVC semifinal appearance.
  1. Arcadia University: Ramius’s perennial MAC dark horse pick, the Arcadia Knights return a veteran heavy team ready to challenge for the MAC Championship. Devantier, Bailey, Abraham, and Nissley are a core that can compete with anyone, and I suspect they’ll prove it all year. 
  1. Endicott College: A consistent D3VB power, George Chapell and the Gulls have maintained an iron grip on the NECC over the years and we don’t see it changing anytime soon. Endicott loses standouts Bryn Lipton and Gabe Felicetti from last year’s team, but a slew of young talents are expected to step up in 2022.  
  1. St. Joseph’s College-Long Island: Paul Curaro, Kyle Allen-Morabito and Mark Jensen have been confirmed to be returning to the Golden Eagles for 2022. Coach Kropp has reloaded for another Skyline Championship run as SJLI seeks a return to the NCAA tournament. 
  1. Fontbonne University: The Griffins break into our top 20 after their remarkable season last year. Lively, Van Rossum-O’Connell, Graves, and Woolsey have the Griffins flying to new heights, as their standout play last year has everyone expecting big things from Fontbonne in 2022. 
  1. Loras College: “What is a Duhawk?” you might ask, well they’re the final team in our preseason Top 20 to begin the season. Pat Mahoney and Joe Horn got the landscape’s attention last year with their stand out play, and the Duhawks are on the cusp of proving to everyone that the CCIW isn’t just a two team battle between Carthage and NCC. Keep an eye on Loras in 2022. 

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