COVID was a rough 2021 season for everyone. Some handled it better than others, and some really struggled during the abbreviated campaign. Today’s article will explore some big names poised to bounce back in 2022. Let’s get after it.
Justin Tuohy – S – Rutgers-Newark
My excitement for this Scarlet Raider team is well documented at this point- and if you don’t quite understand yet, perhaps this will really drive it home. Tuohy and RUN had some challenges in 2021 when it came to depth, which led to some matches where Justin did some attacking rather than setting (8.15 A/S and .275 Team Attack %). I think we will see Justin above 11 A/S this year and the team closer to hitting .350 than .250, leading the Rutgers-Newark offense into the nation’s Top 5, making Tuohy a dark horse national player of the year candidate.
Jared Moser – OH – North Central
Another slight sophomore slump, Moser is poised for a big season in 2021. Although his volume stayed consistent (3.27 K/S in 2020 vs. 3.13 in 2021), Coach Kyle Exline saw his All-American outside efficiency drop by .040 points (.295 in 2020 vs. .255 in 2021), Moser showed his ability as a big game hunter freshman year, playing some of his best matches against Augustana, Carthage, New Paltz, and NYU. Combining his physical transformation (this kid is huge now!) with a 2nd season building chemistry with setter Matt Nealon, Moser should prominently figure into the All-American discussion.
Josh Bigford – OH – St. John Fisher
You must be thinking the following “How can someone who was an All-American in 2021 be primed for a bounce back season in 2022?”. After his shortened sophomore campaign in 2020, Bigford was in the discussion as one of the nation’s top outside attackers. Hitting .325 on exactly 4 Kill/Set, highlighted by huge performances against Endicott, Vassar, and NYU. Losing setter Paul Hackford didn’t help in 2021 as Bigford’s efficiency dropped to .238 along with his volume down to 2.65 Kills/Set. With a more balanced approach, I’m not sure we will see Bigford’s volume rise to it’s previous heights but his efficiency will certainly be back up, especially if his play in the summer carries over into this season.
Gavin Van Beveren – MB/RS – Vassar College
Maybe the simplest pick on this list after Tuohy, Van Beveren had a number of factors going against him during 2021. Limited training, strict COVID protocols, rotating setters, and a positional uncertainty- just to name a few. I expect we’ll see Van Beveren back in the middle for Coach Gary- and with the outlook of this year’s UVC competition- GVB should dominate. I expect to see Gavin approach his .434 attack percentage and .9 Blocks/Set (.193 and .65 in 2021) from 2020 and be squarely in the All-American discussion.
Nate Reynolds – MB – Springfield College
I’m not sure “bounce back” is the correct word to describe the season that I am expecting from Nate Reynold. During an extremely limited 2021 slate, Reynolds hit an astounding .511 but only averaged 2.5 attempts per set- which aren’t nearly enough to showcase his combination of size and athleticism. With another year of training in Massachusetts under his belt and increased chemistry with Lilley- Reynolds will be among the national leaders in both attack percentage and blocking- thrusting himself in the All-American conversation as well.
Hunter Oshman – RS – Wentworth Institute of Technology
Oshman missed the entirety of the 2021 season, which was a shame. He was coming into his own in 2020 when the pandemic hit. Averaging almost 3 kills/set while hitting a crisp .282, Oshman was a steady source of offense for the Leopards. Oshman had recorded double digit kills in 8 of his 14 appearances, including 4 of his final 5 matches highlighted by a career high 22 on .538 at Rivier. With the graduation of Ryan Love and Ryan Engel, I see Oshman as the other half of a two headed offensive monster for the Leopards (along with LaBouilere) forcing his way into the All-Region discussion.