Pond Talk: Week II

Another week of matches, another week of questions. Dive in as Harvey, Bradley, and I give our takes on some of the narratives from the weekend. Let’s get after it.

This was a wild weekend for D3VB. From your perspective, what was the most significant storyline?

Ramius: I know what the most talked about storyline was, as I had 400 notifications on my phone Saturday night while I was in Juniata. If someone had told me four months ago we’d live in a universe where Carthage starts 0-2 while Marymount bodies teams to a 5-0 start I would have publicly ridiculed them on every FrogJump social media account.

Thankfully that didn’t happen, BUT this is the universe we live in. While the Carthage losses to NYU and Stevens definitely shook the landscape the most, I’d have to say Dominican going 4-0 on their East Coast trip with 5-set wins over Juniata and Stevenson is probably going to be the most significant in the long term.

In the grand scheme of things, I suspect the odds of Dominican losing the NACC Championship are a little higher (if unlikely) than Carthage losing the CCIW Championship (possible, but unlikely). If that’s the case, Dominican now has two cross-region wins over teams who will most definitely be ranked within their regions (Stevenson, Juniata). This gives Dominican an early edge in the fight for pool B bids.

Bradley: Carthage goes 0-2 on East Coast trip… This is the most significant storyline because it proves the one thing every team is after is up for grabs: the National Championship. Carthage retained their most significant starters from last year’s 23-0 squad, traveled to the east coast, and lost to an NYU team that hadn’t competed in 680 days and a Stevens team that didn’t crack the FrogJump Preseason Top 20. Let’s get after it, d3vb.

Harvey: Marymount stays undefeated, pummeling two top contenders in the MAC

We’re two weeks into the season currently and have had some crazy results take place. What landscape lessons have you learned so far that you might not have expected based on what we knew from last year/summer?

Ramius: I’ve learned I need to pay more attention to volleyball in Virginia! #7 Southern Virginia picks up right where they left off last year, going 3-0 during their Pennsylvania trip with quality wins over #6 Messiah and Stevenson. Likewise, Marymount has been running over teams since the season started, with quality wins over #6 Messiah and Arcadia. Raymond Tarasi has been the best Opposite in D3VB through the first two weeks of the season and the Saints are rolling.

Bradley: I think the results thus far prove that each ranked match will be a dog fight. No wins will come easy against any of the Top 20 squads in the country. We’ve seen several “upsets” already, and I have a feeling there are plenty more to come. Grab your popcorn d3vb followers.

Harvey: The east coast is going to cannibalize each other. We’ve already seen a number of shocking upsets and with some of the uncertainty of who is available when and where- we are going to see even more. There are very few “nights off” left in D3VB.

A “highly reputable and handsome coach” told us recently depth is going to be incredibly important this year. Based on the first two weeks of results, does this have merit?

Ramius: Yes, for a variety of reasons. First off, this is the first full season for many programs in nearly two years. We start non-traditional training in October/November and our season goes till April (if you’re good). Normal wear and tear injuries are going to happen to every team, simply because rest is at a premium when you play for 5-6 months. 

Second, we are still in a pandemic, covid protocols still exist. I wrote about this briefly last year and I’ll repeat it again this year. Being good at volleyball during a pandemic also means being good at not getting covid. Whether you get vaccinated, wear a mask 24/7, or stay in your room like a hermit, do what you have to do. Getting covid can wipe you and several of your teammates out. Getting it at the wrong time could wipe out your season. Take it seriously, be disciplined, focus on your season.

We’ve already seen several matches this year where teams were missing players we’d expect to be in starting line-ups. I’ll be very clear, there are no asterisks next to your matches when the NCAA committee looks at your record to determine who gets to dance in April. No one cares if X player didn’t play, nobody cares about  “what should have happened” if everyone suited up. Your team lost, it’s that simple. No single player is worth an extra 12 points per set in Volleyball.

My philosophy as a coach and a player on this subject has always been fairly straightforward. If you are doing your job as a teammate, whether you start or not, each and every man on your roster is ready to go in and perform at the level required to win the game. If you can’t trust your teammate to do that, if you excuse a loss because “X players were out”, then you’re not doing your job as a teammate in practice. Help make your teammates better for the moment the next man has to step up, trust them to win the game, because depth matters. 

Bradley: Absolutely. Depth is going to be more important in the 2022 season than it has ever been in the history of d3vb. We’ve already seen a handful of instances where key players were absent from crucial games; Brandow for the Pride, Nissley and Bowman for Messiah, Slivinski (v. NYU) for Carthage, among others. We’ve seen that some of these squads were able to deal with it and the next man up was ready to go, and some weren’t ready. With covid protocols/outbreaks (especially if teams are playing complete schedules), teams that have greater depth will be one step ahead of those who don’t.

Harvey: As a coach, the best problem to deal with is having too much talent. For years, University Administrators have chosen to add Men’s Volleyball as an enrollment booster and admissions departments have leaned on all coaches to increase roster sizes.. Now it will be up to Coaches to prepare, train, and utilize that depth when the bell tolls because losses in January count just the same as ones in March and April. 

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