Pond Talk: Week IV

The 2022 season continues to be a shark tank. From the Morgan Classic, Midwest showdowns, and shocking East Coast upsets, this D3VB season is living up to the hype of being one of the most competitive in years. Dive in as we answer some of our followers questions on this weeks pond talk.

Springfield won the Morgan Classic this past weekend, taking down Vassar in the Friday night match and Endicott in the Championship. Will they go undefeated the rest of the season?

Ramius: Going undefeated, even for a team as talented as Springfield, is incredibly difficult. The Pride have the most difficult schedule of any team I’ve seen this year, so my money’s on them dropping at least one match along the way to whatever greatness lies before them at the end of the year. Vassar, Dominican, Wentworth, and Carthage are the four teams in my head with the best match ups versus the Pride; Vassar and Wentworth will play them again later in the season but we’ll have to wait for a possible post season meeting for the other two.

Harvey: While the talent gap tells me yes, their schedule tells me no. Not only do they face the engineering trio (MIT, SIT, and WIT) but they also have a rematch with Vassar and some showdowns with Rivier. A wise man once told me “Volleyball plays too many matches, it’s hard to bring your best 30+ times a year”, so Springfield will probably drop a match.

Bradley: Of course not. Just wait for 2/16 when they have to travel to the greatest town in the world – New Paltz. All bias aside, this Pride team will lose a match this season, I have no doubt in my mind. As it currently stands, they have five matches throughout the remainder of this season against AVCA top-15 teams (and that’s before NCAA’s). I’d expect Springfield to lose 2-3 matches this season.

Johnny: Springfield looked REALLY good this weekend. Are they infallible, no. Just like any good team, they’ll drop a match or 2. They have New Paltz twice, WIT, and MIT. Those are all tough matches against teams trying to prove they deserve to be in the National Championship talk. I’ll agree with Bradley on the 2/16 watch. Although, New Paltz is not a tourist town. 

North Central and Loras both began their seasons with upset wins over Benedictine, and NCC followed it up with a win over #2 Dominican this past weekend and Loras swept Fontbonne. What do these performances say about their chances of winning the CCIW?

Ramius: I think these results highlight the trajectory of both programs over the last few years. Anyone who read half of what I wrote about last year knows I was high on NCC, and Loras ended the 2021 season on a hot streak before a covid outbreak removed them from postseason play. The CCIW isn’t just a one horse race anymore, and I think either NCC or Loras could catch Carthage on a bad night and shock the world. 

Harvey: The results say this conference has much more quality and depth. NCC has really impressed early on (read my answers last week) and Loras is finally getting some well deserved national attention. Overall, I’d say Carthage still has a better than 90% chance of winning the CCIW. 

Bradley: I think that over time, Carthage will continue to find their new identity and wake up from their championship hangover. With that being said, North Central and Loras have 0 chance of winning the CCIW over Carthage come April. Heard it here first. 

Johnny: I watched this game intently. NCC looked good. Coach Exline was doing his thang. But, the question remains, what do you do about Slivinski? Carthage and NCC are the only two players in the CCIW. HOWEVER, you have Loras playing this weird dream killer role. I think Loras can beat NCC. And maybe, just maybe, pull an upset against Carthage, a la Fontbonne v. Carthage in the MCVL. NCC has two chances this year to beat Carthage, home and away. Will they rise to the occasion? That’s the biggest question.

With the Mustangs sweep of Southern Virginia and Rutgers defeating Juniata in Huntingdon, what are your thoughts on the CVC?

Ramius: The CVC is anyone’s game. Rutgers and Juniata match up well and had competitive matches all last season in Pod Play; the SVU match is a little more shocking but Stevenson can compete (and has) with anyone. The CVC remains a power conference, and I honestly couldn’t choose a favorite to win it all based on the season so far. 

Harvey: It says Marymount is currently the class of the CVC. Not only undefeated but yet to drop a set, they are the top dog in the conference until they are beaten. Tuesday’s showdown with Southern Virginia looms large. 

Bradley: I think this just proves that the CVC is truly in contention between 4 squads – Marymount, SVU, Rutgers and Juniata. All four of these teams have had phenomenal wins, so I wouldn’t be surprised if any one of them took the CVC chip this year. Between Kevin Duffy, Nahuel Recabarren, Raymond Tarasi and Andrew Zaleck, the CVC has some of the top talent in all of D3VB.

Johnny: A great coach once told me, “don’t say anything I’ve said. Make your own opinion of what’s going on”. So, I’m just going to agree with Bradley. I will however reiterate my feeling that Marymount has a “team of destiny” feel. 

Based on what we’ve seen so far, what teams are on upset alert next?

Ramius: Looking through this weeks matches, matches I have listed as possible “upsets alerts” are 1) NCC vs MSOE 2) New Paltz vs St. Joes (LI) 3) Wentworth vs Rivier 4) Stevens vs Springfield and 5) Dominican vs Loras. Of them all, I think MSOE, St. Joes and Loras have the biggest chance of pulling out upsets in their matchups. 

Harvey: Wentworth. A mid-week clash with Rivier for GNAC supremacy. Jacob LaBouliere will have to stay on top of his game to keep the Leopards undefeated.

Bradley: Ummmm after this week, everyone?! But actually, this may or may not be considered an upset depending on who you talk to, but I’ll take SVU over Marymount on Tuesday.

Johnny: Carthage has CUW and Benedictine this week. Although I’m not putting out an upset alert, it will be eyebrow raising. Especially the Benedictine match after the Eagles got back from an East Coast swing where they beat MIT (but lost to WIT).

As always, who are your top 5?

Ramius: Springfield, Vassar, Wentworth, Dominican, North Central 

Bradley: Springfield, Vassar, Stevens, Wentworth, Marymount (RIP Midwest)

Harvey: Springfield, Stevens, Vassar, Dominican, North Central

Johnny: Springfield, Dominican, Wentworth, Vassar, Stevens (I take offense Bradley)