The FrogJump Top 20: D3 Review VII (2022)

The FrogJump Top 20 is our Power Ranking of the DIII Men’s Volleyball Landscape. Our algorithm uses a host of different variables, including the cumulative statistics of D3VB men’s programs throughout the season. This allows us to reflect the ever changing dynamics within the landscape as teams compete to be the best in the nation.

The better a team performs, the higher they’ll climb in our model. As it stands, only match data up to 3/1/2022 was taken into account (sorry Lasell, the Springfield win will be reflected next week).

1. Springfield: The mighty have fallen, kind of. The Pride tasted defeat for the first time this season when they traveled to Lasell University. Despite the shocking result, the Pride still have a resume that includes wins over #2 Vassar (twice), #5 Stevens, #8 Rutgers, #11 NYU, and #12 Wentworth; remember that before the volleytalk bashing begins.

2. Vassar: The Brewers may want to call Vautrin over at Lasell to pick his brain, because as it stands their only two losses this year have come in 5-set battles to the #1 Pride. Vassar was able to recover from their reverse-sweep loss to Springfield with wins over ITT and MSOE; they’ll travel upstate this weekend for conference matches against St. John Fisher and Nazareth.

3. Dominican: The Stars are currently on a 5 match win streak following their sweep of North Park. They’ll have two NACC matches this weekend against Marian and St. Norbert.

4. Rutgers-Newark: The Scarlet Raiders hot streak came to an end at the hands of Stevenson, but were able to rebound nicely with a win over NYU. They’ll hit the court again on Thursday when they take on in state rival Kean.

5. North Central: The Cardinals remain the lone unbeaten team in our model, and have a huge opportunity this week to claim the “Best of the Midwest” mantle. They’ll take on Carthage tonight in a match with newfound significance following the defeat of Springfield, before playing Loras this weekend.

6. Carthage: The Firebirds are rising, and fast. They have a huge match versus NCC tonight which I encourage everyone to tune into.

7. Southern Virginia: The Knights of SVU secured supremacy in Virginia, and have the biggest match of their season to date on the docket this Friday against Juniata.

8. Juniata: The Eagles will travel to SVU on the back of an 8 match win streak. They’ll need all the momentum they can get, as a conference match versus SVU in the barn is going to be a bloodbath.

9. Marymount: The Saints rolled through Elizabethtown last week to cap off their February. They head out for sunnier scenery after a small break, taking on Cal Lutheran in California on March 8th.

10. Stevens: The Ducks handled their conference opponent Kings this past week. They’ll keep the ball rolling in another conference match against Wilkes this weekend.

11. Wentworth: The Leopards loss to Lasell earlier this year looks A LOT different following Lasells upset over Springfield. The two GNAC powers are scheduled to rematch TOMORROW… let’s keep our eyes on this one.

12. Loras: The breakout program of the Midwest continues their steady climb up the ladder. They’ll travel to NCC for a huge CCIW conference match this Saturday.

13. St. John Fisher: The Cardinals don’t have much time to recover from their 3-0 loss to New Paltz this past weekend. UVC conference play is heating up, and they have Vassar (Friday) and NYU (Saturday) on the docket.

14. Messiah: The Falcons established dominance in Lancaster, handily defeating their regional rival LBC. They hit the court again on Friday where they’ll look to keep their 8 match win streak going against Elizabethtown.

15. Benedictine: Jacob Grygo is back and the Eagles are finding their groove. Benedictine takes on DI/II Lewis tonight in a landscape crossover before heading to Rockford for an NACC match.

16. SUNY New Paltz: The Hawks are flying after a big conference win over St. John Fisher. They’ll host MSOE tonight in the hawks nest and I can guarantee this proud alumni will be there yelling at them for playing badly. There’s only one!

17. NYU: The Violets are coming off a tough loss to Rutgers-Newark at home. They’ll need to shake it off quick, as they’re heading upstate to take on St. John Fisher in UVC conference play.

18. Stevenson: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Stevenson has, can, and will play anyone. The Mustangs took care of business at home, sweeping Rutgers-Newark and Widener. They play Alvernia tonight in a MAC match with significant conference standing implications.

19. Fontbonne: The Griffins are coming off a loss to DI/II Maryville, but will have a chance at vengeance tonight as they host the Saints in a rematch.

20. Nazareth: The Golden Flyers will have their eyes set to shake up the landscape this weekend as they take on the Vassar Brewers in a conference match at St. John Fisher on Saturday.

Ramius Thoughts

I want to give a special shoutout to Lasell, the significance of their win last night will last for several generations of Lasers athletes and I’m happy we got to witness it. It’s a great feeling to beat the #1 team, it’s a great feeling to remove their “undefeated” label, and it’s a great feeling to know you did it with a bunch of guys who all believed in their ability to rise to the occasion.

I’ve seen too many matches in my life where the juggernaut has effectively turned the corner. They’re on the ropes against an upstart looking to shock the world… only for a key point to end the momentum. We all know that moment, the point where the game is effectively over regardless of what the score is or how much of the match is left to play. It’s the moment where the upstart’s soul is crushed, where the Juggernaut asserts dominance, where the “supposed” game script plays out.

To be great, to shock the world… it requires ignoring that moment. There were several points last night where Lasell did exactly that. They showed grit and resilience as Springfield looked to turn the corner. They dug in when they needed to, and trusted each other to make plays when it mattered. They believed they could win the game, and believing you can accomplish a task is the first step to executing a task.

One of the lessons I’ve been harping about to my club team is how “winning is about execution”. At any level of play you’ll see teams size up an opponent and assume they’ve won the match before a single point is decided. This is beyond foolish. “Upsets” in sports happen because one team executes their plan and the other doesn’t. One team was able to do their job effectively within the rally, and the other wasn’t. You’ll see this occur constantly at the collegiate level, hence one of the reasons coaches spend countless hours dissecting film to scout their opponents. Any advantage a team gives you needs to be identified and abused, because if you aren’t favored to win a match you have to play to your outs to ensure victory.

I was a career underdog, I was never “better” than anyone I ever played against; so I would often tell myself “I only ever needed a 35% chance to win” (obviously this number means nothing, but it’s what worked for me). So whether it was in practice or in game, I focused on trying to improve my odds of victory to “35%”, and I would execute effectively to get to that scenario. It doesn’t matter how much better your opponent is, because if you’re trying to win your job is to perform your roll within the rally perfectly. Lasell won 3-1 because they did this for 3 out of 4 sets; it’s that simple.

We’ve said it here before, and we’ll say it again. This D3VB season is shaping up to be the most competitive one since 2016. The regular season has been full of upsets, and no team is safe. So my advice to anyone looking to shock the world, find your “35 %” or whatever queue works for you… and believe it’s enough. Enjoy your victories when they come, and get back to work the following day. We have a long way to go till April.

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