For those of you who aren’t familiar with me, my name is Robert Wingert and I am the Head Coach at Misericordia University. I also am involved with many things in the volleyball community- notably my “commentary” at the world-famous Pottstown Rumble as well as play-by play for the NCAA Men’s Volleyball tournament.
For the last seven years, I’ve maintained a very public presence on Volleytalk (after 3 years of anonymity). I routinely made my AVCA coaches ballot public, while explaining the logic behind my voting placements. With some of the unfortunate vitriol that swirls around the Division III thread, Ramius approached me about bringing my talents to the pond with my Top 15 poll and I happily obliged. Here are my thoughts after a weekend of matches.
- Carthage – (0) Firebirds stay on top despite a loss to Division I IPFW. I was impressed with the depth from JW’s squad- especially Ryan Cholewinski as M3. Lot of programs in the country would love to have him as an OH 1 rather than an M3.
- Springfield – (0) The Pride opened up with a 3 set sweep of Division I St. Francis Brooklyn. First year Dylan Mulvaney conducted an offense that hit .347 with 5 new starters. Jarret Anderson will have to carry an even larger load after some of the high-profile departures/injuries.
- Stevens – (+1) Quack Attack is back. Dan Buehring’s Ducks lead the country with 3 wins- all over NCAA Tournament teams from 2022 (Marymount, St. John Fisher, and St. Joe’s LI). Percy Bickford is primed for a breakout season, averaging 3.44 Kills/Set and hitting over .500.
- Wentworth – (-1) Only a victim of circumstance, the Leopards haven’t opened up play yet but have a great chance to jump a few teams with their brutal opening slate at the SUNY Poly Invitational this weekend.
- North Central – (0) Another squad who’s debut we await. Coach Exline welcomes UVC powerhouse, SUNY New Paltz to the Windy City. I’m expecting a lot of daddy hacks in the matchup between Moser and Wing.
- Messiah – (0) I’m flying high on Coach Beachy’s Falcons this year. Returning every starter from a squad that narrowly missed the NCAA tournament, I think this group has Final Four potential. We will learn more when the host Marymount tomorrow night.
- Vassar – (0) An idle opening weekend leaves our imagination to wonder what Coach Gary has brewing in Poughkeepsie. Vassar returns a ton of talent and brought in even more with their first year class. A strong test awaits them this weekend at Stevens.
- Juniata – (0) If exhibition statistics are any indicator of success, I’ve got an early prediction for National Newcomer of the Year. But in all seriousness, I’m excited to see Coach DeHaven’s squad upclose and in person at the SUNY Poly Tournament this weekend.
- SUNY New Paltz – (0) The New Paltz Hawks haven’t played yet, but they are about to see more court than they can wish. A brutal stretch of 6 matches in 4 days as part of their midwest road trip- a match up with North Central on Friday night at 7 will be the main event.
- St. John Fisher – (0) Back to programs in action- Coach Cohen got his first career wins in Dallas, Pennsylvania (what every coach dreams of) but even more importantly his first ever hoagie from JJ Deli (even better). But in all seriousness this squad has a lot of talent and depth at each position led by 3x All-American Josh Bigford who carried the squad to three wins this weekend, highlighted with a takedown of St. Joe’s (LI).
- Lasell – (0) The Laser show is about to begin. Coach Vautrin’s squad was arguably last year’s best breakout story. Returning every player (I think) will have them in contention for the GNAC title and an NCAA bid- we will see them open with MIT this weekend.
- Rutgers-Newark – (0) Coach Aidan Albrecht will make his debut tonight against a veteran Ramapo squad in the DOME. With 4 returning All-Americans he has some great talent on the roster to defend the CVC title.
- Loras – (0) Another squad that will make its debut tonight, the Duhawks take on Clarke University in an exhibition before the Baldwin Wallace Invitational. Still waiting for a 2023 roster from the Loras athletic department…
- California Lutheran – (+1) The Kingsmen made an early season statement with a 4-set win over Endicott on their home floor. The brothers Marks really put their stamp on the match. Logan, the outside, had 13 kills and hit .370 while Taylor, the setter, dished out 30 assists and added 5 blocks.
- St. Joe’s (LI) – (-1) Say what you will about the Skyline but Coach Kropp put together a great non-conference schedule to test his group. Opening with Fisher & Stevens is no joke! CJ Johnson directed two sharp matches despite dropping both results to the nationally ranked opponents.
Also Considered (In No Particular Order):
Randolph-Macon, MIT, NYU, Dominican