What a wild week of results across Division III men’s volleyball. While it makes poll voting tough, it is tremendous to see an increased competitive balance among programs across the country. While we (Misericordia) didn’t get to see the results we were look for at the SUNY Poly Invitational- we did get to watch some awesome matches and I just want to give a huge shoutout to the Wildcat professional staff and volunteers. Y’all crushed it all weekend long, thanks for a tremendous event. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
- Carthage – (0) Firebirds remain on top, winning their first two matches of 2023 against DIII competition. I was a bit surprised to see how competitive the NYU match was, but the return of Zach Bulthuis bolstered JW’s squad to a 5-set win.
- Stevens – (+1) Easily the most impressive program of the early season, the Ducks are making bread of their first few opponents; highlighted by a sweep of Vassar where Coach Buehring’s defensive scheme held Andrew Kim below .100.
- Springfield – (-1) More a victim of circumstance, the pride falls one spot despite the undefeated week. Last week I mentioned Jarret Anderson carrying a larger load and he certainly is coming through after a 20+ kill performance in a 3-1 win over St. Joe’s (LI).
- Messiah – (+2) Although only in action for one match this past week. The Falcons took care of a pesky Marymount team with a clean win. First year Alex Kagoro could bring some balance to Beachy’s offense as well as another active arm from the service line.
- St. John Fisher – (+5) A big riser this week, Fisher was one of the three undefeated teams at the SUNY Poly Invitational, highlighted by a 3-2 win over Wentworth. Jake Baker’s return really lifted the cardinals with 36 kills wile hitting a saucy .437.
- Juniata – (+2) The current CVC front runners also went undefeated at the SUNY Poly Invitational, highlighted by a win over Wentworth in 4 sets. Tyler Goldsborough and Max Barr both made the all-tournament team, showing it is more than the Kevin Duffy show. But I was (and continue to be) impressed by the play of Luke Hoffman.
- New Paltz – (+2) Midwest trips are absolutely brutal. My senior year we played 7 matches in 5 days, 4 of which were against nationally ranked opponents. 5-1 is a beyond impressive run for New Paltz in this series of matches, highlighted by a 3-1 takedown of NCC.
- North Central – (-3) Coach Exline’s squad dropped a tough 3-1 decision to New Paltz but were able to rebound with wins over IIT and Wittenberg. More importantly, setter Tyler Donovan looked comfortable and confident at the helm which is a big win for these Cardinals.
- Vassar (-2) The Brewers split the weekend in 6 straight sets, sweeping Elms before being swept by the Ducks. Coach Gary’s squad has more depth than ever with double digit student-athletes appearing in both matches.
- Wentworth – (-6) First things first, thoughts are with Jacob Labouliere after the most gruesome pinky injury I’ve seen in long time. The Leopards had a rough weekend with tough competition (Fisher, Nazareth, & Juniata) for losing their 5 point/set scorer. But this may be a blessing in disguise as some other Leopards get big match experience, being leaned on to score important points.
- Rutgers-Newark – (+1) Zaleck and company took care of their only match last week, sweeping Ramapo on Ring Night. The big story for Rutgers-Newark was the play of libero Matt Nikishin who collected 12 digs in the match and is the unsung hero of that Scarlet Raider squad.
- UC Santa Cruz – (NR) SLIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIME ONNNNNNNNNNNNN. A great week for everyone’s favorite mascot, as the Banana Slugs go 5-0 only dropping one set in their highlight win over Cal Lutheran. First year Riley Norman made an early statement to the Council of Frogs about a potential spot on the All-Freshman Team.
- Nazareth – (NR) The third undefeated squad from the SUNY Poly Invitational, they did so on the back of Owen Wickens who was named MVP of the Tournament after leading the Golden Flyers to a 5 set win over Wentworth behind his 24 Kills.
- Baldwin Wallace – (NR) Winning matches early on is never easy, and Baldwin Wallace has 5 of them- all in style. Highlighted by a 3-1 win over Loras at the BW Invitiational. Coach Mars has his young group humming scoring almost 17 points/set at the moment. Excited to see how this group figures into the MCVL picture.
- NYU – (NR) A 1-1 week is good enough to lift the Violets into my poll after two thrilling 5 setters in the Midwest. A tough loss to #1 Carthage followed by a good win over an Aurora squad on the rise. Excited to see Lucas Osiecki’s continued development after turning some heads this week.
Also Considered: Benedictine, Lasell, Randolph-Macon, MIT, and Loras
Quick Shout Out to St. Joe’s (LI). Although you fell out of my poll, starting with Fisher, Stevens, and Springfield is both brutal and insane. Your boys will be better for it!