Pond Talk – Week V

I have to apologize to everyone for the delay in this week’s Pond Talk. I was coaching my club team at the BANE tournament this weekend, and it kept me busy from Friday to Monday. Fear not, because we have a great round table below which should have made the wait worthwhile! Pond Talk’s will resume being posted on Mondays moving forward.

Which match or upset caught your eye the most last week?

Ramius: Arcadia’s upset of New Paltz is obviously the one that hits home the most, but I think people need to start looking at Lancaster Bible a little more. The Chargers defeated Baldwin Wallace in 5, and adds to a resume that currently has wins over Randolph Macon and Arcadia. The Chargers have wins over three teams flirting weekly with appearances in the Coaches Poll and the FrogJump Top 20. We might need to start paying attention.

Harvey: Neither upset surprised me, because I predicted both of them (look at last week’s PT for reference). But I’ll go with Cal Lutheran over NCC on the last day of the Cardinal’s west coast swing. Coach Judd’s squad got a signature win that could pay dividends in Pool B down the road.

Lindsay: I was ready for a quiet Sunday of cleaning the apartment, doing the laundry and hanging with my #1, my cat, also known as little Shacklehorn. Instead Alberto Mauricio drops 31 kills on 59 swings and Elmira gets a huge UVC win over NYU. Having just beaten Naz, I thought NYU would take this one. Elmira has plenty of quality UVC opponents coming up, I’m going to pay more attention.  

At the midway point, who are some of the candidates for NPoY?

Ramius: Jarrett Anderson, Jarrett Anderson, Jarrett Anderson. I’m not sure there’s really any other contender remotely close in the conversation at this point in the season, but Anderson is running away with the award so far, meeting his 2022 NPOY metrics with increased volume. Josh Bigford is my main dark horse candidate, and if NCC makes an end of season run I’d throw Tyler Donovan into the dark horse discussion too. But for now it’s all Anderson.

While I agree with Ramius’ analysis of Jarret Anderson. Andrew Kim has been unreal for Vassar, currently hitting .408 which ranks 12th in the country while scoring 4.42 points per set which ranks 17th.

Lindsay: I can see a world where Mason Nissley enters the chat. He’s at least comparable from a volume standpoint. He’s on his way to a MAC MVP at the very least.

Which first year student-athletes have popped for you so far in the season?

Ramius: Tristan Christofferson of Vassar. The young freshmen from Denver, CO originally came to the Brewers with the intent of being the team’s manager. Fast forward a few months and Tristan is getting time as the M2 for one of the best teams in the country while being a HUGE presence at the net with 40 blocks on the season; his 1.379 blocks/set is currently the third best blocking rate among D3VB players. On a team with offensive weapons at every position, he’s still giving the Brewers 1.3 kills/set while hitting .397%. Not many freshmen contribute on teams looking to compete in April, and Tristan is doing it.

Harvey: Speaking of first years competing for a team with plans of contending in April, Dylan Mulvaney has been the maestro conducting a Springfield offense which currently ranks 2nd in the country in Attack Percentage (a crisp .363), while making major contributions as a server and blocker. When is the last time Coach Sullivan has had a first year running the offense this well?

Lindsay: Ian Wagenhauser from Randolph Macon is sitting 6th currently for points per set with 5.05. That’s right in front of Andrew Zaleck, CVC player of the year/All-American and Owen Wickens, 2023 All-American. Let’s talk about the freshmen OH tandem at CUW. It’s hard to rely on one freshman outside, but they’re doing it with two. Miller/Kayser have 185 kills between the two of them. I think the longer the season goes on, the more efficient these two will be.

It’s now official that the NECC has been replaced by the NEVC and lost its bid for 2023, how does this affect Pool B and Pool C for the tournament in your eyes?

Ramius: Honestly, it’s terrible news for Nichols and Endicott. The Bison have had a fairly surprising year, and truly looked like they were ready to challenge the Gulls for the NEVC title. As it stands, the NEVC schools are now all competing for one of the 2 Pool B (independent) bids or 4 Pool A (at-large) bids.

Springfield usually claims one of the Pool B bids, and barring an unforeseen end of year collapse, they’ll most likely have the resume to claim one again this year. There is an argument to be made for the NEVC Champion to claim the other Pool B bid, but right now that winner will be competing with all the California schools, and the California schools are positioning to have strength of schedules on their side come April. 

Harvey: From a selfish standpoint, the 10-2-4 allocation for this year, I think the quality of the tournament should increase to make sure the most deserving Pool B candidate gets in rather than an automatic bid for the NEVC Champion. But I can say with confidence that Nichols can compete with both the California schools so hopefully their schedule will allow them to

Lindsay: Last week I talked about how Nichols should challenge for the NECC title, but shortly after pond talk was published we were informed they don’t have a bid. I feel for those athletes, coaches, and programs who now have a tougher road to the NCAA tournament. I know Springfield has dominated the bid as an independent. I think the guys can better explain how the bids are dispersed, so all I can offer is a (insert sad face emoji).  

Matches you have your eyes on this week? Any upset picks?

Ramius: The marquee matchup of the week has to be Juniata vs Stevens in Hoboken. A win for either program goes a long way towards establishing D3VB dominance halfway through the season.

For upset potential, I’m looking at Randolph-Macon vs Messiah and Lancaster Bible vs Marymount. Randolph-Macon has a young core of guys headlined by a stud in Ian Wagenhauser who can make this matchup interesting. Lancaster Bible has wins over Randolph-Macon, Arcadia, and Baldwin Wallace, all teams fairly equal in talent to Marymount. This might be the signature win the Chargers are looking for this year.

Harvey: A quick turnaround upset pick. I’ll take St. Joe’s Long Island over Arcadia on Wednesday night. Traveling to St. Joe’s (LI) during the week is an absolute labor. The trip can take 2 hours on the Long Island expressway alone. Coach Kropp has had an incredibly challenging non-conference slate for his men with all 5 losses coming against teams in the top 6.

I agree with Lindsay when it comes to his marquee matchup of SVU and Messiah. Unfortunate that this match is being played in the barn, over/under 19.5 total aces with the level of serving and low ceiling for this showdown. I’d hammer the over.

Lindsay:  I’ll stick with Friday night. At 5pm I have Marymount vs Lancaster Bible on my watch list. Marymount looked like they might be a player after challenging Juniata but dropped a close one to Arcadia before beating Rutgers-Newark. Lancaster Bible only plays five set matches it seems, so this one should be exciting. At 7pm I’m switching to Messiah vs SVU. Southern Virginia is coming off a huge CVC win vs Juniata, while Messiah dropped to them earlier this month. 

Who’s your personal top 5?

Ramius: 1) Vassar 2) Stevens 3) Juniata 4) Carthage 5) Springfield 

Harvey: 1) Stevens 2) Vassar 3) Juniata 4) St. John Fisher 5) Messiah

Lindsay: 1) Stevens 2) Vassar 3) Springfield 4) Juniata 5) St John Fisher