In your view, what was the most significant result this weekend?
Ramius: I’d have to say UCSC over Nichols is the one which caught my eye the most. The two Pool B bids are going to be very competitive this year. Springfield has played their way into a position to claim one of them at the moment, so UCSC having a win over fellow independents Nichols and Cal Lutheran adds a lot of value to their resume.
Harvey: The Pool B jockeying for slot 2 is crazy important. UCSC now has head-to-head results against California Lutheran and Nichols who are two major contenders.
Lindsay: Maybe NCC getting the 5 set win vs Loras? NCC already has a few early season blemishes on their resume, and they can’t afford to drop too many when Carthage is in your conference. Loras has a rep for playing spoiler and that’s at least a little harder to do if you’re on the road.
We’re in the second half of the season now, with April getting ever closer. Which teams are leading in the at-large bid horse race?
Ramius: Some of the power conferences are in better shape than others. Logic dictates the runners-up in the MAC, UVC, CVC and CCIW this year are in good position to claim an at-large. But this is largely based on who those teams are. For example, based on out of conference play there is a world of difference in St. John Fisher being the UVC runner-up as opposed to New Paltz right now.
If the question was which teams are the safest at this point in the year, I’d say Juniata, Stevens, Vassar, and Messiah. Their resumes I think are enough to weather upsets in their conference tournaments.
Harvey: The top Pool C contenders are as follows. MAC Runner-Up (Messiah), UVC Runner-Up (SJFU/NYU), CCIW Runner-Up (NCC), and CVC Runner-Up (Marymount?). There are still some big matches on the horizon, specifically some California trips that will play vital in the Pool B and Pool C bids
Lindsay: I think the UVC, MAC and CVC are two-bid conferences. The former NECC had a tough weekend as both Endicott and Nichols lost to their Independent foes, Springfield and Santa Cruz respectively. I know that’s not technically an at-large, but essentially those are like conference matches.
We highlighted freshman impact players last week, in the same vein which sophomore athletes have stepped into roles to make contributions to their programs this year?
Ramius: Tyler Donovan out North Central. A legit 6’7 setter with blocking presence (.81 blocks/set), averaging 10.21 assists/set (third in the country) and has the Cardinals hitting .312% on the year. You can’t ask more from anyone.
Harvey: Alberto Maurico from Elmira. Among the council of frogs, I was highest on Alberto at the conclusion of last season. As the 2023 season continues to commence, Alberto is producing at a higher volume especially in some of the biggest matches of the season, having gone over 20 kills in 3 of his last 4 matches.
Lindsay: For as long as I’ve been following Div. III men’s vb, Nahuel Reccabaren has been the guy for SVU. Everyone had them sliding back, but Christian Sheaffer has done his best to keep the Knights in contention. The schedule is filled with important CVC matches, so he’s going to need to be more like Lancaster Bible Sheaffer (16 kills, .542%) then Messiah Sheaffer (13 errors, .065%) if they want to keep moving.
Matches you have your eyes on this week? Any upset picks?
Ramius: We have Carthage versus Loras tonight, Elmira vs Nazareth, and NYU vs Stevens. Take your pick.
Harvey: My upset picks have finally cooled off. So I will be taking a week’s break from playing Nostradomus. This week I’ve got my eye on NYU and Stevens this Wednesday as well as the CCIW gauntlet for the reigning national champions, as Carthage has Loras on Wednesday and NCC on Saturday.
Lindsay: If Harvey is cooling off on upsets, I might as well be living in an ice cave. Let’s just go with matches I’m watching with my cat Little Shacky. I’m sticking with my Southern Virginia spotlight. They face Randolph-Macon for a second time. RMC took the first round and SVU can’t afford to lose to them again. I also like Harvey’s Wednesday pick of Carthage vs Loras because Corey Mayotte is another Sophomore we should highlight.
Who’s your personal top 5?
Ramius: Vassar, Stevens, Springfield. Juniata, Carthage
Harvey: Stevens, Vassar, Springfield. Juniata, Carthage
Lindsay: Same as last week