Which result caught your eye the most from the last week of matches?
Ramius: I think the MCVL results were the ones I found most surprising. Mount Union has been pegged to be the front runner in the conference the majority of the year. However, Wittenberg was able to outlast them in cincosets, and Baldwin Wallace sent a statement by sweeping Wittenberg shortly after.
We’re only about a year and half removed from when Fontbonne was dominating the MCVL, but the conference is starting to come of age as a Mount Union, Wittenberg, and Baldwin Wallace become competitive. While I still favor Mount Union down the stretch, Baldwin Wallace has a chance to play for the #1 seed in conference if they can follow up their win over Wittenberg with a victory over Mount Union on March 25th.
Harvey: St. Joe’s (LI) squeaked one out over Ramapo in 5 holding down the top dog spot in the Skyline, but that Ramapo squad has a lot of veteran presence and could make a splash in April.
Additionally, UCSC also picked up another important win over Cal Lu when it comes to the Pool B conversation down the road.
Lindsay: Did anyone have Kean beating Randolph Macon? I’m not sure that we’ve even mentioned Kean this year but maybe they’re back on the rise. California has been good to Nazareth and if they can beat Cal Lu on Monday, they’d come back undefeated.
Highlight a few guys at each position you think are making cases for All-American honors this year.
Outside Hitter: One pin I would like to highlight who’s probably under the radar more than he should be is Cameron Ternant out of Mount Union. The Senior pin is having a career year, averaging 3.5 kills/set while hitting .393 for the year; first team All-American numbers.
Middle Blocker: I think Gavin Van Beveren out of Vassar has quietly been the best middle in D3VB this season, hitting .560 (2.1 kills/set) on top of averaging 1.17 blocks/set. It’s the best play of his career, and the Brewers are capitalizing on it.
Opposite: I think it’s safe to say Jarrett Anderson has been the best Opposite in the country this year (again). Easy (boring) pick by me.
Setter: I’ve talked about Tyler Donovan a few times this year, but I’ll reiterate that I think he’s been one of the best setters in D3VB. Facilitating one of the best offenses in the country while helping Jared Moser and Jeremy Cardenas have career years puts him on my shortlist.
Libero: Michael Dougherty out of Stevenson has done everything the Mustangs could have asked and more this year, I have him pegged for postseason honors.
Outside Hitter: Jacob Labouliere. The only thing that has slowed this guy down is a dislocated/broken pinky. Because of missed matches, he doesn’t qualify for the NCAA leaderboard, but if he did…. He would rank 3rd in Kills/Set (4.70) and 2nd in Hitting Percentage (.492). Combining that level of production and efficiency doesn’t happen often.
Middle Blocker: I’ll take a different bird from the Cardinal flock, and talk about Jeremy Cardenas. Jeremy is currently 3rd in the country for both blocking and attack percentage, averaging 1.3 blocks/set and hitting .462 while averaging 2.2 Kills/Set. Another outstanding season for the big man.
Opposite: Here’s a name off the beaten path, Kevin Boncaro of Trine. Kevin is currently averaging 3.9 Kills per set (12th in NCAA) and is hitting a respectable .240 He may not have the numbers against nationally ranked opponents to make the final cut, but he will be in discussion at the all-region level.
Setter: Going to the MAC to feature Matt Knab of Messiah, while he is “only” 5th in the country in Assists/Set he is conducting the country’s 8th most efficient offense (.309) and sits 2nd in Aces/Set as well as a great 2nd ball attacker and tremendous blocker. Put all of that together and Knab is averaging almost 2 Points/Set as a setter.
Libero: Zach Knudsen of NYU might not have eye-popping dig numbers as his 2.87 rank 17th in the NCAA. But if you have watched this guy play, his performances are far more deserving especially when you consider that NYU has one of the nation’s toughest schedules.
Outside: I actually don’t think we talk enough about some of the OHs on teams in the top 5. I’ll highlight Percy Bickford. He’s an efficient attacker who has good numbers vs good teams. Stevens is pretty balanced, but I like his body of work this year. You can’t be #1 in multiple polls without strong play from your OHs
Middleblocker: is anyone on the same level as Zach Bulthuis right now? Well probably, but he’s the top middle for my team anyway. He’s had 1 match all season hitting below .300 and I expect Carthage to lean heavily on him down the stretch.
Opposite: Andrew Zaleck has put the Rutgers offense on his back this season and it’s resulted in some gaudy kill totals. He was great last year, but I think he’s playing at the next level. 29 kills vs Stevens, 39 vs New Paltz, 27 vs RMC. And that’s just 3 of his last 5 matches.
Setter: Taylor Marks! Maybe Coach Judd subscribes to FrogJump and saw my note about letting him set and swing. Probably not but l can dream. He did both against Lasell and I hope that trend continues. It’s rare to see players do both and do it well. I hope he’s at least considered for an All-American nod.
Libero: I haven’t talked much about myself on purpose because it’s not important, but as a former high level Libero, I love to see a Lib that impacts both sides of the game. Harvey and Ramius just keep laughing at me when I talk about defense. It seems like there’s a top 1-3 at the other spots, but maybe more volatility at the lib. The one I’ve liked the most all year is Kyle Vasquez from Benedictine. When they made the finals two years ago, it was a lot of defense. They’re currently on a 7 game win streak and have a real chance to go undefeated in the conference. His senior leadership and experience should be an asset over the next few weeks.
Who are you projecting to win each conference at this point in March?
|UVC||Anyone who makes the conference tournament||Vassar||Vassar|
|MCVL||Mount Union||Baldwin Wallace||Baldwin Wallace|
|Skyline||St. Joseph – LI||St. Joe’s (LI)||St. Joseph- LI|
Based on who you have winning each conference, who do you see is in a good spot for Pool B and Pool C at-large bids?
Ramius: If the teams I think win their conferences hold out, I’d say the teams with the best Pool C at-large chances are Messiah (MAC) and North Central (CCIW). Marymount has actually played themselves into Pool C discussion, and I’m beyond certain Vassar has the resume to lose in the UVC tournament and easily make the tournament. The first Pool B bid is going to Springfield at this moment, and UCSC I think is the frontrunner for the second.
Pool B: Springfield – UCSC
Pool C: Messiah – NCC – SVU – NYU.
Lindsay: I’m really interested in what’s happening with the CVC.I would be surprised if there isn’t an upset in their playoffs. I’ve talked a few times about both Marymount and Southern Virginia being in the mix. I think Juniata is a lock, so those other two teams become much more intriguing.
What matches do you have your eyes on this week? Any upset picks?
Ramius: The UVC conference matches are what I have my eyes on this week. Vassar plays New Paltz on Wednesday followed by St. John Fisher vs New Paltz on Friday. The UVC conference tournament is going to feature six teams who have been in and out of the Top 20 programs all, and seeding is going to be VERY important. As it stands New Paltz and Vassar are competing for the number 1 seed, and there is a world of difference in being the #1 in the UVC and being the #2 or #3 seed.
Harvey: Mount Union vs. Baldwin Wallace on Saturday includes all of our picks for the MCVL title, so that match will be critical for seeding.
Not an upset pick, but an upset watch – CUW plays NYU on Sunday after NYU will have played Vassar. Could be a tough one for the Violets.
Lindsay: Great order of questions because you know who plays on Friday? Marymount vs. Southern Virginia. I’m taking notes on this one. I’m going to give the slight edge to SVU being that it’s a home game. I’ve been in that gym a few times and let me tell you, it’s cozy to put it mildly.
Who’s your personal top 5?
Ramius: Stevens, Vassar, Springfield, Juniata, NCC
Harvey:Stevens, Vassar, Springfield, Juniata, Messiah
Lindsay: Vassar, Stevens, Springfield, Juniata, NCC