It’s finally the time of year we begin to look towards 2024! There’s no better way to kick things off than with our summer Impact Recruits series, where we at the pond highlight some of the incoming freshmen we think might make some noise next season.
As I wrote last May, the odds are always stacked against incoming Freshmen when they join the DIII landscape. In the grand scheme of things, most of the athletes in any freshmen class are simply not going to make an impact on the division (at first). While they may have been dominant in High School, the college game is intrinsically different even at the DIII level. The serves are tougher, the blocks are larger, and the rallies are much shorter.
This is not to say “first years” cannot make waves, as talented newcomers always end up making a name for themselves. The 2023 season had a ton of freshmen showcased across the landscape, and I suspect 2024 will be no different. We’re approaching a time where some established D3VB faces will have exhausted their covid eligibility, meaning we’re due to see some new faces across the country in several programs.
Like last year, the list below is by no means exhaustive, and is displayed in alphabetical order so no one should be saying they are “ranked” in any meaningful way. For emphasis, we’ll be doing several segments throughout the summer, so don’t email me asking “why was my son not listed ☹” (looking at you parents!, YOUR KIDS HATE WHEN YOU DO THIS AND SO DO I).
Owen Huynh – Outside Hitter – Baldwin Wallace
Baldwin Wallace was overly reliant on Beard (OH) and Devlin (OP) last year, so the addition of Huynh is a welcome sight for 2024. An Outside Hitter from Vanguard, Huynh’s consistent hitting will be a valuable asset for the Yellow Jackets as they seek more options at the pins. He won’t be asked to carry an offensive load just yet, but his presence (if he earns the starting spot) will give Baldwin Wallace a viable third option.
Matt Marusza – Setter – New Paltz
The Canisius High School prospect enters New Paltz at the start of a youth movement within the Hawks. While not as physical as outgoing Shaffer, Marusza has shown flashes of the New Paltz style throughout his time with Niagara Frontier. Welcome to the Hawks Nest, enjoy the FrogJumps.
Daniel Sappia – Outside Hitter – Hobart
Daniel Sappia is the type of OH prospect you can build a foundation around, as he headlines the inaugural recruit class for Hobart in their first year of competition. Winning is hard at any level, doubly so for first year programs, but it’s safe to say Coach England has been here before after building the St. John Fisher program. As long as they trust the process and focus on culture, Sappia (and Hobart) will be players in the D3VB landscape over the next few years.
Brandon Sharp – Setter – Messiah
Messiah will surely miss the capable hands of Matt Knab, but Brandon Sharp is an excellent recruit to pass the torch to. The California native comes to Messiah with a combination of athleticism, location, and flash that parallels Jacob Kim at Vassar. Messiah will need all three as they seek to capitalize on their programs first Final Four appearance.
Tucker Shearn – Libero – Vassar
I don’t feature liberos very often, which should say enough about Tucker in itself. A multifaceted libero, Tucker comes to Vassar with the ability to pass half the court, set, and serve aggressively. Even on a team like Vassar, that’s enough checked boxes to contribute in some fashion in 2024.