Too Early Top-10 (2024)

The new school year has finally begun and the 2024 D3VB season is only a few months away! This can only mean it’s time for Ramius to stir the pot with an intrinsically meaningless top-10 opinion list. The official FrogJump Top 20 won’t be released until January, so I’m happy to give you my way too early top-10 until the first rankings get released. Let it be known the Top 20 is our “official” FrogJump ranking, as it is not based on opinions but statistics. If you don’t like my takes below, that’s ok. You can prove me wrong when the season begins.

1. Stevens Institute of Technology

The Ducks won their second NCAA Championship in convincing fashion last season and will rightfully begin the year as the team to beat in the D3VB landscape. The Ducks will return their entire championship corps from 2023, a roster which was strong enough to finish the year 35-3. The bar of excellence has been officially set, good luck to everyone else.

2. Wentworth Institute of Technology

Leopard stock is high this year, and for good reason. Jacob LaBouliere is the most dangerous point scorer in D3VB, being a matchup nightmare for every team in the landscape. The addition of Connor Dunz (St. Francis) is a huge pickup this offseason, which complimented a talented freshmen class. The big question marks will be who starts at Opposite and Setter, but Coach Giglio has a deep enough squad to answer this in time.

3. North Central Cardinals

The Cardinals fell just short in 2023, losing in the NCAA Finals to Stevens 3-1. They lost All-American Jeremy Cardenas to graduation but scored big off-season victories with the return of All-American Jared Moser and transfer of libero Danny Smithers. Combined with the breakout performances of Austin Scott and Tyler Donovan, I have North Central pegged as the best of the Midwest to start the year.

4. Vassar

Vassar was one of the teams to beat last year but will take a step back with the graduations of All-Americans Andrew Kim and Gavin Van Beveren. Even so, their depth was one of the factors keeping them at the top of the landscape, and their depth will be what has them as the top dog in the UVC to start the year. The Brewers had several pins competing for time throughout 2023, with Billy Fan, Andrew Gauaragno, and Payne Lounsberry all in the mix for increased usage in the post Kim era. A healthy Vaughn Ramsey at Opposite is a prime breakout candidate this season. 

5. Southern Virginia

Tom Peterson continues to work magic down in Virginia, and the Knights are one of my early picks to be a top 5 team in 2024. Christian Shaeffer became the face of the offense last year as a sophomore, and the Knights are returning the majority of their corps which stunned Springfield in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year. The recipe is there for the Knights to compete at the top this season, heard it here first.

6. Juniata

The Eagles graduated Kevin Duffy last year, and the loss of the perennial All-American will most assuredly have an effect. But the Exeter trio of Goldsborough-Hoffman-Ganter remain, and as seniors will keep the Eagles in contention to retain their CVC Championship. I have my eyes on Tyler Phillips as an early breakout candidate for them this year.

7. New York University

A lot of people are going to message me about this one, but I’m pretty high on the NYU Violets to start 2024. No team played a harder schedule than the Violets last season, at one point having an SOS over .700 (wow). This is going to pay dividends for them, as they return a plethora of young players who have the ability to compete for a UVC championship this season. The graduations of Gauthum Dasari and Ryan Li will obviously need to be addressed, but a returning corps of Knudsen, Kagan, Osiecki, and Cohen has a lot of upside. 

8. Springfield College

Last year’s Springfield Pride was incredibly young and put to the test almost immediately. Dylan Mulvaney was a standout setter for them as a freshman and Chris Rouleau embraced the grind transitioning to Middle Blocker. They’ll bring in 6 new players to supplement their core from last year, as they look to return to the NCAA Tournament. Culture matters, and there aren’t many programs in the country with a culture like Springfield. They’ll remain in the conversation as one of the best in 2024.  

9. Carthage

The Firebirds are going to look a lot different this year after graduating a lot of senior depth (barring any covid years I’m not aware of). Markes, McNulty, and Cholewinski will form the foundation of this squad, with Owen Hendricks (OH) and Ben Heise (OP) being incoming freshman with the potential to make some noise early.

10. Benedictine

Another selection I’m going to get a lot of messages about. In Coach Katarzynski’s first year the Eagles won the NACC Championship and were up 9-6 in set 5 before losing to eventual NCAA runner-up NCC in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They’ll return All-American Chase Olsen and program stalwart Martin Radomski for graduate years, and they have an absolutely loaded incoming class of freshman. If they can figure out the setting situation (and I think they will) the wins are going to come.