Thursday, 23 May 2024

Men’s College Roundup: The Early Look at Projected Front-Runners

Welcome back to the first college roundup of the new year! As we kick off the season, let’s take a closer look at the first AVCA poll of 2024 to see who the potential front-runners are. This roundup not only highlights some key matches of the week but also focuses on athletes involved in the USA Volleyball National Team Development Program.

NCAA Division I/II

No. 1 UCLA

The defending national champions, UCLA, had a strong start to the 2024 campaign with wins over Fort Valley State and Morehouse. These victories showcase their determination to maintain their championship form. Some notable performances in their match against Morehouse include Zach Rama leading in kills with 10, and Sean McQuiggan leading in blocks with 5. UCLA’s next challenge will be against Lewis on January 11.

Players from UCLA who are also part of the USA Volleyball National Team Development Program include Andrew Rowan, Ethan Champlin, Micah Wong Diallo, Alex Knight, Merrick McHenry, and Zach Rama. Their achievements on the national level contribute to the strength and talent of the UCLA team.

No. 2 Long Beach State

Long Beach State enters the season with four returning starters from last year’s team, which went 21-5 overall. Although they fell in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament to UCLA, they are eager to prove themselves once again. Their first match of the season will be against Long Island.

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Players from Long Beach State who are also part of the USA Volleyball National Team Development Program include Mason Briggs, Clarke Godbold, Sebastian Rodriguez, Ben Braun, Dane Hillis, Sebastiano Sani, Chris Connelly, and Aiden Knipe. These players bring a wealth of experience and skill to the team.

No. 3 Hawaii

As the 2023 NCAA runner-up, Hawaii started the season strong with a 3-0 win over No. 10 Loyola Chicago. This victory extends their impressive win streak in season openers to 11. Hawaii’s next match will be against Loyola Chicago once again, followed by two games against Emmanuel.

Players from Hawaii who are also part of the USA Volleyball National Team Development Program include Chaz Galloway, Kai Rodriguez, and Tread Rosenthal. Their contributions add depth and talent to the already formidable Hawaii team.

No. 4 UC Irvine

UC Irvine enters the 2024 season with a No. 4 ranking. Last year, three of the top-five teams in the final AVCA poll were from the Big West conference, showcasing the conference’s strength. UC Irvine’s first match of the season will be against George Mason.

Players from UC Irvine who are also part of the USA Volleyball National Team Development Program include Cole Power and Akhil Tangutur. Their experience and skills will be invaluable assets to the team.

No. 5 Ohio State

Ohio State kicks off the season in the top five after a strong performance last year. They finished with a 23-10 overall record and 11-3 in MIVA regular-season play. In their season opener, they defeated North Greenville University 3-0. Their upcoming matches include Daemen University and St. Francis.

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Players from Ohio State who are also part of the USA Volleyball National Team Development Program include Shane Wetzel, Jacob Pasteur, Ben Putnam, and Kyle Teune. These players bring their expertise and dedication to the team.

NCAA Division III

Stevens wins the DIII National Championship
Stevens wins the 2023 DIII National Championship (Carlisle Stockton/Stevens Athletics)

No. 1 Stevens

The defending national champions, Stevens, had an exceptional 2023 season with a record-setting 35-3 record. Ready to defend their title, they begin the 2024 campaign with an exhibition match against No. 3 Vassar. Following that, they will start the regular season against Sacred Heart on January 10.

No. 2 North Central (IL)

North Central had an impressive 2023 season, setting a program record with a 25-4 overall record. Making their first appearance in the NCAA Championship match, they finished as runners-up. North Central will have exhibition matches with McKendree and Saint Xavier before officially beginning the season on January 18 against Dominican University (Ill.).

No. 3 Vassar

Vassar finished last season with a record of 26-2, falling in the semifinals of the NCAA DIII Tournament to North Central. The UVC coaches’ poll has selected Vassar as the preseason favorite for 2024. They will begin their season against Adrian College at the Cal Lutheran Invitational on January 12.

No. 4 Messiah

Messiah will start their 2024 season by hosting Drew University on January 20. Last season, they posted a 27-6 record during the regular season and reached the NCAA DIII semifinals.

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No. 5 Juniata

Juniata rounds out the top five after a successful 2023 season, recording 30 wins with only three losses. They will play an exhibition match against Saint Francis (Pa.) before starting the season against Stevenson on January 13.

NTDP Player Spotlight

  • Trent Moser (BYU)
  • Nyherowo Omene (Princeton)
  • Ryan Merk (Penn State)
  • Wesley Smith (USC)

These players, who are part of the USA Volleyball National Team Development Program, bring their exceptional skills and experience to their respective teams. Be sure to catch their season openers to see them in action!

FAQs

Stay tuned for our FAQ section coming soon!

Conclusion

The college volleyball season promises exciting matches and exceptional talent. Whether it’s the top-ranked teams in NCAA Division I/II or the powerhouses of Division III, each team brings something unique to the court. Follow the journey of these remarkable athletes and witness the passion and dedication that define the sport of college volleyball. To stay up to date with all things volleyball, visit the official website of Alpinetgheep.