WNY Volleyball NEWS



This site catalogs the news from Western New York's High School and college volleyball scene in order to provide greater recognition for the players, their hard work and achievement as well as awareness for the sport of volleyball. There exists a rich tradition of volleyball excellence within our region and it's time we celebrate it!




Another title for Canisius
Staff, Buffalo News
Saturday, August 27, 2016

For the third year in a row Canisius and Eden have met in the finals for the championship of the Clarence Invitational Tournament in boys volleyball. Canisius has won all three. “That’s kind of cool,” said Crusaders coach Tom Weislo after his team swept two sets from the Raiders, 25-19 and 25-21, to claim the title. Canisius had advanced with wins over Clarence and Lockport.

“It was a good start,” said Weislo, whose team went 34-0 last season. “Clarence and Lockport are very good teams and played well.”

Tournament MVP Devin Joslyn led Canisius with 32 kills, seven aces and four blocks in the tournament. Chas Palka had 28 kills and eight aces and Griffin Schmit 30 kills for the Crusaders.


Gold Playoffs


Canisius 25-25, Eden 19-21


Canisius 26-25, Lockport 24-14

Eden 25-21-15, Frontier 20-15-13


Canisius 25-25, Clarence 17-21

Frontier 15-25-15, Orchard Park 25-19-9

Lockport 25-25, St. Francis 19-23

Eden 25-25, West Seneca West 23-21

Silver Final

St. Joe’s 30, Lancaster 27

Hamburg 30, Sweet Home 28


St. Joe’s 30, Hamburg 27

Bronze Final

Wmsv. South 30, Iroquois 22

Cheektowaga 30, Amherst 11


Wmsv. South 30, Cheektowaga 21

Pool A

Canisius 25-25, Lancaster 9-14

West Seneca West 25-25, Iroquois 18-19

Canisius 25-25, Iroquois 21-14

West Seneca West 25-25, Lancaster 23-19

Lancaster 25-25, Iroquois 14-23

Canisius 25-25, West Seneca West 13-22

Pool B

Orchard Park 25-25, Hamburg 11-18

St. Francis 25-30, Cheektowaga 20-28

Orchard Park 25-25, Cheektowaga 15-19

Hamburg 26-14, St. Francis 24-25

Hamburg 25-25, Cheektowaga 11-19

Orchard Park 21-15, St. Francis 25-19

Pool C

Clarence 25-25, Sweet Home 12-19

Eden 25-25, Amherst 2-12

Clarence 25-25, Amherst 8-8

Eden 25-25, Sweet Home 13-19

Sweet Home 25-25, Amherst 11-6

Clarence 30-18, Eden 28-25

Pool D

Lockport 25-25, St. Joe’s 9-18

Frontier 25-25, Wmsv. South 15-20

Lockport 25-25, Wmsv. South 13-19

Frontier 25-25, St. Joe’s 11-19

St. Joe’s 24-25, Wmsv. South 26-20

Lockport 25-25, Frontier 20-19

MVP: Devin Joslyn (Can).

All Tournament team: Chas Palka (Can), Gavin Musielk (Eden), Collin Rigley (Eden), Brandon Dunz (Front), Zach Gerken (Front), Marc Bixby (Lock), Zach Schneider (Lock).

#PrepTalkPreview: Boys volleyball -- How long can Canisius stay perfect? Section VI's Division II does a split
By Miguel Rodriguez Buffalo News
Thursday, August 25, 2016


Canisius's Griffin Schmit (10) was a major part of Canisius' historic season last year. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)


2015 champions: Orchard Park (Section VI, Division I), Williamsville North (Section VI, Division II), Canisius (Monsignor Martin).

2015 All-WNY underclassmen: Griffin Schmit-11 (Canisius), Henry Payne-11 (Clarence).

Tough act to follow: How does Canisius follow up perfection?

“I don’t know if we can top last year,” said coach Tom Weislo of the Crusaders capping a 34-0 record by capturing the program’s 16th straight Monsignor Martin Association regular-season and postseason championships. “This group of guys will have a chance to carve out their own legacy.”

Even if many of the faces are still the same. Canisius returns nine, including four starters, from its Prep Talk Team of the Year squad – including Prep Talk Player of the Year Griffin Schmit. Schmit’s coming off a season in which he finished with a hitting percentage of .506, including 477 kills. His college suitors include Penn State, Harvard, Princeton and UCLA.

Schmit isn’t the only top talent on the Crusaders. Senior classmate Devin Joslyn heads into the season fresh off earning a spot on the United States Youth National Team, helping his country earn silver in the NORCECA Championships in Cuba. He and Schmit will be invited to try out for the U.S. Youth National team that qualified for the world tournament as a result of the team’s NORCECA placement.

Senior Chas Palka, like Joslyn a second-team All-WNY pick, is coming off a summer in which he won a number of beach volleyball tournaments. “In terms of all skills, he’s the most complete volleyball player in Western New York because he can do it all,” Weislo said.

Joslyn and Palka also are on the Division I radar, with Princeton interested in both of them. Other key Crusaders include senior Dan Kane, who will share setting and hitting duties with Palka, and junior Troy Gooch.

Canisius won’t leave the state for any tournament action this season, but its schedule is still challenging. It includes an appearance at the Cicero-North Syracause Tournament and nonleaguers at state Class A champion McQuaid, at Clarence and at Eden. The Crusaders also host Section V contender Fairport.

“It’s a great bunch of kids and I’m looking forward to starting the season with them,” Weislo said.

Is this the year? What do Clarence and the Buffalo Bills have in common?

The most recent time the Bills made the playoffs, 1999, is also the year the Red Devils last won the ECIC I and Section VI championships.

Clarence may have a better shot at ending its drought as it returns three starters from last season’s squad which lost to eventual section champion Orchard Park in five sets. It helps that Clarence has one of the top players in the area in 6-foot-4 senior Henry Payne. The offense flows through the coveted Division I recruit, whose suitors include Ohio State, Loyola (Chicago) and Brigham Young.

He’s not the only Red Devil looking to cause opponents Payne. Henry’s little brother Teddy is coming off a solid season in which he started as an eighth-grader.

Both Paynes participated in select high performance USA Volleyball Camps during the offseason, as did junior setter Sean Trznadel.

While several teams have deemed Clarence the favorite, veteran coach Kevin Starr knows the competition will be fierce as usual, especially in ECIC I. Remember, Lancaster is two seasons removed from winning sectionals, while Williamsville North is the reigning Section VI Division II champ. League rival Orchard Park is the defending Division I champion.

“That’s what ECIC I is like,” he said. “It’s a battle every match. … We’re going to be one of the top teams but Orchard Park will be strong again. Lockport (of the Niagara Frontier League) should have a nice team. … But we have as good of a chance as any other team.”


Clarence's Henry Payne is a returning first-team All-WNYer. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Champs look solid: The Quakers do return championship experience in juniors Cam Hassen and Matt Donohue, who is entering his third season. Senior Paul Hackford also saw lots of time on the court last year.

“We’re strong,” Orchard Park coach Matt Lexner said. “We don’t have a star hitter. (But) we’re good at a lot of things.”

New Frontier: Coach Bill Faust believes he has a group of sophomores that will turn out to be special for Frontier. Add five returning starters into the mix and the Falcons have reason to believe they may a team ready to soar to new heights after finishing one game above .500 last year.

The sophomores include 6-5 Brandon Dunz, who got called up to varsity midway through last season and performed very well. Three-sport athletes Brian Norsen and Ben Taylor are the younger brothers of Frontier graduates who earned All-WNY and should make an impact. “There’s some pedigree there,” Faust said.

Returning veterans include senior setter and third-year player Zach Gerken, a lefty who Faust calls a jack of all trades. Senior Alex Boglev will be used in different roles, too, as the Falcons look to win their first sectional title since 2011.

“It’s going to be a fun year,” Faust said.

What’s new: For the first time, the Section VI Tournament in Division II will be split into two classes. It makes perfect sense with there being 20 schools in that classification. With the classification numbers in volleyball different than most sports, this also gives legitimate Class B-sized schools an opportunity to contend for a sectional title. Normal Class A-sized schools have won the Division II title each year since 2011, with Williamsville North capturing the crown last year as a No. 18 seed.

“It levels the playing field a little bit,” Cheektowaga coach Jon Marcussen said. “Williamsville North is two-and-a-half-times bigger than we are. It’s hard to go against a school that has two-and-a-half-times more to choose from.”

North is in Division I this year as it is 16 students over the smaller-bracket limit of 949. But Niagara-Wheatfield, a member of Class AA North in football, is the largest of the teams in Division II at 946 – or 430 more students than Cheektowaga. Eden has only 333.

It should be noted that there are still four Class A-sized schools in other sports that will be part of the 10-team second bracket of Division II during the postseason, which will include smaller schools like Cheektowaga and Eden. But the odds are now a bit better for the non-Class A schools. For the record, Holland has the smallest enrollment in Division II at 213.

Eden update: With Division II now split into two classes, does this open the door for Eden to return to its championship ways? The Raiders haven’t won sectionals since 2010, capping an astounding run of 10 titles in 11 years.

Even though coach Robert Pierce’s crew graduated eight seniors, Eden can’t be discounted. “We’ll be relatively young, but I think we have some guys up to the challenge,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be the best team we can be come November.”

Returning starters include junior outside hitter Colin Rigley and senior middie Jesse Brockman. Senior Connor Higgins also has starts under his belt, while Pierce expects good things from junior Drew Hesse – who had a good offseason.

Another Raider to keep an eye on is football convert Sawyer Overhoff, a senior who opted to play volleyball last season after football canceled its varsity season due to lack of players. Pierce likes Overhoff’s athleticism and strength. “He’s a good leader and good kid to have on our court,” Pierce said.

Around the courts: Cheektowaga has eight returnees on its roster of five seniors and seven juniors. Junior Ervin Harrell is a talented, strong hitter for the Warriors. Other key returnees include seniors Zach Reinhardt and Matt Carney and junior Andrew Reichert. The Warriors last won sectionals in 2008.

-- Sean Taggert and C.J. Luksch return to lead St. Francis’ quest to end Canisius’ reign as league champions.

-- St. Joe’s returns four starters, including seniors Matthew Duke, outside hitter; Matthew Mayer, outside hitter; Michael Rizzo, the libero; and junior 6-4 middle blocker Connor Wolburt. Coach Mark Anzalone also expects good things from senior Stephen Wells.

-- Kenmore East looks to improve on last year’s 3-14 mark with a fairly young squad. Two seniors hoping to lead the way for eighth-year coach Kyle Horvatis’ crew include Konner Flynn and Joe Grisanti. Look for a lot of kills from the 6-4 Flynn, who was a team leader last year.

-- Hamburg expects to be very good on defense and controlling the ball, which should make the Bulldogs a dangerous team come postseason. Hamburg has some size on the outside in 6-5 Jacob Couzens and 6-2 Jon Gordner. Others hoping to lead the Bulldogs to their third sectional title in four years include libero/setter Dan Gunning and Alex Andrzejewski.

Save the dates: Clarence Tournament, Aug. 27; Eden Tournament (at Buffalo Niagara Center Court), Sept. 10; North Tonawanda Tournament, Sept. 10; Cheektowaga Tournament, Sept. 17; Ken-Ton Tournament, Sept. 24; Penfield Tournament, Oct. 8; Orchard Park Tournament, Oct. 15; Hamburg Tournament, Oct. 22.

Championship time: Section VI Tournament begins Oct. 28; Section VI Finals, Nov. 8 at Lackawanna; Section VI Division II overall final, Nov. 9 at Orchard Park; Far West Regionals at Orchard Park, Nov. 12; state Final Four, Nov. 19 at Suffolk Community College; Monsignor Martin Tournament, TBA.

Who’s the favorite to earn Prep Talk Player of the Year? Schmit, the reigning Player of the Year, Joslyn and Payne.

#PrepTalkPreview: Girls volleyball -- Eden going for more history, Clarence & Will East return strong squads
By Miguel Rodriguez Buffalo News
Thursday, August 25, 2016


Clarence's Meghan Neelon is headed to Alabama. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

2015 champions: Clarence (Section VI, Class AA), Williamsville East (Section VI, Class A), Iroquois (Section VI, Class B), Eden (Section VI, Class C), Portville (Section VI, Class D), St. Mary’s (Monsignor Martin).

Eden and Portville won state titles, St. Mary’s lost in the state Catholic semifinals, and Clarence and Williamsville East both reached the state final four.

2015 All-WNY underclassmen: Samantha Burgio-11 (Eden), Meghan Neelon-11 (Clarence), Lexi Novak-11 (Williamsville East), Lindsay Proctor-11 (Grand Island).

2015 All-WNY Large School: Neelon, Novak, Proctor, Julia Kurowski-10 (Lancaster), Julie Milbrand-11 (North Tonawanda).

2015 All-WNY Small School: Burgio, Molly Breier-11 (Eden), Summer Slade-10 (St. Mary’s).

Chasing history: Eden has won seven straight state titles, which is a record for consecutive New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association championships in girls volleyball, but don’t expect the Raiders to fall back to the pack.

They return five starters, including reigning state Gatorade Player of the Year Sam Burgio. The Prep Talk Player of the Year along with senior classmate and libero Molly Breier has an opportunity to make even more history.

“If we win a state title, they will be the first six-time state champions,” Eden coach Stephen Pierce said. “I don’t think anyone’s done that, period.”

If anyone has, it’s probably a local since Sweet Home is the only other team to win six straight state titles (1990-95).


Eden's Samantha Burgio was the Gatorade Player of the Year for New York State and the Prep Talk Player of the Year last season. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

The first chance the two will likely cross paths is Sept. 10 at the 12-team St. Mary’s Tournament.

St. Mary’s moves forward: Although the Lancers graduated seven seniors, the cupboard isn’t bare.

Senior Caitlin Meyer returns and has been receiving Division II offers. Junior Summer Slade has an offer from Canisius and is also getting interest from West Virginia and Kent State. Others hoping to lead St. Mary’s back to the state Catholic tournament include sophomore middle hitter Hannah Mulhern and freshman Kelly Clubbersly.

Northtown powers: Clarence and Williamsville East both accompanied eventual state champions Eden and Portville to Glens Falls last season. Can either of them (or both) make another run to return to the Adirondack Region?

“I think we just have to keep doing what we do, except do it better,” Clarence coach Michael Meyer said.

“Everyone wants success,” Flames coach Scott Wright said. “We hope to be the best team we can be, come playoff time.”

The politically correct comments aren't the only similarities between the teams. Each returns several key players.

Skinny on Clarence: The Red Devils return five starters and 12 total, including Alabama-commit Meghan Neelon, a state Gatorade Player of the Year nominee. Neelon, a two-time All-WNY pick, has made the United States Intercontinental Team four straight years.

Other returning starters include seniors Maddie Christopher, Emiley Kuhn and Mary Owen and junior Melissa Rapzel. Sophomore Jaide Cummings is going to transition from libero to outside hitter.

“She got a lot taller and she had a chance to play outside in club and she has a great swing,” said Meyer of the move.

This is unusual year for Clarence in that it’s the first time in a while it will start more seniors than underclassmen. “Those underclassmen are finally seniors,” Meyer said. “A couple years ago, we started four sophomores and they’re still starters.”

Lexi’s back: Williamsville East also has an elite player back in the fold in senior Lexi Novak. She’s one of 11 returnees for the Flames.

Junior Mikayla Greenfield returns as setter and will look to feed classmate Ally Jozwiak and senior Leah Orsini. The Flames could receive a mid-season boost from Rachel Steffan, a key player during the playoff run who is out with a broken ankle.

The only real downer: the graduation losses of current Canisius player Carly Shifflet and Geneseo-bound Samantha Mendelshon.

“There’s going to be a little shift in the lineup," Wright said. "We have to find out who our six best are.”

Talent watch: It’s no secret Western New York has volleyball talent (boys and girls).

Among the many players expected to shine include Grand Island senior outside hitter Lindsay Proctor and Alyssa Babinger and Julia Kurowski of Lancaster.

Etcetera: Sacred Heart could be a contender with solid players Micaela Ryan and Mia Wild leading the Sharks attack.

-- City Honors remains independent and will play a 20-match schedule. The Centaurs, who will be in Class B during the postseason, expect to remain competitive even though they're young and replacing seven gradauated seniors. City Honors does return six to the mix: Nashid Fulcher, Alena McKelvey along with Jenna Balducci, Victoria Guzman, Jewell Eason and Philomena Burger.

-- Hamburg lost two All-WNY talents to graduation but return three juniors entering their third seasons in Kailee Herbst, Eleanor Clarke and Meg Seider. The Bulldogs finished last season ranked fifth among large schools.

What’s new: Two-time defending state champion Portville moves from Class D to Class C. Section VI Class B champion Iroquois moves into Class A.

Save the dates: St. Mary’s Tournament, Sept. 10; Eden Tournament (at Buffalo Niagara Center Court), Sept. 24; St. Mary’s at Nike Invitational in Phoenix, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1; Clarence Tournament, Oct. 1; St. Mary’s at Garden State Tournament at Fairleigh Dickinson, Oct. 8-9; Horseheads Classic, Oct. 15; Williamsville East Friday Night Lights Tournament (at BNCC), Oct. 21, Hamburg Tournament, Oct. 21.

Championship time: Section VI Tournament begins Oct. 26; Section VI finals, Nov. 3-4, Nov. 7; Regionals, Nov. 12; state Final Four, Nov. 19-20; Monsignor Martin Association, TBA; state Catholic Tournament, TBA.

Who are the favorites to win Prep Talk Player of the Year? Reigning Prep Talk Player of the Year Burgio, Neelon, Novak, Proctor, Kurowski and Slade.

Reigning section ‘B’ champion Lady Chiefs hit hard by graduation on volleyball court
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter East Aurora Bee
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Iroquois’ girls volleyball team stunned many observers last season by charging through the Class B bracket and upsetting undefeated top-seed Maryvale in the B-1 championship.

A similar run to glory would be even more inconceivable, however, since to do so would mean Iroquois had overcome the loss of nine players — including all six starters — from last year’s squad that claimed its first overall Class B sectional title in nearly two decades and finished 9-12 overall.

But, as the 2015 Lady Chiefs demonstrated, you never say never.

“Our goal is to repeat our performance from the section playoffs, but in order to do that we need to keep our focus on the end result — as we did last year — so that we can get better physically and mentally with each set and each match,” coach Mark Dubel said. “Last year we returned many of the starting players from 2014 and only had a couple of spots to fill, but this season we are beginning with an all new starting lineup and far less experience at the varsity level.

“We know we have a lot of work to do to be competitive against the perennially-strong programs in our league, which will be even tougher this year.”

Dubel is hoping that senior outside hitter and team co-captain Anne Feneziani can help set the tone for this year’s group thanks to her being a contributor to the squad’s playoff run last season. Dubel called Feneziani “a significant factor in our quarterfinal win over Albion” thanks to her “solid defensive passing from the back row and several key kills in the front row.”

Other players — like senior middle hitter Courtney Kling, as well as juniors Rachel Donner (setter) and Raven Kirsch (outside hitter) — will be asked to be bigger contributors to the team’s success this season after having the luxury of learning from the departed group of seniors from last year’s squad in 2015.

“We really need Courtney to step up this year and have her best season yet as she replaces Elena Grossman, and Rachel has an equally big role to fill in replacing Marina Caparaso,” Dubel said. “How Rachel adjusts to the faster pace of the varsity game will be a big factor in our potential for success this season. And Raven, she’s just one of our most consistent all-around players, and I have high expectations for her both offensively and defensively.”

Sophomore libero Katie Jacobs has also shown flashes of being ready to assume a central role in the varsity team’s success this season, with Dubel noting that how quickly she adjusts to the speed and power of varsity hitters as being one of the keys to how successful she can be this fall.

“I think right now our passing and serving are shaping up to be pretty good, which should help us to compete with the other teams and keep us in matches,” Dubel said. “We have good passing skills that will specifically allow us to keep the ball up and playable, and our serving is looking better than past seasons too.”

The Lady Chiefs will have the opportunity to see just how well their passing and serving stacks up against someone other than themselves this week when they take on Alden in scrimmage action. Dubel is also hoping to use the Alden scrimmage as a chance to see which of his new players “steps up and stands out” while tackling the faster and harder pace of the varsity game.

What Dubel learns from the scrimmage could potentially lead to adjustments in his lineup prior to the Lady Chiefs’ regular-season home opener against Hamburg on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

“I think a couple of the big keys for us, especially as we start the season, will be the solid fundamentals of passing well so that the setter can get a play on it, as well as maintaining control of the serve,” Dubel said. “If we can do those things well we will be able to generate the offense we need. If we’re struggling with passing and always on serve receive, though, it will be difficult for us to get ourselves out of that situation.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Chiefs’ boys volleyball coach seeks culture change
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter East Aurora Bee
Thursday, August 25, 2016


Iroquois’ Nathan Mathis, left, sets for hitter Thomas Brown during the boys volleyball team’s practice Friday. Photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Iroquois boys volleyball coach Mark Schlabach has been working with the Chiefs’ varsity team for six years, but within that timeframe success — at least in terms of the win column — has been a bit tough to come by.

That’s something he hopes can start to change with the 2016 version of his squad, especially since the Chiefs only lost three players to graduation last year.

“We didn’t lose many guys last year so the core of our team is still intact, and that’s a huge advantage for us,” Schlabach said. “From just the first week with this year’s group, I can tell that these guys have grown up a lot in the last year. We want to change the culture of volleyball at Iroquois, and I’m excited about what this team has the potential to do this year. We need to start winning matches, and that can happen with this team. They are capable. I’m just nervous they won’t see or believe what their potential really is.”

Helping to bolster Schlabach’s hope that the tide can start changing for the better for Iroquois this season is the return of senior outside hitter Jon Weremblewski to the fray. Weremblewski was sidelined for a large portion of the season with an ankle injury, so Schlabach is especially anxious to see how the third-year varsity team member is able to perform after doing enough in an incomplete season to garner ECIC II Second Team all-star status.

Another senior, setter Nate Mathis, also spent a good chunk of the season on the shelf due to injury last fall. His return is just as important to the Chiefs’ potential success as the on-the-court architect of Iroquois’ attack.

Fellow returning seniors Jake Duell (libero), Austin Besch (opposite-side hitter), Tom Brown (middle hitter) and Josh Aroune (middle hitter) figure to be just as prominent in Iroquois’ plans this season.

Duell, the reigning team MVP and the team’s only returning ECIC II First Team all-star, is embarking on his third year as the starting libero, while Besch’s reputation for unwavering effort has allowed him to play multiple positions over the course of his three-year career. Brown and Aroune, meanwhile, both put in the work during the offseason to be even more important cogs in the Chiefs’ machine this fall.

“Jake is the best ball handler we have on the team and has absolutely been a very important part of our team for the past two years,” Schlabach said. “Austin hustles after every ball and doesn’t take a single play off no matter where I put him, which is great. Tom has worked hard every year to get better for the season and this off season was no exception. He played club volleyball which has paid off for him coming into the gym this year ready to compete. And the same thing goes for Josh, who is his own toughest critic. He’s really shown a lot of improvement in just the first week of practice.”

Returning junior Zach Popovski (outside hitter), Jon Zon (outside hitter) and Nolan Walker (setter) should also see significant roles in the Chiefs’ match-to-match game plans this fall.

Popovski has played nearly every position in his previous three years with the varsity squad, but has honed his game from the outside hitter’s spot to where he should be competing for a starting role there this year. Zon, who will be alongside Popovski in that battle for playing time, showed that he was ready for varsity play when he was pulled up for the Chiefs’ playoff clash with Grand Island last year.

Walker, meanwhile, demonstrated a heady ability to handle tough situations last year when Mathis’ injury forced him into the starting lineup.

“Nolan really did a great job last year, especially considering he was being put in such a difficult situation,” Schlabach said. “He handled it well and grew up fast. He learned a lot, which should help him battle Nate for the starting spot this year.”

“Overall, I’m hoping that our ball control and the experience we have will be our strength this year,” Schlabach continued. “We aren’t really tall but hopefully what we lack in height we will make up for with ball control, defense, and good decisions with the ball.”

The Chiefs will begin to work on their decision-making process and their defense Saturday by taking part in Clarence’s annual Invitational Tournament. From there, Iroquois has a few days to work on any areas of concern that arise during the tournament before opening league play by hosting Williamsville South on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

“Right now, our main focus is to just take things one match at a time,” Schlabach said. “If we can come to practices and matches with a high level of focus and determination, there’s no reason why we can’t finish the year as a better team than we start the season as. One thing I do know is that our defense and our grit has the potential to take us far; this group absolutely refuses to let the ball hit the floor.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Quakers boys volleyball looking to defend sectional crown
by TAYLOR NIGRELLI Reporter Orchard Park Bee
Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Orchard Park boys volleyball team will have a different look to it in 2016. The defending sectional champions will still likely be among the best in the area, but the style of play will not resemble that of past Quaker teams.

Orchard Park teams are generally big and powerful, capable of blocking the ball or firing it back at the other side. This year’s team is more adept at ball control and making the smart play.

“We’re a very proficient team. We have excellent ball control,” Orchard Park Coach Matt Lexner said. “We’re not tall or very offensive. We do everything well. We’re not powerful or big, we just play well together. The goal is to work hard and outlast the other team. We can’t attack as well we did last year. We just focus on ball control and defense. That’s not a typical Orchard Park team.”

While the playing style may be quite different than years past, the make up of the team hasn’t actually changed much. Gone are All-Western New Yorkers Jason Manley and Spencer Eagleton. But every other player has returned.

“The two best players are gone, but we don’t have anyone who wasn’t on the team last team,” Lexner said. “The difference is that they’re going to be playing much bigger roles.”

The Quakers will rely on senior outside hitter Cam Hassen and senior setter Paul Hackford from a leadership perspective. Both will serve as team captains. Additionally, Lexner expects big contributions out of junior Matt Donahue, who has been on varsity since he was a freshman.

The season starts with the Clarence Tournament on Saturday while league play will begin soon after. ECIC I is generally one of the toughest divisions in the area. Clarence, with returning All-Western New York First-Team selection Henry Payne, will be a difficult match up. But the goal remains to win it, new style and all.

“The goals are always the same,” Lexner said. “We have three every year: win a tournament, win the division and put ourselves in a position to win the section title. That’s always the goal. They know very well what we want to do. We’re experienced all the way to our back ups. We’re a senior-heavy team.”

The Quakers are in an interesting position heading into the season. An experience team, down two all stars, playing an unfamiliar style. Lexner believes his team his capable of winning ECIC I, but as always, it has to be proven on the court.

“Now we have to see what happens.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

Quaker girls volleyball specializes in defense
by TAYLOR NIGRELLI Reporter Orchard Park Bee
Thursday, August 25, 2016


Sadie Joba, right, is set up by the since-graduated Shaye Swiatek during game action. Joba and the Quakers will play a defensive style in 2016. Photo by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Greg Lardo isn’t sure how the 2016 volleyball season will go for the Lady Quakers. He could see his team being competitive and making a playoff run. But to do that, the team will have to prove it can compete with some of the toughest competition in Western New York.

The 2015 squad had a great start to the season, winning every game until late September. The Quakers went to the finals in three of the four tournaments they entered. They finished near the top of their league, but lost in the quarterfinals of the sectional playoffs to Frontier.

Eight players are returning from that team, including four seniors. There’s some experience, but there are a few players new to varsity too. This makes it difficult to forecast how the season will go for the Quakers.

“I could see us having a good season, but it could also be a down season for us,” Lardo said “A lot of it will depend on the other teams. We have a good group of kids that can work well together. They just need to keep getting better. It’s still real early so it’s hard to guess what will happen during the year. I could see this team doing well or lacking experience.”

The Quakers have a pair of returning ECIC all stars in versatile outside hitter Sadie Joba and Liz Chow. Lardo also counts senior Sam Frappa, who plays in the middle, as one of his most important players.

Defense appears to be a strength for the Quakers. Outside hitter Kate Hennessey, Abby Ryan and freshman Brooke Shivley are all defensive specialists.

“We have a lot of defensive specialists in the back row,” Lardo said. “Our goal as a team is laying out on defense to make sure balls don’t hit the floor.

“We’re going to be defensive specialists. That’s what I want us to be. That’s going to be a strong part of our game. We want to be aggressive on the net. We have to get that mentality. We have to make sure we’re hitting the floor every time we have a chance to get the ball. We keep stressing that.”

Defense is more than just a strength or identity for the Quakers, it could be the ticket to upsetting more talented teams. Right now, it appears Lancaster and Clarence are the best teams in the league, but things can change over the course of the season.

“It’s not out of the question that we win the section,” Lardo said. “Clarence and Lancaster are both very good, but we just have to keep improving.”

Lardo knows his team will have to get down and dirty to have a chance against those types of teams. The Quakers will have to dive and fall to the floor to save any ball within range in order to have a chance to win.

“If we can frustrate those teams with our defense, I think we can surprise some people,” Lardo said. “The best team doesn’t always win the section. I’m not saying we’re not the best team, but we’re definitely not the favorites. We just have to keep working hard and keep improving. We have to keep fighting and keep playing hard. We’ll see how far we can take it at the end of the year.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

Team unity, veteran experience to guide Central boys volleyball
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, August 25, 2016

With a good chunk of players on this year’s team returning with another year of varsity experience under their belts, it’s no surprise that Cheektowaga boys volleyball coach Jon Marcussen is optimistic about the Warriors’ chances of improving on their 2015 effort.

“The majority of players on last year’s team were sophomores and juniors, so the expectation now is that these players have grown and they are ready to compete at the varsity level this year,” Marcussen said. “The players are pushing each other as they understand the demands of varsity and the quality of volleyball that is being played in Western New York.”

Just two starters graduated off last year’s squad that placed third in the ECIC III standings, leaving returning seniors Matt Carney (outside hitter), Matt Burke (libero), Darion Knightner (middle hitter) and Zach Reinhardt (ECIC III Second Team all-star setter), along with returning juniors Andrew Reichert (middle hitter) and Ervin Harrell (ECIC III First Team all-star setter), looking to either cement their starting status or challenge for one of those roles. Each of them, Marcussen said, gained experience last year and “are better prepared to compete this year after not playing at the varsity level just two years ago.”

Newcomers moving up from the JV level and looking to vie for playing time as well include juniors Jacob Warden (outside hitter), Gianni Hudson (outside hitter) and Justin Siejak (outside hitter). Marcussen said that “each of these players brings a skill set that will support last year’s returning players, whom they will also be pushing to keep their starting positions.”

“I am excited for this year’s team,” Marcussen said. “There is no clear cut leader on this team, as each player at different times has fulfilled the role. It is one of the reasons why a captain has not been chosen. I am excited by this team’s work ethic and desire to be one of the best teams in Western New York. This team has a strong sense of unity and the boys are working together to make this season successful. They are supporting and pushing each other, which will enable us to grow over the course of the season. They are a talented group of young men who should push to make a run in sectionals.”

Cheektowaga, which does not have any preseason scrimmages on the docket, expects to have its usual battles with division stalwarts like Eden, Maryvale and Starpoint as it vies for the regular season title. But, the Warriors are also hoping to hone their approach for league play by taking part in tournaments at Clarence — this Saturday — as well as Williamsville South and at their own gym at points later in the season.

“This group continues to work hard and is striving to be the very best,” Marcussen said. “I believe we have the talent and ability to challenge for a division title, but that is a major challenge considering who else is in our division. “We will just need to continue to work hard in practices and improve and learn from every match.”

Cheektowaga opens division play Wednesday, Sept. 7, by traveling to Starpoint.

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Maryvale girls volleyball hopes to repeat sectional success with revamped lineup
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, August 25, 2016

When Maryvale girls volleyball coach Tina Raczynski took over the varsity program five years ago, she projected that it would take four years — with the potential for some tough times in the interim — to lay the foundation for success.

That timeline proved to be accurate, as the Lady Flyers’ 2015 squad was undefeated right up through the sectional championships en route to finishing 17-1 overall last year.

Unfortunately, the culmination of the program’s growth ended not only with the first ECIC III title since 2000, but also meant that four key players who helped make that run would no longer be with the squad starting with the 2016 season. But, that just means that other players will now have the opportunity to step up and contribute as the Lady Flyers look to use what they learned over the past four seasons to make sure the program doesn’t regress back to where it was before Raczynski arrived.

“We are very excited about this season after what we accomplished last year,” Raczynski said. “While we certainly lost some players, we are confident that we will have a good season with the players we have stepping in. We also have the confidence from last year to follow us into this season; after the run we had last year, the girls finally see and understand their potential.”

Leading the way among the Lady Flyers’ returning players this season will be seniors Jaelah George, Emily Raczynski and Alexa Hoiensahl, along with junior Julia Carter. George, an outside hitter, and Emily Raczynski, a setter, both earned ECIC III Second Team all-star status in their second year with the varsity squad last season. Hoiensahl, meanwhile, is chomping at the bit to show what she can do after playing behind a pair of All-WNY Honorable Mention all-star middle hitters, and Carter — one of those All-WNY all-star middles — is looking forward to further demonstrating the skills that led to her having the ability to already verbally commit to continue her career collegiately at Syracuse University.

“Jaelah just improves leaps and bounds every year, and now is one of our stronger players, as well as a leader and role model on this team,” coach Raczynski said. “Emily is a strong all-around player for us and another leader on the team who worked hard to improve her game during the offseason. Alexa is primed to make an easy transition into a starting role for us in what should be her year to shine, and we are excited for her and everything she will bring to our offense this year. And Julia, she’s probably one of the better players that has come through our school in a long time. She’s a kid who has just fallen in love with this sport — she also plays travel volleyball for NFVB — and, as such, we are counting on her to perform for our offense as really one of our biggest weapons.”

Younger first-year varsity players who are also looking to make a positive impact for the team this fall include junior setter Morgan Michalski, sophomore libero Amiah George and freshman middle hitter Christie McGee-Ross. Michalski — who, along with George, did join the varsity squad for last year’s playoff run — also plays at the club level for NFVB, while McGee-Ross is making the leap from modified to varsity after impressing at tryouts.

“Morgan is going to be stepping into a starting role as our second setter in the offense, and we are excited for what she has to offer the team this year,” coach Raczynski said. “Amiah is learning the libero role for our team, but she is a great athlete so we know she will be able to pick up the position quickly. Christie is just an all-around great athlete too, not to mention she is a very coachable kid. We are excited to have her on the varsity team and excited to see what she what she will offer.

“There is no arguing that we lost a lot of talent last year, but we had a lot of talent waiting to get their opportunity to play too,” coach Raczynski continued. “There will be some new faces on the court for sure, but the talent, dedication and work ethic is still there that led to the success we had last year. I think our senior crew in particular is going to be a strength for us with what they went through last season. They know the hard work and dedication that it takes in order to get to the sectional finals, and they are going to want to do it again. That desire to succeed is a strong driving force and good motivational factor to be sure.”

Coach Raczynski and the Lady Flyers know, as defending undefeated divisional champions, that they have a large and bright bulls-eye painted on their backs this season, but Maryvale always plays in a competitive division, so the Lady Flyers aren’t about to throw in the towel just because they are now the hunted instead of the hunters. The team is hoping to continue to enjoy the successes that led to their first undefeated regular-season divisional record in nearly two decades, even with the additions of new foes Starpoint and Lake Shore as they drop down from ECIC II this year.

“I don’t want to put unnecessary expectations on the girls — they know everyone is watching them to see if they can do it again, and that’s enough — but I certainly feel that we will be competitive in our division again this year,” coach Raczynski said. “We will do our best and play our hardest, and that’s all I can ask of them.

“We are just getting back to practice and our concern right now is fine tuning our offense and defense,” coach Raczynski continued. “We don’t really start to discuss our team goals until we get closer to the season, and even when we do ultimately do that, we will probably do what we did last year and just take it game by game. That philosophy worked well for us previously and I really see no need to change that approach. We never looked past the current game but instead always focused on the game at hand and then moved on to the next opponent.”

Early teams drawing the Lady Flyers’ attention — even though they are just in scrimmage settings — include West Seneca East today, as well as Cleveland Hill and Amherst on Tuesday. Those scuffles will allow coach Raczynski and her players the opportunity to iron out any kinks on both sides of the ball, as well as to cement the starting lineup prior to Maryvale’s regular-season opener against Starpoint on Tuesday, September 6.

“We’ve got a very busy beginning to our schedule with five games and two tournaments within the first two weeks of school, but that just give us the opportunity to really hone in on that consistency that is going to be necessary with a number of people learning new positions this year,” coach Raczynski said. “If the girls can make the transition quickly and they pick everything up, we will be just fine.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Cleve Hill girls volleyball squad hoping to flourish under former modified coach
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, August 25, 2016


Courtney Hannon, background, and Paige Au make up half of the senior contingent playing for first-year Cleveland Hill girls volleyball coach Marie Meyer this season. File photo by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Cleveland Hill’s girls volleyball team looked within its program during the offseason to try fill the varsity coaching vacancy, and former modified coach Marie Meyer couldn’t be any happier.

The St. Mary’s of Lancaster and Nazareth College product is still getting used to the 12 players who make up the 2016 varsity squad, and though three starters graduated off of last year’s team, those were the only departures, leaving Meyer at least with some veteran leaders hoping to help make the transition a smooth one for her.

“Being a new coach to this team, I not sure what the starting lineup might be at this time,” Meyer said. “But, I can say there is a strong core of players from last year of seniors, juniors and sophomores. Each one of them has been instrumental in helping the new players develop, which is great.”

Just four seniors dot this year’s lineup, including liberos/defensive specialists Paige Au and Emily McIntosh. Outside hitter Courtney Hannon and setter Kat Skorka round out the Lady Eagles’ senior class.

Half of the roster comes from the junior class, with outside hitters Anna Cervino and Britney Hartzfeld, middle hitters Susie Horton, Christina Mohney and Kayla Space, and setter Catherine Ryan-Paul all hoping to be potential difference makers this season.

Sophomores Lydia Catalino (setter/right-side hitter) and Alison McIntosh (outside hitter) round out the roster.

“Our team is made up of strong servers and good communicators, and each player has an outstanding work ethic and thirst to learn more about the game, as well as how to improve their skills,” Meyer said. “They have been working very hard to continue to grow with each other, and continue to work together to achieve their goals. I think that if we continue to work hard day in and day out that the team’s ability to compete will impress everyone.”

The Lady Eagles plan to be very active during the preseason, with scrimmages scheduled against Cheektowaga, Mount Mercy, Amherst, Maryvale and Depew prior to the team’s regular-season opener at Tonawanda on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Meyer anticipates a tough go of things in ECIC IV this fall, noting that Alden, Springville, Tonawanda and JFK will be among the teams that could potentially give the Lady Eagles trouble.

“We’re just hoping to develop our communication and our team play during our scrimmages so that we can have improved anticipation of the next play moving forward,” Meyer said. “The girls definitely have the ability to hustle, and they respect and are loyal to each other, so if we can find ways to improve every day — including learning from our mistakes and adjusting to each individual situation — then there’s no reason why we can’t be successful.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Revamped lineup looking to repeat Maryvale boys volleyball’s success
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Roster turnover is inevitable in high school sports, and when it comes to volleyball in Western New York, few teams might have been hit harder on that front than Maryvale. But, don’t expect the Flyers to use that as an excuse after eight seniors — including most of the starting core — graduated off a squad that went 10-2 in divisional play in 2015.

“We might have more new players than returnees this year, but this is the best group of athletes I’ve had in my five years at Maryvale,” coach Andrew Murtha said. “I’ve got a relatively young team that can develop together for a couple of years, which should make for some fun times. We’ve maxed out the schedule with 20 contests so that we will get to play a lot of volleyball and learn the game together as we go along this year.”

Though the Flyers will have a large number of new faces dotting their lineup this fall, by no means is Maryvale without a veteran presence. In fact, junior outside hitter Jordan Nosal is returning for his second year of captaincy and third year overall with the varsity team, and the player Murtha describes as Maryvale’s “most experienced” will look to build off last year’s campaign that led to ECIC III First Team all-star status.

“Jordan is a big jumper with an overall well-rounded game, and we’re going to lean on his leadership for sure this year,” Murtha said.

Other returning players looking to have a positive impact on the Flyers’ fortunes this fall include junior setter Nate Zawadzki, sophomore setter Jason McCarthy and sophomore outside hitter Tom Frain. Zawadzki is actually moving over to the setter’s role after serving as a middle hitter last year, while McCarthy should provide a solid defensive presence as well. Frain, meanwhile, will see his value increased after serving as the first sub in off the bench in 2015.

“Nate, who is our on-the-court vocal leader, has put in a lot of time during the offseason attending camps, clinics and the weight room,” Murtha said. “Jason has been working hard and improving too, and is really making strides in learning the varsity-style offense.”

Newcomers to the team who aspire to see time on the court this season include seniors Teddy York-Brown and Shanto Anderson, and juniors Deante Mecca, Mar’quez Green, Mark Bailey, Kenny Johnson and Zach Amato. York-Brown and Greene are both learning the sport, according to Murtha, while Johnson and Anderson are both entirely new to the sport.

“Teddy is a physical athlete with a big jump, and Shanto put in time at camp over the summer and wants to learn and improve,” Murtha said. “Deante has a lot of speed, a powerful arm and solid defensive skills, and Mar’quez is just a hard-working athlete who is eager to learn. Mark is a natural athlete who has a solid knack for the flow of the game and should be a major contributor.”

The most intriguing of the new players to the team is Amato, who is also new to the sport. Amato is also a member of the boys soccer team and, as Murtha said, a “gifted athlete,” so finding a way to make the most of Amato’s presence both offensively and defensively will be one of Murtha’s greater challenges this season.

“To my knowledge, no one has ever played both volleyball and soccer at the same time at Maryvale — and maybe not even anywhere in Western New York for that matter — and it’ll definitely be a new challenge for me as his volleyball coach to manage his playing and rest time,” Murtha said. “Thankfully there aren’t many conflicts in terms of our respective schedules, since soccer tends to practice in the afternoon and we practice at night. There are only a couple cases where we have games on the same day — and some of those Zach will still be able to do both — and the soccer playoff season starts and finishes before the volleyball playoff season does.

“Zach can play all around the court and is one of our vocal leaders, so its not easy to take him out, but I’ll have to find games and times to do this to make sure his energy level and level of play stays high throughout the course of the season,” Murtha continued. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and I know Zach is too. Zach is an outstanding, natural athlete and we’re just thrilled to have him as part of the team this year.”

Murtha, Amato and the rest of the Flyers will get to work out the kinks during preseason scrimmages against Lockport, Lancaster, Grand Island, St. Joe’s and St. Mary’s. They’ll then have plenty of time to take what they’ve learned and further hone their plans before opening the regular season against Holland on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Once things get rolling, Murtha expects the biggest challenges this year to come from the likes of perennial contenders such as Eden, Starpoint and crosstown rival Cheektowaga. Yet even with the path to success lined with tough competition, that’s not stopping the Flyers from aspiring to win both a divisional and sectional title this season.

“We just need to be sure we’re working hard at all times and bonding as a team so that we can make smart decisions on and off the court,” Murtha said. “We need to be an aggressive, smart-serving team that also blocks and defends well as a group. If we can do those things, we’ll put ourselves in position to succeed.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Lancaster volleyball looking to build on 2015 success
by TAYLOR NIGRELLI Reporter Lancaster Bee
Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Lancaster volleyball team snuck up on opponents last year. They probably won’t be able to do the same this year.

The Legends entered the 2015 season young and inexperienced but advanced all the way to the Section VI Class AA Championship before falling to Clarence.

After graduating just two seniors, the team seems poised to be a top contender in Class AA.

“Other teams are going to put us on their radar now,” Lancaster Coach Becky Edwards said. “We were able to take teams by surprise because we were young and inexperienced. We have a bigger target on our back now. They’ll know not to take us lightly.”

Outside hitter Julia Kurowski will likely play a major role in any success Lancaster has this season. The junior, who is over six feet tall, has already received Division I offers and has been on varsity since her freshman year.

“She’s gone to a bunch of camps this summer,” Lancaster Coach Becky Edwards said. “She already has full-ride scholarship offers to Division I schools which she’s been getting since her sophomore year. She’s a big force, not just in Lancaster but in all of Buffalo.”

Other key players include defensive stalwarts Kara Paradowski and Katie Becht and offensive stars Alyssa Babinger and Kelly Fellner.

Edwards kept 15 girls on this year’s team. On top of a talented and experienced starting group, there’s a lot of depth.

“I kept a lot of girls this year,” Edwards said. “The starters are talented but the bench is good too. The entire team has the potential to get into the game.”

Additionally, Edwards likes the attitude of this year’s squad. She thinks the players show the intensity and effort necessary for success.

“The team in general is very intense,” Edwards said. “The girls are loud and aggressive in practice. That can be hard to find in high school, but all our players are like that.”

The Legends will have no shortage of tough competition during the regular season. Along with league foes Clarence and Orchard Park, the team will take on perennial powers St. Mary’s and Eden. Edwards hopes this will help the team prepare to handle the pressure situations that will come in the postseason.

“One thing that hurt us last year was we kind of crumbled in pressure situations,” Edwards said. “We’re focusing on taking it step by step to make it that far again and then focusing on playing well when we get there. When there’s pressure, we don’t want to crumble. We want to play Lancaster volleyball.”

Lancer girls volleyball looking to maintain dominance
Lancaster Bee
Thursday, August 25, 2016

St. Mary's Lady Lancers volleyball team looks to continue its dominance of the Monsignor Martin League and to once again be one of Western New York’s best teams.

Their fortunes are buoyed by the return of senior Caitlyn Meyer who missed most of last season with injury.

"We lost Caitlyn early on in a match vs. Eden, but still were able to win our league & to compete in the State Championships,” Coach Donald Pieczynski said. “Just needed a little more firepower in the end."

Caitlyn will move outside & join junior Summer Slade to form one of WNY's top attacking tandems. Slade's game has been progressing by leaps & bounds. Her quickness and size at six foot tall makes her tough to defend. Jillian Vitale takes over the setting and sophomore Hannah Mulhern adds power down the middle. Senior Gina Appenheimer leads the defense as the new libero, and role players are aplenty lead by senior Kathryn Vogl.

"We have a deep and talented team with experience at every position,” Pieczynski said.

The future is bright with talented freshmen Kelly Cleversley, & Meadow Slade already joining the varsity squad and the JV team is loaded with talent.

The Lancers kick off their season September 10 looking to defend their crown at the St Mary’s Invitational Tournament. They also will be traveling to Phoenix at the Nike Invitational, and New Jersey for the Garden State Invitational.

“We finished in the top half in Phoenix and lost in the finals in Jersey, both without Caitlyn,” Pieczynski said. “We are excited to return there with a healthy squad to face off against some of the country's best. As our beloved departed principal and former coach Rebecca Kranz loved saying ‘keep your fork, the best is yet to come.’"

Loss of dominant outside hitter not deterring West boys volleyball
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter West Seneca Bee
Thursday, August 25, 2016


Six-foot-six Ian Barker has a good shot at leading West Seneca West’s boys volleyball team in kills this fall after finishing second to Penn State freshman Cam Bartus in 2015. File photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Just as one 6-foot-10 program alum was winning an Olympic bronze medal and another was about to embark on the same collegiate path that set the two-time Olympian on his course with destiny, West Seneca West’s boys volleyball team began preparing for life without an intimidating, nearly seven foot tall outside hitter.

And coach Brett Widman is just fine with that — though he certainly wouldn’t mind having one more year with Penn State freshman Cam Bartus on the court.

How could Widman be okay without Bartus’ services this year? The simple fact of the matter is that while Bartus was dominant by himself, this year’s squad is eager to use a team approach to achieve success.

“We don’t have that dominant 6-10 hitter, which is a huge loss, but I think with us being more balanced — and having five guys returning with another year under their belts — it should make that hole easy to manage,” Widman said. “I’m confident we will compete with the best this year. We want to focus on our side and control what we have the ability to control, and though we can’t ever predict the outcome, I can say that we are going to focus on building a team.”

One of the bigger blocks this year, both figuratively and literally, will be returning 6-6 senior outside hitter Ian Barker. The Eden club player with international tournament experience as part of the USA high performance training program was second on the team in kills last fall, and should be just as effective this season despite the likely larger emphasis to limit his effectiveness.

Another returning senior, right-side hitter/ setter Jacob Biddeman, should also play a key role in West’s offensive efforts this season. Biddeman, who started last year, can also disrupt opponents with hard-to-receive serves.

“Ian is just a strong, dynamic and just excellent all-around player who moves really well for a kid his size,” Widman said. “He’s going to be someone who will be tough to slow down for sure. And Jacob, who’s another good all-around player, makes some athletic plays and should be a key contributor to our offense.”

Rounding out the Indians’ contingent of returning starters are senior setter Jacob Siwy, junior middle hitter Peter Borzillieri and sophomore outside hitter Nicholas Pozzuto. Siwy, a third-year starter, also brings a strong defensive presence to the court, while Borzillieri’s leaping ability should allow him to sky over even the tallest of blockers for spike attempts. Pozzuto, an Eden travel player who took on the libero’s role last fall, knows the game well and uses that knowledge to be in the right spot at the right time

“Jacob is a good all-around player who brings a lot of experience at the varsity level, and he’s also a great defender who makes big plays in tough situations that some players would just let go,” Widman said. “Peter is very fast with a great vertical, and those attributes should help us as we look to utilize the middle more this year. Nicholas has a natural ability to read the game well and make plays. He’s got very good ball control and is one of the top defensive players on the team too. He’s going to change to the outside position as his all-around game has improved and he is familiar with the speed of varsity.”

Newcomers to the varsity level who are also looking to have an impact this year include juniors Connor Reilander (middle hitter), Christopher Newton (libero), Joseph Butler (middle hitter), Dayton Eck (middle hitter), Dylan Siwy (setter), Will Lindner (outside hitter) and Jack Koller (middle hitter), along with sophomore Mitch Walczak (libero/outside hitter). Walczak, like some of his older teammates, also brings Eden club experience to the squad.

“Returning five starters from last year is obviously an advantage,” Widman said. “We will be a better passing team than in the past because of it, with us being able to control the ball and capitalize by being in system more often instead of scrambling. We have a more balanced offense with threats at both pins and the middle. Plus, being able to distribute the ball and not be one-dimensional will give us more one-on-one opportunities.”

West’s team approach to success should certainly bode well in the ever-tough ECIC I, where Widman says that Orchard Park, Hamburg and Clarence look particularly tough among a crowd of teams that, along with West, will be “jockeying for position every night in our division.” Widman and his players know that no single match will make or break the Indians’ chances at achieving their goals for the year, but at the same time Widman isn’t looking to make bold proclamations about West’s chances at success this fall either.

“There is a lot of respect among the coaches in our division, and the teams know that league matches can often go five sets and be decided by a split-second loss of focus here or a lucky roll there,” Widman said. “It’s the team that can weather the losses, and learn and grow, that will come out on top. With that in mind, we’re going to make our goals small to begin with: to execute our offense and be a cohesive unit. We believe if we can do that then the wins will come, because our mindset is that the season is a marathon and not a sprint.”

West, which will scrimmage a handful of teams Thursday at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center, will officially kick off its season

Saturday by taking part once again in Clarence’s annual Invitational Tournament. The Indians will be able to take what they learn from that appearance — as well as additional scrimmages against powerhouse Canisius on Tuesday and Orchard Park on Friday, Sept. 2 — to make the necessary adjustments prior to opening league play Thursday, Sept. 8, by hosting Clarence.

“We want to make sure we are making the right decisions when we are out of system and forgetting our mistakes and moving on to the next play,” Widman said. “That ability to maintain focus, to let go of mistakes and move on, leads to a team mentality that rewards taking chances and being creative. We must be able to attack aggressively and not let up if we commit errors so that we can keep the pressure on.

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

East girls volleyball’s JV coach makes jump to varsity squad
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter West Seneca Bee
Thursday, August 25, 2016

First-year coach Jenna Yates might be new to the position with West Seneca East’s girls volleyball squad, but as the junior varsity coach for the past two seasons, she’s had a front-row seat during the current crop of Lady Trojans’ development as players.

That’s why she can confidently say that 2016’s group of players appear more determined and focused on having success on the volleyball court than teams in the past might have been.

“Compared to last year, the girls are genuinely interested in the season,” Yates said. “At East, our main sport is softball, but this year we have numerous girls who are fully committed and hope to continue their play after high school. I believe this year, our teams heart will beat any other teams. They are determined and will give everything they have in every match. We also have changed a lot and changed the mentality of the team; there is also a better connection and better communication on the court, which is huge.”

East, which lost more than half of the players off of last year’s squad, will turn to fourth-year senior libero Julia

Reed to be among the team leaders this season. Fellow returnee Camryn Bianchi, a junior outside hitter, also figures to be a key cog in East’s machine this season.

“Julia completely understands the game and is a leader for us both on and off the court, and Camryn, who is moving to the outside after starting as a middle hitter last year, has athleticism and power that will make her a force to reckon with.”

Junior team newcomers Julia Slowik, Sarah Eisenmenger and Mikayla Hartung are also looking to have a positive impact sooner rather than later from their roles as outside hitter, setter and right-side hitter, respectively.

“Julia’s court sense is incredible and has a way of bettering every play, and Sarah is a natural setter who is very athletic — she can get to almost any ball — and who understands the game,” Yates said. “Mikayla has improved immensely and has also stepped up and has been working extremely hard on becoming our back up setter.”

“We have a relatively young team, so this season we are focusing a lot on the basics and developing consistent volleyball players,” Yates continued. “But, unlike previous years, this year’s team has a very good understanding of the game and the girls are determined to rebuild our program. They are a very energetic group that has a good connection on and off the court, and it shows. They are also very hard working, they will do anything possible to improve and they are extremely coachable.”

Yates, who is being assisted on the bench by volunteer Grant Reed, is looking forward to the upcoming preseason multi team scrimmage at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center almost as much as her players are. The Lady Trojans are hoping to use the scrimmage tournament as a chance to perfect their communication, defense and court awareness prior to officially opening their season Friday, Sept. 9, against Amherst.

“Our main goal this year is to rebuild our program into a winning program once again,” Yates said. “We also hope to play as a team every single match and to never settle for anything less than our absolute best. So for us to stay competitive and achieve our goals, we will need to play our type of volleyball and keep focusing on our strengths rather than others. We will also need to keep up our communication and energy levels throughout the season. Lastly, we will need to stay positive and keep working hard and learning every day.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Reigning ECIC II champ South boys volleyball facing unknown
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Williamsville South’s boys volleyball has dominated ECIC II in recent years, winning the league the past three years, including a 12-0 campaign last fall.

If the Billies are to replicate the same kind of success, they will have to do it without some big-time players who graduated, including Joe Zanelotti, the school’s career in assists and single-season record holder for kills and aces, and Shawn Barbalato, who led the team in blocks and was second behind Zanelotti in kills and aces.

“This year the team is going to have to spread it around more and get everyone involved whereas last year we relied a lot on Joe and Shawn,” South coach Thom Knab said. “We are going to have to get kills and blocks from all of the players and try to develop some team chemistry. This will be a different group than what I have had in the past three years. There is a little more of an unknown for us so we will see what we can do.”

Knab does return senior middle hitters Mitchell Binda and Matt Kennedy. Binda is a returning ECIC II Second Team all-star.

Also back is sophomore Nico Zanelotti, who will set when he returns from injury.

Junior Dan Proch returns at outside hitter and serve receive specialist.

Senior Scott Jauch will start at libero and senior JF Oliver will contribute at outside hitter.

Junior Saar Bratton will contribute at right side.

Players making their debuts on varsity include juniors Evan Oliver (setter), Le Cao (outside hitter, serve receive) and sophomores Jeffrey Randall (middle) and Dominic Drexinger (left side).

South, 15-6 overall last year, opens its season in the Clarence Tournament Saturday.

South loaded with youth
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

To say the Williamsville South girls volleyball team is young is an understatement.

There are no seniors on the 2016 roster. Grades of players range from eighth grade to juniors.

“This is the youngest team I have had at South,” coach Tom Sproull said. “The good news is there is not a huge difference in abilities so there might be some more movement than there has been in the past too. We should look better by the end of the season because we are so young.”

Returning players include junior Grace Stahl (outside hitter), sophomore Hannah Abramowitz (outside hitter, right side or middle hitter) and sophomore Megan Muehlbauer (started at middle hitter last year, can play middle, outside hitter or right side hitter).

Setting will be freshman Riley Domin and eighth-grader Haley Marchewka. Marchewka set for JV last year.

The Lady Billies also got a boost from 6-foot junior Naomi DeBerry and 6-foot-4 eighth-grader Amari DeBerry, who will play at middle hitter or right side hitter.

Other potential middle hitter/ right side hitters are 6-foot juniors Jailynn Oliver, Tiffany Turner and Nikki Takaz.

With so many options at middle hitter and right side, Sproull is hoping to be a good blocking team.

Freshman Maddie Popielski started at libero for JV last year.

She is capable of playing back row defense or as an outside hitter.

Junior Savannah Castronova will contribute at outside hitter.

Sophomore Gabby Presutti will play at libero and defensive specialist.

South opens at Amherst at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 6.

New faces to step up for North
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Williamsville North girls volleyball coach Keith Hopkins is not sure how the team will fare this season but he is looking forward to the journey.

With the graduation of three-year starters, senior Elise Hopkins (Co-Player of the Year in ECIC I), Lauren Curtis (ECIC I Second Team all-star) and Noelle Gulick, many new faces will be needed to step up.

“We could start two freshmen, three sophomores and a senior,” Hopkins said. “It looks like it’s going to be a youth movement. We’ll take some lumps early in the season but hope to improve as the season goes on and be a tough out at sectionals.”

The Lady Spartans will be led by senior Morgan Simon (third-year middle hitter) and sophomores Allie Macon (outside hitter), Bri Brown (outside hitter) and Abby Vincent (setter), all second year varsity players.

“Allie will be one of our primary passers and Morgan provides senior leadership,” Hopkins said.

Freshman libero Maddie Farber also returns.

Also returning is senior Chelsea Bangert, a middle hitter/right side hitter.

Battling for spots in the lineup are juniors Emily Terney (utility), Autumn Balcerak (setter), Joelle Giambra (right side hitter) and Courtney Hannon (right side hitter), and freshman Maia Reed (middle hitter/right side hitter).

Rounding out the roster are juniors Angelica Busko (setter), Sarah Fertitta (outside hitter), Rawan Ghazy (libero), Erin Wendling (middle hitter) and Jessica Wilk (right side hitter).

North, 4-10 in ECIC I and 11-18 overall last year, opens at West Seneca West on Tuesday, Sept. 6. The week concludes with a trip to Jamestown on Sept. 9.

Amherst girls volleyball seeking better record
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Amherst’s girls volleyball team struggled getting wins last year, finishing 1-11 in ECIC III and 2-14 overall.

Lady Tigers coach Rachel Schepart said a team goal for this fall is to improve the team’s record, but they will have to reach their goal in ECIC II as Amherst moved up due to enrollment.

“I personally think that the team looks really good but we just moved up to Division II so we will be playing all new teams,” Schepart said. “If we continue to improve and perfect skills, we have a good chance of winning some games this year. A large number of girls have been staying after practice to continue to work on their skills.”

Schepart also said new JV coach Simmone Talford, who recently graduated from Medaille and was on the girls volleyball team, has been a ton of help with assisting the girls with their skills.

As of press time, the starting lineup will feature senior outside hitter Claire Wanzer, who played varsity as a sophomore but took off her junior year to focus on basketball; returning senior Mykela Moore (middle hitter); returning juniors Mia Ciccarella (setter), Elizabeth Hall (outside hitter); Caroline Seaner (middle hitter); and returning sophomores Maddie Jorgenen (setter) and Erica Norris (libero).

Also back is senior defensive specialist Mary Clare Kuhn.

Schepart said by having a large number of players back that also attended summer open gyms and a camp that she put on they were able to focus on specific skills. “We don’t have to focus on teaching rotation since most players already know it from last year,” she said. Ciccarella. Hall and Wanzer are the team captains. Ciccarella is a returning captain. “These three girls are very positive and true leaders,” Schepart said. “They are a positive influence to the other girls and will do a great job this year.” New players to the lineup include Wanzer, junior Sophia Carlo (middle hitter), and sophomores Natalie Zapfel (outside hitter/defensive specialist) and Grace Foster (outside hitter/defensive specialist).

Schepart said the team’s hitting is great and continuing to improve, and they also have some strong servers.

Amherst opens its season against Williamsville South on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Their first week of action also includes a league match with West Seneca East on Sept. 9.

New players to aid Sweet Home’s success
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sweet Home’s boys volleyball team struggled last year, finishing 0-12 in ECIC Division II, but an influx of players from a JV team that lost one match last year should help to turn around the team’s record this season.

New players include juniors Evan Bezak (setter), Jordan Chatelle (setter), DJ Gerau (setter), Jack Hiwiller (outside hitter), Jonathan Miller (right side/setter), and Alex Stoij (left and right side hitter), and 6-6 sophomore Solomon Shabaaz (middle hitter).

Sweet Home coach Rich Cicero said they improved the team in all aspects.

“Our hitting is stronger,” he said. “Last year we struggled at getting an attack and gave free balls to the other team. We should be a stronger passing team and better defensively. We should be better at the net as well.”

The team’s top returning players are seniors Mike Ciminella (middle hitter), Colin May (outside hitter), Alex Wagner (libero) and Anthony Nguyen (libero).

Junior Nate Davis will contribute at middle hitter. Senior Mike Hill is a returning middle hitter.

Sweet Home opens its season at the Clarence Tournament Saturday.

They will host their tournament on Saturday, Sept. 24 and an alumni tournament on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Section finalist Sweet Home putting pieces together
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sweet Home’s girls volleyball team has made it a habit of playing in the Section VI Class A final.

The Lady Panthers have reached the title game for the past three years, winning in 2013 and losing to Williamsville East in 2014 and 2015.

Going back for a fourth straight year will not be easy as three crucial pieces to the team’s recent success — Rachel Reusch, Claire Hiwiller and Hannah Sigurdson — graduated. Resuch, a Class A Fourth Team All-State, and Hiwller, were All-Western New York Large Schools and All-ECIC all-stars. Reusch Sigurdson was an ECIC II First Team all-star.

“It’s going to take a collective effort to have success but we have some returning players so I am going to keep it optimistic and positive,” Sweet Home coach Breean Martin said. “There is going to be some last-minute switches that I am going to need to make us more successful. If I can figure out how all of the pieces come together, I think we can be pretty competitive.”

Martin said a majority of the team have played a season of club volleyball, which should help on the court this year.

Leading the team is 6-foot-1 senior middle blocker Tirzah Peters, an ECIC II First Team all-star who played on a national club level team through Niagara Frontier Volleyball and is expecting to supply the team with offense, Martin said.

“I think the extra year of training and playing club volleyball will help her have a good year,” she added.

Also back is senior Lindsey Hornung, a three-year starter at outside hitter; seniors Kylie Prizel and Bella Pullara, who will both share time at libero; senior setter Camryn McCrossan; junior Christie Ackendorf, a returning ECIC II Second Team all-star at right side/middle blocker; junior outside hitter Taylor Gould and junior right side hitter Tessa Sutherland.

Sweet Home opens with a home match against East at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Sacred Heart volleyball assistant makes easy transition to head coach
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

New Sacred Heart girls volleyball coach JT Ripper knows a lot about the Sharks’ program.

Ripper has served as an assistant coach at Sacred Heart for the past three years.

Ripper called it “an easy transition” and is looking forward to improving on last year’s squad that reached the semifinals of the Monsignor Martin Association Tournament.

“The team looks promising with the way we started off the first week of practice and tryouts,” Ripper said.

The Sharks return nine players, including seniors Mia Wild, a four-year starter at libero who earned All-Catholic Second Team honors as a junior; Colleen Conway, a three-year varsity player at right side hitter, Skylar Merrell, a versatile three-year player who will predominately play at outside hitter; and Emma Rehrauer, a two-year outside hitter.

Also back are junior middle hitters Lauren Aichinger and Micaela Ryan, a returning All-Catholic First Team all-star.

For the team to have success, Ripper said it will have to take team cohesion, communication and a lot of heart.

The Sharks open their season in back-to-back tournaments at Orchard Park Friday, Sept. 9 and Cheektowaga on Saturday, Sept. 10.

Amherst lacks experience, moves up division
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

There is a lot of newness with the Amherst boys volleyball team.

No starters return from last year’s 10-9 overall record and 7-5 league mark as they move up from ECIC III to ECIC II due to enrollment.

The good news is that coach Peter Wlosinski’s players have seen some of the teams in ECIC II, like Williamsville South and Williamsville East in some non-league matches.

“I think they are excited for the opportunity but my concern is I lost six seniors,” he said.

Two seniors, four juniors, eight sophomores and three freshmen make up the roster but five of the sophomores and all three freshmen are new to the sport. Amherst does not have a JV team.

Seniors Alex Rodriguez (setter) and Colin Blatz (outside hitter) move into more prominent roles this season.

The junior class includes Devon France (right side hitter),

Aidan Keyes (middle hitter), Will O’Dea (defensive specialist) and Nathan Botwin (utility).

Returning sophomores include Anthony Pittari (middle blocker), Jonathan LoTempio (right side hitter) and Sam Butler (libero).

New to the sport are sophomores Devan Torrence, Jackson Tran, Matt Gramza, Pat Fortune, and Jacob Weisner, and freshmen Marcus Hall, Nick Genco and Sam Greco.

Amherst opens its season in the Clarence Tournament Saturday. Their first league match is against West Seneca East Sept. 7.

“The kids are going to have to handle adversity at the tournament,” Wlosinski said. “What are they going to do when they are presented with a problem? Are they going to solve it or forfeit? I have seen a lot of team unity and learning to work together.”

Loaded East girls volleyball team eyeing another successful season
Lady Flames reached state championships
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Makayla Greenfield of Williamsville East sets up a kill during last year’s Class A Far West Regional. Greenfield set the school’s single-season assist record with 1,171. She was one of 22 sophomores last year selected to the 2015 CBS MaxPreps Underclass All-American Volleyball team for 2015 and was also named to the 2015 PrepVolleyball.com Soph 79 list. File photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


This year’s Williamsville East’s girls volleyball team has a lot to live up to.

The 2015 squad finished 20-0 in match play, 37-1-2 overall, repeated as Section VI Class A champions and reached the Class A state championships for the first time in school history.

Coach Scott Wright has yet to discuss team goals for this season, but he knows a lot of the returning players loved how last season played out and wants to have a similar season this year.

Ten players return, including seven seniors. Leading the way is senior captain and outside hitter Lexi Novak, a Class A Second Team, All-Western New York Large Schools and All-ECIC selection.

Novak broke the East single season record for kills with 479, although her teammate last year, 2016 graduate Carly Shifflet, also broke the record with 501 kills. Novak also recorded 445 digs and led the team with 85 aces.

“With the amount of swings she had last year, it’s hard to imagine that she would have a bigger role, but she will have a bigger role,” Wright said. “She’s the all-around player. She provides not only power but is a smart volleyball player and knows when to not go to the power and hit off-speed into an open area. She sees the game well. She’s a good player, teammate and leader.”

Assisting Novak this season will be junior setter Makayla Greenfield, who set the East single-season assist record with 1,171 as a sophomore. She also added 285 digs and was second on the team with 49 aces.

Greenfield, an ECIC II First Team all-star, was one of 22 sophomores last year selected to the 2015 CBS MaxPreps Underclass All-American Volleyball team for 2015. She was also named to the 2015 PrepVolleyball.com Soph 79 list.

“She’s very consistent and brings it in every match,” Wright said.

Also back are both starting middle hitters, senior Leah Orsini and junior Ally Jozwiak. Jozwiak is a returning ECIC II First Team all-star.

“With Carly gone, we need our middles and other outsides to get the number of 500 kills and it will help us replace her,” Wright said.

Sophomore Rachel Steffan, a returning ECIC II Second Team all-star, will play at outside hitter/right side hitter, but will not be ready until mid-September due to a broken ankle that she suffered in the spring.

Senior Megan Wiese or sophomore Christy Mack will contribute at right side hitter or outside hitter.

Returning seniors Ann Marie Jones and Jessica Weaver will contribute at libero.

Senior Julianna Benz will supply leadership at setter/ defensive specialist.

Junior defensive specialist Grace Wendell makes her varsity debut.

For the team to have as much success as last year, Wright said the team needs to make sure its serve receive and defense is at the same level as they were last year.

East, the reigning four-time ECIC II champion, opens its season at Sweet Home on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

New East boys volleyball coach hopes team can leave mark in division
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Chris Conrad takes over the reins for Williamsville East boys volleyball, but he is not a stranger to the program.

The Sweet Home graduate had coached the previous two years for East’s JV team.

Conrad, who helped previous coach Mike Braunscheidel with the varsity team, inherits a squad that posted a regular-season school record 14 wins and a 15-4 overall mark. East finished second in ECIC II at 9-3.

“The players on the team I have worked with for two to three years now,” Conrad said. “We have strong communication with the players. They have a strong maturity, realize their value to the program and have really set a tone for Williamsville East. We want the students to make their mark in Division II, and I think they have the dedication to do that.”

Ten of the 11 members of the team have club volleyball experience.

Three players are returning starters: senior middle hitter Ali Khadra, senior setter Sam Schatmeyer and junior outside hitter Drew Elliott. Schatmeyer and Elliott are the team captains.

Schatmeyer is a returning ECIC II Second Team all-star.

Senior right-side hitter Erik Regan is another returning player.

The rest of the squad comes from Conrad’s JV team that finished 15-2 overall and 11-1 in league play, led by junior middle hitter Jason Berkun.

East hosts Sweet Home in its season opener at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Confidence high among boys volleyball players
JASON NADOLINSKI Sports Reporter Clarence Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Six-foot-four senior outside hitter Henry Payne will look to build off an All-WNY First Team all-star campaign that saw him pace Clarence in attempts, kills, kill percentage and digs last season. Payne had 640 kills and 1,266 spike attempts last year, both of which were the second most in a single season in school history. File photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Clarence boys volleyball coach Kevin Starr has seen just about everything one can see during a coaching career that spans as long as his, so when he makes an observation about his current squad, it’s not just to hear himself talk. It’s the real deal.

And, given that his early observation about the 2016 Red Devils is that they’re showing a confidence that hasn’t been seen in a few years, it would behoove Clarence’s foes to prepare for a tough night whenever they see the Red Devils’ name on the schedule.

“From the first day of practice it was clear that this team has a sense of unity and purpose, and that there’s also a confidence that I haven’t seen from a team of ours in several years,” Starr said. “These boys know they can be a team of destiny. We truly feel that we have a real shot at winning the ECIC I title and going on to win the Section VI championship, something that hasn’t happened at Clarence since 1999. After that, we have our sights set on the Far West Regionals and ultimately the state championship.”

Starr brings back a wealth of talent — including eight seniors — from a team that reached the Class A semifinals after going 5-7 against divisional competition last fall, which only bolsters the squad’s confidence. Chief among those returning players is 6-foot-4 senior second-year captain Henry Payne, an All-WNY First Team all-star outside hitter and three-year starter who paced Clarence in attempts, kills, kill percentage and digs last season.

Payne had 640 kills and 1,266 spike attempts last year, both of which were the second most in a single season in school history. His kill percentage of .504 was also in the top five for a single season. All of Payne’s numbers are why he not only was selected to participate in the USA Volleyball High Performance A-1 select camp in Fort Lauderdale this summer, but also why he is being actively recruited by a good number of the top NCAA Division I programs. “Henry is one of the top two or three players in Western New York this year and is truly going to be very difficult to stop for just about every team we’ll play,” Starr said.

Two of the team’s younger members, junior starting setter Sean Trznadel and freshman starting libero Teddy Payne, also went to different USA Volleyball High Performance A-3 select camps for their respective age groups over the summer. Trznadel, who moved up to the varsity squad at the end of last season, has been building chemistry with Teddy Payne, whom Starr said will be the program’s setter of the future.

“Sean is able to move the ball around to all of our hitters pretty effectively, and Teddy, who was the first eighth grader ever to start in our program when he did last year, will be one of the most solid liberos in Western New York this year,” Starr said. “Henry is as good as anyone in Western New York, Teddy is one of the top passers and defensive players in the area, and Sean has raised his game to a very high level.”

Seniors Jake Ireland (6-5 middle hitter) and Danny Janzow (outside hitter) are the squad’s other two co-captains this season, while senior right-side hitter Nick Ciraolo is another returning starter bringing experience, ability and leadership to the table. Starr said he also expects “significant” contributions from senior outside hitter Tyler White, as well as senior middle hitters Achilles and Ares Blessios.

“We have an experienced core of players who have played all year at a very high level through club volleyball,” Starr said. “ All of our starters are 12-month players who know what it takes to win at this level. So, even though our division will still be very strong, we’re going to be very tough to beat. We should be strong offensively, and several of the boys have developed jump serves that will be very hard for other teams to handle.

“If we play solid defense, we have a real shot at winning the Section VI title.”

Clarence kicks off the competitive side of its season today by facing Canisius in a scrimmage, which will serve as a tune-up for Saturday’s 30th annual Clarence Invitational Tournament. Starr believes that the Crusaders will be among the best in the area this season, which should only help show the Red Devils where they stand early on this fall.

After the tournament, Clarence will travel to St. Mary’s of Lancaster on Tuesday and Sweet Home on Thursday, Sept. 1, for additional non-league tune-ups prior to the Red Devils’ league opener at Williamsville North on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

“Honestly, and this isn’t to be cocky but it’s to be confident and purposeful, anything less than a league title and a sectional championship will be a disappointment this season,” Starr said. “I have the sense that this team is highly motivated, so as long as we’re focusing on what we do well and working hard to fix our weaknesses and addressing the errors that we’ve made, I think the sky’s the limit for this group.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

State semifinalist girls volleyball team boasts plethora of returning talent
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter Clarence Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Meghan Neelon, left, was named a First Team All-WNY and First Team Class AA All-State all-star after helping Clarence’s girls volleyball team claim the program’s first Far West Regional championship as a junior. File photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com

In each of the last two seasons, Clarence’s girls volleyball team has gone where no other before it had until that point. And with just two players gone from a squad that reached the state semifinals for the first time ever last fall, continuing that trend in 2016 would mean playing for a state championship.

It’s not something coach Michael Meyer and assistant Kathy Neelon place emphasis on themselves, but after getting a taste of the state tournament in 2015, it’s something that most likely is at least on the back of their minds — as well as the minds of those players who are back from a squad that repeated as unbeaten ECIC I champions last fall.


Sophomore Jaide Cummings was an All-WNY Large Schools Second Team all-star last season for Clarence’s girls volleyball team. Her versatility, which has allowed her to already play at the varsity level for multiple years, permits her to play either outside hitter or libero, depending on the situation and the team’s needs at any particular moment. File photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com

“Our goals are related to things that we can control together as a team, and that’s why we have always been focused on continual improvement,” said Meyer, the reigning Clarence Bee Coach of the Year. “We want to be a better team in October than we were in September, and we want the girls to be the hardest working team around. Both of those goals are related to practice, which we constantly strive to be great at. And we want academics to be a priority and we want to exhibit good sportsmanship both on and off the court.

“We believe that if we focus on these goals that the winning will take care of itself.”

Of course, having the stable of talent that Meyer has helps bring about the success that the program has enjoyed these last couple of years. This fall marks the first time in quite a while that Clarence will field a team where the seniors outnumber the underclassmen, which is a bittersweet realization for Meyer and Neelon — whose daughter, third-year captain Meghan Neelon, is among that group of players gearing up for their final season of high school play.

Meghan Neelon, a fifth-year starter who can play setter or outside hitter, qualified for the USA women’s continental team for the fourth consecutive year and has a four-year scholarship to Alabama waiting for her upon graduation. The First Team All-WNY and Class AA All-State all-star “has been a leader on the team since she began playing in eighth grade,” Meyer said, and is someone whom he is “looking forward to another big year from her.”

Other returning seniors who have the opportunity and ability to be impact players this season include setter Maddie Christopher, outside hitters Emiley Kuhn, Gretchen Weiss and Hannah Marlowe, and middle hitters Mary Owen and Emily Perna. Christopher, an ECIC I First Team all-star, and Kuhn are both embarking on their third year of starting, while Owen also returns in a starting role this season.

“Maddie has continued to grow as a setter the last few years and we are looking for her to expanding her role as a court leader this year,” Meyer said. “Emiley worked extremely hard in the offseason, both on and off the court, to improve her game, and we’re hoping that she’ll be able to replace some of the kills that Karley [King] used to get us from the outside last year. Gretchen has been and continues to be a great role model on the team — she received a state-wide distinction for sportsmanship last year at the state tournament — and we’re hoping she can once again fill in at any spot that we ask her to like she did for us last year.

“Hannah also greatly improved her game last year and found her way into the starting lineup by the end of the year, so we’re looking for her to continue to improve and contribute to the team as well,” Meyer continued. “Mary made great strides last year in learning how to play middle hitter at the varsity level, and we look for her to continue to improve this year. And Emily is just one of the most coachable and hardest-working athletes on the team. She has been and always will be ready to play when called upon.”

Underclassmen who are returning to prominent roles include juniors Melissa Ratzel (middle hitter), Lyndsey Leipold (setter/defensive specialist) and Kennedy Olczak (right-side hitter), sophomore Jaide Cummings (libero/outside hitter) and freshman Lexi MacDonald (libero). Ratzel, an ECIC I First Team all-star, and Cummings, an All-WNY Large Schools Second Team all-star, have both started for multiple years.

“Melissa had a great year last year hitting and blocking to where she became a go-to weapon by the end of the year, and we’re looking for her to expand on that success this year,” Meyer said. “Lyndsey was new to the team last year and became an indispensable part of our defense and serve receive, and we’re looking for her to be more aggressive and assertive this year and to grow her role on the team. Kennedy was a late-season call-up for us last year and quickly transitioned to the varsity team. We’ll look for her to provide a big block and some firepower from the right side this year.

“Jaide played both outside hitter and libero in club and we are looking for her to make big contributions on both offense and defense this year,” Meyer continued. “Lexi made varsity as an eighth grader and had an excellent club season, so we look for her to anchor our defense and serve receive, and to bring an aggressive attitude to the game.”

Freshman middle hitter Leah Victor, meanwhile, will look to have an impact on the squad in her first year at the varsity level. Meyer noted that Victor “has the height and athletic ability to make an impact this year and beyond.”

“With so many returning players from last year there was little room for new girls on varsity, which required some tough choices during tryouts,” Meyer said. “Quite frankly, some players who would have surely made the team a few years ago did not make the team, players like Lizzie Danzer, who will stay with the program as a practice team player and as a game-day manager. We are looking for her to bring her energy to practice every day.”

Clarence, which will get its feet wet competitively Thursday with a multi-team scrimmage at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center that includes Eden, St. Mary’s, Lancaster, and Frontier, will continue to forge this year’s team identity — not to mention its cohesive bond — by facing Williamsville South and Mount St. Mary in scrimmage action next week as well. Those early tests will be used to prepare the Lady Red Devils for their season opener against Nardin on Thursday, Sept. 8.

“We have always been a team that prides itself on ball control, and with many of the girls so experienced, we will look to play aggressive defense and to have great serve receive,” Meyer said. “After that we have many offensive weapons and will run a balanced attack from the middle and outside. We play in an extremely competitive division where you are facing a top-10 large school almost every night, but I think the fact that so many of the girls have been in so many tough matches over the years should give them great confidence.

“I have had the chance to watch many of these girls play varsity for three or more years together and continually grow as players and as people, and I am excited to see how this last chapter plays out for them and for the younger girls as well.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

O’Hara boys volleyball goes into season with young squad
by TAYLOR NIGRELLI Reporter North Tonawanda Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Cardinal O’Hara boys volleyball team will look quite a bit different than it did in 2015. The program graduated nine seniors, leaving just two players left from last year’s team.

The infusion of youth might be able to help the Hawks move on from what was a disappointing 2015 season.

“Last season was a disappointing result when it comes to our recorfd,” Coach Brian Lamping said. “We graduated nine kids. It was supposed to be one of those culminating years where we had a big season. But it was disappointing how it turned out.”

Senior setter Ryan Reese and Junior Aiden Olay are the only two players left from 2015. With such a young team, the returning players will be vital from both an on-the-court and leadership perspective.

“Ryan gets the vision of what we’re trying to accomplish and he works well with the younger kids,” Lamping said. “Aiden is strong on the outside. He can forecast what is going to happen before it happens. He has an eye for the game like that.”

The team’s go-to formation will feature Reese heavily as he’ll be relied upon to lead the offensive charge.

“We’re going to be running a 5-1 so we’ll be relying heavily on Ryan to run the offense and carry us,” Lamping said. “That’s the strategy we’ll be starting with.”

Having such a young group of players has an effect on the way Lamping prepares his team for the season. Most of the players need to get used to playing at the varsity level.

“A lot of what we’re doing right now is getting them ready for varsity,” Lamping said. “On JV, we just want them to learn the game and understand the skills. Now that they know what’s going on, we teach them more about strategy. We’re just getting them ready for a different level of competition. We’re bringing their game up a level so they can compete in this league.”

Lamping’s goal for the season is simple: stay competitive. The team will be tested right off the bat with a home match up against St. Francis Sept. 8.

“The goal is to stay competitive in the toughest league in Western New York,” Lamping said. “Because Monsignor Martin is the toughest division without question.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

Lady Warriors volleyball’s starting lineup returns
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter North Tonawanda Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

It’s only been one week since the start of the season, but already Tonawanda girls volleyball coach Renee Smith has been overly impressed with what she’s seen from the girls making up this year’s squad.

The determination and work ethic alone that have been on display since day one have Smith believing that the Lady Warriors are well on their way to flying past last year’s two-win effort against divisional foes.

“This first week of tryouts and practices has proven to be very exciting, and it has me feeling that this year we will be the hardest-working team out there,” Smith said. “The girls are working hard, and I can see that their minds have been focused from day one. We have a strong team coming back with very strong new additions to our roster, so no spot is guaranteed; everyone will have to continually work hard to earn their time this year.”

Among the group of returning starters who should factor into the team’s success this season are senior outside hitter Caitlyn Vishion, junior libero Maria Garbo and sophomore setter Kristen Toth. Vishion, last year’s leader in kills, and Garbo, an ECIC IV First Team all-star who led the Lady Warriors in digs and aces, will both be embarking on their third seasons with the squad. Toth, meanwhile, has the potential to see even more court time this fall after sharing the setter’s duties last season.

“Caitlin is the definition of a true team player and leade r,” Smith said. “She always puts her team first. And Maria is just a hard-working, smart and energetic player. Kristen is probably one of our most talented athletes. I’m impressed with how fast she learns new skills and perfects them, so much so that I really think she has potential to be a top setter in our league this year.”

Tonawanda, which did lose six players to graduation off last year’s squad, will turn its focus this season on defense, an area Smith concedes “has been a problem in the past.” Smith is hopeful that her players’ efforts during last week’s tryouts carry over to the regular season, as the Lady Warriors showed a relentlessness in preventing the ball from hitting the floor.

“We very well may be the team that makes it very difficult to earn points,” Smith said. “They’ve all been out there, trying their all, and that’s got me excited to see the level of play we can achieve with the overall rise in dedication to playing for each other this year.”

Though the Lady Warriors will not be scrimmaging anyone prior to kicking off their 2016 campaign by hosting Cleveland Hill on Tuesday, Sept. 6, by no means does Smith believe her squad will be unprepared for the season once it gets under way. In fact, Smith is eagerly anticipating the chance to take on some of the more challenging league opponents Tonawanda will face — like Eden and Alden — if for no other reason than it will make her squad better for it, regardless of the outcome.

“I’m looking forward to us playing the tougher teams because that’s what brings out a higher level of play for our team,” Smith said. “We may not beat them, but the growth we experience afterwards helps us move forward as a program in the matches that come after that. Overall, I think the girls are ready to experience a higher level of play on their side. We’ve been improving in terms of our record every season that I’ve been with the team, and I am predicting a stronger season than we have had in the past this year.

“For that to happen, though, it’s going to take consistency in the gym on the days we have practice,” Smith continued. “The hard work and drive to become better can never end. The girls really have to stay dedicated throughout the season, and we will use our matches to guide us to become better players and a better team. Every year has been wonderful with this program, and I know we will have fun and make many new memories with this group.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Mt. St. Mary volleyball searching for consistency
by TAYLOR NIGRELLI Reporter North Tonawanda Bee
Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Mt. St. Mary player Molly Meegan keeps her eye on the ball in a 2015 match against St. Mary’s. Meegan and the Thunder will begin scrimmaging this week. Photo by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Brittany Schukraft feels good about where her team stands heading into the 2016 season. The sixth-year volleyball coach at Mount St. Mary led her team to a fifth-place finish in Monsignor Martin last season. She thinks her team can improve on that this season.

All but three players will return from last year’s squad while all but two starters will remain.

The Thunder are led by a solid quartet of returning players. Senior middle setter Emily Trotman was a starter last year.

Sophomore setter Sarah Vicari will start this year after some impressive offseason improvement. Lily Mueller, a junior outside hitter, also started last year.

Senior outside hitter Caroline Manna will also return. Additionally, the team gained a few transfers from recently closed Immaculata, whom Schukraft said “add a lot to the team.”

“Offensively, we’re very strong,” Schukraft said. “That’s one thing we do really well. We’re strong all over the court and we have that scoring mentality. We’ve been working on our serving over the past couple years and that’s a huge strength for our girls as well.”

As always, the Thunder will have perennial powers Nardin and Sacred Heart on the schedule. The Monsignor Martin slate is always difficult.

Schukraft knows her team will have to be consistent on defense if it wants to compete.

“Our biggest thing this year is we want to be consistent,” Schukraft said. “We have some new systems we’re trying to run that will take some time to get used to. If we have a strong presence defensively, we’ll be successful. Offense is already a strength for us. We need to be consistently good on defense to be able to win.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

Big Ten preview: “Harder to win than a national championship”
By Lee Feinswog

Monday, August 22, 2016


Kadie Rolfzen digs as Nebraska teammate Justine Wong-Orantes looks on in the 2015 NCAA title match/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

This is the third in a series of college conference previews since the NCAA season begins on Friday, August 26. Previously, the ACC and Big 12. Today, the Big Ten. Still to come, the Pac-12 and SEC.

You want to win the NCAA volleyball championship? The odds are you will have to beat someone from the Big Ten.

Never was that more apparent than last December when half the national semifinals were made up of eventual-champion Nebraska and Minnesota. What’s more, Wisconsin, Penn State, Ohio State and Illinois — which lost to Minnesota — all made it to the round of 16.

This year should be no different.

Consider the AVCA preseason poll that ranked Nebraska No. 1, Minnesota 3, Wisconsin 4, Illinois 14, Ohio State 15, Purdue 20, and you get the picture.

“The Big Ten is probably harder to win than a national championship because it’s over 10 weeks,” Nebraska coach John Cook said.

It all starts with Nebraska, which returns not only its roster from last year’s title team, but adds a first-team All-American transfer in middle Briana Holman. And as if the Huskers didn’t need any more of a push, they have an Olympic buzz going after watching former NU players Jordan Larson, Kelly Robinson and Kayla Banwarth get the bronze and Canadian Sarah Pavan compete on the beach.

So the expectations, as they always are in Lincoln, are high.

“I think with this group that’s what going to inspire and motivate them and has all summer,” said Cook, back for his 17th season.

“We had to set that out there so we didn’t rest on ‘OK, we won a national championship in Omaha, so great. Let’s go on cruise control.’ We’ve got to set the bar higher for them to go after something and motivate them so that’s how we roll.”

Where to begin with Nebraska? The 6-foot-3 senior Rolfzen twins, Kadie and Amber? They alone can carry a team at times. Senior libero Justine Wong-Orantes, as good as anyone in the college game? Big sophomore outside Mikaela Foecke who was unstoppable in the NCAA title match as the Huskers made short work of Texas? And throw in Holman, who watched that match from the bench in street clothes knowing she was as good or better than anyone on the floor.

“Going up against her in practice in kind of scary sometimes. She’s obviously very physical,” Amber Rolfzen said.

Her sister didn’t shy away from the Huskers’ drive toward another title.

“Just like last year, in January, we had that goal, destination Omaha and we put that out there and this year we’re doing the same exact thing,” Kadie Rolfzen said. “We know what we want to do, we know where we want to be.”

Cook was asked if Nebraska doesn’t win it all would this season be considered a failure.

“That’s one way that you can look at it and I think in the past – our 2006 team – I think that’s how we looked at it and it got us in the end,” Cook said. “Again, my job is going to be lead this team down a path that we don’t put all the results on coming down to one match at the end of the season.

“This team has got to enjoy the journey and the process and playing together, because that’s what they’re going to take out of it at the end anyways. The relationships, trying to leave their legacy here – and it’s not always about wins or losses.”

Perhaps, but Cook is the highest-paid coach in the college game, Nebraska fans expect a title, and no one has a roster more experienced and loaded.

“One of the things we could accomplish is back-to-back,” said Cook, who won a title at Nebraska his first year in 2000 and again in 2006. “So we’ve got to make sure we keep a healthy perspective on that, but if you don’t set it out there, you’re never going to get it. It doesn’t magically just all of sudden happen, but I’m not going to let that happen where it’s all or nothing for that and we’ve got so many challenges with the Big Ten and our non-conference season and there’s so much.

“It’s a long season with a lot of big matches.”


Minnesota sophomore setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Minnesota won the Big Ten regular-season title last season and while it lost its hitting star, Puerto Rican Olympian and conference player of the year Daly Santana, the roster is pretty stout. Start with sophomore setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson, the league’s freshman of the year, add in the senior Tapp sisters, first-team All-American middle/right side Hannah Tapp and middle Paige, and that’s a pretty good start. Junior libero Dalianliz Rosado led the team in digs, senior Sarah Wilhite was fantastic in the NCAA Tournament, and, well, fifth-year coach Hugh McCutcheon has a experienced team that has as much talent as anyone.

“Our 2016 roster has experience, talent and depth. The team continues to build on the great foundation laid by our 2015 squad and is developing an impressive capacity for work. Our incoming freshman have made a seamless transition and our seniors are providing great leadership,” said McCutcheon, who coached the USA men to the 2008 Olympic gold medal and the 2012 women to the silver.

“It will be another epic year in the Big Ten. The quality and parity of the teams in this league is amazing. Every night will be a battle.”

Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield, who enters his fourth season in Madison, has the luxury of coaching senior Lauren Carlini, regarded as not only the best setter but perhaps the best player in the country. As a freshman, also Sheffield’s first year, she led the Badgers to the national title match. As a sophomore she got hurt in the NCAA Tournament and last year Wisconsin was so close before losing to Florida in the round of 16 in five, 15-12 in the fifth after being up 12-11.

Two other seniors join Carlini in middle Haleigh Nelson and outside Roman Kriskova. Junior outsides Lauryn Gilis and Kelli Bates round out a very talented and experienced lineup.

Penn State won six of eight national titles before being swept by Hawaii in the round of eight last year. Replacing key players is nothing new to 38th-year coach Russ Rose, but outside Megan Courtney was the Nittany Lions’ do-everything player, who led them in hitting and defense.

But a team that starts with junior outside Ali Franti and junior middle Haleigh Washington will compete with anyone. Junior setter Abby Detering, who transferred from Florida, and freshman libero Kendall White will make a big difference, Rose said.

“We’ll have matches where we’ll be pretty competitive and look like have a feel what’s going and we’ll also have matches where teams that are a little more experienced with a little pop are going to cause us some challenges,” Rose said. “But that’s part of the game in a conference where seven or eight teams qualify for the final four.”

The next three, Illinois, Ohio State and Purdue could be as good as anyone.

Michigan State and Michigan are always knocking on the door.

You can bet that one of those five teams will shake things up and end up surprisingly high in the standings and make a mess of the NCAA bracket. It happens every year.

Illinois, for one, might have been overrated last year, but coach Kevin Hambly has a strong group back led by sophomore setter Jordyn Poulter and senior outside Michelle Strizak.

Ohio State coach Geoff Carlston wouldn’t mind following the lead of Nebraska and playing for the title at home. The NCAA championships and AVCA Convention are in Columbus. Senior middle Taylor Sandbothe and two sophomores lead the way, outside Audra Appold and setter Taylor Hughes on a team that beat Nebraska last year.

Purdue is always an X factor, always in the hunt and had the misfortune of running into Texas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Coach Dave Shondell gets back one of the most accurate, powerful hitters in the nation in senior middle Faye Adelaja. The Boilermakers roster includes experience and depth with a freshman class expected to make an impact.

Indiana is optimistic and Maryland and second-year coach Steve Aird have made big strides on the recruiting trail.

Northwestern, Iowa and Rutgers have a lot of ground to make up. Shane Davis, who led Loyola to back-to-back men’s titles at Chicago, switched genders to go across town to take the job at Northwestern and that’s a transaction worth watching.

“There’s going to be no easy night,” Cook warned. “That’s another thing our players understand. There’s no easy night in this conference.”

Big 12 preview: Texas still on top as Kansas challenges
By Lee Feinswog

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Kansas dogpiles after beating USC in the 2015 NCAA Tournament/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

This is the second in a series of college conference previews since the NCAA season begins on Friday, August 26. Today, the Big 12. Still to come, the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.

By Greg Echlin for VolleyballMag.com

So how do the Texas Longhorns replace three the seniors—Amy Neal, Molly McCage and Kat Brooks—who were the first to be part of four straight trips to the national semifinals and compiled the best winning percentage of any class in program history?

Simply put, it’s part of the “culture” coach Jerritt Elliott likes to talk about.

So it’s no surprise the Horns are ranked No. 2 in the AVCA preseason poll this year and picked to win their sixth straight Big 12 title.

The last team to win the conference title is Nebraska, which isn’t even in the Big 12 anymore and the same school that beat Texas in the NCAA national-championship match last December.

So much for nostalgia. Though each team targets Columbus, Ohio, for the national semifinals this year, they played each other in the non-conference season last season and will again at the VERT Challenge next weekend in Portland.

After that, the grind of the Big 12.

“It’s going to be a strong conference,” said Elliott. “I think we have some really good teams and I think this year it’s going to be even at another level.”

That includes the surprise team of late last season, Kansas, which enters the season ranked No. 5. The truth is, the Big 12 has to prove on a national scope, that any of the other teams deserve much attention. TCU beat Texas last season and joined Iowa State and Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament. Of those three, only Iowa State won its first-round match.

First, the answer to the Texas health questions:

1. Former national freshman of the year (at USC before transferring) Ebony Nwanebu is back after being granted a medical redshirt because of back problems. The 6-foot-4 outside hitter made only one appearance—an impactful one with 22 kills against Nebraska in the fourth game of the season—and will return as a junior.

2. Micaya White, tabbed the Big 12 pre-season freshman of the year a year ago before a stress fracture in her leg wiped out her season, is ready for her first taste of collegiate competition, also as an outside hitter.

But the preseason ranking didn’t take into account the blow Texas received when it was announced before their first public scrimmage this past Saturday that senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu, the team’s only returning first-team All-American, will be academically ineligible to play this season.

Ogbogu said in a written release through the athletics department: “I’m extremely disappointed and take full responsibility for the situation I put myself and my team in. I plan to use this time to take care of my business academically, continue to get better as a player and come back next January and compete next year with the Longhorns again.”

Curiously, before the news broke, Elliott didn’t mention Ogbogu when asked directly if the two returning captains from last year, Ogbogu and Nicole Dalton, would be captains again this fall.

As a result, there will be some shuffling on the front line.


Paulina Preito Cerame of Texas/UT athletics

Yaazie Bedart-Ghani, who had the best match of her freshman season in the national semifinal against Minnesota, will be competing with Nwanebu and White on the outside along with senior Paulina Prieto Cerame, an all-tournament player in the Austin regional last season and a second-team All American. Cerame was with the Puerto Rican national team the past few months and was cut just before the Olympics.

Chloe Collins, the diminutive but explosive setter, was a third-team All-American last year.

Elliott said he looks at Bedart-Ghani and Prieto Cerame as utility players because of their ability to play on either side of the net.

“We’re pretty deep at a lot of positions and obviously have a lot of firepower,” said Elliott, whose 15-year resume at Texas includes winning the 2012 NCAA title.

Kansas, in the meantime, is no longer a secret, not after shocking the college-volleyball world with its trip last year to Omaha and the NCAA Championships.

Ray Bechard enters his 19th season with a solid core of players back from the team that reached unprecedented levels in program history last year.

KU’s newly established reputation as a team to be reckoned with became apparent during an offseason trip to Indianapolis in the midst of what Bechard called a “recruiting coma.” Members of the Southeastern Louisiana coaching staff, aware of the bracket in Purdue’s Stacy Clark Classic (Sept. 16-17) where they’ll play with the Jayhawks, Boilermakers and Xavier U., approached Bechard.

“They introduced themselves, ‘Hey, we’re from Southeastern Louisiana. Our team can’t wait to play you guys.’ ” Bechard said. “I thought, ‘Wow, that’s interesting.’ ”

Such is the life of a team with a target on its back.

KU finished 30-3 last year, losing twice to Texas in the regular season and to Nebraska in the national semifinals. The Jayhawks went five only twice, once in their home loss to Texas and the other in its upset of top-seeded USC in the San Diego regional final.

Of course, KU and Texas will place twice in the Big 12 again this season. Texas has won the last 24 matches.

What makes it interesting is that five players from Texas are on the Kansas roster.


Kelsie Payne hits against USC in the 2015 NCAA Tournament/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

That includes Austin native Kelsie Payne, a junior who burst onto the national scene in 2015.

“I feel like it’s been a thing in the Big 12 for a long time that we’ve been chasing them every year,” the 6-foot-3 Payne said. “They’re always like the big sister to us. I think now we’ve got the team and we can give them a run for their money. I think we were so close last year.”

Elliott knows, of course, he could have had Payne.

“At the end of the day, I had made a miss and it’s not the first one I’ve made a miss on,” Elliott admitted.

Payne is the preseason pick as the Big 12 player of the year as she is in the midst of transition to becoming a six-rotation player. It’s designed to offset the loss of departed senior Tiana Dockery.

Last year, Bechard shifted Payne to shift from the middle to the right side. To finish the year as a first-team All-American and to be invited to the USA camp for the Pan American Cup over the summer would seem the idea worked.

“I think, for what our team needed, that was the best move and it obviously paid pretty good dividends to her individually,” Bechard said.

It wasn’t an easy adjustment at first.

“Definitely one of the more difficult things I’ve done because it’s a whole different side of the net,” said Payne. “The ball crosses my body now and it’s not right in front of me.”

Iowa State, picked to finish third in the Big 12, got some votes in the AVCA national poll.

Two Cyclones who were all-Big 12 last year, outside hitter/middle blocker Alexis Conaway and outside hitter Morgan Kuhrt, return.

“We will look to them for a lot of leadership this year,” ISU coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said.

She added that the ISU coaching is being extra cautious with outside hitter Jess Schaben, the 2015 Big 12 freshman of the year, because of shoulder problems during the spring. Schaben has been on a hit count in the opening weeks of practice and may spend more time than expected on the bench during the non-conference season to allow her shoulder to gain strength.

The Cyclones beat Miami in the first round, but lost in the second round to Wisconsin.

“We’ve been stuck on first and second round now for a few years and we want to make a deeper run,” said Johnson-Lynch, in her 12th season as the Cyclones head coach and first year as president of the AVCA. “Having players on a mission and committed to that, I think (it) will help take care of itself or at least keep us going in the right direction.”

TCU,which had a tough draw in Hawaii in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, is picked to finish fourth followed by Oklahoma and Kansas State respectively. TCU had 19 wins last season, the most for the school in five years.

Of the top six pre-season picks this year, only the Sooners missed the NCAA Tournament last year. They were picked to finish third in the 2015 preseason coaches poll, but finished sixth after struggling to a 12-16 mark, 6-10 in the league.

“Oklahoma, I think, will bounce back from the disappointing year they had,” Bechard said. “I think they could be a top-20 team.”

Baylor, Texas Tech and West Virginia rounded out the 2016 pre-season coaches poll.

Anderson, U.S. rally for bronze in men’s volleyball
Sunday, August 21, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO – West Seneca’s Matt Anderson has his Olympic medal, and he and his United States men’s volleyball teammates made a big comeback to get it.

The U.S. beat Russia, the defending Olympic champions, in a titanic five-set battle for the bronze medal on Sunday.

The U.S. lost the first two sets but came back to win 23-25 21-25 25-19 25-19 15-13, with an ace in the tie-breaker by Anderson helping to seal the victory.

Anderson finished as the top scorer for the Americans with 21 points, two blocks and an ace off serve.

The Americans, a young team with eight players who had never competed in the Olympics, came to Rio seeking a fourth U.S. gold medal in the sport and were favorites after winning the World Cup last year. They lost in the quarterfinals in London four years ago to Italy, the team that beat them in Rio in the semifinals.

Reid Priddy, 38 and playing in his final Olympic match, finished with 18 points for the U.S.

In the gold medal match, Brazil defeated Italy to win its third gold medal in the sport and cap its best Olympic performance with a total of seven golds in the Rio Games.

The Brazilians had lost to the Italians in a pool match but won the final in straight sets, 25-22, 28-26, 26-24, handing Italy its third silver medal in men’s volleyball.

Brazil struggled in the pool stage, losing two matches, to the U.S. and Italy, and making it into the knockout rounds only after a tense victory over France in the last game.

But having emerged from the pool, Brazil began to show its class and, fueled by raucous home support, dropped just one set between the quarter-finals and clinching gold.

The Brazilian victory was largely due to a barrage of winning spikes, serves and blocks by its outstanding outside hitter Wallace de Souza, who scored 20 of Brazil’s points.

Brazil last won volleyball men’s gold in 2004 when it beat Italy in Athens.

ACC preview: UNC, FSU, Miami, Louisville still teams to beat
By Lee Feinswog
Saturday, August 20, 2016


Florida State's Katie Horton stretches out on defense/Perrone Ford photo

This is the first in a series of college conference previews since the NCAA season begins on Friday, August 26. Today, the ACC. Still to come the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.

After a season in which the ACC seemed to make more of a national impact, it didn’t help itself in the NCAA Tournament.

Not after Miami got bounced in the first round and Florida State, Louisville and North Carolina all went out in the second.

But the good news was four teams got in, Pitt and Syracuse didn’t but had a case, and the feeling around the league is that things continue to get better.

If nothing else, the level of coaching is rising. For example, Jim McLaughlin is entering his second year at Notre Dame, and while the Irish are not yet poised to get into the upper echelon, you have to imagine that a coach who won it all with Washington won’t have too many seasons like his first when he went 7-25 overall, 2-18 in the ACC.

And Bill Ferguson, who had tremendous success as the men’s coach at USC, has taken over at Wake Forest.

“People are starting to notice that there’s talent coming into the league, both in coaching and with players,” Florida State coach Chris Poole said. “I’ve been here since 2008 and the league has made drastic improvements since then, and that’s better for everybody.

Perhaps, but the usual suspects are the team to beat and the first AVCA poll showed that, with Florida State coming in No. 17, UNC at 19, and Louisville at 23.

“What is so exciting about the ACC is that the improvement across the board puts us in contention to be the best volleyball conference in the nation with regards to RPI,” Louisville caoch Anne Kordes. “There is not a team that could not advance to the NCAA, which makes for a tough grind-it-out kind of season where you have to go into battle every night.”

The coaches in the league voted UNC at the top.


North Carolina coach Joe Sagula/UNC photo

Coach Joe Sagula, starting his 27th year, really likes his team, one with a mix of experience and youth.

“This team has got a lot of potential,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of depth. You walk in the gym and it’s one of the tallest more physical teams we’ve ever had. We have a lot of kids, 19, and can go hard every day in every position.”

Sagula said he likes his three setters, pin hitters, middles, the way the Tar Heels play defense and “we’re still a good blocking team, which has been or M.O. the last couple of years.”

Sounds like a team that should win.

“As long as the coaches don’t mess it up,” Sagula cracked.

Key players include senior opposite Taylor Treacy, senior setter Abigail Curry and senior libero Sheila Doyle. Freshman outside Julia Scoles, who is from North Carolina, enrolled early and will be an impact player.

The coaches tabbed Florida State second and that doesn’t surprise Sagula.

“Florida State’s always has got athletic talent,” he said. “But a team I think will that ruffle some feathers but didn’t get picked high by the coaches is Georgia Tech.”

Tech was picked to finish seventh, but more on the Yellow Jackets in a bit. First FSU, which includes senior outside Katie Horton and junior outside Milica Kubura, two of the ACC’s top players.

“There’s a lot of potential, so I’m optimistic,” Poole said. “We’ve just got to keep everyone healthy.”

That’s because he only has 12 Seminoles, 11 on scholarship. It’s a situation that was created last spring when 6-5 middle Sarah Burrington, chose to retire and get a job rather than come back as a graduate student and play her last year.

Accordingly, that puts the spotlight on often-injured senior middle Mara Green, Poole said.

“She’s the big question mark because of injuries, but has so much potential. When she’s healthy she’s a really good player.”

Miami has made great strides and been to three straight NCAA Tournaments since Keno Gandara took over in 2013.Junior outside Olga Strantzal and junior setter Haley Templeton were both names to the preseason All-ACC team.

“I’ve been excited about this group for a while, since the beginning of summer,” junior middle Sakile Simmons said. “It was just fun to see what we have so far and I’m excited to see what we’re going to grow into as a team.” 

Louisville’s Molly Sauer

Kordes always has Louisville in the national picture. The Cardinals won the league last year at 25-7 and 18-2, but also lost the ACC player of the year, setter Katie George. Now working in TV in Louisville, George was on the other side of the camera recently when she came to the team’s media day and conducted interviews.

As Kordes starts her fifth season, she has a team led by junior middle Tess Clark, sophomore libero Molly Sauer and senior outside Janelle Jenkins.

Pitt knocked on the door last year but had a tough end of the season. Coach Dan Fisher coached the USA in the Pan Am Games. See his post-tournament interview with VolleyballMag.com by clicking here.

Pitt has six freshmen, a redshirt freshman, five sophomores, a redshirt sophomore, two juniors, a senior and a redshirt senior in middle Jenna Potts, the Panthers’ top player. In other words, youth will be served.

Duke coach Jolene Nagel, starting her 17th season in Durham, always has the Blue Devils in the hunt. They had been to 12 NCAA Tournaments in 14 years before last season. She’ll count heavily on senior middle Jordan Tucker and senior libero Sasha Karelov.

Which brings us to Georgia Tech.

“We know that it’s not going to be just one lineup the whole season,” third-year coach Michelle Collier said. “We need everybody to come up and play different roles at different times.”

Tech probably has the most experience returning in the ACC, including senior twins Teegan Van Gunst, the outside, and Annika Van Gunst, the right side. Teegan was a preseason All-ACC pick.

Syracuse is an X factor. The Orange lost a lot, but coach Leonid Yellin is always able to rebuild quickly with his foreign connections. Four of his players are foreign, but junior Leah Levert, a middle from Savannah, Ga., is Syracuse’s only entry on the preseason ACC team.

“Syracuse is always a team that gets better as the season goes on,” Sagula said.

After that, the league is a pick ‘em.

The prevailing thought is Virginia Tech and Virginia are on the way up, NC State has great expectations under new coach Linda Hampton-Keith, but Boston College, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Clemson will have to fight their respective ways up the ladder.

Tears, pain after USA women’s volleyball shocked by Serbia
Greg Wyshynski Yahoo Sports

Thursday, August 18, 2016


USA’s Kimberly Hill cries after losing the women’s semifinal volleyball match against Serbia

RIO DE JANEIRO – Tijana Boskovic was in tears.

“We still can’t believe what we did,” she said, staring off towards the volleyball court at Maracanãzinho, where the Rio Olympics women’s semifinal had just ended.

“In the last set, they had three points more than us. But we believed we could win,” said the 19-year-old, 6-foot-4 Serbian, referencing the 8-3 run of points her team had in the fifth set. “We put everything we had into it. And we won.”

A few feet away from a sobbing and smiling Boskovic, Kayla Banwarth was also in tears.

“That was probably the best match Serbia’s ever played, so props to them,” said the American Libero, whose team just lost a crushing five-set match, sending them to the bronze medal match in Rio. “It’s the journey that matters … not the outcome.”

Team USA was ranked No. 1 in the world entering the Rio Games under new coach Karch Kiraly, himself a former gold medalist. The program had captured consecutive silver medals in London and Beijing, and was seeking the first U.S. gold in the 52-year history of the Olympic event.

The odds were good that they would capture it, especially when host Brazil – which didn’t lose a set during pool play – was upended in the quarterfinals by China. Those odds only increased when Serbia, No. 6 in the world and a 3-1 loser to the U.S. in pool play, ousted a strong Russian team in the quarters as well.

But the Americans will have to settle for bronze after the 3-2 (20-25, 25-17, 25-21, 16-25, 15-13) upset by Serbia. The quest for a medal continues. Pride attempted to quell disappointment.

“We’re incredibly proud of how we battled through some real adversity today. Going down 2-1 and all the other things that were going on,” said Kiraly.

The “other things” the Americans faced were a hostile Brazilian crowd actively rooting against them – even a guy dressed as Captain America was booed on the Jumbotron – and a Serbian team that had learned a few lessons from their first meeting with the U.S. in group play.


Serbia’s players react after winning the women’s semifinal volleyball match

“Serbia was doing a nice job creating problems for us,” said Kiraly. “There were a whole slew of things we were trying to solve. We adjusted our lineup. We adjusted it again. We adjusted it again.”

But the biggest lineup adjustment came in the second set, when American standout Foluke Akinradewo injured her left leg. The setter was a huge loss to the lineup, and her status for Saturday’s bronze medal match is uncertain.

“We were distracted for a second, just because we care so much for her,” captain Christa Harmotto Dietzen said, before leaning back in her press conference chair and going silent.

Then, Dietzen was in tears, too.

“Obviously, we wanted to turn this around. For her. For everybody in this program,” said Dietzen.

“This one stings, for sure. But we had a great example set for us. Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross responded well after their semifinal loss. For the next hour, there’s some grieving. But we’re going after the bronze. That’s the next goal.”

With pain comes progress, even if it won’t look like it on paper. The Americans will go from two straight appearances in a gold medal match to battling for third. But the program’s consistent rise won’t be slowed by a vexing upset.

“We’ve built something special over the years. This program has a history. Top finishes at the international level,” said Kiraly.

“There’s one thing we want to accomplish. It’s not going to happen this month. I don’t know if it’ll happen four years from now or 52 years from now, but our job is to make an Olympic gold medal for the U.S. program. And the fight continues.”

Anderson, U.S. volleyball rise to the occasion
By Jerry Sullivan, Buffalo News
Thursday, August 18, 2016


Matt Anderson of United States spikes past Bartosz Kurek and Mateusz Bieniek of Poland in the men’s quarterfinal volleyball match on Wednesday.

Rio de Janeiro – West Seneca’s Matt Anderson says he has never watched a tape of the Olympic quarterfinal loss to Italy in 2012. It was bad enough living through it once.

Anderson was the youngest player on that U.S. men’s volleyball team in London. That team had high expectations after finishing first in their pool, only to get swept by the Italians in the quarters and limp out of England without a medal.

It took him awhile to get over that loss. Though he was an Olympic rookie, Anderson felt he had let his team down whey they needed him the most that day.

“It was a huge burden on me,” Anderson said Wednesday. “I thought that personally I could have done a lot better in that match to help my team win. But I forgot about it, because I’m on a new team now.”

But Anderson learned from that crushing setback in London, and he believed in his heart that when the U.S. arrived at that same point in the Olympics four years later, they would be ready. And that’s exactly what happened here Wednesday.

This time, Anderson was on the sweeping end. He and a rising, young supporting cast played their finest game of the year, trouncing a favored Poland squad in three sets – 25-23, 25-22, 25-20 – to move on to Friday’s semifinals against the Italy-Iran winner.

Just one week ago, the U.S. men were reeling after losing their first two matches to Canada and Italy and on the verge of missing the knockout round heading into a game against Brazil. They’re 4-0 since that low point and appear to be peaking at just the right time.

“Geez, well, we don’t want to speak too soon, right?” Anderson said. “We’ve still got two matches.”

True, but they’re a very dangerous team at the moment. In a seven-day period, they beat the two top-ranked teams in the world – Poland and Brazil, and they took down Brazil in a must-win situation before a hostile crowd at Maracanazinho Arena.

Adversity seemed to bring out the best in the U.S. team, a resilient bunch that seems to thrive on crisis. They were emotionally primed for Poland and responded every time the Poles made a run, much as they had done against Brazil the week before.

The opening set went back and forth until the U.S. took a 17-16 lead. They held on from there, as a monster Anderson spike put them up 23-20. Poland took a 17-12 lead in the second set and appeared to be taking control. Not this bunch.

With Olympic rookies Aaron Russell and Taylor Sander leading the way, the Americans stunned Poland with a 13-5 run to win the second set. They didn’t let up until they were hugging on the court after sweeping the 2014 world champions out of Rio.

“It’s awesome to have two of the best left spikers in the world (Sander and Russell) on my team,” Anderson said. “They’ve been so solid in this tournament. We learned today that we don’t have to do anything special. We just have to play our type of volleyball, trust and respect the game and know we have a fight with anybody.”

U.S. coach John Speraw said they also learned that you need to play with energy and passion during an Olympics. The urgency was oddly missing early, particularly in a shocking loss to Canada, playing its first Olympic match in 24 years, in the opener.

“You always hope it goes more smoothly,” said Speraw, coaching his first Olympic team. “But I had a hunch that this team, young and inexperienced as it was, and not having faced tons of adversity, would need to face some adversity if we were going to reach our very best.”

Anderson had the London disappointment to draw on. He has been up and down in the Games, but he has been there when the team needed him most, providing the emotional and physical spark you’d expect from a man who is on any short list for the best player in the world.

He said he wanted to lead this team, to show by his actions how to respond in tough times. Anderson felt his decision to get away from volleyball two years ago and find balance in his life would make him better suited to help in an emotional crisis. You have to think his influence was important when this U.S. team was down last week.

Of course, it’s on the court where Anderson is most effective. He has been there for his team when it mattered, and the younger guys have reciprocated.

“Matt played a great match,” Speraw said.” It wasn’t his best. He had a couple of close swings that were a little bit out, but he hung in there and made some great contributions down the stretch. I thought he was really good defensively.

“He’s having a great tournament, and that’s what we needed from him. You need your best player to have a great tournament to have a shot, and that’s what he’s doing.”

So Anderson is on to Friday’s semifinals, one step farther than he went in London, one win from an Olympic medal. Sander said Anderson seemed relieved to have survived the quarterfinals this time, but Matt sounded like a man with bigger objectives.

“No, I’m not satisfied,” Anderson said. “I think even if we win the gold medal, I still have the hunger in me to win more medals and to continue going forward with this team, this staff, this organization. It’s been great to me over the years, and I have to do my part to give back to them.”

email: jsullivan@buffnews.com

US men’s volleyball team beats Mexico to reach quarterfinals
Janie McCauley | AP
Monday, August 15, 2016


United States’ Kawika Shoji, left, and William Reid Priddy shake hands after defeating Mexico during a men’s preliminary volleyball match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Taylor Sander leapt high for timely blocks. He went low for a save at floor level to keep a winning point going. Then, he squatted way down to send another tough ball back over the net.

At last, the U.S. men’s volleyball team is playing the very brand of volleyball the Americans knew they had in them to make a special run at the Olympics. It just took a few days longer than expected to get going and find a winning groove.

They reached the quarterfinals Monday after that slow start, victors in their third straight match to conclude pool play by dominating Mexico 25-23, 25-11, 25-19.

Sander’s kill from the left side on match point sealed it. He is one of several among the team’s eight first-time Olympians to make vast improvements the past three matches.

“We all had to pick it up,” Sander said. “Those first two matches, we weren’t playing USA Volleyball. We weren’t aggressive, we weren’t giving our heart every single point. Our coaching staff did a good job holding us accountable. We had a couple team meetings. We all just sat and talked about what we needed to do to win. We talked about it, then we went and did it.”

The 24-year-old Sander, who had struggled with an aggressive but inconsistent serve in the initial two contests, was stellar defensively for the fifth-ranked Americans. He also has been growing a mustache for the Olympics — not so much out of superstition but because his teammates won’t allow him or Kawika Shoji to shave the way things have turned around in Rio de Janeiro.

“We’re going red polos and mustaches apparently,” U.S. coach John Speraw joked of the facial hair and coaches’ red shirts worn on match day.

Sander took it upon himself to find ways to relax away from Maracanazinho arena. He has been swimming with teammates at the Navy School where the Americans train or watching other sports on TV to keep from feeling any added pressure.

“Him articulating that is really nice to see that he has that kind of awareness about where he was and what he needed to do in order to improve,” Speraw said. “He’s learning the challenges of the mental game when put under great duress and he’s never experienced this before. For him to have experienced that, recognized it, learned what he needed to do in order to perform better and then come out and execute is a wonderful long-term lesson.”

What a dramatic turnaround in a week’s time for Sander and the young Americans, greeted by chants of “U-S-A!” when they entered for pregame warmups to face eliminated Mexico (0-5).

After losses to Canada and Italy to begin the tournament, the U.S. stunned host Brazil in four sets then topped France in another four-setter Saturday.

Reid Priddy, in his fourth Olympics, is relishing watching how far the kids have come in Rio.

“The enormity of the Olympic Games requires a 24-hour learning curve. We’ve been able to respond after those first two matches,” the 38-year-old Priddy said. “In fact, I think it put us right in the mentality of where we need to be. ...

“We’re almost more prepared now to face this quarterfinal match than we would have been had we swept 5-0.”

USA volleyball downs China to clinch top seed in quarterfinals
Tony Andracki nbcolympics.com
Sunday, August 14, 2016


The U.S. women's volleyball team will be playing either Japan or Argentina in the quarterfinals Tuesday

Goal 1: Accomplished.

The U.S. women's volleyball team entered the Rio Olympics with their sights set on the first gold medal in team history, but the first step was securing the top seed in Pool B.

With a win over China in four sets (22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-19) on the final day of preliminary play Sunday, the Americans clinched the top spot in Pool B and will take on Japan - the fourth seed in Pool A - in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

The U.S. squad got out to a slow start Sunday, however, as China took the opening set thanks in large part to six American service errors.

"China came out playing very good volleyball," U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said, according to the FIVB. "They really pushed us in the first set and we had too many service mistakes."

In the second set, the U.S. cleaned things up and flipped the script, capitalizing on Chinese mistakes.

The U.S. team also showed off its impressive depth with some key contributions from Kelsey Robinson and captain Christa Dietzen in the final three sets.

"I have to give a lot of credit to our captain Christa Dietzen and Kelsey Robinson for coming in and giving us a lift off the bench," Kiraly said.

Robinson didn't record a stat in the first three matches in Rio, but she has been crucial to the USA's success in the last two matches, including getting out to a 10-of-12 start on spikes Sunday against China.

Dietzen, meanwhile, hardly saw the floor in the first four matches, but came on to provide six points on five spikes plus a block in the final three sets.

Jordan "The Governor" Larson also stepped up big for the U.S. with 18 points, a block and two service aces.

"Jordan Larson played a phenomenal match," Kiraly said.

"I am not doing anything special," Larson said, according to the FIVB. "I am just being me and cherishing every point. I love this team and what it stands for, and we're all fighting together. 

"We can't do it alone, so we have to be together in all the performances that we've had."

On the Chinese side, Zhu Ting was a one-woman wrecking crew with 23 points on 19 spikes and four blocks.

The women's quarterfinals being at 9 a.m. ET Tuesday.

Two old friends, a risky partnership and Olympic beach volleyball
Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy editor
Saturday, August 13, 2016


Phil Dalhausser (L) and Nicholas Lucena celebrate after winning the men’s beach volleyball qualifying match between the USA and Tunisia at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro.

RIO DE JANEIRO – It started with an email between old friends.

Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena have known each other since they were 19, growing up in different Floridian cities but eventually bonding on the state’s amateur beach volleyball circuit. They were partners in pro beach volleyball for over five years, until Dalhausser was given an offer he couldn’t refuse: Partnering up with Todd Rogers, arguably the best defensive player in American beach volleyball at the time.

Dalhausser and Rogers would go on to win Olympic gold in Beijing. But London was a different story, as the duo was upset in the Round of 16 by Italy, amid chemistry issues between them. Rogers would retire before the Rio Olympics. Dalhausser wasn’t sure what his status was, due to a prolonged injury rehab that kept him out of qualifying tournaments and without a partner.

So Lucena sent him an email.

“For 10 years, I was trying to play with Phil again. In my mind, he was the best blocker in the world. We had chemistry. But I never asked him once to play together during those 10 years, until last year,” he said.

Dalhausser opened the email, and read the proposal: Lucena would leave his current partner Theo Brunner to play with his old friend Dalhausser, in an attempt to medal in Rio.

Dalhausser’s immediate reaction? Trying to talk him out of it.

“I told him he was taking a huge risk. I’m not 100 percent. You’re basically throwing an Olympic spot away,” he said. “He took a huge gamble on me, if you ask my opinion. His old partner and him were in a pretty good spot to qualify.”

But they decided to forge a partnership, and began an uphill climb. Last August, they were ranked 24th in the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball. As they enter the elimination rounds in the Rio 2016 Olympics on Saturday, they’re ranked No. 3 in the tournament.

“Nick and I are playing with the house’s money. We started a year ago, playing together. We started qualifying while teams had the whole summer to play together last year, we started at the end of the summer and missed all the good tournaments, because I was hurt,” said Dalhausser. “We shouldn’t really be here, but we caught fire at the end of last year, continued into this year, and slipped into the third seed, somehow.”


USA’s Nicholas Lucena eyes the ball during the men’s beach volleyball qualifying match between the USA and Mexico at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 9, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

For Lucena, the journey back to being Dalhausser’s partner took him through stretches where he contemplated quitting the sport.

Starting out with Dalhausser as pro tour novices, he said beach volleyball was originally just a way for a former soccer player to find some direction after graduating from Florida State.

“Beach volleyball’s really not the most lucrative sport. You have to be one of the top three or four teams to even make money. And we didn’t know what we were doing. I remember the first time we qualified, we were afraid to go into the players’ tent,” he said.

When Dalhausser left to team with Rogers, Lucena played on. But as the Rio Games approached, so did a day of reckoning about his future.

He asked Team USA teammate Jacob Gibb to form a partnership, but he opted to play with Casey Patterson. (Their team didn’t make it out of pool play in Rio.) Lucena considered leaving the beach for the classroom, returning to Florida State to get his masters.

But the potential to play with Dalhausser again continued to be a driving force in keeping him in the game. “I really didn’t want to get a real job. So let’s do this as long as we can,” he said. “I worked hard to remain as one of the better defenders, and find a way to play with him again. It worked out.”

Dalhausser and Lucena face Robin Seidl and Alexander Huber from Austria at midnight on Saturday night in the Round of 16. That duo went 2-1 in pool play, including a straight sets win over Gibb and Patterson.

It’s also the part of the tournament where Dalhausser’s team was ousted last Olympics.

“This is my redemption,” he said. “[London 2012] was a weird year for Todd and I. We had a weird dynamic. It wasn’t clicking. So what I learned from 2012 is that I’m not going to let it happen this year, and Nick and I are going to stay on the same page.”

Just another reason why an old friend can sometimes make for the right partner.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

After 2 losses, U.S. men's volleyball stuns Brazil in 4 sets
The Associated Press
Friday, August 12, 2016


RIO DE JANEIRO - Mouth agape, Matt Anderson yelled from every ounce of his being to celebrate big hit after pounding big hit.

After two forgettable preliminary matches by the U.S. men's volleyball team and facing the real possibility of near-Olympic elimination, Anderson and the Americans stunned Brazil in four sets Thursday to deny the previously unbeaten host nation a quarterfinal berth.

With Anderson leading the charge for a roster packed with Olympic first-timers, the U.S. delivered its best and most inspired performance yet.

Anderson brought it with his jump serve, his big hitting and reliable passing in a 25-20, 25-23, 20-25, 25-20 victory that left the raucous, flag-waving pro-Brazil crowd at Maracanazinho arena in utter disbelief.

The U.S. snapped a four-match losing streak to Brazil in international competition since winning the World League gold medal on July 20, 2014. When Brazil's kill attempt sailed long on match point, the Americans could truly jump up and down to cheer their first victory at the Rio de Janeiro Games - and one that will be remembered by a captivated U.S. crowd back home that weighed in on social media with shoutouts.

The Americans had lost twice to Brazil this year, but beat the Brazilians in an exhibition USA Volleyball Cup series match last August.

Anderson, who already had scored 20 points early in the fourth set, set the tone from the opening serve of the late-night match beginning at nearly 11 p.m. local time.

The 6-foot-8 outside hitter pumped his tattooed arms and yelled out ''Yeah!''

Erik Shoji saved two balls with lunging, one-handed gets to keep a point alive and put the Americans ahead 6-2 in the fourth - the back-row specialist diving into the U.S. bench and also over the end line during the sequence, when Anderson made a great save of his own.

During a back-and-forth first set, balls were coming across the net so hard that one kill slammed into Shoji's chest and sent the U.S. libero to the floor.

Brazil had only dropped two sets over its first two matches.

Earlier Thursday, Argentina and Poland played the longest set so far in the Olympic tournament, with the Poles outlasting the Argentines 37-35 in a back-and-forth third set on the way to a sweep.

Poland (3-0) needed six match points to close it out and remain unbeaten in Pool B while handing Argentina (2-1) its first defeat with the 25-21, 25-19, 37-35 victory. Poland advanced to the quarterfinals.

Poland's players leapt in the air to celebrate finally ending a match that had fans of both countries on their feet dancing in the stands and waving flags.

Italy, playing without injured captain Emanuele Birarelli because of a sprained right ankle, topped Mexico in straight sets, 25-17, 25-13, 25-17.

Grossnickle Steps Down at Stevenson
Thursday, August 11, 2016


Steve Grossnickle, the head coach of the men's volleyball program at Stevenson University for the past two seasons, announced his resignation recently. A search for Grossnickle's successor will begin immediately.

"I want to thank Steve for everything he has contributed to the Stevenson men's volleyball program as a player as well as a member of the coaching staff," said Brett Adams, Stevenson Director of Athletics. "He has done a wonderful job as head coach the past two years, and Steve has left the program as strong as it has ever been. We are sad to see him go."

In two seasons at the helm of the Mustangs, Grossnickle, a 2009 graduate of Stevenson and four-year starter for the men's volleyball program, compiled a 45-22 record. This past season (2016), Stevenson went 26-8, captured the program's first Continental Volleyball Conference (CVC) championship, and advanced to the NCAA Division III semifinals in the program's first-ever NCAA appearance. For his effort, Grossnickle was honored as the CVC coach of the year.

In Grossnickle's first season, the Mustangs went 19-14 and won the ECAC Division III championship for the third time in five seasons. Prior to taking over the top spot, Grossnickle was an assistant with the program for four years, during which time the Mustangs posted four 20-win campaigns and ECAC titles in 2011 and 2013.

Grossnickle is a 2009 graduate of Stevenson with a bachelor of science degree in business communication. He was a four-year starter and two-year team captain. He is ranked third in school history in digs (799), fifth in games played (382) and 10th in service aces (45). He also received the Fighting Heart Award honoring a student-athlete who has overcome the odds and showed perseverance in their life, on or off the field.

As a senior, Grossnickle helped the Mustangs to the title game of the 2009 ECAC Division III South Championship and the first 20-win season in school history as the team went 20-13. He led the team with 285 digs, a mark that ranks third all-time in school history. Also that year, Stevenson led the nation in digs per game.

Men's Beach Volleyball: US Beats Mexico 2-0
NBC New York
Tuesday, August 9, 2016


United States' Phil Dalhausser, right, hits over Mexico's Juan Ramon Virgen during a men's beach volleyball match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016

Ten years after splitting up, they're back together again. Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena are the top U.S. men’s beach volleyball team, eying gold in Rio. 

They kept the momentum going Tuesday, beating Mexico’s Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros 21-14, 21-17 to go to 2-0. U.S. topped Tunisia 2-0 in their first match on Sunday. 

The American duo moves to the final pool match on Thursday, Aug. 11 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

On the women's side, Olympic rookies Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat of Team USA will be tested when they face off against Rio favorites, Larissa and Talita of Brazil at 11 p.m. ET.

Olympic beach volleyball 2016 results: Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross cruise in straight sets win
By Alex Kirshner
Monday, August 8, 2016


Kerri Walsh Jennings kept her undefeated streak at the Olympics alive when she and April Ross cruised past China's Wang Fan and Yue Yuan on Monday.

Kerri Walsh Jennings may not have longtime partner Misty May-Treanor in Rio de Janiero, but the result on the sand hasn't changed. The three-time Olympic gold medalist and teammate April Ross outgunned China's Wang Fan and Yue Yuan in a straight sets victory on Monday night.

The duo overcame a slow start to cruise past Wang/Yue in a 21-16, 21-9 win. Walsh Jennings and Ross finished the match on a 16-4 run that buried Wang and Yue and improved the Americans' record to 2-0 in Rio de Janeiro.

In their first match of the Olympics, Walsh Jennings and Ross won easily against Australians Nicole Laird and Mariafe Artacho. They've set themselves up solidly to advance to the tournament's knockout stage.

The top two teams in each pool advance to a single-elimination round of 16, as do two of the six third-place teams. Walsh Jennings and Ross should manage to finish well above that threshold. They'll finish pool play on Tuesday with a match against the Swiss pairing of Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Vergé-Dépré.

Walsh Jennings and Ross are new partners for these Olympics, though they started playing together in 2013. Walsh Jennings has won three consecutive Olympic golds, all with now-retired partner Misty May-Treanor. The last, in London in 2012, game against Ross and then-partner Jennifer Kessy. Getting back to the top level of the medal podium this year won't be easy, with a couple of competitive pairs who could get in Walsh Jennings and Ross' way.

Rio Olympics: U.S. women’s volleyball holds off Netherlands
By The Associated Press
Monday, August 8, 2016


The United States' Alisha Glass, left, and Kim Hill celebrate their win in a women's preliminary volleyball match against the Netherlands at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. Photo Credit: AP / Matt Rourke

RIO DE JANEIRO — This past year in Istanbul, U.S. assistant coach Jamie Morrison worked right alongside a man he considers among the best volleyball minds in the business.

That is fired-up, Italian-born Netherlands coach Giovanni Guidetti, who is suddenly making quite a splash in Brazil with group of tenacious Dutch women determined to spoil the fun for the top teams in the tournament and make a special run of their own in Rio. Even if few might have expected them to contend in playing their first Olympics in 20 years.

So, when the top-ranked Americans held on to defeat the Netherlands in a hard-fought, five-set match, Morrison and the rest of the U.S. group were nowhere near surprised by the stellar display of volleyball on the other side.

The U.S. rallied from one set down to win 18-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 15-8 on a day Dutch captain Maret Balkestein-Grothues had to be helped off midway through the fourth set with a right ankle injury and didn’t return.

You bet the Americans saw this success for the Netherlands coming.

“Volleyball has come enormously far in the Netherlands in the past two years,” Morrison said. “The team is up and coming and the support in their country is as well.”

Morrison was an assistant this past year on Guidetti’s staff guiding club power Vakifbank in Turkey, coaching Lonneke Sloetjes, Anne Buijs and Robin de Kruijf and also U.S. outside hitter Kim Hill, who from through the net saw several familiar faces of her teammates in the pros.

The Dutch have an animated, supportive rooting section backing them.

“We are fighters,” star Celeste Plak said.

The scrappy Netherlands group already took down medal favorite and third-ranked China in five sets — 25-23, 21-25, 18-25, 25-22, 15-13 — in an upset Saturday.

“Maybe people don’t know about it but they are a very a good team with a very good coach,” U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said. “Jamie was his assistant this last year in Turkey on one of the top club teams in the world, VakifBank. So that’s not a surprise to us.”

The first-pumping, hard-clapping Guidetti lost his voice during the opening match. His example of passion, a desire to learn every day to make everyone around him better has been a positive example for the 35-year-old Morrison. He was on the gold-medal winning men’s Olympic staff in 2008.

“His passion is infectious to anyone around him. When you are with him, it is hard to not have a love for the game, love for competing, and want to run through a brick wall for him,” Morrison said of Guidetti.”

When it came to scouting the Netherlands and other pool-play opponents — a six-team group Karch called “truly gnarly” — in the Olympic lead-up back at training headquarters in Orange County, everyone took part. Morrison said it was a collaborative effort involving the athletes that led to lots of insight into how to attack the Dutch.

Volleyball: Canada defeat U.S. in pool game upset
Sunday, August 7, 2016


2016 Rio Olympics - Volleyball - Men's Preliminary - Pool A USA v Canada - Maracanazinho - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/08/2016. Canadian team players celebrate after defeating the USA.

Canada's male volleyball team sealed a huge upset on Sunday, defeating medal favorites United States in straight sets.

Canada won the pool match 25-23, 25-17, 25-23, leaving the U.S. to rue poor serving particularly in the first set as the crowd got fully behind the underdog Canadian team.

This is Canada's first volleyball Olympic tournament for 24 years, and the team, which plays in world volleyball's second division, was considered an outsider.

"It's the first time we've been in the Olympics, all of us, this is our first shot, it's big for Canada to be here," setter Tyler Sanders told reporters after the match.

But the convincing victory will likely alter expectations.

"We're going into the rest of the tournament with maybe a different perspective... we're going to try and be as aggressive as we can," Sanders said.

The U.S. coach John Speraw was visibly frustrated.

"We knew we were in for a real fight but... I didn't think we'd have as many issues as we had on our side of the net," he said.

Canada will now play gold medal hopefuls Brazil on Tuesday, while the U.S. go up against Italy.

(Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Bill Rigby)

Gary Tabbed To Guide Vassar Men’s Volleyball Team
vassarathletics.com | Men's Volleyball
Thursday, July 21, 2016


POUGHKEEPSIE, NY (July 21, 2016) -- Vassar College Director of Athletics & Physical Education Michelle Walsh announced Thursday morning the appointment of Richard Gary as the new head coach of the Vassar College men's volleyball team. Gary replaces Rob Wolter, who recently left to start a men's volleyball program at Aurora University in Aurora, IL.

"I am very pleased to welcome Richard to the Department of Athletics and Physical Education at Vassar," said Walsh. "Richard's combination of coaching and playing experiences along with his student-centered coaching philosophy will serve him well as the next Head Men's Volleyball Coach. I look forward to him building upon the rich history of men's volleyball at Vassar and leading the program into contention for a national championship."

"Vassar perfectly fits my goals both professionally and personally," said Gary. "The program was left in excellent shape, and this group has a drive and purpose that will help us do great things together. As a coach who strives to build a great community, the support and vision I saw from the other coaches, administrators, and from Kim Culligan and Michelle Walsh made this an exciting opportunity."

Gary comes to Vassar after spending the last five years as the head men and women's volleyball coach at Wells College in Aurora, NY. Gary led immense improvement on both the men and women's sides, while also earning North Eastern Athletic Conference Women's Volleyball Coach of the Year honors in 2014. He also saw 70 percent of his athletes earn Dean's List each semester, coaching an CoSIDA Academic All-American as well.

Before Wells, Gary was the head coach for the Prontos Volleyball Club in Netherlands in 2011, where he helped guide a men's and women's program while assisting the top club team. Gary has also been an assistant coach for the women's volleyball program at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY, where he served seven years for the Hawks. Gary managed all technical aspects, along with improving recruiting systems as Hartwick won 86 matches during his tenure.

Gary has also served as head coach or coordinator of many clubs throughout his professional tenure, including stops at Thomas Jefferson University, University of Bristol (UK), Legion Volleyball Club and the University of Oregon. He also has worked such camps at the University of Virginia, Clarkson University, Rochester Institute of Technology and Stevens Institute of Technology.

Gary was a member of Downtown Athletic Club 18's Team in 1992-93, racking up an undefeated record against the region and went on to compete at the USVBA Nationals. In 2001-02, Gary handled the captain responsibilities for the University of Bristol's men's team and was a member of the British Universities Men's National squad. His teams competed against Irish, Scottish, Dutch, and French University National teams. Gary played one year of Series D men's volleyball in Florence, Italy in 2002-03 before returning to the United States. 

Gary has completed his CAP II coaching certification, and he also is an active member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Men's Volleyball Division III All-American Committee. Gary also has served on the NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Regional Advisory Committee.

The Cornish College of the Arts '99 graduate with a BFA in Playwriting and Acting also earned a Master of Arts in Greek Mythology from the University of Bristol in 2001.

"It has been a privilege to meet the team, the staff, the faculty, and every member of the Vassar community," said Gary. "At the end of the day, it's the relationships we build that will help us to excel. I'm so grateful to them for welcoming me and giving me this opportunity."


Q and A with New Vassar College Head Men's Volleyball Coach Richard Gary

1. Why was Vassar College a good fit for you at this moment in your career?
"Vassar perfectly fit my goals both professionally and personally. Rob (Wolter) has left the program in excellent shape, and this group has a drive and purpose that will help us do great things together. As a coach who strives to build a great community, the support and vision I saw from the other coaches, administrators, and from Kim (Culligan) and Michelle (Walsh) made this an exciting opportunity."

2. What are some goals you have for the program going forward?
"It's clear that these guys know how close they were to making the NCAA's last year, and with a solid and motivated group of returners, added to our incoming players, there's no question we will be working to achieve that next step."

3. How does your coaching philosophy fit in with the overall philosophy of the Vassar student-athlete?
"As someone with a varied background, I'm drawn to schools where athletics can play a key role in the overall education of a person. Wins and losses are the measurements we use to get feedback on our development, but the big picture goes well beyond the court. At Vassar, this philosophy is apparent from the first step on campus. The students have a vibrant life in and out of the gym, they get a first rate education, and when they arrive on campus they are surrounded by a strong tradition of excellence."

4. What are you most excited about coming to Vassar College?
"The people. It has been a privilege to meet the team, the staff, the faculty, and every member of the Vassar community. At the end of the day, it's the relationships we build that will help us to excel. I'm so grateful to them for welcoming me and giving me this opportunity."

From WNY to Rio: Matt Anderson could be the best volleyball player in the world
By Jerry Sullivan, Buffalo News
Thursday, July 14, 2016


Matt Anderson's tattoo of a tree symbolizes his family roots and Buffalo background. He took a break from volleyball, then came back to take MVP honors in leading the U.S. to the 2015 World Cup title. Getty Images

Midway through the fall of 2014, Matt Anderson was seemingly on top of the world. That summer, he had led the U.S. men’s volleyball team to a World League title and been named U.S. player of the year for the second time in a row.

Anderson was the reigning MVP of the Russian pro league. His team, Zenit Kazan, was a favorite to win the national title. There was mounting speculation that the West Seneca native might be the best volleyball player on the planet.

But emotionally, his world was crashing in on him. On Oct. 29, Anderson suspended his volleyball career and asked for his Russian contract to be terminated. In a statement, he emphasized that he had no conflict with his team. He was tired and homesick and missing his family, along with his passion for the game.

He mentioned depression in the statement. Looking back on that dark time, Anderson said he wasn’t depressed in a clinical sense, though he wasn’t too far off. He sought the help of a sports psychologist during his time away from the sport.

"I think it was me exploring a little bit more of my personal side,” Anderson said from southern California, where the U.S. team is training for the Rio Olympics. “I was burned out from the game and not enjoying it as much as I should. And I did have to work through some deep emotions stemming from the death of my father.”

Mike Anderson was his son’s greatest supporter, a devoted family man and a competitive soul. Mike went to all the games when Matt played for West Seneca West and Penn State. He would sit in the stands and holler “We are! ...” and wait for the rest of the Nittany Lion fans to respond “Penn State!”

His dad died of a heart attack in 2010. He didn’t live to see Matt play for the U.S. in the London Olympics. Anderson got tattoos in his dad’s memory, played in the 2012 Games with him in mind. But his grief was still there below the surface.

In time, separation from family brought it all back two years later. So Anderson came home and reconnected with his family and his hometown. He’s still a Buffalo guy to the core, so he felt a certain clarity and peace when that massive snowstorm hit in November 2014, a short time after he arrived from Russia.

He and his sister, Joelle, who lives next door, would take long walks together in the snow, talking as their boots crunched on those quiet, empty roads. Odd, isn’t it, that Anderson came home looking to rediscover his sense of community at the very time his hometown was bonding through a winter crisis?

“He needed a break,” said his mother, Nancy. “He didn’t lose his desire. He needed to work through a few things, and he did. He got to see his nieces and nephews and family and do a little rehabbing of his mind and body. I love what he does, but it’s a grind. I could never do it. I don’t know how half these players do it.”

Playing volleyball at the top levels, where you’re committed to the national team while making a living with a pro squad, is an exhausting grind, both physically and mentally. Anderson once estimated that he gets three weeks off a year.

John Speraw, who took over as the U.S. men’s coach in 2013, got a phone call from Anderson as soon as Matt decided to suspend his career. Speraw was concerned, of course, but he realized that time off would be good for Matt. He was making the sort of decision a lot of high-profile athletes have no doubt pondered.

“Michael Jordan needed a break, too,” Speraw said. “It’s not a dissimilar situation. Matt’s under intense public scrutiny; he’s as public a figure in our sport as there is. It takes a lot of emotional strength sometimes to handle that.

“I was really impressed,” Speraw said. “I think it takes a lot of emotional awareness to say, ‘Hey, I need a break.’ Very few people would be honest enough to actually say it and do it. I think going through that process was really beneficial for him, because he came back and had such a great summer right away.”

Anderson returned to Russia after New Year’s of 2015. He came back even better, as difficult as that it to imagine for a player of his stature. He led Zenit Kazan to another Russian title. Last September, the U.S. men won their first World Cup title in 30 years as Anderson was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

That performance gave the Americans an automatic berth to the 2016 Olympics next month in Rio de Janeiro. Anderson was named U.S. Player of the Year for the fourth straight time. He has led the U.S. in scoring in every year since 2011.

Evidently, the time away did him well. Anderson is 29, in his absolute prime as a volleyball player.

“I think I’m in a comfort zone right now with the physicality of it,” he said. “I don’t think I’m near done growing as a player. I think that the day that you stop learning new stuff on the court is the day you should stop playing. So I definitely think I still have a lot of upside as a player to grow into, and I’m looking forward to learning more this summer.”

Anderson was the youngest player on the U.S. team four years ago in London. This time, he’ll be one of the veterans and a leader. The American men are looking to make amends for London, when they eliminated by Russia in the quarterfinals.

“I’ve learned a lot of the emotional side of the game,” Anderson said. “The physicality has always been there, it’s a kind of a gift to me. But I’ve learned to control my emotions through difficult times and not let it be so influential in my physical decline as a player, meaning not letting it wear me out.

“Last Olympics, I was in a great spot physically,” he said. “But the emotional aspects of the game just wore me out every match. My recovery wasn’t ready for that, wasn’t braced for that. Towards the end of the tournament, I was gassed.”

Anderson says his own journey of self-discovery will make him a better leader, more able to show the way for the younger players. He’s still a passionate competitor, but knows how to channel it and not be overcome by his emotions.

“I think it definitely made me a better leader,” he said, “because I’m more sensitive to the other guys on the court and the way that they react to my emotions, to my body language and everything on the court.”

He proved he’s a team player when he agreed to switch positions on the national team when Speraw took over. Anderson was moved from the left outside hitter position to the opposite (right) side. He said it was no big deal at the time, but Speraw saw it as a seflless act by a star of that magnitude.

“When Matt is competing at his very best, and he’s out there and really aggressive emotionally, its an incredible lift to our guys,” Speraw said. “And it’s fun to watch. So yeah, he has great influence on the emotional energy of the team. He certainly can influence the entire team in a very positive way.”

The U.S. will need a lot of positive energy in Rio next month. Brazil, the host country, is the top-rated team in the world and the Olympic favorite. Brazilian crowds are renowned for their passion and were out in force in London, where Russia beat Brazil for gold. They will be a powerful, passionate presence in Rio.

“They are crazy,” said Nancy Anderson, who traveled to Rio a decade ago when Matt played a junior tourney there. “It’s going to be loud! But we’ll do fine. We beat them in Brazil before. One step at a time. I’d really like to see him win a medal. He deserves it for all the hard work he’s done.”

Nancy Anderson said a group of 11 friends and family will travel to the Olympics, including Matt’s older brother, Josh, and his wife. Nancy Anderson’s brother, Vince Ferraro, and his wife will also make the trip. Ferraro also went to the London Games. He’s proud of his nephew, and wishes that being one of the best players in the world came with more acclaim.

“If the men’s U.S. soccer team had won the World Cup, they would have had ticker tape and been invited to the White House,” Ferraro said. “And if an American was named MVP, he’d be on the Wheaties box and everything else. Unfortunately, that didn’t come with the U.S. winning the volleyball World Cup.”

Anderson said he wishes volleyball was more popular in the U.S., but he’s a private sort who can do without the public spotlight.

“I do enjoy the anonymity of it,” he said. “Of course it would be great to get some recognition and for people to know me. But the privacy I have right now is great. I still have the pride in where I’m from, the humility of it I still carry with me, being from Buffalo. It’s one of my greatest attributes as an athlete.”

He knows what’s most important in life. Family and home. His skin gives testament. On his left upper arm, he has a tattoo of a tree, symbolizing his family and the strong sense of community he grew up with in Buffalo. The four roses on his wrist signify his four siblings. He has the Anderson family crest on his rib cage. He has his father’s initials and the dates of his birth and death.

There’s a blue puzzle piece tattooed on his wrist, signifying the fight against autism. His nephew, Tristan, has the disorder. Tristin’s name is inscribed there, too. Anderson started a tournament (Matt Anderson Spiking For Autism) that donates money to autism treatment in Western New York.

Those are the things that matter, more than money or medals or MVP awards. Sure, he’d like to win gold in Rio. He was bitterly disappointed and felt he hadn’t played his best in London. But he’s in a good emotional place and confident this year’s team will play well in the underdog role.

“And to bring back a gold medal, not just for the national team but to bring it back to Buffalo, would be an incredible honor,” Anderson said, “an incredible experience for me.”

email: jsullivan@buffnews.com

East baseball, girls volleyball, North girls hoops share honor
Team of the Year
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter, Amherst Bee
Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Williamsville East’s girls volleyball team — one of The Amherst Bee’s Teams of the Year for the 2015-16 school year — defeated Section V’s Pittsford-Sutherland 25-20, 25-18, 17-25, 19-25, 25-20 to win the Class A Far West Regional. It was the Lady Flames’ first regional title in girls volleyball. East finished the season 20-0 in match play and 37-1-2 overall. Members of the team include, from left: first row — Carly Shifflet, Sam Mendelsohn, Lexi Novak; second row — coach Allison Beebe, Jessica Weaver, Ann Marie Jones, Megan Wiese, Allison Jozwiak, Makayla Greenfield, Alyssa Pijanowski, Rachel Steffan, Leah Orsini, Julianna Benz and coach Scott Wright.


Picking one team from the 2015-16 school year as the Amherst Bee’s Team of the Year is an impossible task.

So many teams were successful that if there was more available space, up to nine teams could have earned the distinction.

The Williamsville East girls volleyball and baseball teams, and Williamsville North girls basketball team, share the honor.

Honorable mention should also be given to Sacred Heart girls basketball — Class A Catholic state champions — Williamsville North field hockey, Williamsville East girls soccer, and Williamsville South boys basketball — all state semifinalists — Williamsville North boys golf — undefeated season — and Williamsville North boys volleyball — won the section title as an 18th seed.

East girls volleyball

The Lady Flames put together not only the greatest season in school history, but one of the best seasons ever in Section VI, advancing to the Class A state semifinals for the first time.

“We set a bunch of goals and one of them was to get to the states, and to get there in the ‘A’ division is quite a feat,” East coach Scott Wright said.

East finished 12-0 to win its fourth consecutive ECIC II championship, and went 20-0 in the regular season. Their regular-season dominance included winning the Frontier Tournament and Lady Jacks Tournament, and defeating Clarence, 25-18, 23-25, 25-12, 25-21, in a non-league regular-season meeting of undefeated teams.

The Lady Flames repeated as Section VI Class A champions, beating Sweet Home, 25-15, 25-18, 25-23, and defeated defending two-time state champion Pittsford-Sutherland, 25-20, 25-18, 17-25, 19-25, 25-20, in the Class A Far West Regional, advancing the Lady Flames to the state semifinals.

“It was a testament to the character of the team,” Wright said. “We won the first two games, lost the next two and they believed in each other and came out strong in the fifth game. They knew what they had to do and pulled it together.”

At the state semifinals in Glens Falls, East went 2-4 in pool play, but all four losses were by three points or less.

“A couple points here or there and we would have been in the final match,” Wright said.

East was absolutely loaded with talent, with the majority of the roster playing club volleyball in the offseason for Niagara Frontier.

“When you have kids that play so much big-time volleyball, they have so much confidence they can pull it together in big situations,” Wright said. “Watching them talk themselves through the tough times was cool as a coach to see. Most of the time I said very little. Everyone was chiming into the game plan when we made adjustments.”

Senior Carly Shifflet broke the school’s single-season record for kills with 501, and also set career school records in kills and digs. She will take her talents to Canisius College.

“She not only had talent but her drive to be great was there,” Wright said. “She didn’t want to lose ever.. Our defensive specialist, Sam Mendelsohn, was the same way.”

Mendelsohn, who finished the season with a team-high 575 digs, will play volleyball at Geneseo State College.

Junior Lexi Novak’s eighth and ninth kills of the fifth set closed out the team’s victory against Pittsford-Sutherland. She finished the match with 29 kills, 31 digs and two aces, and 479 kills for the season, also a school record before Shifflet broke it.

Sophomore Makayla Greenfield finished the Pittsford-Sutherland match with a season-high 52 assists and 19 digs. She destroyed the single-season school record for assists with 1,171.

With only Shifflet and Mendelsohn graduating, there is a good chance that East will once again be a contender in the fall.

USA Volleyball Names U.S. Olympic Women's Team Roster
USA Volleyball Press Release
Tuesday, July 12, 2016



COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (July 12, 2016) – USA Volleyball is proud to announce its 12-player U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team roster that will try to make history in the 2016 Olympic Games from Aug. 6-20.

U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly and his staff have selected a roster with four Olympic veterans and eight players who will be making their first appearances on the grandest sporting stage. Middles Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida) and Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania), outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) and setter Courtney Thompson (Kent, Washington) return from Team USA’s 2012 Olympic Games silver-medal finish in London.

Newcomers to the Olympian family are outside hitters Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) and Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois), middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio), opposites Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois), setters Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan) and Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California), and libero Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa).

All told, the roster will have three outside hitters, three middles, three setters, two opposites and one libero who average 27.0 years of age. Thompson, who turns 32 in November, is the oldest member of the squad and the only player in her 30s. Lowe, who turned 23 in February and is her second year with the program, is the youngest member of the team in terms of age and national team experience.

“We aspire to be a team that adds up to far more than the sums of our parts,” Kiraly said. “We are extremely fortunate to have so many great people and great players who give us so much passion and effort to this program – and we will look to honor their contributions by competing our hardest in Rio. Ultimately, we have assembled a group that we believe is capable of embracing the challenges a tournament like the Olympics will surely present.”

Click here for the full press release on the U.S. Olympic Women's Team Roster, which includes additional information on the team, quotes by Karch Kiraly on each of the selected players, fun facts on the roster, upcoming Olympic Games preview and schedule and how the U.S. Women have performed in the current Olympic quadrennial.

2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Volleyball Team
# - Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 – Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, Leland, Michigan, Penn State University)
2 – Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
3 – Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, Kent, Washington, University of Washington)
5 – Rachael Adams (M, 6-2, Cincinnati, Ohio, University of Texas)
6 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, Bonsall, California, University of California-Berkeley)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Nebraska, University of Nebraska)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Wilmington, Illinois, University of Florida)
13 – Christa Dietzen (M, 6-2, Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania, Penn State University)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Portland, Oregon, Pepperdine University)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Plantation, Florida, Stanford University)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Bartlett, Illinois, University of Nebraska)
25 – Karsta Lowe (OPP, 6-4, Rancho Santa Fe, California, UCLA)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Jamie Morrison, Tom Black, David Hunt
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey
Scout Coaches: Marv Dunphy, JJ Van Niel
Therapist/Trainer: Jill Wosmek
Elite Performance Psychologist: Dr. Michael Gervais
Doctor: Dr. Andrew Gregory
Strength Coach: James Stitz
Team Manager: Denise Sheldon
Team Journalist: Bill Kauffman

Angola’s Joslyn competes with national volleyball team in Cuba
By Aaron Garland, CPOWNY Sports Editor, Hamburg Sun
Friday, July 8, 2016

Devin Joslyn almost felt like he was dreaming.

He had spent nearly two weeks with the U.S. Boys Youth Volleyball National Team at California State University Fullerton in preparation for NORCECA Boys Under-19 Continental Championships that ran June 24-29 in Havana, Cuba.

Was Joslyn, an Angola native and soon-to-be senior at Canisius High School, really about to fly to Cuba, a place President Obama visited in March to become the first American leader in the post-Cold War era to do so? A place Americans are only authorized to travel to if they meet one of 12 guidelines in regards to reasoning for a trip?

Sports competition is one of the categories that allows for travel to Cuba, and Joslyn was one of just 12 boys across the country — and the lone New Yorker — who made the Boys Youth National Team (BYNT) after a couple comprehensive tryouts.

It all just didn’t seem real to Joslyn.

Until he awoke at 4 a.m. June 22, took a shuttle from Cal State Fullerton, where Joslyn and the rest of the U.S. team was training and staying in dorms, to the airport, where he looked at his plane ticket that revealed the end destination.

“I’m still sitting there saying, ‘This doesn’t really feel like anything yet,’” said Joslyn, who attended Lake Shore until after his sophomore year, when he transferred to volleyball power Canisius. “And then I get my ticket and it says ‘Cuba’ on it. I’m just like, ‘Holy cow.’ It was breathtaking, sitting on a plane thinking all of the work I’ve put in, all of the nights at the gym working out and the practices. It all kind of molded together and started working out for me.

“I was super honored. It took my breath away.”

Joslyn and the BYNT finished in second place, losing a five-set match to host Cuba in the finals. The runner-up showing qualified the U.S. for the 2017 FIVB Boys U19 World Championship. The 12 players, Joslyn was told, who played in Cuba are the frontrunners to make the squad that competes in that competition.

The experience in a completely foreign country for Joslyn, a 6-foot-5 outside hitter who is garnering Division I interest, was both eye-opening and humbling.

Eye-opening to see the lifestyle of citizens in a far less-established country than the U.S., and humbling because he was part of a select group of elite volleyball players in the U.S. to make the 24-man cut in April and then be named to the final roster that would represent the country in Cuba on June 13.

The final tryouts at Cal State Fullerton started June 10, and after final cuts were made June 13.

After cuts were made, for more than a week, Joslyn and his U.S. teammates practiced at least once a day at Cal State Fullerton, broke down film and weight trained, all under the guidance of BYNT head coach Sam Shweisky, who is Princeton’s men’s volleyball head coach. The national team’s coaching staff also included members from other college teams’ staffs — Brad Keller (UCLA), Theo Edwards (Cal State Northridge) and Kevin Burch (Ohio State) — who gave the players top-notch instruction.

“It was breathtaking going over there and being one of the top 12 guys in the country and representing the country,” Joslyn said. “They tried to explain to us that for some (people in Cuba), it was their first time seeing Americans in their country. We’re kind of ambassadors for the U.S. so we tried to put our best foot forward. It was just trying to show who we really are and give off the best impression.”

On the court, Joslyn and the U.S. certainly gave off a good impression.

“I think we had 16 days before we actually traveled and played. So I got a feel for playing with kids around the country. I couldn’t really wrap my mind around the fact that we were playing the national team for each country that we’re playing.”

Prior going to Cuba, Joslyn, who began playing varsity volleyball in eighth grade at Lake Shore, was a hot target of several D-I schools.

He had been in non-face-to-face contact, due to NCAA rules, with several Division I coaches, but Joslyn was allowed to chat with coaches in person for the first time after Continental Championships.

“There was a sign-up sheet that had every kid’s name in the tournament and a coach would walk over and sign a name under you, and that would mean they would talk to you at the end,” Joslyn said.

Numerous names were inked near Joslyn’s on the sheet, and following the tournament, he interacted on a more personal level with coaches, including ones from the five D-I schools he’s narrowed his choices down to — Princeton, Harvard, Ohio State, Penn State and Loyola. And there’s mutual interest between Joslyn and each of those programs.

Joslyn felt he got much more out of the in-person conversations with coaches than he has through texts and phone calls.

“They kind of showed us, ‘This is what we have to offer, this is our program, this is who we have,’” Joslyn said. “They actually went in depth because you could actually talk face-to-face. More questions come up and you can put a face to the school.”

As jam-packed as Joslyn’s schedule was leading up to the tournament in Cuba, the craziness was augmented after it.

The end of the NORCECA Championships overlapped with the start of USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championships in Dallas, where the Eden Volleyball Club 18U team Joslyn is on competed.

After some flight delays, Joslyn got to Dallas a day later than he originally expected.

Joslyn flew from Cuba to Mexico City to Houston, where he landed around midnight and got to his hotel at 1 a.m. After an hour and a half of sleep, Joslyn was back up to catch a 4:30 a.m. flight to Dallas. That’s where Joslyn’s father was waiting, and he drove him to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center for an 8 a.m. game for Eden July 1.

“At that point I was kind of like a walking zombie,” Joslyn said.

Joslyn played three games for Eden the first day he was at nationals and one the next day, when the team was eliminated.

It was a whirlwind of a month for Joslyn, but it was filled with experiences that will be tough to forget.

“I ended up being on a plane for 24 1/2 hours in the last three weeks,” Joslyn said. “I was on nine planes, I think.”

So, you can bet arriving home felt great. Not to mention the Buffalo food.

While in Cuba, Joslyn and the other Americans couldn’t drink any faucet water or eat any food rinsed with it, or else risk illness.

It limited the meal choices to just chicken and rice, pastries and noodles with no sauce … and that was for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day. With the plain noodles and pastries not appetizing to Joslyn, he ate chicken and rice three times a day the whole week.

So one of the first things Joslyn did when he returned to Western New York?

“I got myself a nice barbecue burger at Denny’s,” he said. “That was pretty nice.”

Joslyn found it all part of a hectic, yet worthwhile month.

“It was nice to get back but it was a good experience,” Joslyn said. “I guess it showed me how advanced we are and how lucky we are in the U.S. compared to other people.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

Email: agarland@cpowny.com

Brian Gaul, cuieagles.com
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Concordia University Irvine Athletics and its men's volleyball program have been extended an invitation and are ready to accept official membership into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men's volleyball conference, beginning in the 2017-2018 athletic season.

When CUI enters the conference, the members will include UCLA, USC, Cal Baptist, Stanford, Pepperdine, BYU, and UC San Diego. Concordia will immediately be eligible for the postseason MPSF and NCAA Tournaments, as they will be official NCAA DII members. The Eagles will be guaranteed contracted home and away matches with all members of the MPSF every year.

"Concordia's men's volleyball team is looking forward to competing in the challenging MPSF and bringing our best to each and every contest," Concordia President Kurt Krueger said. "We are eager to compete against some of the top schools in the country!"

The MPSF will be one of five national NCAA Division I and II men's volleyball conferences in 2018, as the NCAA combines all DI and DII programs into one class for men's volleyball. The other four leagues include the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, Conference Carolinas, and the Big West.

"We are thrilled to be voted into the MPSF in 2018. It is exciting to be a part of the growth of men's volleyball and we look forward to competing in the most storied and best volleyball conference in the nation," CUI head coach Shawn Patchell said. "Many thanks to President Krueger, Dr. Gary McDaniel, and Mo Roberson for their energy in making this transition to the NCAA and MPSF possible."

The MPSF men's volleyball tournament championship format includes eight teams which will play four quarterfinal matches at home sites of teams seeded 1-4. The highest remaining seed after the quarterfinal round will host the semifinals and championship matches. There is no third-place match. The winner earns the automatic bid to the NCAA National Tournament.

"We are excited for this opportunity afforded to us by Al Beaird, who is the MPSF Executive Director, and MPSF members in voting Concordia University Irvine into the MPSF for the 2017 - 2018 season," CUI Director of Athletics Mo Roberson said. 

"It is arguably the best men's volleyball conference in the country at any level, even with some institutions leaving, and for us to have the opportunity to compete with USC, Stanford, Pepperdine, etc., is incredible. Once I was afforded the opportunity to lead this amazing department, this was one of the boxes that I wanted and needed to check. With the support and help of Dr. Gary McDaniel, Al Beaird, and Coach Shawn Patchell we were able to get it done. My administration charged me with elevating our athletics program and this certainly helps move us in that direction." 

The MPSF was founded in 1992 and specifically created to provide an outlet for competition in Olympic sports. The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation sponsors championship competition in five men's and five women's NCAA sanctioned sports, including men's volleyball.

Shakeups and Shakedowns
Saturday June 25, 2016



Ask any athlete on the AVP Tour – partner selection and team chemistry is arguably the most important part of success as an AVP Beach Pro. A good team partnership is like a passionate relationship under pressure.

Very often, integral partner switches cause a domino effect in the ranks and these shakeups could see a huge shift in the field of competition this year. The past few weeks have been full of partner switches, injuries, trades and goodbyes. Here’s a quick highlight on a few exciting developments:

Sean Rosenthal / Jeremy Casebeer

Maybe one of the most exciting new partnerships to develop over the past 3 weeks is the pairing of “Rosie” and “The Lorax”. Two extremely athletic and explosive athletes joining forces could give us some thrills from the sidelines. Their first event together was in New York City last week and right out of the gate these two have delivered with a finals appearance and a second place finish to the dominant Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena. We are expecting good things from this new pairing. Keep an eye on these two for the remainder of the season.

Emily Day / Brittney Hochevar

After their Olympic qualification run came to an end this year, Emily Day & Jen Kessy decided to part ways as a team after two seasons together. This left them both open to new options and right away Emily Day grabbed Brittney Hochevar to try their chemistry together in San Francisco. We’ll see how this partnership develops through the end of this season.

Robbie Page / Casey Jennings

The young and extremely tall talent of Robbie meets the experience and savy of Jennings in this new pairing. This partnership may be a lesson in patience and perseverance as the two suffered a 13th place last week in NYC but have shown signs of positive chemistry in San Francisco with a gritty 3-set win on Friday.

Jen Fopma / Jen Kessy

Another women’s team that went flip-flop and joined the switch from Em/Jen & Jen/Britt to the new pairings of Jen/Jen and Em/Britt. Another first event together in San Francisco – this team has a lot of fire and experience so we’ll see what they can accomplish and how they jive over the last few tournaments of the 2016 season.

Theo Brunner / Billy Allen

For a partnership born out of necessity – with both of these young men having partners (Stafford Slick & Sean Rosenthal) suffer injuries in New Orleans – Billy and Theo clicked immediately. In just their second tournament together they pulled out an incredible win in the AVP Seattle Open. Coached by Rich Lambourne, the defensive style of play these two execute on court is both fundamentally sound and exciting.

Cimorelli Named As Libero Of The Year Finalist
vassarathletics.com | Men's Volleyball
Wednesday June 15, 2016


POUGHKEEPSIE, NY (June 15, 2016) -- Last Friday, the men's volleyball collegiate website Off The Block announced its 2016 finalists for the five inaugural position-based awards, and Vassar College junior captain Trey Cimorelli was one of four players listed for the 2016 Off the Block/Springback, Inc. National Libero of the Year award. 

Cimorelli, who was named as the United Volleyball Conference (UVC) Libero of the Year, was the second Brewer to earn UVC Libero of the Year honors, joining the 2012 recipient Christian LaDu. Cimorelli led the Brewers in total digs with 263 on the season, while alos pacing the Brewers with 2.37 digs per set. This number was very impressive considering how dominant Vassar was at the net defensively. He also contributed 90 assists from the back row for the Brewers. 

Cimorelli was one of four finalists named to the list, along with Marc Hansen (Carthage), Joe Muir (Hunter) and Kevin Nardone (New Paltz). 

The winner of each honor will be announced during the week of June 13-16.

Prep Talk Team of the Year: Canisius volleyball
Corey Desiderio, Buffalo News
Wednesday June 15, 2016


Canisius boys volleyball won the 2015-16 Prep Talk Team of the Year award
at Wednesday's Prep Talk Awards (Corey Desiderio/Buffalo News)


Not only did the Canisius volleyball team win their 16th straight Monsignor Martin Association regular-season and postseason championship, they did so running the table for the first time in their history. That, among other reasons, was why Canisius volleyball was named the 2015-16 Prep Talk Team of the Year on Wednesday.

The Crusaders went 34-0, including six in-season tournament titles, while playing a schedule that featured national and state powers. Canisius beat three of the four teams that reached the New York State Public High School Class A final four, including two wins over eventual state champion McQuaid.

"We had a really dedicated and committed bunch of guys," said Canisius coach Tom Weislo, who was one of five nominees for the Prep Talk Coach of the Year. "They were really dialed in the whole time. They were just committed and focused because they knew they potentially had something very special. It's a great bunch of guys, and it really is my distinct pleasure to be able to work with them."

Individually for Canisius, Griffin Schmit took home the Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys volleyball. The junior earned Western New York Player of the Year honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association and is a major college recruit.

Not only did the Canisius volleyball team win their 16th straight Monsignor Martin Association regular-season and postseason championship, they did so running the table for the first time in their history. That, among other reasons, was why Canisius volleyball was named the 2015-16 Prep Talk Team of the Year on Wednesday.

The Crusaders went 34-0, including six in-season tournament titles, while playing a schedule that featured national and state powers. Canisius beat three of the four teams that reached the New York State Public High School Class A final four, including two wins over eventual state champion McQuaid.

"We had a really dedicated and committed bunch of guys," said Canisius coach Tom Weislo, who was one of five nominees for the Prep Talk Coach of the Year. "They were really dialed in the whole time. They were just committed and focused because they knew they potentially had something very special. It's a great bunch of guys, and it really is my distinct pleasure to be able to work with them."

Individually for Canisius, Griffin Schmit took home the Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys volleyball. The junior earned Western New York Player of the Year honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association and is a major college recruit.

Schmit was a repeat All-WNY first team selection while Charlie Desmond, Devin Joslyn and Chas Palka were named to the second team.

Finalists unveiled for new men’s volleyball Division III national awards
Thursday June 9, 2016

A nationwide voting committee selected 16 finalists for the newest NCAA Division III men’s volleyball national awards.

Off the Block on Thursday announced the finalists for the five inaugural position-based awards — the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Setter of the Year, the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Outside Attacker of the Year, the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Opposite of the Year, the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Middle Attacker of the Year and the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Libero of the Year.

Each national award recognizes the most outstanding Division III player at their position during the recent season. While several other volleyball organizations present Division III national honors, these are the first nation position-based awards in the history of Division III men’s volleyball.

A committee of 15 Division III head coaches voted for these national awards. The top-three vote-getters for each award were named finalists and the student-athlete receiving the most votes will be named the award winner.

The Division III NCAA champions SUNY New Paltz led all schools with five players earning finalist honors. In addition, Springfield and Carthage both were the only other schools to have multiple finalists.

Hunter, Kean, Nazareth, Stevenson, Stevens Tech and Hunter each had one player named a finalist.

The national winners and complete voting results will be unveiled June 13-17 at Off the Block.

Off the Block is a college men’s volleyball website that launched in 2011 and is among the nation’s leaders in college men’s volleyball coverage. Springbak, Inc. is the official sponsor the new Division III national awards and produces high performance footwear used by professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, MLB and U.S. Olympic teams and the top college teams in the nation.

2016 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Setter of the Year finalists
Luis Garcia Rubio, Springfield
Christian Smith, SUNY New Paltz
Rob Wingert, Stevenson

2016 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Outside Attacker of the Year finalists
Tim Ferriter, Stevens Tech
Luis Vega, Springfield
Tim Zyburt, Nazareth

2016 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Opposite of the Year finalists
Joe Norman, SUNY New Paltz
Griffin Shields, Carthage
Greg Woods, Springfield

2016 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Libero of the Year finalists
Trey Cimorelli, Vassar
Marc Hansen, Carthage
Joe Muir, Hunter
Kevin Nardone, SUNY New Paltz

2016 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Middle Attacker of the Year finalists
Christopher Hussman, SUNY New Paltz
Tommy Rosario, Kean
Steven Woessner, SUNY New Paltz

Wolter Resigns To Take Head Position At Aurora
Monday June 6, 2016



POUGHKEEPSIE, NY (June 6, 2016) – Rob Wolter announced Monday morning that he has resigned as the head Vassar College men's volleyball coach to accept a position as the first head coach at Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois. Wolter served as the head coach of the Brewers from 2012-2016, accumulating a record of 91-65 while earning four appearances in the United Volleyball Conference playoffs.

"Vassar was my first collegiate head men's coaching position and I was able to achieve many coaching milestones so the decision to leave was a difficult one to make," said Wolter. "However, the opportunity to start a men's program from the ground up was very appealing to me but also that fact that I was able to bring my family closer to our roots was something I couldn't pass up and ultimately played a major role in the decision."

"I first want to thank Kim Culligan who lead the search that brought me to Vassar College five years ago," said Wolter. "I am truly grateful for the opportunity and I hope I exceeded the expectations. I also want to thank all the athletes that have come through the program during my tenure, without their hard work, commitment and dedication to the process we would not have reached the heights we did."

Wolter concludes his coaching career at Vassar second all-time in program history in total wins with 91, while his winning percentage of .583 is the best ever at Vassar. He led the Brewers to the United Volleyball Conference semifinals in 2013 and 2016, while also coaching VC to back-to-back seven win seasons within the conference in 2012 and 2013.

Also under his tenure, Vassar College has routinely been ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III Top 15 poll, including getting as high as No. 8 in the poll this year. He has had 12 All-UVC selections under his watch at Vassar, as well as coaching one conference Rookie of the Year (Zechariah Lee, 2015) and this year's UVC Libero of the Year in Trey Cimorelli.

Furthermore, Wolter has mentored two of the best middle hitters in program history, as Matt Elgin was a two-time All-American back in 2012 and 2013, while sophomore Matthew Knigge was named to the AVCA All-American First Team in 2016. Knigge was also named as the AVCA Player of the Week this season, the first since the 2010 season for Vassar.

"I would like to thank Coach Wolter for his many positive contributions to the men's volleyball team during his five years at Vassar, one of the most successful stretches in program history," said Director of Athletics and Physical Education Michelle Walsh. "We wish him the best of luck at Aurora and are confident that his successor will build upon his recent achievements and continue our winning tradition in men's volleyball."

Prior to coaching at Vassar, Wolter assisted at Carthage College from 2010-11, working with both the men's and women's teams. A 2000 graduate of Minnesota-Mankato, Wolter also has stops as assistants at Wisconsin-Parkside and South Dakota State University.

A search for the new Vassar College men's volleyball head coach will begin immediately.

Big West Conference Makes Men's Volleyball 18th Sponsored Sport
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Men's Volleyball Announcement 



The Big West Conference today announced the creation of a men’s volleyball championship beginning in 2018, becoming the first NCAA Division I conference to sponsor competition in the sport. 

In making the announcement, Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell noted that men’s volleyball will become the 18th sport in which the conference conducts an annual championship.

The Big West Board of Directors approved a six-team league consisting of full conference members CSUN, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, and Hawai'i. A sixth team from UC San Diego will join the group as an associate member and will give the conference the minimum six teams required for postseason NCAA automatic qualification.

An associate member in the Big West is any institution that participates in three or less conference championships. Other current Big West associate members are CSU Bakersfield in women’s beach volleyball and Sacramento State in men’s soccer and women’s beach volleyball.

Competition for the regular season championship will be contested in a double round-robin format for a total of 10 matches. A six-team, single elimination postseason tournament will be conducted at a campus site one week prior to the NCAA Championship Selections.

“The Big West Conference is thrilled to add a sport that is so popular in our region and is growing on the national level,” said Farrell. “Because the NCAA championship is conducted across Divisions I and II, UC San Diego despite its Division II status in its other sports, is eligible to compete in the Big West in this sport.

“It should be noted that the creation of this championship is the culmination of a year’s worth of work within the conference that has engaged both the sport’s coaches and administrators. UC San Diego’s consideration as a member in men’s volleyball has been discussed throughout that process and has no relation to its current consideration of Division I membership.”

The six programs, which previously have competed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation since 1993, come to the newly formed conference having played a prominent role in men’s volleyball on the national scene.

The schools have produced five NCAA national championships, 12 runner-up finishes and 26 Final Four appearances since 1970. UC Irvine won four national titles over a seven-year period, including 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2013. Since 2008, five of the conference members have made at least one appearance in the NCAA Championship.


UC Irvine Director of Athletics Michael Izzi (Men’s Volleyball Ad Hoc Committee Chair)
“Having the Big West Conference establish the first Division I men’s volleyball conference was an important step in solidifying a commitment to the sport and the student-athletes that participate.

“The league athletic directors are committed to the highest level of success academically and athletically by our student-athletes. The growth and success of the sport aligns perfectly with the Big West’s values and goals. Our teams will be in position to continue to achieve at the highest level every year.

“Since 2002, Big West teams have played in seven NCAA title matches, including UC Irvine who has won four NCAA championships in the last 10 years. These teams have clearly been a force in the sport of men’s volleyball and relish the role of leadership and engagement with the sport.”

Long Beach State Head Coach Alan Knipe (Men’s Volleyball Ad Hoc Committee Member)
“I really believe it’s one of the single best things I’ve seen happen to men’s volleyball in all the years I’ve been a part of it as a player, assistant coach and head coach. I do believe that it’s going to give men’s volleyball a stronger position to have a traditional conference back our sport. My ultimate goal would be that it would help spur even more growth throughout men’s volleyball and within our championship with the NCAA.

“Men’s volleyball makes a lot of sense in the Big West. It’s a legitimate sport for the Big West to play for national championships and to get the Big West patch on these schools when they’re participating. It’s a wonderful endorsement by our conference to have faith in what we’re doing to our sport that they want to be a part of this. I think it validates 20-30 years of work that men’s volleyball coaches within the Big West have been putting in, and I’m super excited about it.”

UC Irvine Head Coach David Kniffin 
“This is something that has been a dream of men’s volleyball for some time. To be a part of the first conference, to take a step in that direction of official growth is exciting for us. It’s also exciting to be a part of the first conference in the United States where we actually now offer all three sports, from women’s volleyball to sand volleyball to men’s volleyball. It’s exciting to be part of truly a volleyball conference.

“It’s always nice to able to unify your brand around not just one institution but several institutions. All of the institutions within the Big West as far as men’s volleyball goes have demonstrated success over the years.” 

Hawai‘i Head Coach Charlie Wade (Men’s Volleyball Ad Hoc Committee Member)
“The Big West is to be commended for their support of Men’s Volleyball and their decision to become the first traditional division one conference to sponsor Men’s Volleyball. As a coach, I am very appreciative of Dennis Farrell and his leadership team for believing in us and making this happen.

“From its inception the Big West will provide our fans with an exciting and nationally competitive schedule. Five of the six schools have qualified for the NCAA Tournament during the past seven years and continue to be among the nation’s best men’s volleyball programs.” 

Kathy DeBoer, American Volleyball Coaches Association Executive Director
“The decision by the Big West to make men’s volleyball a conference sport is ground-breaking! For an established DI conference to commit to men’s volleyball during these challenging times sends a positive message to the entire Olympic sports community that growth is possible.

“Congrats to all in the Big West for seeing the opportunities in men’s volleyball and having the will to make this unprecedented choice!”


• 5 National Championships
• 12 National Runner-Ups
• 26 Final Four Appearances
• 6 AVCA National Players of the Year
• 6 National Coaches of the Year 
• 7 AVCA National Newcomers of the Year 
• At least one No. 1 team in 16 of last 18 years

AVCA National Player of the Year

2013 – Taylor Crabb, Long Beach State
2008 – Paul Lotman, Long Beach State (co) 
2006 – Jayson Jablonsky, UC Irvine 
2003 – Costas Theocharidis, Hawai‘i 
2001 – Costas Theocharidis, Hawai‘i 
1996 – Yuval Katz, Hawai‘i (co) 
1992 – Brent Hilliard, Long Beach State 

AVCA National Newcomer of the Year

2016 – TJ DeFalco, Long Beach State 2010 – Jonas Umlauft, Hawai‘i 2008 – Cody Loe, CSUN 2006 – Brent Asuka, UC Irvine 2004 – Evan Patak, UC Santa Barbara 2003 – Tyler Hildebrand, Long Beach State 2000 – Costas Theocharidis, Hawai‘i 

AVCA National Coach of the Year

2006 – John Speraw UC Irvine
2004 – Alan Knipe, Long Beach State
2002 – Mike Wilton, Hawai‘i
1995 – Mike Wilton, Hawai‘i
1991 – Ray Ratelle, Long Beach State 

ASICS/Volleyball Magazine National Coach of the Year

2013 – David Kniffin, UC Irvine 
2004 – Jeff Campbell, CSUN 
2002 – Mike Wilton, Hawai‘i 
1995 – Mike Wilton, Hawai‘i 
1993 – John Price, CSUN 
1991 – Ray Ratelle, Long Beach State 
1990 – Ray Ratelle, Long Beach State 

2016 – Long Beach State (national semifinalist) 
2015 – UC Irvine (national semifinalist) 
2015 – Hawai‘i (play-in) 
2013 – UC Irvine (national champion) 
2012 – UC Irvine (national champion) 
2011 – UC Santa Barbara (national runner-up) 
2010 – CSUN (national semifinalist) 
2009 – UC Irvine (national champion) 
2008 – Long Beach State (national semifinalist) 
2007 – UC Irvine (national champion) 
2006 – UC Irvine (national semifinalist) 
2004 – Long Beach State (national runner-up) 
2002 – Hawai‘i (national champion)* 
1999 – Long Beach State (national runner-up) 
1996 – Hawai‘i (national runner-up) 
1995 – Hawai‘i (national semifinalist) 
1993 – CSUN (national runner-up) 
1991 – Long Beach State (national champion) 
1990 – Long Beach State (national runner-up) 
1988 – UC Santa Barbara (national runner-up) 
1975 – UC Santa Barbara (national runner-up) 
1974 – UC Santa Barbara (national runner-up) 
1973 – Long Beach State (national runner-up) 
1972 – UC Santa Barbara (national semifinalist) 
1971 – UC Santa Barbara (national runner-up) 
1970 – Long Beach State (national runner-up) 
1970 – UC Santa Barbara (national semifinalist) * Later vacated due to use of ineligible player 

2016 – Long Beach State 
2015 – UC Irvine, Hawai‘i 
2014 – UC Irvine, Long Beach State 
2013 – UC Irvine 
2012 – UC Irvine 
2011 – None 
2010 – CSUN 
2009 – UC Irvine, CSUN 
2008 – CSUN 
2007 – UC Irvine 
2006 – UC Irvine, Long Beach State 
2005 – None 
2004 – Hawai‘i 
2003 – Hawai‘i, UC Irvine 
2002 – Hawai‘i 
2001 – Hawai‘i, Long Beach State 
2000 – Long Beach State 
1999 – Long Beach State

UCSD students vote to fund Div. I sports
Move will not be immediate; is contingent on invitation from Big West
By Mark Zeigler | The San Diego Union-Tribune
May 24, 2016


UC San Diego athletes celebrate after undergraduates voted to more than double
student athletics fees to fund a move to NCAA Division I in sports. — K.C. Alfred


In election results announced Tuesday, UC San Diego undergraduates voted to more than double student athletics fees to fund a move to NCAA Division I in sports.

Now comes the hard part: Getting seven more votes from the Big West Conference.

With 35 percent of students voting, about 70 percent of the vote (6,137 to 2,567 with 124 abstentions) favored the move from Div. II to Div. I without football, but it is contingent on an invitation to the Big West. The conference currently has nine schools – eight in California plus Hawaii – and requires a super majority, or seven votes, from its presidents and chancellors to add a new member.

Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell has remained non-committal on UCSD’s prospects, saying he would wait for student approval first and then assemble an expansion committee to examine the merits of adding a 10th member. A conference vote isn’t expected until later this year, and the fee increase – phased in over three years – wouldn’t begin until the fall quarter after a formal invitation. The move also must receive the blessing of UCSD's Faculty Senate as well as Chancellor Pradeep Khosla.

Following that is a lengthy transition period mandated by the NCAA, meaning the Tritons likely wouldn’t be full-fledged Div. I members until the 2023-24 academic year.

“This has been a student-centered initiative from the very beginning and to see that the majority of our students favor a move to NCAA Division I demonstrates that they recognize the change as a progressive step for both our athletic program and UC San Diego as a whole,” said UCSD Director of Athletics Earl W. Edwards. “Division I will help extend the entire university’s culture of excellence, align us with peer academic institutions, improve the student experience, strengthen our brand, increase alumni engagement and further our community connection. This move will impact the entire campus in a multitude of ways.”

This is the third time UCSD students have held a Div. I referendum. The previous two failed, most recently in 2012 by a margin of 6,407 to 4,673.

The current Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) fee is $129.38 per quarter, or $388.14 per year if you don’t attend summer school. The increases would be phased in over three years, rising to $289.38 per quarter – or an extra $480 per year.

That would net an additional $10 million per year for the athletic department, doubling its current budget to cover increases in athletic scholarships, coaches’ salaries and additional staffing at the NCAA’s highest level.

The impetus of the move was to elevate UCSD’s local and national profile, improving branding and alumni engagement through sports. The “pro” argument on the official ballot put it like this: “How many times have you had our school mistaken for SDSU or USD? Improved brand recognition strengthens the value of our degrees when looking for jobs, networking and negotiating starting salaries.”

U.S. men's volleyball player Matt Anderson no longer out on limb
May 10, 2016


USA volleyball player Matt Anderson displays some of his tattoos, including a tree
that he says symbolizes a bond with his family that means the world to him. 


ANAHEIM – Matt Anderson wears his family tree everywhere he goes.

The tree is a tattoo, a symbol of a bond more than just skin deep, that stretches over much of his upper left arm, rising above the four roses – one for each of his siblings – that decorate his forearm. It has a thick and sturdy trunk, not without rough spots, but its grooves are deep and tight against each other as they wind and twist up and around from extensive roots to the long branches that seem to point in all directions.

“The tree is for my family,” said Anderson, the 29-year-old, 6-foot-9 outside hitter/opposite on the U.S. national volleyball team, after a recent training session at the American Sports Center, the team’s Anaheim base. “All my aunts, uncles, cousins, relatives across the board. We’re a big twisted tree. We’re vast and we’re everywhere and I can always bring them with me.”

He has carried them on a whirlwind journey from his hometown of West Seneca, N.Y., just outside Buffalo, to Penn State to South Korea to Italy to Russia to the 2012 Olympic Games in London and now toward another Olympics this summer in Rio de Janeiro, where Anderson and Team USA will be gold-medal favorites.

The trouble is somewhere along the way Anderson got lost.

Or lost himself.

With each day the kid from West Seneca seemed to disappear a little more until he vanished, swallowed by a game that became an obsession and a persona he thought he needed in order to maintain his place as one of the world’s top players.

“I got to a point where I wasn’t able to differentiate the volleyball player from the person because that training where we’re always on, I’m always required to be that volleyball player, I’m always required to have that edge, the narcissism that you have to bring to the game to be a successful athlete,” he said. “That started me thinking about, well, who am I? Who do I really want to be and how do I get there?”

“One’s own self,” Nietzsche once said, “is well hidden from one’s own self; of all mines of treasures, one’s own is the last to be dug up.”

So Anderson set off in search of something more valuable than Olympic gold – himself. With the Rio Olympics less than two years away, he stunned the volleyball world by announcing he was taking an indefinite break from the sport and asking Zenit Kazan, his team in Russia’s Super League, to terminate his contract.

In stepping back, he was also stepping into the unknown, walking away from a sport that had been ever-present in his life since his youth. Yet even in his uncertainty, Anderson could always reach out to the one thing that had been there to hold onto.

“That tree is exactly what we are,” said Joelle Vanegas, Anderson’s older sister. “There are a lot of us and it is complicated at times but no matter what we’re always there for each other.”

In the end, Anderson found himself by following the tree back to its, to his roots in West Seneca. His departure came after he finished as the leading scorer in the 2014 FIVB World League, helping the U.S. win the gold medal.

After months of soul-searching surrounded by his family in western New York, Anderson returned to the sport better than ever. In 2015, he had what U.S. coach John Speraw called “the best summer of his career.”

Anderson continued his streak of leading Team USA in scoring in every season since 2011. He was named best outside hitter in the NORCECA Champions Cup, which features the top teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean. But Anderson saved his best for the FIVB World Cup in Japan, where he was named the tournament’s MVP and the U.S. went 10-1 en route to winning the gold medal and qualifying for the Olympics.

“Matt had a pretty incredible performance at the World Cup,” Speraw said.

He has also returned to Zenit, leading the Russian club to a second consecutive European Champions League title this past season, further cementing his place on a short list of the game’s best players.

“He’s 6-10, has a 40-inch jump and he hits the ball really hard and works really hard,” Speraw said. “He’s a special athlete that blends physical attributes with a work ethic you sometimes only see with those that have less talent.”

Yet as impressive as Anderson was, to Speraw nothing stands out as much as Anderson’s decision to step away from the game.

“With any athletes at this level, they’re under a lot of pressure,” Speraw said. “It takes a lot of courage to come and say ‘Hey, I need to regroup. I need some time to think about some things here and think about what I want to do with my life. I know a lot of guys who have not had the courage to do that but have wanted to.”

After leading Penn State to the NCAA title in 2008, picking up national player of the year and NCAA tournament MVP honors along the way, Anderson decided to skip his senior season in Happy Valley and turn professional.

“He just jumped right into it,” said Joshua Anderson, Matt’s brother.

There were lucrative contracts and success with Hyundai Capital in South Korea and two stops in the Italian league. He was named the MVP of the Russian League, considered by many as the world’s top circuit.

But the success came with a high price for someone raised in such a tight-knit family. He was in South Korea when his father Michael died of a massive heart attack in January 2010. On Anderson’s right rib cage is a tattoo of the Anderson family crest with the dates “8-16-52” and “1-23-10,” the dates of his father’s birth and death, beneath it.

“He was a pretty big rock,” Anderson said of his father in a 2012 interview with the Register. “A rock for a lot of people. It was tough. When you're 22, 23 you still have a lot of questions to ask your dad. I guess silly things. Questions like how do you know what girl to ask out? What's the right car to buy? Is this house the right investment?”

Anderson was also having to adjust to being a high-profile star in a major international league, going from the relative obscurity of college volleyball in the U.S. to rock-star status with demands from sponsors and fans just as foreign as the country. Between club and national team responsibilities, players might get less than a month off per year.

“Matt highlights some of the stresses these guys face playing internationally,” Speraw said. “He lost his father when he was overseas. He left school early, younger than most, and he has a significant responsibility on his club team and on our team because of his skill.

“It’s a lot to shoulder. ... One of the things a lot of young players now have to deal with is the scrutiny all the time. With social media fans, people can pass judgment on you as a person all the time. Between the sponsors and fans you have people constantly telling you who you should be.”

By the fall of 2010, Anderson wasn’t sure who he was.

Overnight he went from being the youngest member of the 2012 Olympic team to one of the U.S. squad’s leaders. At Zenit. there was immense pressure to repeat as Super League champions. His swagger on the court and in public masked an emotionally worn out young man full of self-doubt and unable to regain control of his life.

“I was the guy (on the U.S. national team),” Anderson recalled. “Everybody was looking to me and it filled my head a little bit. I never really let it deflate.

“We won the (Russian) league and my head is even bigger coming back and then we go into World Championships and I’m playing really well and summer of 2014 and we’re going to repeat and then it was just something that slowly started to creep in when I was at home at night and I just couldn’t shut it off. I couldn’t sleep and I would talk to my family. I was sleep deprived and trying to go to training, trying to be as aggressive as I normally am and it’s just not working. Constantly thinking about volleyball, I have to do this, I have to do this, I have to do this instead of just leaving it at the gym.

“A lot of pressure. A lot of wavering confidence when it doesn’t look like it. What people would then consider cockiness, conceitedness, for me it was self-consciousness. ‘Well I have to do this because I have to show them I’m the best, but really am I?’”

In late October 2014, Anderson decided if he was going to find himself he needed to take a break.

“I just kind of got burned out on the sport,” Anderson said. “It was taking away from my personal life, meaning that my relationships with my family, with my friends became wire-thin, or thread-thin. They weren’t strong like they were before in the past. I was becoming a bitter person. ... I couldn’t do what I wanted. I felt like I was out of control of what I was doing, that I was always on someone else’s schedule. Even though I wanted to be there playing, I wanted to train with the national team, I wanted to be an Olympic gold medalist my day to day stuff wasn’t as controllable as I wanted it to be.

“So I had to work through a lot of things with that. Some emotional stuff. Tapping into your emotions with anyone is not a comfortable thing. And I didn’t want to do that while I had the stress of competing. I wanted to be able to explore. If I wanted to just stay in bed all day for a day that’s what I did. I wanted to give myself the time to work through a lot of that stuff.”

So he headed home.

“I think part of this career path that I’ve chosen, takes me away from my humble upbringing I think,” Anderson said. “Basically everything that surrounds sport is to build people up, it’s to make me feel like I’m untouchable, to make me feel like I’m better than the next person when in fact I’m just a normal person and that has a different job than most. It’s a lot of ego that you have to keep in check and my family does a really good job of that. But when I’m away from there for so long and those relationships start to dwindle, the negatives start to creep up and have more space to break into me.”

In addition to his family’s embrace, he sought the help of a clinical therapist.

He also felt encouraged to step back by his interactions with Speraw, who along with U.S. national team sports psychologist Andrea Becker and Anderson’s family, played a critical role in his healing.

“Talking with John and people I really trusted,” Anderson said. “I don’t have a significant other. I have a really hard time opening up with other people. But me and John have built a lot of trust between each other.

“Ultimately (Speraw) wants us to be the best humans we can be, the best people we can be, not just the best athletes. And if that requires us to take time away from the game it does. He was completely supportive throughout the entire ordeal, if you want to call it an ordeal, a process. It’s still a process. I’m still working through a lot of things.

“Giving me support and letting me know there is light at the end of the tunnel as long as you can be strong enough to work through it and there’s going to be days where its so overwhelming where you don’t want to do anything but knowing that there is a tomorrow and knowing that you can be successful after everything. Looking at all your own faults and being aware enough to know when your faults are creeping up and to be able to get your demons back down and still be the person you want to be.”

Anderson first began to see the light in the midst of a blizzard that hit the Buffalo area a short time after he returned home. “Just got hammered, snowed in for five, six days,” he said. Anderson and Joelle, whose home backs up against her brother’s, walked the empty streets for hours.

“(There’s) something so calming to me about the winter and the snow,” Anderson said. “It can be a blizzard out and you step outside and it’s completely quiet. The snow just dampens everything.”

In the silence, Anderson found a clarity.

“You see everything for what it is,” he said. “We’re just people, we’re just essentially a very large village from way back when that just decided we’re going to live here and help each other and grow.”

Anderson has helped in his own special way.

Anderson is involved in Matt Anderson Spiking For Autism (www.spikingforautism.com), a tournament in the Buffalo area that has raises money for autism services in western New York. He was approached with the idea for the event two years ago by Brian Hahn, a passing acquaintance.

“He said it’s a great idea, let’s do it right away,” Hahn said.

A few years ago, Anderson got Joelle's son, Tristin, to sign his name on a piece of paper. Tristin, who turns 10 on Wednesday, suffers from autism. Not long afterward Anderson sent Joelle a photo of his latest tattoo – a blue puzzle piece, the symbol for autism awareness, on the inside of his right wrist with Tristin’s signature below it.

“I asked him why?” Joelle said. “And he said ‘I can use volleyball to get the word out about autism. People will see it when I serve and that will raise more awareness.’ And he’s right. When he serves that’s what you see.”

Anderson continues his search for his own answers, for himself.

“Just accepting of where I am and knowing I can still continue to grow as a person and a player,” he said.

Thoreau said “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” And Anderson has come to realize that life follows not a straight line but a twisted path through our own personal wilderness. Sometimes you need a strong tree to lean against to catch your breath and regain your bearings.

“The tree for me, it’s a reminder of my family, a reminder of the sense of community I grew up with,” he said. “But it’s also for my family to know I’m proud of where I came from, proud of them.

“We’re so intertwined.”

Contact the writer: sreid@ocregister.com

Buckeyes close out season on 23-match winning streak

Saturday, May 7, 2016



UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2016 NCAA men's volleyball national champion is The Ohio State University. The Buckeyes defeated top-seeded Brigham Young University (27-4) in a three-set sweep (32-30, 25-23, 25-17) to secure the program's second national championship -- five years to the date after capturing the 2011 title in the same facility (Rec Hall).


• Ohio State concludes the season 31-3 for the most wins since the '78 Buckeyes went 32-3
• Ohio State wrapped up the season riding a 23-match winning streak
• Ohio State has not suffered a loss since Feb. 6, a span over three full months
• Ohio State won 69 of 85 sets during the victorious stretch
• The Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association has won three consecutive national championships and four of the last six (Ohio State 2011, 2016; Loyola 2014, 2015)
• Ohio State represented the National Champions, National Coach of the Year (Pete Hanson) and the National Player of the Year (Nicolas Szerszen) in 2016
• Ohio State assistant coach Kevin Burch has now been on the coaching staff of an NCAA national championship program for six consecutive seasons, beginning with the 2011 OSU Men's Volleyball title in 2011 as the program volunteer assistant coach
• Ohio State fended off seven set-point chances for BYU in the opening set
• Miles Johnson was named the NCAA Tournament's Most Valuable Player
• Blake Leeson and Nicolas Szerszen joined Johnson on the All-NCAA Tournament Team

Four different Buckeyes recorded double-digit kills in the NCAA Finals, paced by 15 kills for the event's MVP Miles Johnson. Ohio State's most effective damage came from the middle, however, as Driss Guessous and Blake Leeson combined for 21 kills on 27 attacks. Leeson exploded for 11 terminations on 13 errorless swings to claim his spot on the all-tournament squad. Christy Blough averaged nearly 15 assists per set, steering the OSU offense to a .374 team attacking efficiency on 44 assists. The Buckeyes served BYU out of the gym with eight aces in the straight-sets victory.

Johnson got it going right from the jump, slapping seven kills in the opening frame. The first period witnessed 21 tied scores; repeat, twenty-one tied scores as BYU had it going offensively as well and ultimately earned the night's first set point at 24-23. The Cougars would go on to obtain six more set-point opportunities, each one denied by the Scarlet & Gray. Ohio State, meanwhile, capitalized immediately on its very first set point chance. A block from Christian Franceschi and Leeson led to Johnson's set-clinching kill at 32-20.

While Ohio State out-killed the Cougars 18-10 in the second stanza, BYU accumulated five blocks to keep the score tight. The Buckeyes trailed 19-16 and burned a timeout. Ohio State responded to the break in action by seizing four of the next five points and knotting the score at 20-all. Momentum remained clad in Scarlet as the Buckeyes garnered a 24-21 edge moments later and ultimately closed it out, 25-23.

Just as they had all season long, the Buckeyes continued to pour it on from the baseline in the third frame - to the tune of five service aces in the clinching set. A mid-set serving barrage from National Player of the Year Nicolas Szerszen virtually sealed the deal. The Buckeye sophomore teamed with kills from Johnson and Leeson to go on a five-point run. Szerszen connected on three service aces during the five-point spurt launching Ohio State ahead 13-7. Franceschi would follow with an elongated service stint of his own, unleashing five consecutive serves to lift the Buckeyes on top 21-12. From there it was smooth sailing as the Scarlet & Gray cruised to a 25-17 championship closer.

5 Reasons Why DIII Was My “DI Dream”
Monday, May 2, 2016

Editor’s Note: The following is guest article from SportsRecruits account manager Blair Ingraham. Blair played Division III field hockey and lacrosse at Wesleyan University, and graduated in 2014. Thanks to Blair for sharing her experiences in this great post!


It can be very easy to think that Division I athletics are all that exist at the NCAA level. From the thrill of March Madness to the excitement of the College Football Playoff — and the surrounding media coverage of both — it can be easy to miss the action at smaller schools across the country.

But that Division I scene is not for everyone, and it certainly was not for me. In addition to being a fringe Division I athlete, the “big school” feel was not what I wanted out of my college experience.

Here are five reasons why choosing Division III athletics was the best choice I ever made.

1. Balance

One of the main reasons I chose the Division III experience was the balance between academics and athletics. Academics was always my first priority when it came to choosing a school. I knew my college degree was going to take me much further than my field hockey and/or lacrosse abilities. I certainly was not joining a European women’s Field Hockey league after graduation, and my name surely would not have appeared in the recent UWLX Draft. Instead, I chose a school that was the right fit off the field before I committed to an athletic program. Of course, athletics played a critical role in my decision; but a strong liberal arts education was always my first priority.

At Wesleyan, this balance is exactly what I found. My practices were always scheduled after classes ended at 4pm, and no classes were held between 4pm-7pm. My coaches understood if I had to leave practice 15 minutes early to grab a quick dinner before a 7pm Biology exam, or came to practice late because of a chemistry experiment that took a little too long (as long as I sprinted there).

If you are passionate about two sports and are not ready to commit to just one, DIII also gives you the opportunity (and support) to choose both. When I told my field hockey coach at Wesleyan that I’d like to try out for the lacrosse team, she could not have been happier. She said it was the best way to stay in shape and gain experience as a collegiate athlete, as well as experience a different team dynamic.

What makes the Division III experience so special is that you will have opportunities to pursue interests outside of athletics, as well. In college, there are so many extracurriculars to take advantage of — things like a study abroad program, semester-long internships, etc. The balance provided by DIII athletics can open your mind to experiences and areas you may not have otherwise explored.

2. Competition

The decision many potential DIII athletes have to make is whether they’d like to play at the highest level they can (likely, DI) while potentially sacrificing playing time, or compete at a high-level DIII school where they can make an impact right away.

This was an easy decision for me – I loved the game too much to watch other people play it. I wanted to be in an environment where I had a good chance to contribute immediately. Many of my teammates at Wesleyan could have played at the Division I level, so while the competition was still excellent, I also had a chance to play early in my career.

Division III also allowed me to continue to play two sports I love. I was not bound to one sport year-round. This helped me to avoid burning out while allowing me to experience two completely different teams and coaching styles.

3. Passion

Only a very small percentage of NCAA athletes will play their sport at the professional level (per the NCAA, the number is 2 percent). For women, this percentage is even smaller, as fewer sports have professional leagues. However, 100% of college graduates receive a degree that they can use to launch a professional career in an area they are passionate about. The majority of student-athletes are just that: Students, then athletes.

Ask yourself: Do I love this sport enough to play it every day, without getting paid, and with little hope of making it to the pros?

At the DIII level, every single teammate of mine was there for the love of the game. Nobody was there because their parents made them, or because they needed to stay on for scholarship money (note: there are no athletics scholarship opportunities at the DIII level). Everybody was there because of pure passion for the sport, for their teammates, and for their coaches. The time on the field was an outlet, a time to build a sense of team, and most importantly, a time to have fun and be competitive with each other while enjoying the sport we loved.

4. Community

As a student-athlete, the athletics community — at any level — will become your family. You will share meals, busses, houses, and memorable college experiences with these people. They will be part of your life forever.

Arriving on the Wesleyan campus for the start of my freshman year was daunting, but I became immediately at ease when three football players exited my dorm and offered to carry all of my things up to my room. It did not take long to realize I had already become immersed in a community of friendly, helpful, like-minded athletes who would soon become my friends.

A great part about the DIII experience is how you have enough time to immerse yourself outside the athletic community, too. Sure, you will be busy, but you will have time to explore other interests — student government, the newspaper, an a capella group, tutoring — and meet people outside of your niche.

The ability to be a part of the athletics community, while also having the time to immerse yourself in the community of your institution at-large, is a great benefit of the Division III experience.

5. Commitment

At any level of collegiate athletics, you will likely endure early morning lifts, two-a-days, long bus rides, and late nights in the library catching up on work. But it will be worth it — and I bet you’ll even receive the best grades while you are in season. Managing academic and athletic commitments, as well as maintaining your health and social life, is a challenge. But the ingrained schedule a season provides will provide the structure that will make it easier to succeed both on the field and in the classroom.

A big difference between DI and DIII is that there is more of an off-season at the Division III level. In the off-season, depending on the DIII conference, you will spend 10-20 hours a week training and practicing. You may have a few games or matches to keep your skills sharp, too. But while there is a commitment in the off-season, you are free to focus on other things. DI athletes essentially continue the same regiment in the off-season, but without the games.

Division III athletics never felt overwhelming. I never felt burnt out, or like I didn’t want to play anymore. The amount of time spent playing field hockey and lacrosse was just right. Most importantly, I had time in the off-season to complete more challenging major requirements, and was able to spend time planning the rest of my college career.


My first year out of school, I told my family that I would empty my bank account to play one more field hockey season at Wesleyan. DIII might not be your initial dream, but it’s okay to change your mind. If you have the opportunity to play, take it. I’m sure a few years from now you’ll give everything you have to play just one more season.

NCAA men’s final 6 preview
Lee Feinswog, Volleyball Magazine
Sunday, May 1, 201

BYU and UCLA have to hurry up and wait. They don’t play until Thursday.

But on Tuesday at Penn State, the National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship begins with play-in matches between Long Beach State vs. Erskine and Ohio State vs. George Mason.

The winners advance to the semifinals.

Here’s the field:

No. 1 BYU (26-3)

No. 2 UCLA (25-6)

No. 3 Ohio State (28-2)

No. 4 Long Beach State (24-7)

No. 5 Erskine (20-6)

No. 6 George Mason (18-11)

The play-in matches will be shown on GoPSUnow, the video arm of Penn State. Here is the link to the link.


The semifinal matches will be streamed on NCAA.com via the Penn State video. BYU awaits the LBSU/Erskine winner, while UCLA plays the Ohio State/GMU winner.

The national championship match will be played on Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. Pacific and televised by ESPN2. 

The Beach is making its eighth NCAA postseason appearance and first since 2008. LBSU has advanced to the NCAA finals six times with one national title coming in 1991, when current head coach Alan Knipe was a starting middle blocker for the 49ers.

Erskine is making its second NCAA Tournament appearance in three years as it swept Barton College in the finals of the Conference Carolinas Tournament to earn the league's automatic bid. 

This is the first-ever meeting between Long Beach State and Erskine. The two teams have three common opponents this season. The Beach is 2-1, and the Flying Fleet are 2-2 in those matches. Both squads fell to Ohio State and defeated Mount Olive, which is a member of the Conference Carolinas. LBSU also defeated Lewis in four, while Erskine was swept by the Flyers.

Long Beach is led by freshman outside TJ DeFalco, who was named an AVCA All-American on Monday.

The Flying Fleet rank first in the nation with 13.71 kills and 9.70 digs per set. Senior outside hitter Mike Michelau, who was recently named the Conference Carolinas Player of the Year, has paced Erskine with 4.53 kills per set. Junior outside hitter Roberto Perez Vargas has also registered 4.04 kills per set, while senior libero Michael Schneck is averaging 2.98 digs per set.

Ohio State is led by first-team All-American Nicolas Szerszen, a sophomore outside.

The Buckeyes have won the last 13 meetings with George Mason, last dropping a match to the Patriots back in 2009. During the recent victorious stretch, Ohio State has surrendered just eight sets overall. The all-time series is much closer, however, as OSU owns a 29-25 edge. The Buckeyes notched a sweep (25-22, 25-19, 25-22) over GMU earlier this season

Mountain Pacific Sports Federation winner BYU split the regular-season series with Long Beach but has never faced Erskine. The Cougars have defeated UCLA three times this season, including in the MPSF Championship. BYU also beat George Mason earlier this year but has yet to play Ohio State. 

UCLA returns to the NCAA championships for the first time since it captured the program's 19th title with a 3-0 win at Penn State in 2006. The Bruins own a 25-6 record this season under fourth-year head coach John Speraw which includes the most wins since that 2006 season produced 26 victories. Coach Speraw (UCLA '95) won three NCAA titles as the head coach (2012, 2009, 2007) at UC Irvine. He also earned three titles as an assistant coach to Al Scates while at UCLA (1996, 1998, 2000) and two more as a player for Scates (1993, 1995).

The Bruins head into this year's tournament having won 12 of their last 15 matches. The three setbacks in that stretch have all come at the hands of top-seed BYU. Ohio State, the winner of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) title (five set win over Lewis), owns a 28-2 record this season and has won 20 consecutive matches. Its last loss came in a five-set decision to Ball State on February 6. George Mason won the Eastern Intercollege Volleyball Association (EIVA) in a four sets over St. Francis. The Patriots are 18-11 this year and will be making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1988.

UCLA played both the Buckeyes and the Patriots earlier this season. The Bruins opened the season at George Mason on January 5 and registered a 3-0 win. Two nights later, UCLA defeated OSU 3-1 in a tournament played at Penn State.

No. 1 New Paltz Volleyball Crowned 2016 NCAA Champions; Defeats No. 2 Springfield, 3-1, in NCAA Final
Colleen Gonzalez, Assistant Sports Information Director, nphawks.com
Sunday, April 24, 201


Post Game Video


ROCHESTER, N.Y. – For the first time in program history, the top-ranked State University of New York at New Paltz men's volleyball team has captured its first NCAA Division III Tournament title, defeating No. 2 Springfield College, 3-1 (25-18, 25-23, 23-25, 26-24), in the championship match on Sunday afternoon at Nazareth College's Kidera Gymnasium. The win also marks the first NCAA title for any New Paltz team.

"They deserve this. They worked hard and it was our dream to be national champions," said head coach Radu Petrus. "Every coach wishes to have this group of players when you can have a lot of options and they can follow the strategy.

"I think this is huge because this is the first time that the university and the department have this trophy. For the program it's important because the recruits may be more interested in the program and I can keep the same level in the future."

Senior setter Christian Smith (Massapequa, N.Y./Massapequa) was named the NCAA Tournament MVP, while junior opposite Joe Norman (Bay Shore, N.Y./Bay Shore) and senior outside hitter Andy Fishman (Cornwallville, N.Y./Cairo-Durham) were named to the All-Tournament Team.

The Hawks conclude the 2016 season with a 33-2 overall record and a 30-0 mark against Division III teams. Springfield ends the season with a 24-8 overall record.

Springfield took off with a 5-2 lead in the first set but the Hawks pushed a 5-0 run, which included three Norman kills, for a 7-5 edge. New Paltz extended its lead to 10-7 but Springfield rallied to cut the deficit to 10-9 on a service ace and two kills by Luis Vega. However, junior middle blocker Steven Woessner (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Massapequa) responded with a kill and service ace of his own to keep the Hawks ahead. New Paltz led by four points through the rest of the set for a 22-18 lead before senior middle blocker Christopher Husmann (Massapequa, N.Y./Massapequa) added two of the final three points to clinch the 25-18 set win for the Hawks.

In the second frame, the teams traded early points but New Paltz would soon run ahead to a 6-4 lead. The Pride ended up trailing by two points until Springfield capitalized on two New Paltz errors to tie the score at 14-all. Both teams battled for the lead but the Hawks would grab the upper hand on a Pride service error and a Fishman service ace. The Pride made quick work of leveling the score to 23-all but the Hawks would take the set, 25-23, on a Fishman kill and a Springfield ball handling error.

Similar to the second set, the third frame saw both teams trade points before the Hawks pulled away on a Springfield service error and a Woessner kill for an 11-9 lead. Sophomore outside hitter Anthony Bonilla (New Paltz, N.Y./New Paltz) landed a kill to keep the Hawks ahead but the Pride rattled off three-straight points to pull ahead, 13-12. Still New Paltz would not be deterred, pushing four unanswered points to retake the lead and send the Pride into a timeout. Coming out of the break, Springfield evened the score and began an intense battle for the lead. New Paltz closed in its third set win, capitalizing on a Norman kill and a Springfield error to make it a 23-22 match but a New Paltz service error returned the ball to Springfield. Junior outside hitter Luis Vega and sophomore outside hitter Richard Padilla Ayala floored a kill each to give the Pride the set win and send the match to a fourth frame.

The Hawks and the Pride came out swinging in the final set, keeping the score close until Springfield recorded a 3-0 run for an 11-9 edge. The Hawks managed to close the gap to 15-14 but three unanswered points from the Pride handed Springfield an 18-14 advantage as New Paltz called for a timeout to regroup. The Hawks rallied coming out of the break, pushing a 4-0 run for a tied score. Once again the teams battled to take the win but Norman landed a kill to bring the score to 25-24 before sophomore outside hitter Ben Cohen (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) sealed the win on an overpass kill.

New Paltz concluded the match with a 4-3 edge in service aces and a .291 (63-26-127) clip, while the Pride held an 8-7 advantage in blocks and hit .276 (47-18-105).

Norman floored a career-high 21 kills and hit .444 (21-5-26). Woessner finished the match with a .533 (10-2-15) clip off 10 kills and contributed four blocks (two solo, two assists). Fishman added 17 kills for the offense, while Smith (Massapequa, N.Y./Massapequa) dished out 51 assists and defended 11 digs.

For Springfield, senior right side Greg Woods led with 19 kills while Vega and Ayala contributed 13 and 11 kills, respectively. Junior setter Luis Garcia Rubio distributed 42 assists in the loss, while freshman libero Eli Irizarry Pares provided 11 digs for the defense.

NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET RELEASED Ohio State tabbed the No. 3 seed
Sunday, April 24, 201

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State was named the No. 3 seed for the 2016 NCAA Men's Volleyball Tournament (May 3-7) to be contested at Penn State. The Buckeyes will play in the opening match on May 3, facing EIVA champion George Mason at 6 p.m. ET in the first of two play-in matches that evening.

BYU (MPSF automatic bid) and UCLA (at-large bid) received direct advancement into the national semifinals as the top seeds while Long Beach State (at-large) and Erskine (Conference Carolinas champion) square-off in the other play-in contest (8 pm; May 3) of the six-team bracket.

NCAA Division 1 National Championship Bracket

Ohio State enters the NCAA Tournament with 28 wins overall, the most in a season since the 1993 Buckeyes posted a 28-10 mark. The current winning streak was stretched to 20 consecutive victories with a five-set triumph over Lewis in the MIVA Tournament Finals. Ohio State hasn't suffered a loss since Feb. 6, a span of over 80 days, and has won 60 of the last 73 sets played during the 20-match winning streak. This season marks the 19th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.

Springfield Volleyball Earns Spot In Seventh-Straight National Championship Match With Sweep of Stevenson
Saturday, April 23, 201

Rochester, N.Y. - April 23, 2016 - The Springfield College men's volleyball advanced to the NCAA Division III Championship match after a three-set victory over Stevenson on Saturday evening in Kidera Gymnasium on the campus of Nazareth College. The Pride won by the set scores of 25-23, 25-16, 25-16.

The No. 2 seed in this year's NCAA Championship, Springfield now owns a 28-3 record and will square off with top-seeded New Paltz at 2 pm on Sunday. Stevenson's year comes to a close with a 26-8 this season and advanced to the semifinals as the No. 6 seed.

Dating back to 2008, the Springfield College men's volleyball program has appeared in eight of the last nine national championship matches, including seven-consecutive appearances. The Pride was crowned Molten Invitational National Champions in 2008 and 2010 before capturing NCAA Division III Championships in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Luis Garcia Rubio (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) was sensational directing Springfield's offense to a .310 hitting percentage as he dished out 37 assists in the win. Greg Woods (Middletown, Conn.) was both efficient and effective on the offensive side of the ball, totaling a match-best 14 kills at a .579 clip, while Luis Vega (Corozal, Puerto Rico) contributed 13 kills, five digs, four blocks, and two aces. Eli Irizarry Pares (San Juan, Puerto Rico) racked up nine digs and Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) notched four kills and four blocks in the middle. 

The Pride raced out to a 6-2 lead after Jasuta converted out of the middle and extended its lead to 11-6 as Vega hammered a backrow kill in transition. Springfield led 19-14, but committed four-straight hitting errors to aid a 5-0 Mustang run that evened things at 19-all. Out of a timeout, Jasuta manufacted a kill around the block and Vega crushed a ball cross court, only to have Stevenson later even the set at 22-22. A timely block from Garcia Rubio and Julian Welsh-White (Collingswood, N.J.) gave Springfield the lead for good and Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) sealed the 25-23 win blistering a ball down the line for Springfield's 13th kill of the frame. The set was marred by service errors as the teams commited 17, including nine by the Pride. 

Springfield earned an early 4-0 lead thanks to a pair of blocks and forced the Mustangs into the timeout at 8-2 after Woods crushed a ball down the line. Stevenson got as close as 12-7, but a sideout kill from Garcia Rubio fueled a 3-0 burst that put the Pride back in control. Springfield dominated the frame, hitting at a .458 clip thanks to five kills each from Vega and Woods, while limiting the Mustangs to a .083 percentage.

The third set was back-and-forth from the start, as it featured 10 ties and three lead changes. Stevenson's offense was outstanding to start, producing eight kills on its first 14 errorless attempts to give the sixth-seed a 13-9 advantage. Coming out of a Springfield timeout, Woods crafted a ball down the line to jump start a 3-0 run that forced Mustangs into a timeout. Stevenson's last lead would come at 16-15 thanks to Springfield's seventh attack error of the set, before the Pride put together a remarkable 10-0 run to complete the sweep. Led by the outstanding serving of Garcia Rubio and trio of blocks, including two by Jasuta, Springfield earned a spot in the national championship match, with Woods tallying with 14th off the night to wrap up the night.

Canisius volleyball's Schmit and Joslyn to represent Old Glory
Miguel Rodriguez, The Buffalo News
Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Canisius volleyball players Griffin Schmit and Devin Joslyn have been selected to the 2016 USA Boys’ Youth National Team, which will compete in the NORCECA Continental Championships in Havana, Cuba, June 22-30, according to a release from Canisius. The two juniors helped the Crusaders post an unbeaten season last fall. 

Schmit earned American Volleyball Coaches Association of New York State All-WNY Player of the Year for a season in which he finished with .506 hitting percentage and 477 kills. 

Joslyn was a second team All-Catholic selection. Both earned spots on the team by making it through the national tryout route. Schmit has been playing for the U.S. team for three years but this will be his first time playing with the team in an event on foreign soil.

Penn State men’s volleyball’s redshirts look to fill seniors’ spots next year
Giana Han | The Daily Collegian
Wednesday, April 20, 201

At the end of the bench every home game, there are four players wearing nice dress clothes instead of uniforms.

Those four are this year’s redshirts — Luke Braswell, Jason Donorovich, Frank Melvin and Calvin Mende.

They have spent their first season as Nittany Lions practicing with the rest of the team and getting acclimated to the new pace of the game.

All four played in high school, but college volleyball is not the same game.

“When you play high school and club competition, you’re playing guys who are all your age or maybe slightly older, but it’s at a lower level,” Melvin, an outside hitter, said. “Here, I’m playing guys that are 22, 23 years old who have been playing the game double as long as I have.”

Additionally, the opposition is a lot bigger than what the redshirts faced in high school.

“In high school, you might get one or two guys that are 6-foot-7, but anything bigger than that is unheard of,” Braswell, a setter, said via text.

The size, age and experience creates a faster pace, which Melvin said requires players to constantly be thinking about their next move.

It also forces players to develop every part of their game.

“At the lower levels, you can get away with being just a good hitter, being just a good passer,” Melvin said. “But once you get up here, you have to be good at everything.”

The time that the redshirts are taking off has helped them to develop and prepare for the next level.

Braswell said this season has taught him patience because it’s been difficult to watch the games without having a chance to play. It’s also helped him to get bigger in preparation for the competition.

Melvin said redshirting has given him the chance to get to know the game better and understand it.

Coach Mark Pavlik said he’s seen improvement from each of his redshirt freshmen.

“I like what the freshmen have done this year,” Pavlik said. “They’ve handled themselves very, very well.”

He mentioned the strong practices outside hitter Donorovich has been having recently and said Braswell has made good use of his practice time as well, especially considering there are three setters and only two sides of the court.

Melvin has made “great strides” since the beginning of the season while Mende, an opposite hitter, he said, is going to be a monster.

“He doesn’t know that,” Pavlik said. “But he’s going to be a monster.”

The season’s almost over, but the redshirts still have the summer to prepare before they get to step out on the court.

They said they will be playing in outdoor tournaments and working to get bigger and healthier. Melvin also said he will take time to rest from the stress of being a student-athlete.

After the summer, they will become eligible to play for the Lions’ men’s volleyball program, and Braswell said he is excited to see who steps up to fill the roles of the five graduating seniors.

“I'm most excited to finally have the chance to put on the blue and white in an actual match and represent this awesome university,” Melvin said.

Ksiazkiewicz named program's first All-American
Marymount Mens Volleyball
Monday, April 18, 201



LEXINGTON, Ky. — In just the third year of the program, the Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball team has received its first All-American. After earning a spot on the All-Continental Volleyball Conference squad followed by the league's all-tournament team, junior Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz made his way on to the most elite list in the country for collegiate volleyball, the AVCA All-American list.

Ksiazkiewicz, closing out his third season with the program, earned a spot on second team after posting extraordinary numbers on the offensive end. He ranks third in the CVC with a .407 hitting percentage, just .22 behind the leader, while posting 214 kills throughout the season to rank eighth in the league, and 15th in kills per set after averaging 2.40.

As a middle blocker, Ksiazkiewicz put up a wall this season, leading the conference in blocks per set (1.12) and solo blocks (24), while registering fourth most in block assists (76) and fourth in total blocks (100). 

Ksiazkiewicz led the Saints in several crucial victories throughout the 2016 campaign. Arguably one of the best games of the season came against No. 4 Rutgers University-Newark in early March when the Saints upset the Scarlet Raiders in a 3-2 decision. During the match, Ksiazkiewicz posted 16 kills, his season best, while hitting .652 and registering three block assists. Ksiazkiewicz put up kills in the double-digit range in seven matches this season, after making an appearance in all but two matches.

The men's squad looks to return Ksiazkiewicz next year for his final season, in hopes of clenching the programs first CVC title.

Canisius HS volleyball players to play in Cuba
Crusaders duo named to U.S. National Team

By: Shawn Stepner, WKBW
Monday, April 18, 2016

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - A pair of Canisius High School volleyball players will be making their way to Cuba this summer. 

Devin Joslyn and Griffin Schmit were selected to the 2016 USA Boys' Youth National Team. They will compete in the NORCECA Continental Championships in Havana, Cuba in June.

Both Joslyn and Schmit are juniors at Canisius.

Schmit was featured as a 7ABC Super 7 Athlete of the Week in October of 2015.

Below is the full press release from Canisius High School:

Canisius High School volleyball players Devin Joslyn and Griffin Schmit have been selected to the 2016 USA Boys' Youth National Team, and will compete in the NORCECA Continental Championships in Havana, Cuba this summer. The competition will take place June 22-30, 2016. 

The U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team is the highest level of programming for the Youth age group (born in 1999 and 2000). Devin and Griffin, both juniors at Canisius, were selected for the team after national tryouts. This is Griffin's third year playing for the USA team, but the first opportunity to play with the team outside of the U.S.

"It is always fun because of how competitive it is," Griffin explains, "Locally, there are generally just one or two exceptional players on a team. When I compete for USA, everyone is exceptional. It also gives me an opportunity to play with kids from California, which is considered to be the hotbed for volleyball."

Devin is now in his fourth year traveling and competing with USA volleyball. He previously traveled to Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Oklahoma, and Des Moines, IA. He's also competed in December holiday camps in San Diego the past couple years. "The competitiveness of the players and coaches really push you to see if you can play at the next level," says Devin.

In addition to the experience they'll gain, both Devin and Griffin say it is an honor to play for their country. "The number one thing I am excited about is being able to represent USA in a different country," says Devin.

Seven Mavericks Earn Men's Volleyball AMCC Postseason Honors
Koch named Coach of the Year, Schneider named Newcomer of the Year

Medaille Mens Volleyball
Friday, April 15, 201

The Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference announced their 2016 Men's Volleyball postseason awards on Friday afternoon, and five time defending champion Medaille College was well represented during the announcement. Head Coach Keith Koch was named the AMCC Coach of the Year; freshman Brad Schneider (Lockport, NY, Lockport) was named the AMCC Newcomer of the Year; while Seniors Nate Schneider (Lockport, NY, Lockport), Jack Hagerty (Wheatfield, NY, Niagara Wheatfield), Joe Hacherl (Tonawanda, NY, St, Joseph's CI), Pete McKelvey (Buffalo, NY, Canisius), and junior Calvin Crosby (Pendleton, NY, Starpoint) were all named to the AMCC All-Conference Team.

It has been a year to remember for Koch, as this is the third time he has been named a conference Coach of the Year in just over seven months. In November he was named the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Women's Volleyball Coach of the Year after guiding the women to an (18-8) season and AMCC Regular Season Championship.

This is the fourth time in five seasons Koch has been named the AMCC Men's Volleyball Coach of the Year, directing the Mavericks to a (25-9) record overall and a perfect record in conference play. Under his tutelage, Medaille was able to claim their fifth straight AMCC title.

Brad Schneider finished the regular season at, or near, the top of many statistical categories for Medaille in 2016.

Offensively, Schneider was one of the Mavericks most well-rounded players. His (279) kills ranked second on the team and he also finished second on the team in assists, dishing out a total of (612). As good as he was on offense; Schneider was just as good defensively, ending 2016 third on the squad with (173) digs, and tied for third with (70) total blocks.

Seniors Nate Schneider, Jack Hagerty, and Joe Hacherl were all named to the AMCC All-Conference First Team. For Schneider it was the second consecutive year he has been earned such a reward, while for Hagerty and Hacherl it was the first time in their career's they have been chosen AMCC All-Conference. The three combined for (578) kills, (88) service aces, (622) digs, and (131) total blocks.

Senior Pete McKelvey and Junior Calvin Crosby were both named to the AMCC All-Conference Second Team for the first time in their careers. Both put up impressive numbers offensively and defensively; McKelvey finishing the year with (246) kills, (52) digs, and (88) total block and Crosby ending 2016 with (218) kills, (54) service aces, and (61) total blocks.

For the official AMCC release, click here.

NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Committee selects 2016 championship field
Monday, April 11, 201

INDIANAPOLIS --- The NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball Committee announced today the field of 10 teams for the 2016 NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball Championship.

Six conferences were awarded automatic qualification for the 2016 championship. Two teams were selected from Pool B, which consists of independent institutions and institutions that are members of conferences that do not meet the requirements for automatic qualification. The final two berths were reserved for Pool C, which consists of institutions from automatic-qualifying conferences that are not the conference champion and any remaining Pool B teams.

MORE: Interactive Bracket

Conferences and Teams Receiving Automatic Qualification:

City University of New York Athletic Conference: Hunter College (29-5)

Continental Volleyball Conference: Stevenson University (25-7)

Great Northeast Athletic Conference: Wentworth Institute of Technology (22-8)

New England Collegiate Conference: Endicott College (17-10)

Skyline Conference: Kean University (29-5)

United Volleyball Conference: State University of New York at New Paltz (27-0)

Pool B Berths (two):

Carthage College (27-1)

Springfield College (26-3)

Pool C Berths (two):

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark (24-3)

Stevens Institute of Technology (26-6)

First-round competition will be Saturday, April 16, at Kean and Wentworth. Competition at the championship site will be April 22-24 at the Shults Center, hosted by Nazareth College.

Medaille College Claims Second Straight NEAC Men’s Volleyball Championship with 3-1 Victory over SUNY Poly
Sunday, April 10, 201



BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Medaille College Mavericks claimed their second straight North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Men’s Volleyball Championship following a 3-1 victory over the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Wildcats in the title match Sunday. 

The Mavericks fell behind early after dropping game one, but would take the next three sets to claim consecutive titles on their home floor as tournament hosts and the No. 1 seed. Medaille sophomore Sam Bloomberg (Lake Worth, Fla.) was named NEAC Tournament MVP following totals of 17 kills, eight block assists and six digs across both playoff matches. 

Game one would see itself tied ten times in the early going and a final time at 18 all to open the championship battle. Poly would strike for five of the next seven game points from there, before using back-to-back kills to take game one 25-21 and the early match lead. 

Medaille would respond with a quick 5-1 lead in game two before jumping that to a 13-7 advantage. The Mavericks would then post seven of the next eight game points behind three aces from junior Calvin Crosby (Pendleton, N.Y.) to take a commanding 20-8 lead. Three more aces from there and a pair of Poly errors would then give the Mavericks a 25-10 win and even the match at 1-1. 

Medaille would then erase an early 6-2 Poly lead to take a 12-11 advantage in game three. The two squads would be tied at 14 and 15 from there, before six errors by Poly and four errors from Medaille left the game at 21-19. Medaille capitalized with three straight kills and another ace from Crosby to close the game 25-19. 

Another close set ensued in game four, with the Mavericks holding a slight 10-9 advantage in the early going before both teams were knotted at 19 apiece down the stretch. An attack error from Poly and two straight kills from freshman Brad Schneider (Lockport, N.Y.) made it 22-19 and forced a Poly timeout, before a pair of Medaille errors cut it down to 22-21 and made Medaille call a timeout of their own. That’s where the tournament MVP finished the match, as Bloomberg posted back-to-back kills with the second coming while twisting around and falling backward to make a spectacular play, before serving up the last point that caused a Poly attack error to give the Mavericks a 25-21 win and their second conference crown. 

Bloomberg finished with match highs of 10 kills and four block assists, while hitting .500 on 14 swings and adding three digs. Crosby had six aces on the day to give him 13 total during the tournament. Brad Schneider finished with 18 assists and nine kills, while his brother Nate Schneider (Lockport, N.Y.) added 10 digs, eight kills, four blocks and two aces. Senior Jack Hagerty (Wheatfield, N.Y.) and junior Pete McKelvey (Buffalo, N.Y.) both tallied seven kills, while freshman Matt Dempsey (Clarence, N.Y.) dished out 18 assists and senior Joe Hacherl (Tonawanda, N.Y.) posted a match-most 14 digs. 

Freshman Ryan Gloff (Brockport, N.Y.) led Poly with eight kills and seven digs, while freshman Max Szuba (Irondequoit, N.Y.), junior Nick Hagen (Hilton, N.Y.) and senior AJ Davids (Hilton, N.Y.) all tallied six kills apiece. Sophomore Zach Goggin (Feeding Hills, Mass.) had a match-high 27 assists along with seven digs. 

A full box score of the championship match can be found here. A recap of yesterday’s semifinal round matches can be found here.

No. 1 New Paltz Sweeps No. 4 Stevens to Capture Second UVC Title
Sunday, April 10, 201

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. – For the second time in program history, the top-ranked State University of New York at New Paltz men's volleyball team can call itself United Volleyball Conference (UVC) champions, as the Hawks downed the fourth-ranked Stevens Institute of Technology, 3-0 (25-14, 25-23, 25-20), in the UVC Tournament final on Sunday at the Hawk Center.

Senior setter Christian Smith (Massapequa, N.Y./Massapequa), the 2016 UVC Player of the Year, added to his haul of postseason awards by earning UVC Tournament MVP honors. Senior outside hitter Andy Fishman(Cornwallville, N.Y./Cairo-Durham) and senior libero Kevin Nardone (Port Washington, N.Y./Paul D. Schreiber) joined Smith on the All-Tournament Team along with senior outside hitter Tim Zyburt from Nazareth College, sophomore middle hitter Matthew Knigge from Vassar College and senior outside hitters Chris Vaughan and Tim Ferriter from Stevens.

New Paltz, the top seed in the UVC Tournament, rises to 30-2 overall and stretches its winning streak to 29 with the victory. The Hawks, who have yet to lose to an NCAA Division III team this season, became just the fifth team in program history to reach the 30-win plateau, as New Paltz won at least 30 matches from 1984-87. New Paltz earned the UVC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament with the victory and will learn of its placement in the bracket when it is released during a selection show tomorrow at 10 a.m. at www.ncaa.com/liveschedule. Stevens, the No. 2 seed in the UVC Tournament, drops to 28-6 overall with the loss and hopes to be one of the two Pool "C" at-large selections into the NCAA Tournament.

The Hawks put up a stout defensive front in the first set, holding the Ducks to -.059 hitting. Stevens stayed within striking distance until three straight kills by sophomore outside hitter Anthony Bonilla (New Paltz, N.Y./New Paltz) staked the home team to a 15-8 lead. The two teams traded points until a 3-0 surge gave New Paltz a 21-11 advantage. After Stevens scored three of the next four points, the Hawks closed the set with three consecutive points, and a kill by senior middle blocker Christopher Husmann (Massapequa, N.Y./Massapequa) gave New Paltz a 25-14 win in the first.

After three unanswered points to start the second set, things looked to be well in favor of New Paltz, but Stevens turned the tables with a 3-0 run of its own to tie the score. A back-and-forth battle ensued, and the Ducks actually opened up an 11-9 lead following a kill by Ferriter. The Hawks countered with a 4-0 spurt, with a Fishman kill giving New Paltz a 13-11 lead. The two teams continued to battle back and forth until two consecutive Duck miscues gave New Paltz a 23-19 edge. Stevens battled back, though, with a block assist by junior middle hitter Jordan Stuart and Ferriter, a Hawk attacking error and a kill by junior outside hitter Gabe Shankweiler pulling the Ducks within one. Following a New Paltz timeout, the Hawks received a timely kill from junior opposite Jake Roessler (Massapequa, N.Y./Massapequa), but Vaughan answered right back with a termination of his own to force yet another Hawk timeout with set point on the line. New Paltz finished off Stevens in the set, however, with a Fishman kill on the ensuing rally, giving the Hawks a 25-23 victory in the second.

New Paltz broke a 3-all tie with three straight points, and a Fishman service ace handed the Hawks a 6-3 advantage. The two teams traded points until the Hawks rode the hot hand of Bonilla, who registered three straight kills before a Roessler service ace gave New Paltz an 11-5 edge and forced a Stevens timeout. The Hawks led by as many as nine in the set (20-11), but the Ducks mounted a comeback, slowly chipping away before a three-point tear pulled them within four at 22-18. From that point forward, the two teams sided each other out until Roessler put away the match-ending kill.

New Paltz hit .282 (44-13-110) on the match, which included hitting percentage of .438 and .387 in the first and third sets, respectively. Stevens, meanwhile, was limited to a season-low .075 hitting percentage (27-19-106). The Hawks held a 6-4 advantage in total team blocks, while both teams finished with two aces. In a match that saw several long rallies kept alive by strong back-row defense, New Paltz finished with a 54-48 margin in digs.

The Hawks set to the outside early and often in the match, with Bonilla and Fishman each flooring 12 kills. Smith backed up his reputation with a 32-assist, nine-dig performance that also included three kills and one solo block. Bonilla completed the double-double with 12 digs, while Nardone defended a match-high and season-high-tying 15 digs.

For Stevens, Ferriter led the way with nine kills, 11 digs and two service aces. Senior setter John Eddins and junior setter Scott Russell combined for 24 assists, while Shankweiler posted 10 digs. Sophomore middle hitter Thomas Burrell hit .500 (3-0-6) for the match and added three block assists.

Kean Claims 2016 Skyline Championship
Sunday, April 10, 201

Union, N.J. (4/10/16) – The Kean University men's volleyball team made it five straight as they blanked Ramapo College in the Skyline Championship on Sunday afternoon.

The Cougars (30-6) were led by sophomore Jacob Kauffman who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the championship as he recorded 10 kills and four service aces. He also added three digs and four assisted blocks and a total of 16 points on the day.

Kean now awaits the announcement of the 2016 NCAA Division III bracket which will be featured on ncaa.com on Monday at 10 a.m. http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2016/04/11

Kean has won the Skyline Championship for five straight seasons and is only in their sixth season as a varsity program. 

In today's first set the Cougars pushed out to a quick 9-3 lead with two kills from Bill Fischer and an ace from Kauffman in the run. The Roadrunners (19-16) turned that deficit right around and climbed within one (9-8) before a Cougar timeout. Kean adjusted and another kill from Fischer and back-to-back assisted blocks swung the momentum back to Kean forcing a Ramapo timeout. The Cougars then paced through the rest of the set keeping a comfortable margin throughout for the set one win, 25-18.

The Roadrunners took their first lead of the day in set two on attack errors by the Cougars, but after see-sawing to 11-all, Kean took control and rolled off four straight points, forcing a Roadrunner timeout. Ramapo would only come as close as two points for the rest of the set as the Cougars won set two by the same score, 25-18.

Trailing 6-5 in what would be the final set, the Cougars used a 9-0 run with Kauffman serving to forge ahead comfortably top Ramapo, 25-11, for the straight set win.

Fischer finished with nine kills, five digs and two assisted blocks while setter Steve Schrank added 24 assists and eight digs in the win.

For the Roadrunners, Justin Feigeles and Paul Close each registered six kills on the afternoon.

Carthage wins MCVL Tournament Championship with 3-0 sweep of MSOE
Saturday, April 9, 201

KENOSHA, Wis. – Looking to defend their MCVL Tournament title, the Carthage College men's volleyball team (27-1, 13-0 Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League) took to the court at Tarble Arena for one last time this season to face off against the Raiders of the Milwaukee School of Engineering (18-8, 12-1 MCVL). In the April 5 AVCA Men's Division III Top 15 Poll Carthage earned the No. 3 ranking and MSOE captured the No. 13 spot.

"It was great to see the boys go out there today, play well, and claim the tournament title to go along with the regular season title," said head coach L.J. Marx. "It caps off a regular season, but we wanted more and now we have put ourselves in a great position looking ahead to the selection show on Monday and the NCAA Tournament."

The Red Men took a quick 4-0 lead in the first set with Matt Reinsel back to serve. A few points later with Carthage leading 7-8, the Red Men made another four-point run on a kill by Zach Lillig, two errors by the Raiders, and a service ace by Griffin Shields to expand their lead to 11-6. The Raiders were unable to close in on Carthage's lead as the Red Men took the first set 25-21. Carthage had an outstanding hitting percentage of .500 in the first set.

Looking for redemption, the Raiders took a 5-2 lead to start the second set. Trailing 5-6, the Red Men tabulated a six-point run with Shields serving to take the lead 11-6. Carthage kept the lead for the remainder of the set and took the second set 25-22 over the Raiders.

The Red Men took control one again to start the third set as they jumped out to 5-2 lead over MSOE. With Carthage leading 6-4, the Raiders made a surprising four-point run to take the lead 8-6. A few points later, Carthage made an 8-2 run and took control of the set with a commanding 18-13 lead over the Raiders. The Red Men held onto their lead and eventually took the third and final set 25-18, which earned Carthage the MCVL Tournament Championship Title.

The Red Men have won both the MCVL Regular Season title and the MCVL Tournament title two years in a row, the only two years that the MCVL has been in existence.

As a team, the Red Men recorded 42 kills, four service aces, 11 blocks, 40 assists, 37 digs, and a hitting percentage of .360. Griffin Shields lead the team in kills with 14, accompanied by Will Craft and J.P. Tulacka with apiece. Shields also earned three service aces in the match. J.P. Tulacka made an outstanding six blocks against MSOE, closely followed by Scotty Adamczyk with five and Zach Lillig with three, respectively. Matt Reinsel connected on 39 assists and nine digs.

Griffin Shields, J.P. Tulacka, and Cody Bolan were named to the All-MCVL Tournament team from Carthage. Shields was also named MVP of the MCVL Tournament. Other student-athletes name to the all-tournament team were Luke Spicer from Dominican, Tim Robbins from Lakeland, and Quink Krisik and Sam Stealey from MSOE.

Although the MCVL does not have an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship, the Red Men still have a shot at an at-large berth to the tournament. During the 2016 season, the Red Men recorded a perfect Division III record of 24-0. Carthage previously made the tournament back in 2014 and 2012.

Looking ahead to the NCAA Tournament Marx said, "We talked about it at the beginning of the year and throughout, if we don't lose a Division III match they can't keep us out. It was a lofty goal and the boys deserve credit for accomplishing it! So now we have some time off but have to keep working hard as we shoot for our ultimate goal, a National Championship."

The team will find out if they make the tournament during the NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship selection show on Monday, April 11 at 9 a.m. CDT. The show can be viewed on NCAA.com.

NECC TOURNAMENT: #1 Endicott Completes The Four-Peat
Saturday, April 9, 201

BEVERLY, Mass. – The first-seeded Endicott men's volleyball team captured its fourth straight New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Tournament championship with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-19) win against third-seeded Daniel Webster on Saturday afternoon at MacDonald Gymnasium.

John Osborne (Freehold, N.J.) was named the NECC Tournament Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season, as the senior outside registered a double-double on 17 kills (.318) and a match-high 14 digs. Osborne also added three assists and a perfect serve-receive percentage (19 total attempts) to his stat line in the victory.

Jeremy Doski (Sandy Hook, Conn.) notched a match-high 20 kills (.400) to aid the Gulls to their fourth straight title, while Troy Riorden (Fairport, N.Y.) put together his second double-double of the season with 15 kills and 10 digs.

Cameron Little (San Diego, Calif.) ran the offense with 57 assists on 121 attempts (.471), alongside six digs, while Ryan Healy (Fair Lawn, N.J.) helped guide the back row with 10 digs and a .957 serve-receive percentage (22 attempts). Chandler Tayek (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.) also contributed seven digs, and Daniel Toth (Glenwood, N.J.) and Alex Wasik (Milford, Mass.) registered kill totals of six and five, respectively, to round out the list of highlights for the Gulls.

Daniel Webster was led by Tommy Reyes (Providence, R.I.) in the loss as the junior outside compiled a team-high 17 kills (.433), in addition to five digs, two blocks, and a service ace. Ryan Howdeshell (Fairbanks, Alaska) added nine kills and nine digs, while Saunoa Afoa (Las Vegas, Nev.) had eight kills, ten digs, three blocks, and three assists.

Darrien Mason (Farmington, Conn.) also tallied seven kills and six blocks, while Nate Makaiwi (Las Vegas, Nev.) concluded the individual achievements for the Eagles with 39 assists (.406), 13 digs, and two blocks.

Tied 20-20 in set one, Daniel Webster used a late 5-3 run – which included a pair of kills from Afoa – to take a 1-0 lead in the match (25-23). Endicott responded in set two as the Gulls limited the Eagles to a match-low .088 hitting percentage behind a set-high 15 digs to claim an eventual 25-18 second-set victory, and even the match at 1-1.

Set three was the difference for the Gulls as the defending champs withstood 12 tied scores and four lead changes for a 25-23 win, and a 2-1 advantage in the match. The third set was the most contested set out of the entire match as Endicott never led by more than four points. The Gulls also received three errors down the stretch by the Eagles and a kill from Doski with the scored tied at 21-21 to help lock up the set-three victory.

In set four, Endicott raced out to an 18-9 lead – the highest point differential in any set – before defeating Daniel Webster 25-19 to clinch its fourth straight NECC title.


MVP – John Osborne (Endicott)
Cameron Little (Endicott)
Jeremy Doski (Endicott)
Darrien Mason (Daniel Webster)
Tommy Reyes (Daniel Webster)
Gabriel Reis Levy (Elms)
Sean Bisnett (Regis)

•Endicott is 4-0 this season against Daniel Webster, and 22-0 all-time versus the Eagles dating back to February 6, 2009.
•Today's match marked a rematch of the 2014 NECC Tournament title game, which the Gulls won by an identical 3-1 score.
•The senior class of Dan Seaver (Milford, Mass.), Little, Osborne, Tayek, and Wasik are the first class in program history to win four conference championships.


Endicott (17-10) advances to the NCAA Tournament by earning the NECC automatic bid, and will await word on its opponent in the upcoming NCAA Tournament Selection Show that will air on the NCAA.com website on Monday, April 11 at 10 a.m. Daniel Webster sees its season come to a close at 16-13 overall.

Third Time's A Charm for Stevnson, 2016 CVC Champs
Saturday, April 9, 201



Playing in its third consecutive Continental Volleyball Conference Championship match, the seventh-ranked Stevenson men's volleyball team posted a 25-23, 25-21, 25-21 sweep over fifth-ranked Rutgers-Newark to claim the CVC Championship Saturday afternoon at Owings Mills Gymnasium.

The Mustangs (25-7) earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship, becoming the 10th Stevenson program to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Stevenson also remains unbeaten at home, improving to 10-0 with eight straight set wins.

Seniors Kyle Pottiger and Patrick Schuyler as well as junior Nate Ellis were all named to the All-Tournament Team while senior Rob Wingert was named the Tournament Most Valuable Player.

Meanwhile, Rutgers-Newark (24-3) fell for just the third time this season and the second sweep by Stevenson. Kevin McCandless and Jack Fredricks were named to the All-Tournament Team.

The two teams traded points early on with the Scarlet Raiders maintaining at least a one point lead before Stevenson knotted the set for the fourth time at 12-12. But the Scarlet Raiders won four straight points to force a timeout by the Mustangs.

After facing its largest deficit at six, the hosts got back within three but a service error halted the momentum as Rutgers-Newark extended its lead back to five.

Trailing 23-19, the Mustangs won three consecutive points to get within one and force a timeout by the Scarlet Raiders. Stevenson took the lead with a service ace by freshman Jason Gardner before finishing the comeback with a block assist by Pottieger and Schuyler.

During the run, Schuyler recorded two kills while Rutgers-Newark totaled three attack errors, including on three of the final four points of the set. Schuyler had five kills in the opening set on five swings.

The Mustangs trailed 5-4 early in the second set but that was the last time as the hosts maintained a three-point led for most of the set. A 3-1 run by the Scarlet Raiders got Rutgers-Newark within one at 17-16, before the visitors knotted the game at 19-19.

Tied at 20-20, Stevenson won five of the final six points, including two kills by Gardner and two service aces by Shorts. Schuyler also put down his 10th kill of the match during the set-ending run.

The final set was close from start to finish as neither team led by more than two points until the Mustangs won the final three points to claim the program's first-ever conference championship.

Schuyler finished with a match-high 15 kills while adding three digs and two service aces while freshman Landon Shorts totaled 10 kills, seven digs, three service aces and a block assist.

Meanwhile, freshman Jason Gardner recorded nine kills while the duo of Pottieger and Ellis each totaled seven kills. Pottieger also added six block assists. Wingert, the MVP, finished with 44 assists, three digs and three block assists.

The selection show for the 2016 NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship will be Monday, April 11 at 10:00 a.m. Fans can watch live on NCAA.com.

Mustangs Sweep Juniata, Advance To Third Straight CVC Championship
Saturday, April 9, 201

Led by a combined 24 kills by senior Patrick Schuyler and freshman Landon Shorts, the top-seeded Stevenson men's volleyball swept fourth-seeded Juniata, 25-13, 25-13, 26-24 as the Mustangs advanced to their third straight Continental Volleyball Conference title match Friday evening at Owings Mills Gymnasium.

The Mustangs (24-7), who have appeared in every CVC Tournament since the league began in 2012, improved to 9-0 at home this season while sweeping the Eagles for the third time this season. It was also the seventh sweep for Stevenson at home.

The hosts recorded a .425 hitting percentage, marking the sixth time the Mustangs have hit over .400. Stevenson, who never trailed in the first two sets, hit a combined .477 during that time.

The Mustangs won the opening five points as the Eagles (10-16) totaled three attack errors. Juniata hit -.032 in the opening set posting just eight kills compared to nine errors. The duo of Shorts and junior Nate Ellis compared for nine kills alone in the set.

Stevenson strung together another five consecutive points in the middle of the frame to build an 18-7 lead before closing the set on two attack errors by the Eagles. The Mustangs also added six block assists in the frame, two apiece by Ellis and freshman Jason Gardner.

The second set began much like the first as the Mustangs won 11 of the first 16 points. Juniata would get within four following two service errors by Stevenson, but the hosts won 13 of the final 18 points. Schuyler had four kills in the set while junior Michael Fehrs had two service aces.

After Stevenson won the opening point of the third set, the Eagles won five consecutive to take a 5-1 lead. Out of a timeout, the Mustangs rallied to take a 10-9 lead but Juniata responded with a 6-2 run to take a three point lead following back-to-back kills by Kyle Seeley.

Trailing 23-20, Stevenson won six of the final seven points, including a service ace by Gardner on match point.

Fehrs finished with three service aces while senior Rob Wingert totaled 34 assists, eight digs, two block assists, a service ace and a kill. Ellis recorded seven kills and five block assists.

Seeley was named to the All-Tournament team after totaling a team-high eight kills on 15 swings.

Stevenson will face the winner of second-seeded Rutgers-Newark and third-seeded Marymount in the CVC Championship match on Saturday, April 9 beginning at 2:00 p.m.

#5 Scarlet Raiders Head To CVC Championship Match
Saturday, April 9, 201

The fifth-ranked and second-seeded Rutgers University-Newark men's volleyball team is in the Continental Volleyball Conference (CVC) title match for a second-straight year. The Scarlet Raiders sailed past Marymount University 3-0 in the conference semifinals to set up a rubber match with top-seeded Stevenson University for the CVC crown.
The Scarlet Raiders topped Marymount 26-24, 25-15 and 25-16, working for a tough first-set victory and cruising the rest of the way. Stevenson swept Juniata in the other semifinal setting up a conference title game between the fifth- and seventh-ranked teams in the nation. R-N and the Mustangs split the season series 1-1 with each school winning on its home floor, 3-0.

Rutgers-Newark improves to a remarkable 24-2, while Marymount drops to 19-11. The Saints were the last team to beat Rutgers-Newark, and since the loss, the Scarlet Raiders have won seven-straight matches.

R-N tallied 46 points, 37 kills, one ace, eight blocks, 34 assists and 34 digs. Junior middle Nick Kuti (11), senior opposite Travis Mintzer (nine) and senior middle Cody Chidsey (six) led the Scarlet Raiders in kills, and Pieper and Chidsey each had four blocks. Senior setter Kevin McCandless picked up 33 assists, with junior outside Jack Fredricks (nine), senior libero Quocmy Nguyen and McCandless (five) combining for 19 digs.

Rutgers-Newark hits .268 in the match, while the holding the Saints to a .101.

Rutgers-Newark 26, Marymount 24
The first set was neck-and-neck throughout, and after Marymount held off the Raiders for one set point at 24-23, a kill from Kuti and a hammer from Fredricks – both assisted by McCandless – lifted the Raiders to the 26-24 victory and a 1-0 lead.

Rutgers-Newark 25, Marymount 15
The Scarlet Raiders carried the momentum from the first set win into the second, running out to a 5-1 lead behind a Pieper kill, three Saint errors and a Pieper block.

Three-straight points would make it a 13-5 set, and a 4-0 rally on the serve of senior Christopher Kopacz made it 20-10, essentially sealing the 2-0 lead.

Rutgers-Newark 25, Marymount 16
The two teams were tied at eight before a mini-run helped the Scarlet Raiders to a 12-9 edge, and after Marymount cut the lead to two (12-10), R-N slammed the door with a 13-6 run to advance to the conference title match.

Kuti (three), Fredricks (two) and Mintzer (two) all had multiple kills to lock up the triumph and set up a second-straight showdown between Rutgers-Newark and Stevenson in the conference title game. R-N swept the Mustangs 3-0 last year in Newark for the CVC's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship.

Opening serve is set for 2 p.m. Saturday and links to live stats and video of the match will be posted at www.rutgersnewarkathletics.com.

NEAC Announces 2015-16 Men’s Volleyball Regular Season All-Conference Selections and Individual Award Winners
Thursday, April 7, 201

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has announced its 2015-16 Men’s Volleyball All-Conference selections, with first, second and third team honors being awarded regardless of position to a total of 21 student-athletes, as selected by the conference coaches.

The NEAC has also announced its men’s volleyball individual award winners, as also selected by the conference coaches.

Penn State Altoona sophomore outside hitter Matt Huey (Butler, Pa.) was selected as the NEAC Player of the Year following a tremendous all-around season for the Nittany Lions. Huey leads the conference in kills (389), kills per set (3.97), points (460) and points per set (4.7) offensively, while also being first in solo blocks (27), eighth in total blocks (69) and 10th in digs (176) defensively through 98 sets played. Those totals also leave him among the national leaders across all of NCAA Division III, where he currently ranks fourth in kills per set and fifth in points per set. Huey earned three NEAC Player of the Week awards and four Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III South Region Player of the Week honors throughout the season, with the latest of each coming this past week after he helped the Nittany Lions secure their first-ever conference tournament berth following a 12-4 NEAC record. Huey, who was selected to the All-Conference First Team, also earned the program’s first-ever selection as the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III National Player of the Week en route to leading Altoona to the team’s best-ever overall record of 17-10.

Keuka College senior Cooper Lyon (Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada) was chosen as the NEAC Defensive Player of the Year following an outstanding season for the Wolfpack. The libero racked up 269 digs in 82 sets to post a conference-best 3.28 digs per set average, which also currently ranks second nationally and is just 0.28 behind the NCAA Division III leader. A three-time NEAC Defensive Player of the Week selection, Lyon tallied double-digit dig totals in 15 of the 22 matches he competed in, including reaching at least 20 digs twice, while committing just 17 reception errors all season. Lyon’s defensive play allowed the Wolfpack to hold their opponents to just a .174 hitting percentage on the year, which helped Keuka secure a playoff spot with a 9-7 NEAC record while also landing him on the All-Conference First Team.
The remaining two individual honors were awarded to Medaille College, as freshman Brad Schneider (Lockport, N.Y.) was named the NEAC Rookie of the Year and Maverick head coach Keith Koch was voted by his peers as the NEAC Coach of the Year. Schneider, who served as both the right side hitter and one of the primary setters for the Mavericks, led all conference rookies and was second overall in aces with 45, while also ranking in the top 15 in numerous other categories, including assists (578 – 8th), assists per set (4.98 – 9th), kills (259 – 11th), hitting percentage (.256 – 9th), digs (168 - 15th), solo blocks (10 – 13th), block assists (53 – 11th), total blocks (63 – 11th), and points (340.5 – 7th). His play from both positions helped the Mavericks post a conference-best team hitting percentage of .263. A NEAC Player of the Week honoree, Schneider also capped his excellent all-around season with a NEAC All-Conference First Team selection.
Koch led the Mavericks to another excellent season during his 12th year at the helm, going a perfect 16-0 in conference play to clinch the NEAC regular season championship and earn the right to defend their 2015 conference title on their home floor as the tournament’s No. 1 seed this weekend. Koch’s squad also went 23-9 overall, which included a victory over nationally ranked Elmira, while leading the conference in total kills, assists, aces, blocks and hitting percentage as a team. Koch also saw three different players win NEAC Player of the Week honors and four players selected to the All-Conference First and Second Teams, respectively.


Below is the complete list of the 2015-16 NEAC Men's Volleyball All-Conference First Team, Second Team and Third Team selections:

2015-16 NEAC Men's Volleyball All-Conference


2016 CVC Tournament Preview
Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The 2016 Continental Volleyball Conference Tournament begins this weekend, April 8-9, in Owings Mills, Maryland and will include host school Stevenson University; defending champion, Rutgers University-Newark; two-time tournament champion, Juniata College; and Marymount University, who is making their second consecutive postseason appearance.

CVC Championship Tournament Page

CVC Tournament Video Preview

Tournament Information

The 2016 Tournament will be held on the campus of Stevenson University in Owings Mills, Maryland. Semifinal games will be held on Friday, April 8 with #1 Stevenson facing #4 Juniata at 6 p.m. and #2 Rutgers-Newark facing #3 Marymount at 8 p.m. The Championship match is set for Saturday, April 9 at 2 p.m. You can stream all matches HERE

Ticket prices for the tournament are as follows: $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for students (Stevenson students free with ID), and children under 12 are free.




Stevenson secured hosting rights for this year's tournament by finishing the regular season with an 11-1 conference record, going 23-7 overall.

"Hosting the tournament is a big honor in our eyes," said Stevenson Head Coach Steve Grossnickle. "We like to think of the CVC as one of the stronger conferences in the country and to be the one seed and have the opportunity to have postseason play in our gym is a pretty big deal to us."

The Mustangs are currently ranked #7 in the AVCA poll and have won five of their last six matches as they enter the postseason.

"It is nice to be nationally ranked, but that's about all it is, just nice. Our goal was actually pretty simple this year, win the CVC. We have tremendous respect for the other teams in our conference, and our goal this year was to compete with them and prove that we deserved to be talked about when people spoke about the CVC. Not to mention winning the CVC gets you a birth into the NCAA Tournament, somewhere this program has never been before. That was the only goal we set for ourselves this year, win the CVC."

The Mustangs have made the CVC Championship match in each of the last two years, coming up short twice. This year they are hoping home court advantage can get them over the final hurdle. The Mustangs are 30-8 at home in the last four seasons including going undefeated this year with an 8-0 record. Despite being undefeated at home this year and finishing first in the regular season standings Grossnickle knows this weekend is not given.

"Two years ago we lost to Juniata, who has been a traditional powerhouse in Division III volleyball for as long as I can remember. Last year losing to Rutgers, we have great respect for their coaching staff and players, they came in and made a statement; not just to the CVC but to the entire Division III landscape. Marymount is a team that has gotten good, very very quickly. Again, great coaches with hard working kids and it is paying off for them. In order to be the best you have to beat the best, these three teams can compete with anyone in the country on any given day. We will have to have laser focus on the attention to the little details. All the little points that we maybe did not earn in the regular season we are going to have to earn now in the postseason. There is not much that separates these four teams in my opinion so we have to be fully prepared for some battles this weekend."

The Mustangs are led by freshman Landon Shorts, who ranked second in the league with 303 kills this season. Shorts is hitting .315 and totaled 46 service aces. Nate Ellis, a junior, is the inside presence for the Mustangs; hitting .407 and ranking second in the CVC in blocks. Senior setter Rob Wingert leads the team on the court and led the league at 10.66 assists per season.




Rutgers-Newark return the majority of their team from last year's CVC Championship squad; bring back 2015 CVC Player of the Year Cody Chidsey, and three All-Tournament performers in Jack Fredricks, Travis Mintzer, and MVP Kevin McCandless. That experience carried them to a 23-2 overall record and a 10-2 record in the CVC during the regular season.

"Having the majority of our starting lineup back is awesome," said Rutgers-Newark Head Coach Pedro Trevino. "These players have tasted victory and want it again. They know the challenges we faced last year as underdogs and what it is like to gun for the number one team. Not losing that hunger is essential. It inspires the newer players to want that win. The team knows it will be tough to win back to back CVC championships but they are up to the challenge."

The Scarlet Raiders may have began last year as underdogs, playing their first season in the CVC and at the Division III level, but this year they were the ones being hunted. Holding down the #5 ranking in the AVCA poll for the majority of the season, the Scarlet Raiders put together two winning streaks of at least eight matches and carry a winning streak of six matches into the tournament.

"Our goal is to win every game. Winning streaks are nice but they can be deceiving. It's all about playing well and staying focused on playing each game to the best of our ability. We review each opponent's offensive and defensive tactics. We look at our own individual styles and focus on tailoring our play to our opponents. I remind them that each team is going to bring their "A" game. We need to meet that mindset head-on."

Rutgers-Newark rolls out a deep rotation for their matches. Although they led the conference in kills per set at 12.6, they did not have a player rank in the top five individually. The Scarlet Raiders also lead the league with a .342 hitting percentage, with Chidsey leading the way with a .455 mark. They finished with four players totaling over 160 kills this season as Kevin McCandless averaged 10.52 assists per set and last year's All-Conference libero, Quocmy Nguyen, averaging 2.16 digs per set.




Marymount University is making their second straight tournament appearance after finishing the regular season with a 19-10 overall record and a 9-3 record in conference action. The Saints, in just their third year of the program, took a big leap forward this year as they finished above .500 for the first time in program history.

"Making the postseason last year as a second year program was really a big deal for us," said Head Coach Hudson Bates. "We are grateful that once again we made the tournament, and have the opportunity to achieve our season long goal of reaching the championship match. It's going to be a really tough task to beat Rutgers in the semifinal, but we are thankful to be in control of our own destiny."

Bates and the Saints have seen the team go from nine wins in year one, to 14 last year, and now 19 wins this season. The results have been fast for the Saints as they continue their upward trend.

"There have been a vast number of differences between all three seasons. The biggest difference from year 1 to year 2 was personnel. Year two was the first time we were able to recruit and get a true freshman class into the program. The biggest difference between year 2 to year 3 has been the ability to train a full roster. Having some depth at each position put some much needed pressure on each starter to perform at a higher level. The full roster allowed us to conduct great practices night in and night out, and the experience of the older players on the team put more ownership of our culture in the hands of the athletes and less dependence on the coaching staff."

The team depth is never more apparent in looking at the numbers. Last year the Saints hit just .185 as a team and relied heavily on TJ Wiechecki who finished second in the league in kills. This season Wiechecki once again is atop the leaderboard in kills, with 324, but the Saints are hitting .269 as a team, ranking third best in the league.

"We have always asked for alot of offensive production from TJ, and he's come through time and time again. But to be a more balanced and defensively strong team, we recognized we needed to run a 6-2 offense. We had a couple players, TJ and Erich Bratke selflessly give up some of their playing time in order to help the team. The offensive balance, strong attacking from our middles, and high level of play from our second setter, Jordan Pawlicki, all lead to the team's higher hitting percentage. Even with half of the playing time, and everyone expecting it, it's pretty amazing TJ was still able to produce the numbers he has."

Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz, a junior, was second on the team in kills with 205, hitting .413 and adding 72 total blocks. Both Eric Wiles and Graham Clark each topped the 170 kill mark as well while the duo of Erich Bratke and Jordan Pawlicki combined for over 1,000 assists this season.




Juniata College's entry into the CVC Tournament this season came down to the final match of the season. Finishing the regular season with a 10-15 overall record and a 5-7 record in the CVC, the Eagles return to post-season play this year after sitting out last year's playoffs on a self-imposed ban.

"It's been a long season this year for us," said Juniata Head Coach Pat Shawayrn. "The Juniata tradition we have is one we are very proud of and coming off the best season in program history at 24-5 but missing the post-season for a self-ban and losing some key individuals on that team due to graduation, transferring, and other reasons has been a tough road to recover from. After talking with the team about rebuilding that tradition, we decided we needed to stop thinking about what teams in the past have done. What we needed to focus on was starting to write this team's legacy and moving forward. Once the team started to accept that we have been a different team and a much more focused and balanced group."

After dropping their first six matches of March, the Eagles were on the outside looking in for post-season play. But with their backs against the wall the Eagles responded and have won three of their last five matches.

"The team responded better with their backs against the wall than just going out and playing. As a staff, we didn't change our tactics but preached more of a do or die situation and the team responded to that approach better than we had anticipated."

The team certainly has responded, taking #5 ranked Rutgers-Newark to a five set thriller, just the fourth time Rutgers-Newark went five sets this season, in their second to last match of the regular season and then sweeping Cairn in a must sweep situation to win a tiebreaker and get into the tournament.

"Once we found out we still had a chance we took advantage of that and pride, joy, excitement, relief, and motivation to show we deserve to be in that position all came out at once. At the beginning of the year we knew it was going to be a very difficult with the talent we have in our conference but we knew we could put ourselves in a position to get back into the conference tournament. This season hasn't gone the way we hoped but right now everyone is 0-0 and anything can happen. We feel like we are playing our best volleyball right now which is what we want going into the post-season."

The Eagles hit .235 as a team this season, fourth best in the league, and are led by junior Kyle Seely who needs just five more kills to reach the 300 mark this season. Freshman Quinn Peterson and sophomore Matt Vasinko were second and third on the team in kills while senior Chad Albert led the team with a .381 hitting percentage. Junior libero Brendon Smith ranked as one of the top defenders in the league, averaging 2.24 digs per set.

McKyla Brooks making noise as Stony Brook’s only two-sport athlete
By David Vertsberger, The Statesman
Sunday, April 3, 201


Freshman McKyla Brooks (No. 1, left) finished third on the Stony Brook Volleyball team with 2.5 kills per set. CHRISTOPHER CAMERON/THE STATESMAN

Freshman McKyla Brooks has never had a great relationship with gravity. 

This was made clear in the middle blocker’s rookie season with the Stony Brook Volleyball team. Brooks was named to the America East All-Rookie Team after leading all America East freshmen with a .268 hitting percentage.

However, Seawolves fans will not have to wait until volleyball returns to Pritchard Gymnasium in the fall to catch Brooks’s leaping prowess in action. Brooks competed in Stony Brook Track and Field’s Quad Meet on March 24, making her the only multi-sport student-athlete competing for Stony Brook.

“On the court and track, her athleticism is apparent,” Volleyball head coach Coley Pawlikoswki said. 

Brooks placed fourth out of six competitors in the Women’s Long Jump event during the Track & Field team’s outdoor season opener, calling it a “very rusty start” and admitting she was nervous before her first collegiate meet. Brooks recorded a 4.92-meter leap.

“McKyla’s been away from doing these types of jumps for about seven months, so part of the process right now is working to get her rhythm back,” assistant Track & Field coach Howard Powell said. “We’re excited to have McKyla on our team this season.”

Brooks (right) competed in her first collegiate Track and Field event, the Stony Brook Quad Meet on March 24. PHOTO COURTESY OF STONY BROOK ATHLETICS

But Brooks’s ambition to compete in both track and volleyball began back at Frontier Central High School. 

The Blasdell, New York native racked up accomplishments in both, ranking No. 2 nationally in the triple jump by MileSplit.com in her sophomore year and finishing All-State for volleyball in her final two seasons. She participated in the two sports all four years of high school, lettering in both.

“Honestly I always wanted to try out for sports, so those were the two main sports I wanted to try out for — volleyball and track,” Brooks said. “I used to do basketball, but then I ended up quitting to do track, and then I realized that I had potential in both, so I just kept going.”

Brooks received more scholarship offers for track & field, but Stony Brook was the only school that offered her the ability to continue doing both sports. 

Pawlikowski approached Track & Field head coach Andy Ronan and Powell while she was recruiting Brooks and expressed her desire to do both sports. They worked out her schedule over several conversations, eventually feeling confident enough to allow her to compete in both. 

Brooks wanted to carry over her two-sport agenda to college because she fell short of a couple of high school goals — recording a 41-foot jump in the triple jump and a 20-foot bound in the long jump. Working toward those benchmarks with practices and lifts while juggling schoolwork can be tricky, though.

“Oh my god,” Brooks said when asked about her schedule. “Very busy. It’s literally track, volleyball, school, bed. That’s all I do, every single day. I like it, I like staying busy.”

Brooks says she does not have a preference between the two sports, but there are differences in how she prepares for each, despite how much they overlap. She will compete in jump events for Stony Brook Track & Field and spends most of her time playing volleyball above the net.

“Actually, it’s really different,” Brooks said. “They’re two different jumps. For track I’m jumping broad jumps, basically. And then volleyball I’m jumping up… There’s different training for both jumps. It’s kind of hard, but I’m used to it already because I’ve been doing it forever.”

Pawlikowski says Brooks’s devotion to both track and volleyball is “beneficial” and “adds a cross-training component.” Yet multi-sport athletes have dwindled in recent years at both the college and high school levels.

“Very anecdotally, the trend is toward specialization,” John Gillis, assistant director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, said in the St. Louis Beacon in 2008.

So why are there not more multi-sport college athletes?

“Because it was too much for them,” Brooks said. “It is a lot, it’s a lot, I’m not going to lie, but I’m just trying to stay positive. I don’t want to drop one sport, I can’t.”

Brooks is the exception and plans on keeping it that way for the long haul. Her next track meet is on Friday, April 15 at The Metropolitan Championships, beginning at 2 p.m.. 

“I had a couple goals to set in high school, which I didn’t achieve,” Brooks said. “I can’t just stop here now, I have to keep going, I have to set those goals.”

Mavericks Sweep Phoenix at Hilbert
Medaille defeats Wilson (3-0)
Medaille Mens Volleyball
Friday, April 1, 201


HAMBURG, NY – The Medaille College Men's Volleyball team kicked off their final weekend of the 2016 regular season on Friday evening, facing off against Wilson College in the fourth and final NEAC Crossover weekend. The Mavs were the model of efficiency both offensively and defensively, over powering the Phoenix (3-0; 25-19, 25-19, 25-21).

On the defensive side of the net, the Mavericks put on a clinic during Friday night's match. The first set was the only set in which Wilson was able to finish with a hitting percentage over (.000), and even then the Mavs held them to just (.120).

Four Mavericks ended the evening with multiple blocks, with freshman Brad Schneider (Lockport, NY, Lockport) leading the way with (5). After all was said and done, Medaille held the Phoenix to just (.014) hitting, compared to (.329) for the Mavs.

Medaille was clicking on all cylinders offensively, hammering down (42) kills and (6) service aces as a team. They were led by sophomore Sam Bloomberg (Lake Worth, FL, Park Vista), who tied a team high with (9) kills, and finishing with an outstanding (.636) hitting percentage.

Junior Pete McKelvey (Buffalo, NY, Canisius) also had (9) kills, while Schneider led the way with (20) assists.

The win improves Medaille to (21-9) overall and (14-0) in NEAC play. The Mavs will wrap up their regular season with matches against Penn State-Altoona and Lancaster Bible at 11:00am and 3:00pm respectively. With one win Medaille can clinch first place in the NEAC and the right to host the NEAC Championship Tournament next weekend.

Lions Volleyball Kicks Off NEAC Crossover Weekend With 3-1 Win
Penn State Altoona Mens Volleyball
Friday, April 1, 201

HAMBURG, N.Y. - Penn State Altoona men's volleyball participated in the opening match of this weekend's North Eastern Athletic Conference crossover competition at Hilbert College, and the Lions earned a 3-1 victory over the host Hawks in the Hafner Recreation Center.

Penn State Altoona (16-9, 11-3 NEAC) won the first set 25-16 before Hilbert (9-16, 6-8 NEAC) bounced back to take the second set 25-23. But the Lions countered with a 25-20 win in the third and clinched the match with a 25-19 victory in the fourth.

Matt Huey (Butler, PA/Butler) led all players with 18 kills while adding 11 digs. Jacob Byers (Level Green, PA/Penn Trafford) finished with 11 kills.

Zack Graham (Munhall, PA/Steel Valley) led the team with five block assists. Justin Bannister (Willow Hill, PA/Fannett-Metal) contributed one solo block and two block assists.

Billy Smith (Upper St. Clair, PA/Upper St. Clair) had a match-high 39 set assists to go along with four digs and one solo block.

Waldemar Rivera-Berrios (Toa Alta, P.R./Samuel Clemens) led all players with a season-high 18 digs. Brian Sheddy (Shrewsbury, PA/Susquehannock) added nine digs, and Justis Lorah (Stevens, PA/Cocalico) posted eight digs.

The Lions return to action tomorrow, Saturday, April 2 for their final regular season matches of the spring. The squad continues NEAC play at Hilbert when it takes on Medaille College at 11:00 AM before finishing the day with a match against D'Youville College at 5:00 PM.

Saints drop match to No. 13 Bobcats in three close sets
Marymount Mens Volleyball
Friday, April 1, 201

NEW YORK, N.Y.—The Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball team fell to the No. 13 New York University Bobcats on Friday night, 3-0 (25-22, 26-24, 25-23), on its trip to New York for a weekend of three matches. 

In set one, the Saints took their first lead at 4-3 after the Bobcats committed two errors, and junior Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz capitalized with a kill. As the set continued, the Saints lost their lead but brought it back within one after a 3-0 run; freshman James Knight ignited the run with a kill. Marymount continued to trail but pieced together a 4-0 run after seeing kills from Ksiazkiewicz and sophomores TJ Wiechecki and Carson Caudell. The Bobcats managed to stay on top however, taking the first game, 25-22. 

Set two proved to a battle from the beginning with both teams trading points. MU jumped ahead early, 7-3, after completing a 5-2 run, forcing a timeout by NYU. Coming out of the timeout, the Bobcats committed an attack error to give the Saints a five-point advantage. The Bobcats battled their way back into the set, forcing Marymount to use a timeout with a 10-8 lead. MU lost the lead late in the set after NYU pulled ahead 19-18. Both teams continued trading points, forcing the set into extra points before the Bobcats were able to prevail, 26-24.

The Saints took a 5-2 lead early on after a 4-0 run following kills from Ksiazkiewicz and Wiechecki, before the momentum shifted in favor of the Bobcats. MU trailed through much of the set, but Knight cut the deficit to two after putting the ball down for a kill, 23-21. The Bobcats committed two errors to bring the Saints within one, 24-23. Marymount fell short after committing a service error though to fall, 25-23. 
Wiechecki paced the offense with 11 kills, while spreading the rest throughout the team with six other Saints registering kills. Sophomores Jordan Pawlicki and Erich Bratke commanded the offense posting 11 and 19 assists, respectively. On the defensive end, nine Saints dove out for at least one dig, with Bratke leading the way with four. 

The Saints will continue play in a tri-match in Annandale on Hudson, New York on Saturday, April 2. Marymount will take on The City College of New York at 1 p.m., followed by host Bard College at 3 p.m.

Juniata Stopped by #5 Rutgers Newark; Remains Alive For Playoff Spot
Juniata Mens Volleyball
Friday, April 1, 201

HUNTINGDON, Pa.- Holding on to a 2-0 lead over #5 Rutgers-Newark, the Juniata men's volleyball team nearly pulled off an upset win on Friday night at Memorial Gymnasium. The Scarlet Raiders came back to win three straight sets to defeat JC 3-2 (21-25, 22-25, 25-19, 25-22, 15-12).

The loss, however, did not extinguish the Eagles' playoff chances. With a straight set victory over Cairn tomorrow night, Juniata can clinch the final playoff spot in the Continental Volleyball Conference Tournament.

The Eagles received big performance from both Chad Albert (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley) and Kyle Seeley (Ellicott City, Md./Howard) on the night. Albert had 19 kills and hit .500 while also tallying five assisted blocks. Seeley picked up 20 kills and topped his season-best hitting percentage from Wednesday night with a .643 showing. He also picked up five assisted blocks.

Ryan Shelton (Baldwinsville, N.Y./Baldwinsville) contributed 47 assists and also played a role on defense with eight digs and five assisted blocks. Brendan Smith (Fuquay-Varina, N.C./Fuquay Varina) led the Eagles in digs with nine.

The Eagles piled up 16 total blocks, which was a season-best.

Rutgers-Newark got out to a 4-1 lead early in the first set before Juniata fought back to go ahead 6-5. The two teams played a tightly contested frame throughout. JC got a little separation from the Scarlet Raiders with a 20-16 advantage. The Eagles were able to keep their distance as they outlasted Rutgers-Newark and won the set.

Set two was also a back and forth battle early on as both teams traded points. The Scarlet Raiders led 11-8 but JC tied it up at 11-all. After Rutgers-Newark went ahead 12-11, an 8-4 Eagle run put Juniata on top 19-16. The Eagles were able to once again fend off the Scarlet Raiders and take the set.

The third set was a seesaw battle that saw JC lead 14-12. A quick 4-0 Scarlet Raider run gave the visitors a 16-14 advantage. The Eagles trailed for the remainder of the stanza as Rutgers-Newark won.

Juniata led 3-0 in the fourth frame but Rutgers-Newark wrestled the lead away. The Eagles were able to tie the set on several occasions and got to 23-22 but the Scarlet Raiders scored the last two points to knot the match at two sets apiece. Rutgers-Newark got ahead 7-3 in the final set as it went on to win the frame and match.

If the Eagles defeat Cairn 3-0 tomorrow night at Memorial Gym, Juniata would be tied with Eastern Mennonite for the fourth and final playoff berth in the CVC. The tiebreaker then goes to point differential between the two teams, which would favor JC.

Match time on Saturday is at 7 p.m. It will also be Senior Night and the team will honor seniors Albert and Shelton prior to the match.

Mavericks Victorious on Senior Day
Medaille takes down D'Youville (3-1)

Medaille Mens Volleyball
Tuesday, March 29, 201


BUFFALO, NY – The Medaille College Men's Volleyball team celebrated Senior Day on Tuesday night, host the Spartans of D'Youville College. The good times started with a pre-game ceremony honoring Pete McKelvey (Buffalo, NY, Canisius), Joe Hacherl (Tonawanda, NY, St, Joseph's CI), Jack Hagerty (Wheatfield, NY, Niagara Wheatfield), and Nate Schneider (Lockport, NY, Lockport); and continued as the Mavericks took down the Spartans (3-1; 25-17, 23-25, 25-18, 25-18).

Coming into tonight's matchup the four seniors had contributed to (72) wins; (29) AMCC victories; (27) NEAC victories, (3) AMCC titles, (1) NEAC regular season title; (1) NEAC postseason crown; and (25) straight wins over NEAC foes.

They added another to the win column thanks in part to some phenomenal defensive play. The Mavs held D'Youville to a hitting percentage of (-.143) in the first set, and (.000) in sets number two and four. The only set in which the Spartans were able to hit for a positive percentage was set number three, mustering only a (.115) hitting percentage.

There were a number of stand put performances for Medaille defensively, but it all started up front with sophomore Sam Bloomberg (Lake Worth, FL, Park Vista). Bloomberg had a team and career high (9) blocks, two of which came of the solo variety. Nate Schneider and McKelvey both had (5) blocks each, while Schneider (9) and Hacherl (8) led the Mavs in digs.

The blue and gold were just as good on the offensive side of the net, finishing with a hitting percentage of (.227) or better in three of the four sets on Tuesday. Six different Mavericks ended the match with at least four kills, as Hagerty led the way with (9). Schneider and Bloomberg each had (8), while Calvin Crosby (Pendleton, NY, Starpoint) added (4) of his own to go along with his team leading (5) service aces.

Schneider (2) and Steven Ebert (Center Moriches, NY, Center Moriches) (2) also had multiple aces on the evening, and freshman Matt Dempsey (Clarence, NY, Clarence) led the team with (21) assists as the Mavs won their (20)th match of the season. The win improves Medaille to (13-0) in NEAC play, as the Mavericks will finish out the regular season by traveling to Hilbert College for the final NEAC Crossover event of the season.

The two-day affair kicks off on Friday when Medaille faces Wilson College at 6:00pm.

Brad Schneider Named AMCC Player of the Week
Monday, March 28, 201


The freshman had (12) kills and (23) assists on Wednesday


The Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference announced their weekly award winners Monday afternoon, and Medaille's own Brad Schneider (Lockport, NY, Lockport) was named this week's Volleyball Player of the Week.

Schneider played one of the best matches in his career on Thursday night against AMCC foe Penn State-Behrend. Offensively, Schneider had (12) kills, (23) assists, and four service aces. He hit at a (.231) clip, while also sharing the team lead in assists.

He was just as impressive defensively, coming away with four digs and four blocks in the (3-1) win over the Lions.

Rainbow Warriors Men’s Volleyball Rallies Past Irvine; Clinch MPSF Tourney Berth
Hawaii Men's Volleyball
Saturday, March 26, 201

HONOLULU – The University of Hawai'i men's volleyball team clinched a postseason berth into the eight-team Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament with an improbable, come-from-behind, five-set victory over No. 14 UC Irvine in a rematch at the Stan Sheriff Center. Set scores were 23-25, 25-27, 26-24, 25-23, 15-11.

The Rainbow Warriors (14-9, 9-9 MPSF) secured a spot into the tournament by outlasting the Anteaters in five sets for the second straight night. UH did so with its best offensive output of the season, hitting a season-high .475 in a match that lasted nearly three hours.

Freshman opposite Stijn van Tilburg recorded a career-best 27 kills while senior outside hitter Sinisa Zarkovic tallied 25 kills for the second straight night. van Tilburg hit .479 while Zarkovic posted his first double-double of the season and seventh of his career with 13 digs while hitting at a .537 clip.

Outside hitter Kupono Fey chipped in with 12 kills, six digs, and four blocks. Setter Joe Worsley dished out 59 assists along with 10 digs. Brett Rosenmeier came off the bench and recorded three timely aces.

Michael Saeta led the Anteaters (8-17, 5-13) with 18 kills, hitting .359. Thomas Hodges added 16 kills (.448) while Jason Agopian recorded 12 kills (.647) and five blocks. Irvine, which hit .427 as a team, had one match point in the third set but could not close out the match, which featured two deuce sets and a combined 224 points.

UH trailed for the first half of Set 1 before van Tilburg got hot with a pair of kills sandwiching an ace to tie it at 16. The teams traded points until back-to-back kills by Zarkovic and van Tilburg gave UH the advantage at 21-20. But the Eaters answered right back with three straight points including consecutive kills by Kyle Russell and Agopian. After a UH point, Agopian's fifth kill gave UCI the 25-23 victory.

UCI jumped out to a 12-8 lead in Set 2 and led throughout until the Warriors caught them at 21 following an ace by Rosenmeier and kill by Fey. The teams traded points with the Warriors erasing two set points until Russell's eighth kill gave the Eaters the 27-25 victory.

Irvine pulled ahead 23-20 late in Set 3 after a four-point run that included a pair of blocks. But the Warriors rallied with three straight points capped by a Rosenmeier ace. UH erased one match point at 24-23 before getting set point of their own after a Frank kill and UCI hitting error. Fey ended the rally with a kill to send it Set 4.

Down 11-7 in Set 4, the Warriors used an 8-2 run which included three kills by Zarkovic for a 15-13 lead. The teams traded leads three times until another ace by Rosenmeier gave UH a 20-18 lead. The Warriors extended their lead to 22-19 after kills by van Tilburg and Zarkovic but the Eaters closed to within 23-22. An Irvine attack error gave Hawai'i set point and an Anteater service error sent the match to a fifth set.

UH jumped out to an early 7-3 in Set 5 after stringing together three straight points including a kill by Fey and block by Frank. Hawai'i led 11-7 after a Franciskovic dump and the Warriors sided-out the rest of the way, which was capped by a Worsley-Frank-Fey triple block.

UH returns to the continent for its final regular season road trip at UC Santa Barbara, April 1 and 2 before returning home to host California Baptist, April 8 and 9.

Mavericks Hold Off Lions in Four Set Nail-Biter
Medaille defeats Penn State-Behrend (3-1)
Medaille Mens Volleyball
Thursday, March 24, 201


Senior Joe Hacherl led Medaille with (11) digs against Penn State-Behrend


BUFFALO, NY – The Medaille College Men's Volleyball team played host to the Lions of Penn State-Behrend on Thursday night, for the final of two meetings between the AMCC foes. It was a toughly fought match throughout, but it was the Mavs defending their home court at the end, beating the Lions (3-1; 22-25, 26-24, 26-24, 25-21).

Medaille had a number of large leads in set number one, but each time Penn State-Behrend answered with a long run of their own as the Lions let it be known that they would not be an easy out.

Set number two started tight and continued that way throughout the game. A (4-0) spurt with kills from Nate Schneider (Lockport, NY, Lockport) and Brad Schneider (Lockport, NY, Lockport) gave Medaille a slight advantage early on. However, the Lions chipped away and used a (5-0) run of their own to take an (11-8) lead. They held on to that lead until a pair of Pete McKelvey (Buffalo, NY, Canisius) service aces sparked a (7-2) run as Medaille re-took a (20-19) lead late.

Penn State-Behrend looked to take a stronghold on the match, going up (23-22) with the serve on their side; however, a pair of kills and a huge block by sophomore Sam Bloomberg shut the door on the Lions and gave the Mavs the (26-24) win.

The Mavericks rode that momentum into set number three, sprinting out to a quick (6-1) lead. That momentum quickly eroded, as the Lions answered with a (6-1) run of their own; knotting things at (7) a piece. The back-and-forth chess match between the two sides continued throughout the third set; that was until Medaille rattled off six of the last seven points to overcome a (23-21) deficit and take the set (26-24).

With the match one set away, the Mavericks used their offensive power to put the Lions away. Two separate runs of (6-1) and (7-2) aided Medaille, as they took set number four (25-21).

Brad and Nate Schneider led Medaille offensively, combining for (32) kills while Brad also added (23) assists. Freshman Matt Dempsey (Clarence, NY, Clarence) matched that with (23) assists of his own, as the Mavs hit for a team percentage of (.289) on the night.

Senior Joe Hacherl (Tonawanda, NY, St, Joseph's CI) led the Mavericks with (11) digs; while Bloomberg was a monster in the middle, totaling (6) blocks, with senior Jack Hagerty (Wheatfield, NY, Niagara Wheatfield) and Nate Schneider not far behind with (4) each.

The win improves Medaille's record to (19-9) overall, as they will close out their home slate on Tuesday when they host D'Youville College on Senior Night. The festivities will begin in the Sullivan Center at 7:00pm.

Saints fall short in four against No. 7 Mustangs
Marymount Mens Volleyball
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

OWINGS MILLS, Md.—The Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball team took on Continental Volleyball Conference opponent, No. 7 Stevenson University on Wednesday evening. The Saints fell after a hard-fought battle in four sets, 3-1 (25-21, 27-25, 25-27, 25-19).

The Saints took an early 1-0 lead after sophomore Jordan Pawlicki set up sophomore TJ Wiechecki for the kill. Both teams got off to an early battle, trading points as the set went along. The set produced 11 ties and three lead changes before the Mustangs began pulling away. Stevenson pieced together a 3-0 run to take the 22-17 lead before Marymount was forced to take a timeout. Sophomore Connor Choate put the ball down following the timeout, cutting the deficit to two. Marymount was able to piece together a 2-0 run later on, following a kill from Wiechecki and a Mustang error, however, the run wasn't enough for the Saints, falling 25-21.

In set two, the Saints trailed 2-0 early on, but Wiechecki answered with a kill to get things started for the blue and white. After battling back-and-forth, the Saints took their first lead at 14-13. The lead resulted from a Mustang error followed by a service ace from Wiechecki and a kill from Choate. Stevenson battled back and regained the lead at 17-16 before Marymount would take its first timeout of the set. MU pieced together another 3-0 run to claim a one-point advantage over SU, 23-22. Set two went into extra points before the Mustangs prevailed 27-25.

Sophomore Graham Clark put the ball down for a kill for the first point of the set, giving the Saints a 1-0 advantage. Wiechecki completed a 3-0 run with three-straight kills to give MU a three point lead later in the set, 6-3. The momentum shifted late in the set after the Mustangs took a 21-18 lead before Marymount took a timeout. The timeout proved to be effective leading Marymount to a 3-1 run to bring the game back within one. Marymount took another timeout after trailing by two, and once again pieced together a 3-1 run following the timeout. Set three was forced into extra points before Wiechecki and Choate had back-to-back kills to go ahead 26-25. Stevenson was forced to take a timeout. The set ended after the Mustangs committed an error and the Saints finished on top 27-25.

The Saints trailed early in set four after getting behind 8-3. MU took a timeout to turn things around, following up with a 4-0 run not long after, to tie the game at 10 all. Junior Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz, Clark, and Pawlicki each added a kill during the run. SU answered with a 3-0 run of its own, before MU went on another 4-0 run to take the 14-13 advantage. Marymount lost the lead following a 2-0 run by Stevenson. Stevenson's offense proved to be too much for the Saints in the end, after it pieced together a 3-0 at the end of the set to lead 24-17. Marymount would score twice more before falling short, 25-19.

Wiechecki paced the Saints offense after notching a game-high 22 kills. Pawlicki kept the offense moving, racking up 47 assists. Sophomore Albert Johansson led the defense with a game-high 10 digs.

The men's squad will continue on the road to face No. 15 New York University, in New York, New York. The match is set to take place on Friday, April 1 at 6 p.m.

Keuka College Rallies for Victory Over Wells
Keuka Mens Volleyball
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

KEUKA PARK, N.Y. – The Keuka College Men's Volleyball team won the final three sets to defeat the Wells College Express 3-1 on Wednesday night in a North Eastern Athletic Conference matchup.

Keuka College (14-9, 9-6 NEAC) will step out of conference play on Thursday as they take on Elmira College. The Soaring Eagles are currently ranked ninth in the latest AVCA Division III Men's Coaches Poll.

Connor Hinman led the Keuka attack with 15 kills for the Green and Gold. Aaron Brill, Tom Campbell, and Connor Gail each finished with eight kills. Brill and Campbell also added six blocks apiece. Spencer Avery and Chris Corcoran split the setting duties and recorded 22 and 20 assists respectively. Cooper Lyon finished with a match-high 21 digs.

The Express led by as many as five it the opening set. Keuka was able to rattle off four straight points late, but it was not enough as Wells took the first set 25-22.

The second set was close with teams exchanging serves early on. The Green and Gold would take control late. With a 20-19 advantage, Tom Campbell had a kill, which was followed by a Brill kill and a Wells error. After a point by the Express, Tim Jackson had a kill and Aaron Brill ended it with an ace for the 25-20 victory.

Keuka took a fast 10-5 lead over Wells College in the third set. They would lead by as many as six in the set. The express made one push, a 6-2 run that narrowed the margin to three, 18-15. They would later make it a two-point game, but that would be as close as they would get. Connor Gail had a kill to close out the third set 25-22 and give Keuka a 2-1 lead in the match.

Wells held an early lead in the fourth. It would grow to 13-8, but Keuka went on a 7-1 run to take the lead from the Express. Wells answered and regained an 18-16 lead. Keuka responded with a 7-0 run to take control. The teams traded points to close it out. Keuka won the fourth set 25-20 to win the match 3-1.

Hawks Fall In Three to Duhawks
Hilbert Mens Volleyball
Monday, March 21, 2016



HAMBURG, N.Y. – The Hilbert College men's volleyball team returned to action tonight when they hosted Loras College. The Duhawks captured a 3-0 road win and improved to 10-12 while the Hawks fell to 9-14 overall.

Loras outhit Hilbert at the net earning 37 kills while their 14 blocks limited Hilbert's offensive production.

Hilbert finished in the negative hitting earning 23 kills and 19 assists.

The Duhawks were led by two players who earned double-digit points while Tyler Sieczkarek put together 8.5 points for the day.

Sieczkarek posted seven kills while Trevor Gabamonte led defensively with seven digs. Adam Heftka assisted 16 times (six digs) and Brett Kane sliced the opponents for a pair of service aces. Michael Podgorny was credited with the Hawks lone solo block, while Sieczkarek led with three block assists.

Loras, traveling from Iowa during their school's spring break, took three sets (25-17, 26-24 and 25-20). The Duhawks continue on tomorrow for a match at Penn State Behrend before they close the east-coast swing at Penn State Altoona.

Hilbert doesn't play again until next Thursday when they host D'Youville College in a March 31 7pm NEAC match.

Saints outlast Eagles in four-set thriller
Marymount Mens Volleyball
Saturday, March 19, 2016



ARLINGTON, Va.—The Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball squad notched another Continental Volleyball Conference victory on Saturday night, defeating Juniata College for the second time this season in a four-set thriller, 3-1 (21-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-18).

The Saints trailed early in set one and battled point-for-point with the Eagles until late in the set. The Eagles put together a 3-0 run to pull away from the Saints, 16-19, before the Saints called a timeout to slow down the Eagles' momentum. Coming out of the timeout, Juniata committed a service error while the Saints rallied to cut the deficit to two. However, it wasn't quite enough as Marymount fell short in set one, 25-21.

Sophomore TJ Wiechecki got things started in set two with a kill. The Eagles answered quickly and both teams continued to battle for each point. Late in the set, MU pieced together a 3-0 run to force a timeout from JC. Marymount finished the set, 25-21, after taking advantage of an Eagles' service error followed by a hitting error. 

Set three started as another point-for-point battle, registering three ties early in the set. The Eagles were able to gain a small lead at 8-5 before the Saints put together a 3-0 run. MU tied the set at 19 on a kill by sophomore Graham Clark. The Saints again tied the game at 22-22, forcing a timeout by the Eagles. The momentum shifted in favor of Marymount as it took its second lead of the game at 23-22. JC didn't back down and forced the set into extra points before MU was able to capitalize on back-to-back Eagle errors, and ending the set with an ace from sophomore Jordan Pawlicki, 26-24.

Marymount took a commanding 3-0 lead at the beginning of the set after a kill from sophomore Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz, an error by the Eagles, and an ace from sophomore Connor Choate. The Saints led by as much as eight during the set, holding the advantage to at least four throughout. Ksiazkiewicz went back to work to finish the set, 25-18, with a kill.

Ksiazkiewicz paced the Saints' offense with 11 kills followed by Wiechecki with 10. Sophomore Erich Bratke and Pawlicki commanded the court, racking up 22 and 20 assists, respectively. Choate led the Saints on defense after scooping up five digs.

Marymount will continue CVC play on the road at Stevenson University on Wednesday, March 23. First serve is set for 7 p.m.

No. 4 Ohio State Outlast No. 6 Penn State
Nittany Lions drop a five set nail biter to Ohio State in Rec Hall Saturday night
Penn State Mens Volleyball
Saturday, March 19, 2016



UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No. 6 Penn State men's volleyball (12-6, 7-1) dropped a nail biter to Ohio State (18-3, 9-1) in five sets (28-30, 25-22, 19-25, 25-21, 6-15) Saturday night at Rec Hall. 

"It was a match that was up and down," said head coach Mark Pavlik.

"It pointed out the last three weeks of of our season in one match, there were some stretches where we played some really good volleyball, and there were stretches where it got away from us. I thought tonight there were some great swings and some great defense, but now we have to put this behind us and move on to UC-Irvine."

Chris Nugent led the Nittany Lion offense with 16 kills on .111 hitting, adding a four digs and three service aces. Spencer Sauter finished second on the team tied for a season-high 13 kills hitting .188 while also collecting seven digs and three blocks. Andrew Roberts came in off the bench totaling 11 kills, one block, and one service ace to earn Mike Anderson Penn State Player of the Match honors for the first time this season. 

Setter Taylor Hammond finished the night with six digs and 47 assist and one kill. 

Tied 2-2 heading into the fifth set, Penn State kept it close matching the Buckeyes over the first six points of the set with the score tied 3-3. An attack error by Penn State followed by a kill from Miles Johnson prompeted a Penn State timout. Out of the timeout, Ohio State went on a 4-1 run prompting a second and final timeout from head coach Mark Pavlik. The Buckeyes finished out the set and clinched the game on a 6-1 run.

Penn State will return to action Monday night as they host the No. 13 UC-Irvine Anteaters in Rec Hall with a first whistle slated for 7 p.m.

D'Youville Men's Volleyball Drops Second Straight With Loss to Vassar
D'Youville Mens Volleyball
Friday, March 18, 2016



Hamburg, NY – The D'Youville men's volleyball team fell to Vassar College on Friday evening by the final score of 3-0.

D'Youville was defeated in three sets by the scores of 25-16, 25-11 and 25-21.

Sophomore Brock Tetreault (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island) led the team with 10 kills and tied Ryan Kilijanski (West Seneca, NY/West Seneca West) for the team lead in digs with four. Chris Busha (Hamburg, NY/St. Francis) led the team with 11 assists, followed by Collin McMahon (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island) with nine.

Tying for the second in kills were Matt Loos (Cheektowaga, NY/Maryvale) and Alex Ritter (Pittsburgh, PA/Our Lady of the Sacred Heart) with four each. Loos also led the team with four total blocks, with Tetreault adding three.

The men will play again next on Tuesday, March 29th at 7pm against the Medaille Mavericks.

Lockport volleyball team earns nationals bid
Lockport Union Sun & Journal
Monday, March 7, 201


Lockport Volleyball Club 15-1's


The Lockport Volleyball Club 15-Under boys team earned a nationals bid recently in Harrisburg with an overall match record of 5-1.

The squad placed fifth in the event which earned them a spot in the Boys Junior National Championships in Dallas during the first week of July. The top 36 teams in the country at each age level will compete.

In Harrisburg, the LVC beat teams from Western New York, New Jersey, Long Island and Pennsylvania en route to their strong finish. LVC members include Kyle Otminski, coach Larry Wiepert, Matt Wiepert, Jon Miller, Nico Zanelotti, Aaron Sinica, Rhees Perry, Matt Donnelly, Sean Denniston, Zach Schneider, Mike Veihdeffer, Adam Gulick, Tom Frain, coach Tom Schneider; and coach Mary Schneider. The LVC 15s team includes four Lockport boys — Denniston, Perry, Veihdeffer and Zach Schneider. LVC members Marc Bixby and Jesse Donorovich of Lockport competed on teams at the 16-U age level as well.

Saints topple No. 4 Scarlet Raiders in five-set thriller
Marymount Mens Volleyball
Friday, March 4, 2016



NEWARK, N.J. —The Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball squad defeated No. 4 Rutgers University-Newark in a Continental Volleyball Conference matchup on Friday night in a five-set thriller. The Saints prevailed over the Scarlet Raiders (18-25, 26-24, 25-20, 25-27, 15-13).

The Saints took an early 1-0 lead after a kill by sophomore Graham Clark, but quickly trailed 4-1. Sophomore TJ Wiechecki ended the Scarlet Raiders run with a kill of his own. Marymount continued to trail throughout the set, cutting the deficit to one on several occasions, but the Scarlet Raiders offense proved to be too much for the Saints in set one, as they finished on top, 25-18.

Marymount battled Rutgers until the very last point of set two. After going down 1-0, sophomore Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz answered for the Saints to tie the game at one apiece. Both teams continued trading points throughout the set forcing 10 ties and three lead changes. The Saints saw their first lead after a 3-0 run, which followed a timeout taken by Head Coach Hudson Bates. Clark started the run with a kill, while freshman Eric Wiles followed with an ace. Rutgers then committed an error of its own to give the Saints a 21-19 advantage. The Scarlet Raiders didn't go away quietly, forcing the set into extra points before the Saints prevailed 26-24. 

Set three started in favor of the Saints as they took the 1-0 lead following a kill from Wiechecki. The offense stayed hot as Marymount took a 4-1 lead before Rutgers was able to answer on a run of its own. After taking a 10-9 lead, the Saints maintained the lead throughout the rest of the set. MU led by as much as five before the set ended in its favor, 25-20, on a kill by Clark. 

In set four, the momentum shifted back-and-forth between both teams. Marymount had a slow start, trailing 4-1, before Bates called a timeout. The Saints battled back later in the set to take their first lead at 15-14. This followed a 3-0 run led by Clark, who racked up another kill, and sophomore Jordan Pawlicki who added an ace for the Saints. However, the rest of the set proved to be a tough battle, forcing 12 total ties and two lead changes before the Scarlet Raiders defeated the Saints, 27-25.

The last set came down to the wire after a hard-fought battle by both teams. The Saints trailed 2-0 early on before Ksiazkiewicz scored for the Saints. MU pieced together a 4-0 run mid-set to take a 6-4 lead. Marymount maintained its lead until falling behind late in the set 13-12. After Rutgers committed an error, Clark put up a wall to end the set with back-to-back blocks, 15-13. 

Ksiazkiewicz led the offense with 16 kills hitting an impressive .652 for the match. Clark was right behind Ksiazkiewicz, posting 14 kills of his own and racking up eight blocks, two of which were solos. Bratke led the Saints in assists with 32. On the defensive end, sophomore Albert Johansson racked up a match-high 10 digs. 

The men will continue on the road to face another CVC opponent, Cairn University, in Langhorne, Pennsylvania on Saturday, March 5. The match is set to begin at 1 p.m.

Mavericks Earn Split During Sunday Matinee
Medaille defeats Penn State-Behrend, falls to Mount St. Joseph

Medaille Mens Volleyball
Sunday, February 28, 201


Freshman Brad Schneider racked up (24) kills, (48) assists, and (14) digs on Sunday afternoon.


ERIE, PA – The Medaille Men's Volleyball team finished a three-day, two state road trip Sunday afternoon; taking on the Lions of Penn State-Behrend and (13) Mount St. Joseph College. The Mavericks fell to the number (13) team in the country (1-3; 22-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-25) before defeating the host Lions (3-1; 25-20, 18-25, 25-20, 25-23).

Medaille came into Sunday's contests coming off of a three-match, two-day trip to New Jersey to wrap up their longest weekend slate of the season. On Friday Medaille faced the number three and six teams in the country in Hoboken, before traveling to Ramapo College to take on the Roadrunners in Mahwah on Saturday morning.

By the time the Mavericks returned to action, they had traveled (838) miles to reach the first of their final two matches of the weekend against the Lions of (13) Mount St. Joseph. The Mavericks played the number (13) team in the country well in the first two sets, finishing with a hitting percentage over (.250) in each set.

Unfortunately for the Mavs, the Lions were able to outlast Medaille in each of those sets to take a (2-0) lead. The third set was the definition of a back-and-forth affair, until the Mavs were able to pull away late.

After Mount St. Joseph took an early (6-4) lead Medaille rolled off four of the next five points to take an (8-7) lead. After a Lion kill the Mavericks, led by a pair of kills from freshman Brad Schneider (Lockport, NY, Lockport), sparked a (4-0) run to take their largest lead of the set (12-8).

Mount St. Joseph battled back to tie the set at (21), but then the Mavs rattled off another (4-0) run to cut the Lions lead to (2-1). However, an impressive set offensively from Mount St. Joseph in the fourth and final set helped them edge the Mavs (3-1).

Brad Schneider had a triple-double in the defeat, earning (11) kills, (10) digs and (21) assists. Senior Jack Hagerty (Wheatfield, NY, Niagara Wheatfield) added (12) kills of his own, while fellow senior Nate Schneider (Lockport, NY, Lockport) had (12) digs.

After a brief rest, the Mavericks started their final match of the weekend against the host Penn State-Behrend Lions. Medaille looked to end the weekend on a high note, hoping to snap a four match losing skid.

It started as well as they could have hoped, taking control of the first set early. While they never put the Lions away, the Mavericks held them off each time Penn State-Behrend tried to make a run. Medaille took set number one (25-20).

After dropping set number two, the Mavs came out firing in set number three. Multiple kills from Hagerty and Brad Schneider gave Medaille a four point lead early. A (4-1) run sparked by a Sam Bloomberg (Lake Worth, FL, Park Vista) kill upped the lead to six as the Mavs cruised to a (25-20) win.

Set number four saw Medaille climb back from a quick (2-9) deficit to clinch their ninth win of the season (3-1; 25-20, 18-25, 25-20, 25-23).

Brad Schneider continued his strong play, posting a double-double against Penn State-Behrend with (13) kills and (27) assists. Nate Schneider led the Mavs with (14) kills, while Hagerty and Calvin Crosby (Pendleton, NY, Starpoint) both finished with (8) kills each.

Freshman Matt Dempsey finished the day with (30) assists as Medaille improved their record to (9-7) overall. Medaille will be back at it on Friday, March 4 when they travel to Wilson University to take part in the second of four NEAC Crossover weekends.

Saints grab two matches at Eastern Mennonite trimatch
Marymount Mens Volleyball
Saturday, February 27, 201



HARRISONBURG, Va.—The Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball squad battled the Royals of Eastern Mennonite University and the Lions of Penn State University-Altoona on Saturday afternoon. In match one, the Saints took on the Royals and won in four sets (28-26, 19-25, 25-16, 25-22). Later in the afternoon, the Saints swept the Lions in three sets (29-27, 28-26, 25-15).

Marymount vs. Eastern Mennonite

The Saints went to work early in set one to take the 3-1 lead after back-to-back kills from sophomore Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz. The momentum swung back and forth as both teams continued trading points and piecing together small runs. The set resulted in 10 ties between the teams before the Saints were able to capitalize in the end to win 28-26. The win was a result of a kill from sophomore Graham Clark followed by at attack error by the Royals and a block by Ksiazkiewicz.

Marymount trailed early in set two, falling behind 5-0 before sophomore TJ Wiechecki picked up a kill. Head Coach Hudson Bates took a timeout after trailing 10-4 early on. The squad came out of the timeout re-energized, putting together a 3-0 run. The Royals however, were able to maintain the lead and finished the set on top, 25-19. 

In set three, the Saints got off to a good start taking a 5-2 lead. The three-point advantage came after back-to-back kills from Ksiazkiewicz and sophomore Connor Choate. MU continued to dominate the set and put together several 3-0 runs to finish 25-16 over the Royals.

Set four proved to be a battle between the Saints and Royals. The Saints had a 22-18 advantage before the Royals were forced to take a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, EMU was able to get back within two before MU took its first timeout of the set. Sophomore Erich Bratke fed Ksiazkiewicz for the final point of the match, 25-22.

Wiecheki posted a match-high 18 kills to lead the Saints' offense, closely followed by Ksiazkiewicz who racked up 13. Sophomore Albert Johansson led the defense after tying for a match-high 11 digs.

Marymount vs. Penn State-Altoona 

Marymount started set one trailing 1-0 but quickly tied the set at 3-3. The battle began early as the momentum swayed back and forth reaching several ties throughout the set. The set went into extra points but the Saints pulled out the victory, 29-27, after back-to-back kills from Ksiazkiewicz and freshman Eric Wiles. 

The second set followed a similar pattern as both teams traded points with very few runs inbetween. The set came down to the wire, once again going into extra points. Clark gave the Saints the advantage, 27-26, and the Lions committed an error to end the set 28-26. 

The Saints cruised through the third set after taking a 3-0 lead. The Saints pieced together another 3-0 run later in the set to obtain a 10-point lead. Wiechecki and Caudell led the run with a kill each. Marymount ended the set and match with an ace from Wiechecki to win 25-15.

The Saints' offense was well rounded this match but Wiechecki and Ksiazkiewicz led with 13 kills apiece. Sophomore Jordan Pawlicki and Bratke split time in the setter position and racked up 20 and 21 assists, respectively. Johansson led the defense with nine digs. 

The men will continue on the road at Rutgers University-Newark on Friday, March 4. The match is set to begin at 7 p.m. 

Men's Volleyball Take Two on Opening Day of NEAC Crossover
Mavs defeat Keuka and SUNY Poly, dropping just one set
Medaille Mens Volleyball
Saturday, February 13, 201


Brad Schneider had (18) kills and (30) assists on Saturday


BUFFALO, NY – The Medaille College Men's Volleyball team hosted the first day of the NEAC Crossover weekend on Saturday, going (2-0) against conference foes Keuka and SUNY Polytechnic.

Match number one pitted the Mavericks against the Wolfpack of Keuka, as each looked for their first win in NEAC play. It was a close match throughout, as both battled hard to get off to conference play with a good start. The Mavs took a (1-0) lead; however the Wolfpack climbed back in it with a (25-23) victory in game number two.

Medaille needed extra volleyball to claim the next two sets, but claim them they did for a (3-1; 25-21, 23-25, 26-24, 27-25) win. Four Mavs hit at least (10) kills, with senior Nate Schneider (Lockport, NY, Lockport) (14) and freshman Brad Schneider (Lockport, NY, Lockport) (13) leading the way. Brad Schneider also had (23) assists, while fellow freshman Matt Dempsey (Clarence, NY, Clarence) led Medaille with (28).

Four Mavericks also had multiple blocks, with junior Calvin Crosby (Pendleton, NY, Starpoint) (3) and junior Pete McKelvey (Buffalo, NY, Canisius) (3) leading the way for Medaille. The win improved the Mavericks to (5-3) overall and (1-0) in NEAC play, as they prepared to take on the Wildcats of SUNY Poly in their last match of the day.

The Mavericks took all the Wildcats could throw at them early, and took control later on as they cruised to a (3-0; 25-23, 25-16, 25-16) victory in match number two.

The freshman Schneider had a marvelous all-around performance, finishing with (5) kills, (7) assists, and (6) blocks against the Wildcats. McKelvey and senior Jack Hagerty (Wheatfield, NY, Niagara Wheatfield) also had fantastic defensive efforts against SUNY Poly, racking up (4) blocks each en route to their fifth win in six matches. The senior Schneider had (4) service aces to improve Medaille's record to (6-3, 2-0 NEAC).

The Mavs will wrap up their hosting duties tomorrow, when they face off against the Express of Wells College. The match is scheduled for a 12:00pm start.

AVCA Division III Men's Coaches Top 15 Week #3 Poll: February 9, 2016
Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Rank School (First-Place Votes) Total Points Adjusted 2016 Record Previous Week
1 Springfield (14) 251 10-1 1
2 SUNY New Paltz (3) 239 7-2 2
3 Carthage 208 9-1 6
4 Nazareth 203 10-1 5
5 Rutgers-Newark 190 8-1 3
6 Stevens 175 7-1 7
7 UC Santa Cruz 153 9-2 4
8 NYU 106 3-4 8
9 Vassar 100 8-1 10
10 Stevenson 94 5-2 13
11 Dominican 83 5-2 12
12 Mount St. Joseph 77 6-3 11
13 Elmira 72 8-2 9
14 Hunter 26 6-2 15
15 MSOE 15 5-4 NR


Others receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots: Rivier 12; Medaille 10; Endicott 8; Wentworth 8; MIT 5

Two teams mentioned on only one ballot for a total of five combined points.

Dropped Out: Wentworth 14

Next Poll: February 16


2015 Girls’ High School All-Americans
The top performers of the 2015 fall high school season

Mike Miazga, Volleyball Magazine
Tuesday, February 2, 201


Jac'cara Walker, a 2015 First Team High School All-American


Audriana Fitzmorris 
Height: 6'6" 
Position: Middle Blocker 
Year: Senior 
School: St. James Academy (Lenexa, Kan.) 
Quick Stat: The 2015 Volleyball Girls’ High School Player of the Year had 603 kills and 249 digs in helping the Thunder win the state championship.

Jenna Gray 
Height: 6'1" 
Position: Setter 
Year: Senior 
School: St. James Academy (Lenexa, Kan.) 
Quick Stat: Gray finished the season with 778 assists, 289 kills, and 267 digs en route to being named the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year.

Morgyn Greer 
Height: 6'3" 
Position: Outside Hitter 
Year: Senior 
School: Dripping Springs (Texas) 
Quick Stat: Greer helped Dripping Springs to a 51-3 mark and the Texas Class 5A title. The 5A-6A Texas Player of the Year finished with 629 kills and 358 digs.

Allie Gregory 
Height: 5'6" 
Position: Libero 
Year: Senior 
School: Assumption (Louisville, Ken.) 
Quick Stat: An all-state selection, Gregory was the MVP of the state tournament where she helped Assumption win its record 19th state title.

Molly Haggerty 
Height: 6'1" 
Position: Outside Hitter 
Year: Senior 
School: St. Francis (Wheaton, Ill.) 
Quick Stat: Haggerty blasted home 467 kills and 200 digs for Class 4A Illinois champion St. Francis. Legendary Spartans coach Peg Kopec calls Haggerty the best player ever to come through the storied program.

Morgan Hentz 
Height: 5'9" 
Position: Outside Hitter/Libero 
Year: Senior 
School: Notre Dame Academy (Park Hills, Ky.) 
Quick Stat: Hentz finished the season with 465 kills and 475 digs and was named Miss Kentucky Volleyball.

Norene Iosia 
Height: 5'10" 
Position: Setter 
Year: Senior 
School: Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) 
Quick Stat: Iosia was at the controls for a Redondo team that won a second CIF Division I state title in a row, and she leaves the program as its all-time winningest player.

Khalia Lanier 
Height: 6'2" 
Position: Outside Hitter 
Year: Senior 
School: Xavier College Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) 
Quick Stat: Lanier registered 496 kills, 324 digs, and 28 aces for a 34-8 Xavier team.

Nicole Peterson 
Height: 6'0" 
Position: Setter/Outside Hitter 
Year: Senior 
School: Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) 
Quick stat: Peterson racked up 956 assists and 120 aces for a Crusaders team that won the Oregon Class 6A title with a 32-0 record.

Kathryn Plummer 
Height: 6'6" 
Position: Setter/Opposite 
Year: Senior 
School: Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) 
Quick Stat: Plummer finished the season with 368 kills (hitting .427), 368 assists, and 226 digs and earned the California Gatorade Player of the Year honor.

Jac’cara Walker 
Height: 5'10" 
Position: Outside Hitter 
Year: Senior 
School: P.K. Yonge (Gainesville, Fla.) 
Quick Stat: Walker hit .449 and had 399 kills and 328 digs for a Blue Wave team that went 31-1 and won its second state title in a row.

Kendall White 
Height: 5'5" 
Position: Libero 
Year: Senior 
School: Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.) 
Quick Stat: White registered 366 digs and 27 aces for a Cathedral team that won the Class 4A Indiana state championship with a 36-0 record and was named Volleyball’s 2015 Team of the Year.

Second Team

Payton Caffrey 6'0", OH, Sr., Winter Springs (Fla.)

Bailey Choy 5'9", S, Sr., Iolani School (Honolulu, Hawaii)

Tiffany Clark 5'11", L, Sr., Benet Academy (Lisle, Ill.)

M.E. Dodge 5'11", OH, Sr., East Troy (Wis.)

Kate Formico 5'8", L, Jr., Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.)

Jasmine Gross 6'3", MB, Sr., Jesuit (Portland, Ore.)

Rachael Kramer 6'8", MB, Sr., Desert Vista (Phoenix, Ariz.)

Kristin Krause 5'9", S, Sr., Parkland (Allentown, Pa.)

Raegan LeGrand 5'10", OH, Sr., Papillion La Vista South (Papillion, Neb.)

Gia Milana 6'2", OH, Sr., Romeo (Mich.)

Megan Sloan 6'1", Opp., Sr., Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Anna Zwiebel 5'11", S, Sr., Sacred Heart Academy (Louisville, Ky.)

Honorable Mention

Kayla Afoa 5'9", OH, Jr., Kamehameha (Honolulu, Hawaii)

Orie Agbaji 6'3", OH/MB, Sr., Oak Park (Kansas City, Mo.)

Hunter Atherton 5'11", S, Sr., Dublin Coffman (Dublin, Ohio)

Abigail Buckingham 6'1", OH, Sr., Churchill (San Antonio, Texas)

Caitlyn Cooper 5'10", OH, Sr., Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas)

Gabby Curry 5'8", OH/L, Sr., Buford (Ga.)

Madeleine Gates 6'3", MB, Sr., La Jolla (Calif.)

Alexis Hart 6'0", OH, Sr., Truman (Independence, Mo.)

Shardonee Hayes 6'3", MB, Sr., Columbus (Ga.)

Sydney Hilley 6'0", S/OH, Sr., Champlin Park (Champlin, Minn.)

Cheyenne Huskey 6'2", S, Sr., Columbus (Texas)

Willow Johnson 6'2", Opp., Sr., Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale, Ariz.)

Darielle King 6'3", MB, Sr. DeSoto (Texas)

Sarah Langs 6'2", MB, Sr., Lovejoy (Lucas, Texas)

Brittany Mclean 6'1", OH, Sr., Rosemount (Minn.)

Kylie Miller 5'11", S, Sr., Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.)

Regan Pittman 6'5", MB, Sr. St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.)

Julia Scoles 6'1", OH, Sr., South Iredall (Statesville, N.C.)

Savvy Simo 5'10", OH, Sr., Torrey Pines (San Diego, Calif.)

Ronika Stone 6'3", MB, Sr., Valley Christian (San Jose, Calif.)

Emily Tanski 5'10", OH, Sr., Father Gabriel Richard (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

Shannon Webb 6'1", OH, Sr., Cherokee Trail (Aurora, Colo.)

MacKenzi Welsh 6'0", S, Sr., Plainfield East (Plainfield, Ill.)

Brittany Witt 5'7", L, Sr., Marian (Omaha, Neb.)

Season Preview: Men's volleyball readies for strength of 2016 slate
Thursday, January 28, 201



ARLINGTON, Va. – A young program in the Marymount (Va.) University men's volleyball team, entering into its third campaign under Head Coach Hudson Bates, has already made significant strides after concluding the 2015 slate with the Saints' first postseason appearance in the Continental Volleyball Conference tournament. 

As a team they are hoping to earn a spot in the CVC championship this season and possibly make the program's first NCAA appearance. Bates is hopeful that with a full squad this year and the hard work his team put together in the offseason, their odds of achieving these goals are good. 

The team will return all of its players in addition to six new freshmen who look to make an instant impact on the squad. 

"We are looking for the freshman to continue pushing our sophomore class to higher competition, and a few of them are battling it out for starting positions," Bates said. "We finally have a full squad and each player can now focus on their role and position on the court." 


The Saints return sophomore opposite hitter TJ Wiechecki, who had a successful campaign as a freshman. In his first collegiate season, Wiechecki led the Saints' offense and finished second in the conference with 325 kills, earning him CVC Rookie of the Year and a Player of the Week nod. Bates was impressed with the improvement in his decision-making skills on the court and looks for Wiechecki to become more efficient with a higher hitting percentage this year. 

Also returning for the Saints is junior middle blocker Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz and sophomore middle blocker Graham Clark. The duo put up a wall in front of the net for Marymount last year, posting 189 blocks combined. Clark was also named to the All-Tournament team at the CVC tournament. 

"Due to roster size in past years, Tomasz has had to spend half of his time at the outside hitter position," Bates said. "This year, he is securely positioned as a middle blocker and will put up strong numbers in that roll." 

Sophomore outside hitter Connor Choate battled for playing time at the outside hitter position last season, and made some incredible progress to his game, according to Bates. He is now the most consistent and experienced outside hitter, as sophomore Albert Johansson moved to the libero position. 

Overall the Saints look to spread their offense out among all of their hitters. "Our hitters are focusing on one position now and we have a lot of options to go to at the net." 


The setter position is looking to be filled by sophomores Jordan Pawlicki and Erich Bratke. The duo spent the offseason continuing to build off of what played out to be very successful seasons in 2015. Bratke led the team in assists with 878 and added 181 digs, while Pawlicki, who was the squad's libero in 2015, racked up 150 assists as well as 216 digs, good enough for fourth in the conference. 

This year Bates looks for the two to be more vocal on the court as well as provide leadership and game management for the team. He is excited to see what the two have to offer after the dedication they had in the offseason. 

Defensive Specialist 

The defense will be guided by sophomore libero Johansson. As a freshman, Johansson posted 139 digs, ranking fourth on the team behind Wiechecki who had 149. 

"Johansson has great potential and should compete with the top liberos from other schools in the CVC this season," Bates said. 

Junior Chris Lionette is also looking to get time on the defensive end after diving out for over 200 digs the past two seasons. 

"Lionette has been doing a great job raising competition in practice and being a leader off the court," Bates said. 

On the defensive end, the Saints also look to utilize there outside hitters to scoop up what Johansson can't. 


The men's squad will face a competitive schedule this year while competing in the CVC, as well as strong opponents in non-conference play, matching up against eight top-15 squads in the country, some more than once, according to the preseason poll released by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

Due to weather conditions in their opening weekend of events, the Saints had to postpone their road trip consisting of three contests against New Jersey Institute of Technology, Lancaster Bible College and No. 2 Stevens Tech. With no delay though, Marymount will have its chance against the No. 2 Ducks for its now official season opener on Friday, January 29, as the Saints head to Union, New Jersey for a two-day event hosted by Kean University. In the tournament, the blue and white will open up with No. 2 Stevens and follow up with two matches on Saturday against No. 4 Nazareth College and No. 11 Kean. 

According to the preseason poll, another non-conference ranked opponent will take the court against the Saints on Friday, April 1, as MU travels to New York City for a matchup with No. 9 New York University. Through the entirety of the non-conference slate, the Saints will go toe-to-toe with three Division II opponents, hosting one of them, along with an NAIA school. 

"We look to jump right into the season with tough matchups right out of the gate," Bates said about his strength of schedule. 

In the conference, the Saints will face three teams ranked in the top 15 of the nation, twice. The AVCA ranked Juniata College (7), Rutgers University-Newark (8), and Stevenson University (14) all in the top 15. 

"We're going to have to put in hard work to compete with Stevenson and Rutgers and make the CVC Championship game," Bates said. 

Conference play will begin for the Saints on Friday, February 5 on the road at Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania. Play is set to begin at 7 p.m.

Marymount will close out conference play at Stevenson University on Wednesday, March 23, and will finish the regular season on Saturday, April 2 at Bard College. First round of the CVC will take place on Friday, April 8.

AVCA Division I-II Men's Week #2 Poll: January 18, 2016
Monday, January 18, 201


Rank School (First-Place Votes) Total Points Adjusted 2016 Record Previous Week
1 UCLA (19) 299 5-0 2
2 Long Beach State (1) 272 5-0 3
3 BYU 264 3-1 1
4 UC Irvine 222 2-2 4
5 Loyola-Chicago 213 3-2 6
6 Hawai'i 204 4-1 5
7 Ohio State 179 4-2 7
8 Stanford 162 3-1 11
9 UC Santa Barbara 131 5-2 8
10 Penn State 119 2-2 10
11 Pepperdine 113 2-1 12
12 CSUN 80 6-0 14
13 Lewis 64 3-3 9
14 Ball State 43 3-1 15
15 Southern California 13 0-4 13


Others receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots: Grand Canyon 4; California Baptist 3; George Mason 2; Mount Olive 2; Saint Francis 2

Three teams mentioned on only one ballot for a total of nine combined points.

Next Poll: January 25, 2016

All-Western New York Boys Volleyball Team
Buffalo News
Saturday, January 16, 2016


The All-WNY boys volleyball first team. Front row, left to right: Calvin Nowicki (Eden), Declan Pierce (Eden), Jason Manley (Orchard Park), Griffin Schmit (Canisius). Back row, Cam Bartus (West Seneca West), Henry Payne (Clarence), Noah Chojnacki (Williamsville North), Jay Baumann (Lancaster) and Coach of the Year Andy Murtha (Maryvale). 
James P. McCoy/ Buffalo News


OH Griffin Schmit* Canisius 11 Three-year starter is repeat All-WNY pick. Had a .506 hitting percentage with 477 kills, 57 aces.

S Calvin Nowicki Eden 12 All-WNY All-Academic ranks in top five in his class. Considering St. Francis (Pa.) and Penn State Behrend.

OH Declan Pierce Eden 12 Four-year starter. Penn State-commit leaves as Eden’s career leader in digs and kills.

OH Jason Manley Orchard Park 12 All-state team selection led Quakers to Section VI Class A title. MVP of OP Tournament.

MH Cam Bartus W.S. West 12 Penn State-commit broke school record for kills in a season (618) and had 102 aces. Had 46 kills in sectional final loss.

OH Henry Payne Clarence 11 Two-year starter. Clarence’s go-to player finished with 640 kills, 165 digs and a .506 hitting percentage.

OH Noah Chojnacki Wmsv. North 12 Three-year starter averaged 23 kills per match as senior. Helped Spartans win Sectional title. Will attend BYU.

OH Jay Baumann Lancaster 12 Four-year starter and two-time All-WNY selection finishes scholastic career with 1,350 kills. Will attend UB.

*-American Volleyball Coaches Association of New York State All-WNY Player of the Year


All WNY 2015 First Team
Year Player School Position
12 Calvin Nowicki Eden S
12 Declan Pierce Eden OH
12 Jason Manley Orchard Park OH
11 Griffin Schmit Canisius RS
12 Cam Bartus West Seneca West MH
11 Henry Payne Clarence OH
12 Noah Chojnacki Williamsville North OH
12 Jay Bauman Lancaster OH
All WNY 2015 Second Team
Year Player School Position
12 Joe Zanelotti Williamsville South OH
12 Ryan Dils Hamburg S
12 Charlie Desmond Canisius S
11 Devin Joslyn Canisius OH
11 Chas Palka Canisius OH
12 Kyle Burns Grand Island OH
12 Matt Buss Frontier OH
12 Spencer Eagleton Orchard Park S
WNY Coach of the Year: Andy Murtha (Maryvale)


ECIC I First Team Niagara Frontier First Team
Yr Player School Yr Player School
11 Alex Andrzejewski Hamburg 12 Kyle Burns Grand Island
12 Kenny Rudz Lancaster 12 Adam Dryfhout Grand Island
12 Connor Thomas Williamsville North 12 Victor Willison North Tonawanda
12 Chris Mikulec Orchard Park 11 Treston White Lockport
12 Jeremy Schatz Williamsville North 11 Dave Pachla Grand Island
11 Zach Gerken Frontier 11 Charles Lamar Niagara Falls
11 Cameron Hassen Orchard Park 11 Ed Gath North Tonawanda
12 Connor Schultz Lancaster  
ECIC I Second Team Niagara Frontier Second Team
Yr Player School Yr Player School
12 Ben Janzow Clarence 12 Brendon Sheehan Grand Island
11 Jon Gordner Hamburg 12 Pat Cramer Grand Island
12 Josh Schauer Lancaster 12 Brian Wynne Grand Island
11 Sean Duffy Orchard Park 11 Kyle Laplant Kenmore West
10 Matt Donohue Orchard Park 10 Jessie Donorovich Lockport
11 Ian Barker West Seneca West 11 Brandon Casterline North Tonawanda
9 Nick Pozzuto West Seneca West 11 Chris Pauline North Tonawanda
12 Peter Battaglia Williamsville North  
ECIC II First Team Niagara Frontier Third Team
Yr Player School Yr Player School
12 Shawn Barbalato Williamsville South 12 Nick Gioeli Grand Island
12 Evan Manna Williamsville South 12 R.J. Souter Kenmore West
10 Drew Eliott Williamsville East 12 Aaron Tucker Kenmore West
12 Kyle Wishman Lakeshore 9 Zach Schneider Lockport
11 Jake Duell Iroquois 12 Jose Melendez Niagara Falls
10 Campbell Schoenfeld Starpoint 12 Cory Stoelting Niagara Wheatfield
12 Matt Dickerson Starpoint 12 Rory Farkas North Tonawanda
12 Mike Shanahan Williamsville East  

ECIC II Second Team

All-Catholic First Team
Yr Player School Yr Player School
11 Jon Weremblewski Iroquois 12 Daniel Barry Canisius
11 Tom Brown Iroquois 12 Charles Demond Canisius
11 Eric Senior Lakeshore 11 Devin Joslyn Canisius
11 Derek Klemer Starpoint 12 Jake Kaempf St. Francis
11 Alex Weinreich Sweet Home 11 Charles Palka Canisius
11 Sam Schatmeyer Williamsville East 12 Andrew Schake Canisius
12 Sean Brown Williamsville South 11 Sean Taggart St. Francis
11 Mitchell Binda Williamsville South  
ECIC III First Team All Catholic Second Team
Yr Player School Yr Player School
12 Connor Basinski Eden 12 Charles Hart Canisius
12 Ben Wrzeynski Eden 12 Ryan Kydd Cardinal O'Hara
10 Collin Rigley Eden 11 Connor Cummings St. Francis
12 Mike Ferguson Maryvale 12 Matthew Berardi St. Joe's
10 Ervin Harrell Cheektowaga 12 Alex Scheda St. Joe's
10 Jordan Nosal Maryvale 12 Joe DiGesare St. Mary's
12 Nick Patterson Amherst 12 Alex Hokaj St. Mary's
12 Matt Van Houten Depew  
ECIC III Second Team All-Catholic Player of the Year
Yr Player School 11 Griffin Schmit Canisius
12 Tom Greco Amherst
12 Mike Hidalgo Amherst
11 Andrew Harvey Amherst
12 Ryan Skowron Cheektowaga
11 Zach Reinhardt Cheektowaga
12 Joe Scapillato Depew
12 Adam Dommer Maryvale
12 Sean McCarthy Maryvale


All-WNY: Schmit helps Canisius run the table in volleyball
By Miguel Rodriguez, Buffalo News
Saturday, January 16, 2016


Canisius’s Griffin Schmit , shown hitting against Eden, is the 2015
boys’ volleyball Player of the Year. John Hickey/Buffalo News


The only way Canisius’ boys volleyball season could have been any sweeter would have been if the Crusaders capped their 16th straight Monsignor Martin Association regular and postseason championships with a state title.

An unofficial one will have to do for Canisius since its season ends with just its league playoff.

Before crying foul, consider:

The Crusaders did the unthinkable during the 2015 season. They beat all comers for the first time in program history, a perfect season. Thirty-four up. Thirty-four down.

Canisius’ list of accomplishments during this rare season includes six in-season tournament championships, wins over perennial local powerhouses and triumphs over three of four state semifinalists, including two wins over eventual state champion McQuaid of Rochester.

“If we could participate in the New York state tournament we certainly would. But in the absence of being allowed to do that, that’s why we play the schedule that we do,” 20th-year Crusaders coach Tom Weislo said. “I can’t imagine a team in New York state that we wouldn’t have beaten this year.

“We won all six of our tournaments, all of our matches, all of the playoffs … it’s pretty cool.”

Besides beating McQuaid twice, Canisius also beat state Class A final four teams Cicero-North Syracuse of Section III and Section II’s Shenendehowa. The Crusaders also beat Rochester-area powers Fairport and Penfield, along with perennial local championship contender Eden.

One or two hiccups with this schedule would have been understandable, but to come out of it without any blemishes …

“I think it’s hard to go undefeated, especially with the type of schedule we play and also with the number of matches there’s a chance that for whatever reason you might drop one in a tournament somewhere,” Weislo said. “The fact the guys were able to raise the level of their games and keep them at a high level was pretty remarkable. We played pretty much all the best teams in New York state and a few from out of state down in Virginia. It was a pretty special season.”

Schmit Player of Year

A special season filled with special talents, including Griffin Schmit. The Canisius junior and three-year starter earned Western New York Player of the Year honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

Schmit, who is being recruited by Division I heavyweights UCLA, USC, Ohio State, BYU, Pepperdine and Princeton, finished with 477 kills and 82 blocks.

“Griffin always seems to come up with a big kill or block at important times,” Weislo said. “And as his understanding of the game and his position continues to improve, he will keep getting better and better.”

Repeat picks

Besides Schmit, a few other familiar faces dot the Coaches All-Western New York first team.

West Seneca West’s Cam Bartus was without question the Indians’ go-to guy during the season, and the Penn State commit responded by breaking his own single-season record for kills (618). The two-time All-WNY pick also led his team in blocks and digs. Bartus finished his last two seasons with a combined hitting percentage of .410 and 1,131 kills.

Fellow Penn State-commit Declan Pierce also is a repeat first team selection. The Eden senior and future college libero earned nine all-tournament selections, including one MVP, during his final three seasons with the Raiders. Eden went 74-20 during his career with the team, including a 48-0 mark in division.

Lancaster’s Jay Baumann also earns his second straight first-team selection. The senior and four-year starter earned numerous all-tournament honors during his career and was selected all-region last season after helping Lancaster win the Section VI Class A title.

First-time honorees

Besides Schmit, the only other junior on the All-WNY first team is Clarence’s Henry Payne. Considering he often faced double or triple blocks in his matches, that didn’t stop Payne from finishing with a hitting percentage over 50 percent. Payne, whose Division I suitors include Ohio State, Penn State and Pepperdine, earned all-tournament honors at Sweet Home and Orchard Park but still considers his first all-tourney selection at OP as a sophomore as his favorite memory.

Other first-time All-Western New York first team picks include seniors Calvin Nowicki of Eden, Jason Manley of Orchard Park and Noah Chojnacki of Williamsville North.

Nowicki, whose top memory was returning for the first day of practice last season after breaking his hand during baseball season, was one of the top setters in the area and has a vicious jump serve.

Jason Manley recorded 24 kills for OP in its Section VI Class A title-game victory Lancaster. He led the Legends in kills and aces, en route to an all-state team selection.

Chojnacki, a three-year starter, will take a one-year missionary trip before attending BYU. He has a 95 average and is a member of the National Honor Society. He earned all-tournament picks at Sweet Home and Grand Island.

email: mrodriguez@buffnews.com

Nowicki makes most out of move to Eden
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Hamburg Sun
Thursday, January 14, 201


Photo by Karen Gioia: Calvin Nowicki was a two-year
standout for the Eden boys volleyball team.


At this point, Calvin Nowicki has his college choices narrowed down to three — Princeton, Saint Francis University and Penn State Behrend. The volleyball programs at those schools, the former two being Division I while the latter is D-III, all are interested in bringing aboard the All-Western New York setter. 

Nowicki, a senior at Eden, made quite the name for himself in a short time on varsity for the Raiders. In his only two years playing on the Eden boys volleyball team, the smooth setter made All-WNY second team in 2014 and was a first team selection this season. 

Nowicki’s arrival at Eden in the fall of 2014, as a junior transfer from Falconer, was important to Eden volleyball.

But his move to the district also paid personal dividends. He thinks his last two seasons playing Raiders volleyball is the foremost reason he’s received the amount of attention he has from college programs. 

In the summer of 2014, Nowicki moved in with his grandparents, David and Terry Nowicki, who had just relocated Boston after they each retired. The basis of the decision was to keep busy with volleyball, in the hopes he could parlay that into impressing renowned college teams. 

You see, Falconer, where Nowicki was enrolled through sophomore year, doesn’t offer boys volleyball. So, when his club season ended each July, he wasn’t playing any organized indoor volleyball until club picked up again later in the fall, causing him to readjust for about a month at the start of every season. 

With Nowicki entering his junior year, when college recruiting often intensifies, he took advantage of a fortuitous situation. His grandparents welcomed in Nowicki, who then chose to attend Eden over Hamburg, as the Boston home sits on the border of the districts. 

And when club volleyball began last year — and this one — there wasn’t any rust. He was already in midseason, tiptop form. In turn, colleges, specifically a D-I team like Saint Francis, where Nowicki will soon make a visit and potentially receive an offer from, took notice. 

Nowicki thinks he still would have gotten decent exposure had he not went to Eden, but playing for a reputable high school team and gaining that additional two and a half months on the court has made a gargantuan difference. 

“I was in contact with both the Saint Francis and Princeton coaches during the high school season and when they actually got to see me play it was during club season,” Nowicki said. “It was good for them to see me play after a few months of being back in the game (during high school) and then playing at the high level of club season, rather than having them come watch me play when I’m still trying to get back into volleyball.”

By the time those coaches saw Nowicki setting for his team at Eden Volleyball Club, any deficiencies or rust were gone. 

“Going to Eden made a big difference in my ability to play at the Division I level,” Nowicki said.

“(Transferring) has always kind of been an option because of me playing travel volleyball in Eden,” Nowicki added. “It was really a hassle traveling from Jamestown to Eden three, four nights a week for seven years. My grandparents moved to Eden and we kind of took the opportunity.”

Some colleges also watched Nowicki play during this past high school season. They had planned to scout at some big summer club tournaments, including nationals, until he broke his hand near the end of Eden baseball’s season and missed all of that. 

Had he not had the option of transferring to Eden, had Terry and David, a retired Town of Tonawanda assistant police chief, not agreed to take in their grandson for a couple years, Nowicki’s college prospects might have had another look. 

In any event, he’s waiting to hear back from the admissions office of an Ivy League school and listing the pros and cons of playing for each interested program. Wherever he ends up, the intention is to study petroleum engineering. 

“My grandparents are both retired and had four kids,” Nowicki said. “To finally retire and not worry about working or having any kids at home, and to offer to take me as soon as they retired and moved into a new house, I’m so grateful for that. They’re such great people and it’s amazing what they’ve done for me.”

Help from the Pierces

A couple weeks ago, Nowicki was selected as Eden’s 2015 MVP at the team banquet. He and fellow senior Declan Pierce, an outside hitter and Penn State commit, had a chemistry that made the duo a pain to defend. When they were on, Nowicki said he doesn’t know if there was a better setter-hitter combination in New York State. 

Eden coach Robert Pierce, early in the fall, said Nowicki can be magical at times, with how he fluidly controls an offense and sets others up for success. That’s not to mention all of the extra time he spends training and perfecting his craft, often with Declan Pierce.

The two have been on the same Eden Volleyball Club squad since they were 9 years old, and that was on a 12U team. In the summer, they enter doubles beach tournaments together. 

“For the last eight years we’ve been playing together nonstop, year round,” Nowicki said.

Nowicki actually got his start in volleyball on the beach. He didn’t play on an indoor court until he was on that 12U team as a 9-year-old. He was a natural fit to the indoor game. 

Nowicki’s father introduced him to the sport, and he began to religiously play on the beach at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pa. His physical skills, evidently, transferred quite well to indoor volleyball.

It was the intangible traits, like communicating with more than just one other teammate and on-court leadership, that Nowicki felt he needed to work on most to become a great indoor player. According to the back-and-forth he’s had with college coaches, he’s become proficient in those areas. 

“Most of the college coaches I’ve talked to have been very fond of my volleyball experience and volleyball IQ,” Nowicki said. “That I have the ability to take a group of guys and put them together to create an actual team, rather than a bunch of different guys playing their own game on the court. When you put the skill of all the guys together, you might not have the most talented players, but you have a good team.”

Robert Pierce has coached Nowicki every year he’s been part of organized volleyball. Because of that, and the fact that he was the first to express the idea of transferring to Eden, Nowicki said Robert Pierce has had, perhaps, the most positive impact on the progression and direction of his volleyball career. 

The coach was there when it started for Nowicki, and when things got more serious, which aligned with his move to Eden. 

“He influenced me to come to Eden and he’s made a huge impact on my life as a coach that most people don’t have because most people don’t have the same coach for nine years,” Nowicki said. “He’s a great guy and he is a phenomenal coach and knows everything there is to know about volleyball. I probably wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today without him.

“Even if it was just a joke at first to toy around with, because I was so young, he was definitely the first person to say, ‘Hey, come to Eden. It would be great for you to have this opportunity.’”

Closer to the action

While at Falconer, Nowicki tried to play basketball and baseball, but club volleyball interfered too much. However, he was on Eden’s baseball team that made the Section VI B-1 finals in the spring because it was no longer a lengthy trip to volleyball practices, no longer a chore to get there. 

Nowicki also appreciates the expanded academic opportunities he’s had at Eden. A little bigger than Falconer, Eden offers classes Nowicki didn’t have access to before. 

And he’s taken advantage. In June, the senior said he’ll graduate anywhere from No. 4 to 7 in his class. 

The assimilation has been rather easy for Nowicki. 

The class sizes at Eden are not drastically larger than they were at Falconer, and there’s more academic and athletic challenges for him. And before even enrolling, Nowicki had Eden friends from his involvement with Eden Volleyball Club, particularly his good buddy Declan Pierce. 

There are similarities between Falconer and Eden, Nowicki said, but it’s those slight changes that have made all the difference. 

“It’s a small town and I grew up there,” Nowicki said of Falconer. His parents still reside in that area and he plans to return there once the club volleyball season ends in the summer. “That’s always going to be important to me.”

After the summer, Nowicki is still undecided where he’ll live. Mostly because he has several options. 

“If I never moved, I would have never gotten the exposure I did,” Nowicki said, “and be talking to the coaches that I am now.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

NCAA Men's Season Preview 2016
VBM's pick of the top teams to watch this men's volleyball season

Megan Kaplon, Volleyball Magazine
Wednesday, January 6, 201


BYU will be strong this season if they can fill the whole left by graduated libero Jaylen Reyes.

The NCAA Division I men’s volleyball season kicks off in earnest this weekend. Before you dive in, read our season preview, which highlights the teams we think will come up big this year. Please note, the teams are listed alphabetically, not ordered in any kind of ranking.

Ball State
2015 Record: 13-16 
2015 Postseason: MIVA Tournament, Quarterfinals 
Head Coach: Joel Walton 
Key Returners: Edgardo Cartagena (RS Jr., OH, 6-5), Hiago Garchet (S, Sr., 6-6), Marcin Niemczewski (Sr., OH, 6-5), Mike Scannell (Jr., OH, 6-3), Brendan Surane (Jr., OH, 6-6), Matt Walsh (So., MB, 6-11) 
Key Losses: Matt Sutherland (OH, 6-3), David Ryan Vander Meer (L, 5-9), Shane Witmer (OH, 6-3) 
Newcomers: Jeff Hill (RS Fr., L, 6-0), Jake Romano (Fr., S, 6-6), Parker Swartz (Fr., MB, 6-5), Lemuel Turner (Fr., MB, 6-6), Adam Wessel (Fr., L, 5-11)

Preseason All-MIVA selection Matt Walsh will lead the Cardinal in the 2016 season. The sophomore middle blocker ranked third in the nation in blocks last year and boasted the second-best hitting percentage on his team. The Cardinal will face tough challenges from MIVA opponents Lewis, Loyola, and Ohio State, but should be able to string together a strong season with a good group of returning upperclassmen along with five players looking to make their college debuts.

2015 Record: 17-10 
2015 Postseason: MPSF Quarterfinals 
Head Coach: Shawn Olmstead 
Key Returners: Tim Dobbert (RS So., Opp., 6-10), Michael Hatch (Sr., MB, 6-8), Joseph Grosh (Jr., MB, 6-7), Price Jarman (So., MB, 6-8), Jake Langlois (Jr., OH, 6-10), Kiril Meretev (Jr., OH, 6-8), Ben Patch (So., Opp., 6-8), Brendan Sander (So., OH, 6-4), Robbie Sutton (Sr., S, 6-6), Matt Underwood (Sr., Opp., 6-6) 
Key Losses: Phil Fuchs (OH, 6-4), Jaylen Reyes (L, 6-1), Josue Rivera (OH, 6-3) 
Newcomers: Chandler Gibb (RS Fr., L, 6-1), Andrew Lincoln (Fr., S, 6-7), Christian Rupert (Fr., MB, 6-7), Tanner Skabelund (Fr., OH, 6-9)

With a new coach—former BYU women’s coach Shawn Olmstead, who took over the men’s team after the 2015 season for Chris McGown—and the return of the 2013 Freshman of the Year Ben Patch adding to a deep and experienced roster, the Cougars could be back to top form this year. In 2015, they failed to make the NCAA tournament after a national runner-up finish in 2013 and a national semifinalist performance in 2014. The 6-foot-10 Jake Langlois led the Cougars in 2015 with 246 kills and will be a big part of the offensive effort again in 2016. The second and third biggest offensive contributors from the 2015 Cougar squad, Matt Underwood (212 kills) and Brendan Sander (163 kills), also return. Patch and Langlois gained valuable international experience over the summer playing for Team USA at the Pan Am Games in Toronto, but Tim Dobbert, reappearing as a sophomore after being granted a medical redshirt for the 2015 season, will challenge for playing time on the right pin. The Cougars’ weak point is likely to be passing, and senior Evan Chang, sophomore Erik Sikes, or redshirt freshman Chandler Gibb will have to step up to fill the hole left by libero Jaylen Reyes’ graduation. BYU opens the season on January 8 with a tough challenge as it hosts reigning national champs Loyola.

George Mason
2015 Record: 15-13 
2015 Postseason: MIVA Runner-up 
Head Coach: Jay Hosack 
Key Returners: Christian Malias (Jr., L/OH, 6-2), Brian Negron (So., S, 6-7), Radoslav Popov (Jr., OH, 6-2), Paco Velez (RS Jr., Opp., 6-3), Jack Wilson (RS Jr., OH, 6-6) 
Key Losses: Hunter Stevens (MB, 6-8) 
Newcomers: Kyle Barnes (Fr., OH, 6-4), Seth Blevins (Fr., L/OH, 6-0), Will Calaman (Fr., L, 5-9), Justin Coleman (Fr., S, 6-3), Aaron Cymbor (Fr., OH, 6-3), Bryant Ekstein (Fr., MB, 6-6), Garrett Kollar (RS Fr., MB 6-6), Langston Payne (RS Fr., Opp., 6-5)

With new head coach Jay Hosack at the helm after six seasons as an assistant at Penn State, look for George Mason to make a statement this year. The Patriots lost only one starter from the 2015 MIVA runner-up squad, in addition to welcoming six true freshmen (five of whom are in-state recruits) and benefitting from two other players entering the lineup conversation after redshirting last year. To kick off the season, the Patriots will host UCLA and then travel to Provo, Utah, to play UC Irvine and BYU. Juniors Radoslav Popov and Jack Wilson will lead the offense again, with Paco Velez, the top server in the EIVA last year, returning to terrorize opponents from behind the service line. Redshirt freshman Garrett Kollar or true freshman Bryant Ekstein will challenge upperclassmen Dom Edgley and Ryan Rosenmeier to replace the graduated Hunter Stevens at the middle blocker position.

2015 Record: 24-7 
2015 Postseason: National Play-In Match 
Head Coach: Charlie Wade 
Key Returners: Kupono Fey (Jr., OH, 6-5), Jennings Franciskovic (Jr., S, 6-5), Kolby Kanetake (Sr., L, 5-8), Sinisa Zarkovic (Sr., OH, 6-4), 
Key Losses: Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7), Scott Hartley (OH, 6-5), Davis Holt (MB, 6-9), Brook Sedore (Opp., 6-5) 
Newcomers: James Anastassiades (Fr., OH, 6-4), Colton Cowell (Fr., OH, 6-1), Steven Duhoux (Jr., S, 6-4), Nainoa Frank (Fr., MB, 6-5), Patrick Gasman (Fr., MB, 6-8), Mamane Namahoe (RS Fr., L, 6-0), Luke Owens (RS Fr., MB, 6-7), Brandon Rattray (Fr., OH, 6-4), Jasper Rhodes (Fr., OH/Opp., 6-5), Brett Rosenmeier (Fr., OH, 6-5), Dalton Solbrig (Fr., MB, 6-6), Stijn Van Tilburg (Fr., OH/Opp., 6-8), Joe Worsley (Fr., S, 6-0) 

With nine incoming freshmen and only three returning starters from the 2015 Hawaii squad that went to the NCAA tournament play-in match, this will be a transition year for Hawaii. However, the three returners include a couple of AVCA Honorable Mention All-Americans—Sinisa Zarkovic and Jennings Franciskovic—as well as outside hitter Kupono Fey, who alongside Franciskovic competed for the U21 national team this summer. If they can help head coach Charlie Wade harness the power of the large and talented group of freshmen, transfer Steven Duhoux and three redshirt freshmen, Hawaii could maintain some momentum from its successful 2015 season.

2015 Record: 27-4 
2015 Postseason: National Runner-Up 
Head Coach: Dan Friend 
Key Returners: Scott Fifer (Sr., S, 6-3), Jacob Schmiegelt (RS Jr., MB, 6-6), Bobby Walsh (Sr., MB, 6-9) 
Key Losses: Eric Fitterer (Opp., 6-9), Greg Petty (OH, 6-6), Geoff Powell (OH, 6-4), Lucas Yanez (L, 5-10) 
Newcomers: Ryan Coenen (Fr., OH, 6-9), Kai Cromwell (Fr., L, 6-0), Evan Gebert (Fr., OH, 6-3), Dalen Instenes (Fr., OH, 6-5), Jacob Kerschner (Fr., S, 6-4), Danny Maurer (So., MB, 6-8), Julian Moses (RS Fr., OH, 6-4), Mitch Perinar (RS Fr., Opp., 6-6), Giovanni Llinas Rosa (RS Jr., OH, 6-7), Michael Simmons (RS Fr., OH, 6-4), Jake Walenga (RS Fr., L, 6-0), Matt Yoshimoto (Fr., S, 6-5)

Lewis lost its top three offensive producers—Greg Petty, Geoff Powell, and Eric Fitterer—to graduation last spring, along with libero Lucas Yanez. However, with 22 men on the roster, Coach Friend will not be without options to replace these key players. Four redshirt freshmen will make their college debuts after sitting out last season, and the Flyers also bring in six true freshman and two transfers. The three returning starters from the national runner-up squad will carry a heavy burden, but as they’ve proven many times before, it’s never a good idea to count out the Flyers.

Long Beach State
2015 Record: 15-13 
2015 Postseason: MPSF Tournament, First Round 
Head Coach: Alan Knipe 
Key Returners: Matt Butler (Jr., S, 6-0), Dan Glamack (Sr., OH, 6-6), Taylor Gregory (Sr., MB, 6-7), Cody Martin (Sr., OH/Opp., 6-1), John La Rusch (Sr., Opp., 6-6), Andrew Sato (RS Jr., L, 5-10), Curtis Stallings (Jr., S, 6-5), Bryce Yould (Jr., MB, 6-4) 
Key Losses: Ryan Windisch (L, 6-0) 
Newcomers: Davis Cannon (RS So., Opp., 6-7), T.J. DeFalco (Fr., OH, 6-4), Kyle Ensing (Fr., OH, 6-7), Amir Lugo-Rodriguez (RS Jr., MB, 6-7), Kysen Olsen (Fr., Opp., 6-4), Josh Tuangia (Fr., S, 6-3), Jeff Utupo (So., OH, 6-4)

This will be an interesting year for Long Beach State. The 2015 season was certainly not one of the 49ers best, but standout libero Andrew Sato returns for 2016 after taking a redshirt year, and four freshmen—including the nation’s top recruit T.J. DeFalco, who spent the summer training with the national team—will join the roster. In an exhibition match on November 6, LBSU swept 2015 national runner-up Lewis by the impressive scores of 25-8, 25-15, and 26-24, and DeFalco and his fellow freshmen Kyle Ensing and Josh Tuaniga made significant contributions to the effort, all of which bodes well for the 49ers this season—and for a few seasons to come.

Loyola Chicago
2015 Record: 28-2 
2015 Postseason: National Champion 
Head Coach: Mark Hulse 
Key Returners: Peter Hutz (Sr., S, 6-4), Jeff Jendryk (So., MB, 6-10), Owen McAndrews (RS Jr., MB, 6-5), Trevor Novotny (Sr., OH, 6-0), Nicholas Olson (Sr., MB, 6-10), Ben Plaisted (So., Opp., 6-5), Jake Selsky (So., L, 5-11) 
Key Losses: Cody Caldwell (OH, 6-6), Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6) 
Newcomers: Avery Aylsworth (Fr., L, 6-0), Baron Hahn (Fr., MB, 6-8), Dane Leclair (Fr., S, 6-4), Collin Mahan (Fr., OH, 6-5), Markus Melbardis (Fr., OH, 6-4), Cole Murray (Jr., OH, 6-4), Paul Narup (Fr., MB, 6-7), Will Tischler (Fr., OH, 6-7)

The reigning 2014 and 2015 national champion Loyola Ramblers enter the 2016 season facing a couple of big challenges: fill the gaping holes left on the outside by graduating senior Cody Caldwell and the 2015 AVCA National Player of the Year Thomas Jaeschke, who decided to forgo his senior season to turn pro, and get used to seeing a different face at the head of the bench. Former assistant coach Mark Hulse took over the program when Shane Davis departed in late December for Northwestern women’s team. Three of the Ramblers' seven incoming freshman are outsides and could step up to fill one or both of the vacant spots, with 6-foot-7 Will Tischler and Collin Mahan the likely front-runners. Trevor Novotny, the undersized senior outside hitter from Wisconsin who has gotten sporadic playing time throughout his Loyola career, could also finally have a chance to shine. The players who earn the starting spots will also have to have rock-solid serve receive since Caldwell and Jaeschke, along with libero Jake Selsky, made up the core of LUC’s reception. The Ramblers will rely heavily on the leadership of Selsky and senior setter Peter Hutz, and sophomore middle Jeff Jendryk will come up big for the Ramblers again.

Ohio State
2015 Record: 22-9 
2015 Postseason: MIVA Semifinals 
Head Coach: Pete Hanson 
Key Returners: Christy Blough (Jr., S, 6-5), Gabriel Domecus (Jr., OH, 6-3), Driss Guessous (RS Jr., MB, 6-8), Miles Johnson (Jr., OH, 6-6), Nicolas Szerszen (So., OH, 6-4) 
Key Losses: Michael Henchy (OH, 6-7), Shawn Herron (MB, 6-9) 
Newcomers: Will Eichel (Fr., S, 6-5), Blake Leeson (RS Fr., Opp., 6-7), Kevin Sowski (Fr., MB, 6-7), Darcy Taig (Fr., OH, 6-6), Sanil Thomas (Fr., L/S, 6-0), Zach Yerington (Fr., MB, 6-5)

Led by head coach Pete Hanson, who was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame during the organization’s 2015 Convention in Omaha, the Buckeyes have the makings of a team that could challenge the rebuilding Lewis and Loyola for the MIVA title. Despite suffering two big losses in kills leader Michael Henchy and No. 1 blocker Shawn Herron, the Buckeyes have returners Christy Blough, Gabriel Domecus, and Nicolas Szerszen (who was the 2015 MIVA Freshman of the Year and ranked second on the team in total kills behind Henchy last season). Ace-leader Miles Johnson anchors the team that includes rookie and Fab 50 selection Will Eichel, who will challenge setter Blough for playing time.

Penn State
2015 Record: 21-10 
2015 Postseason: National Semifinals 
Head Coach: Mark Pavlik 
Key Returners: Matt Callaway (RS Jr., MB/Opp., 6-7), Taylor Hammond (RS Sr., S, 6-4), Chris Nugent (Jr., OH, 6-4), Jalen Penrose (RS So., OH, 6-8), Matt Seifert (RS Sr., MB, 6-9) 
Key Losses: Connor Curry (L, 6-3), Nick Goodell (Opp., 6-9), Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9) 
Newcomers: Luke Braswell (Fr., S, 6-4), Royce Clemens (RS Fr., L, 6-1), Jason Donorovich (Fr., OH, 6-9), Kevin Gear (RS Fr., MB, 6-7), Matthew McLaren (RS Fr., OH, 6-4), Frank Melvin (Fr., OH, 6-5), Calvin Mende (Fr., Opp., 6-11), Lee Smith (RS Fr., OH, 6-6) 

The Nittany Lions only lose three players from their 2014 national semifinalist roster, but the losses include their two biggest kill generators, Aaron Russell and Nick Goodell, and four-year starting libero Connor Curry. However, redshirt sophomore Jalen Penrose, who started seven matches for the Lions in 2014 and put away 128 kills and 13 aces, gained some international experience playing for Team USA at the World University Games over the summer and could perhaps help fill the hole left by Goodell’s graduation. In addition, all four incoming PSU freshmen—including Pennsylvania natives Luke Braswell and Frank Melvin—made the 2015 Volleyball magazine Fab 50 list, and they, along with the four athletes who chose to redshirt last year, could also enter the playing time conversation. Chris Nugent, who ranked third on the team with 221 kills last year, will shoulder a large portion of the offensive load, but he should be up to the challenge.

2015 Record: 10-18 
2015 Postseason: N/A 
Head Coach: John Kosty 
Key Returners: Kyle Dagostino (So., S/L, 5-9), Evan Enriques (So., L, 6-2), Madison Hayden (Sr., OH, 6-3), Conrad Kaminski (Sr., MB, 6-8), James Shaw (Sr., S, 6-8), Gabriel Vega (RS Jr., OH, 6-7) 
Key Losses: Grant Delgado (L, 5-9), Spencer Haly (MB, 6-7), Daniel Tublin (OH, 6-8) 
Newcomers: Russell Dervay (Fr., S, 6-1), Jordan Ewert (Fr., OH, 6-4), Matt Klassen (Fr., OH/Opp., 6-6), Chris Moore (Fr., MB, 6-5), Ryan Smith (Fr., OH, 6-6)

Last year, Stanford, missing setter James Shaw for half of the season, suffered at the hands of its MPSF opponents and failed to make the postseason. In 2016, the 6-8 All-American Shaw returns to the starting lineup, and kills leader Madison Hayden and blocking leader Conrad Kaminski are back for their senior seasons, hoping to help the Cardinal climb back to national prominence. Coach Kosty also brought in a solid recruiting class, including Jordan Ewert, one of the top five recruits in Volleyball’s 2015 Boys’ Fab 50 list. The Cardinal will be tested early with road matches at Ball State, IPFW, and BYU.

UC Irvine
2015 Record: 28-5 
2015 Postseason: National Semifinals 
Head Coach: David Kniffin 
Key Returners: Jason Agopian (Sr., MB, 6-7), Andrew Benz (Jr., MB, 6-5), Tamir Hershko (Jr., Opp., 6-6), Kyle Russell (Sr., OH, 6-9), Michael Saeta (Jr., Opp., 6-5) 
Key Losses: Michael Brinkley (L, 5-10), Zack La Cavera (Opp., 6-4), Roberto Frazzoni (S, 6-2), Travis Woloson (OH, 6-4) 
Newcomers: Karl Apfelbach (RS Fr., Opp., 6-8), Matthew August (Fr., MB, 6-4), Dante Chakravorti (Fr., S, 6-3), Sando Feng (RS Fr., MB/Opp., 6-7), Grant Friedman (Fr., OH, 6-5), David Parker (RS Fr., OH, 6-1), Matthew Younggren (Fr., MB/Opp., 6-9), Logan Zotovich (RS Fr., S, 6-2)

Returning big hitters Tamir Hershko, Kyle Russell, and Jason Agopian will make the difference for the Anteaters this year. Hershko is the only Volleyball magazine First Team All-American or AVCA First Team All-American to return to NCAA competition this year, and the Israeli National Team player will likely have another banner year. The loss of First Team All-Americans Zack La Cavera and Michael Brinkley stings, as does the graduation of setter Roberto Frazzoni. Redshirt freshman Logan Zotovich and true freshman Dante Chakravorti are the only setters listed on the roster.

2015 Record: 13-14 
2015 Postseason: MPSF Tournament, Quarterfinals 
Head Coach: John Speraw 
Key Returners: Jake Arnitz (So., OH, 6-7), Jackson Bantle (Jr., L, 6-1), Michael Fisher (Jr., OH, 6-5), J.T. Hatch (So., OH, 6-1), Christian Hessenauer (So., Opp., 6-5), Eric Matheis (So., S, 6-2), Hagen Smith (Jr., S, 6-0), Mitch Stahl (Jr., MB, 6-7), 
Key Losses: Trent Kersten (MB, 6-9) 
Newcomers: Dominic Brousard (Fr., OH, 6-1), Davis Gillett (Fr., L, 5-9), Jonah Kay (Fr., MB, 6-5), Micah Ma’a (Fr., S/Opp., 6-3), Dylan Missry (Fr., OH, 6-4), Spencer Sachs (Fr., L, 5-11)

Ranked fifth in the AVCA’s Preseason Poll, UCLA hopes to take advantage of a year when they lost just one starter. Last year’s team points leader JT Hatch and fellow sophomore Jake Arntiz return to produce from the pins, with Christian Hessenauer and Mitch Stahl joining the offensive effort. Freshman setter and opposite Micah Ma’a has already proved his worth in the fall season and in the Bruins’ exhibition match versus the University of British Columbia, running a 6-2 with Hagen Smith. Another freshman, Davis Gillet, could challenge junior Jackson Bantle for the libero role. With no seniors on the roster, other players will need to step up and fill leadership roles, but with national team head coach John Speraw at the helm, UCLA could be a legitimate threat this season.

UC Santa Barbara
2015 Record: 17-10 
2015 Postseason: MPSF Tournament, First Round 
Head Coach: Rick McLaughlin 
Key Returners: Hayden Boehle (So., L, 6-1), Bobby Curtis (RS So., Opp., 6-5), Jacob Delson (RS Jr., OH, 6-5), Ryan Hardy (RS Sr., MB, 6-7), Austin Kingi (RS Sr., OH, 6-4), Jonah Seif (Sr., S, 6-8) 
Key Losses: Kevin Donohue (OH, 6-3), Weston Nielson (OH, 6-6), Jake Staahl (MB, 6-6) 
Newcomers: Corey Chavers (Fr., OH, 6-6), Henri Cherry (RS Fr., MB, 6-6), Connor Drake (RS Fr., MB, 6-8), Kevin Fults (Fr., Opp., 6-3), Jackson Hollister (RS Fr., Opp., 6-6), Brandon Hopper (Fr., MB, 6-7), Owen Karlenzig (Fr., OH, 6-5), Jake Lorscheider (Fr., OH)

UCSB is poised to make waves this year, and its four-set defeat of defending national champ Loyola in the first weekend of the season proves the Gauchos are ready to battle through a tough MPSF schedule. Second team All-American setter Jonah Seif will have to find a new go-to hitter after the graduation of Kevin Donohue, but he has several good options in Jacob Delson, Austin Kingi, Connor Drake, and Matt Marsh. Middle Ryan Hardy will have to help make up for the departure of Jake Staahl, who led the team with 113 blocks last year (one more than Hardy’s 112). Libero Hayden Boehle returns to anchor the defense, while five true freshmen and three redshirt freshmen will enter the battle for playing time.

AVCA Division III Men's Coaches Top 15 Preseason Poll: January 6, 2016
Monday, January
, 2016


Rank School (First-Place Votes) Total Points Adjusted 2015 Record 2015 Final Rank 
1 Springfield (8) 242 25-7 2
2 Stevens (6) 235 31-4 1
3 SUNY New Paltz (2)  227 27-6 3
4 Nazareth (1) 206 28-7 T-4
5 UC Santa Cruz 164 24-6 T-4
6 Carthage  141 23-6 7
7 Juniata  138 24-5 8
8 Rutgers-Newark  125 22-10 12
9 NYU 119 17-11 9
10 Baruch 73 25-10 10
11 Kean  71 31-6 6
12 Elmira  67 20-14 11
13 Dominican  61 15-11 15
14 Stevenson  46 19-14 NR
15 Mount St. Joseph  23 19-9 13


Others receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots: MIT 21; MSOE 21; Wentworth 19; Lasell 15; Endicott 3; Rivier 3;

5 teams mentioned on only one ballot for a total of 20 combined points.

Next Poll: January 26