Season Preview: Every NCAA men’s volleyball team in a sentence or two

All the preseason talk and hype surrounding a team can be usually summed up in one or two sentences.

With the NCAA men’s volleyball season starting this weekend, check out the quick-hit breakdown of every team in the nation entering the 2016 season.


MPSF PREVIEW
BYU — It was considered a rebuilding year for the Cougars last season and they still were one of the top teams in the country. The expectations are greater as BYU now adds All-American opposite Ben Patch back to its roster.

UC Irvine — Replacing a three-time All-American libero and an All-American opposite is not easy. Coach David Kniffin, though, has proved to be a master at recruiting and the Anteaters are legitimate NCAA title contenders.

UCLA — The Bruins showed last year they had a young roster capable of winning a NCAA championship in 2016-18. Expect UCLA to make a deep postseason run with its sophomore pin-hitters and a freshman setter.

Long Beach State — The TJ DeFalco era is here for the 49ers. Lost in the DeFalco hype is Long Beach State also has several other possible All-Americans and Freshmen All-Americans on its roster.

UC Santa Barbara — Jonah Seif will have a chance this season to show why he is considered one of the top three setters in the nation. The Gauchos will need to him to play at that elite level as they inserts several new starting outside attackers.

Hawai’i — No one is overlooking Hawai’i this year. That’s because of several reasons, including Preseason All-American outside attacker Sinisa Zarkovic and Preseason All-American libero Kolby Kanetake.

Pepperdine — After years of being on the NCAA Tournament at-large bid bubble, Pepperdine will going through a rebuilding season. This year may be a slight step back but the future is promising.

Stanford — All-American setter James Shaw returns to the starting lineup after missing most of last year with an injury. That is reason enough for the Cardinal to be optimistic about the 2016 season.

USC — The Trojans will have a new setter as they replace two-time Lloy Ball Award winner Micah Christenson. While they loss one big All-American, middle attacker Andy Benesh is capable of having an All-American caliber season.

CSUN — The Matadors have made the postseason once since reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2010. For that streak to end this season, CSUN will need to pull off some upsets.

Cal Baptist — With so many starters returning there is a reason for Cal Baptist fans to be optimistic. A postseason berth this year may be difficult but don’t be surprised if the Lancers surprise a few people this year.

UC San Diego — Kevin Ring remains one of the top coaches in college men’s volleyball. This is the year the Tritons end the conference losing streak and knock off some MPSF opponents.


MIVA PREVIEW
Loyola — The chances of the Ramblers pulling off the three-peat looked a lot better in May before All-American outside attacker Thomas Jaeschke turned pro early. While their chances have diminished, this team will remain very much in title contention throughout the season.

Ohio State — The Buckeyes are ready to make their first deep postseason run since 2012. In addition, outside attacker Nicolas Szerszen and setter Christy Blough are both primed to have a breakout seasons in 2016.

Lewis — Lewis graduated one of its best senior classes in program history. Good thing the Flyers have a deep roster will several new starters ready to emerge.

Ball State — No one knows more than coach Joel Walton it has been 14 long years since Ball State reached the NCAA Tournament. With its recent recruiting classes, though, Ball State may be back in the hunt for a MIVA championship.

Grand Canyon — The Antelopes had one of the most bizarre head coaching searches in college men’s volleyball history. The off-season is final over and new coach Matt Werle takes over an under-rated Antelopes roster.

IPFW — All-conference opposite Andy Sellan coming back healthy from his season-ending injury he suffered last year will be the most important key to the Mastodons’ success.

McKendree — McKendree has made steady improvement in the program’s first two years. Expect that trend to continue as the Bearcats attempt to earn their first postseason berth this year.

Lindenwood — Outside attackers Jake Duckwoth didn’t receive a whole lot of preseason hype but could have a breakthrough season as Lindenwood attempts to return to the MIVA Tournament.

Quincy — Jack Gamache is the best opposite in the nation no one knows about. With him on the court, Quincy can pull off a couple conference upsets this season.

EIVA PREVIEW
Penn State — Finally, Penn State does not have to travel across the country multiple times in a season to play top 10 nationally ranked teams. That home court advantage is even more critical for the Nittany Lions as their starting lineup will be comprised primarily of first-year starters.

George Mason — The Patriots seem to be the dark horse preseason pick to reach the NCAA Tournament. They will be tested in the first few weeks of the season with a daunting non-conference schedule.

Princeton — Coach Sam Shweisky has turned Princeton into a program that now every year expects to reach the four-team EIVA Tournament. With two returning all-conference starters, the Tigers should once again be back in the postseason.

NJIT — Jabarry Goodridge may be the best outside attacker in the nation you don’t know about. Expect for him to continue to put up big numbers and for NJIT to be in serious contention for a postseason berth.

St. Francis — The Red Flashes went through a rebuilding season in 2015. Now, it is ready to make a run at its first EIVA Tournament berth in almost five years.

Harvard — The Crimson have made four consecutive EIVA Tournament appearances. It may be a challenge for Harvard to continue that streak this year, but definitely don’t count this team out.

Sacred Heart — Greg Walker enters his first season as the Pioneers head coach. With a young roster, expect for Sacred Heart to only get better throughout the season.

Charleston — This university has embraced developing a men’s volleyball program. Regardless of Charleston’s record this year in its inaugural EIVA season, the infrastructure is in place for the Golden Eagles to become EIVA title contenders in a few years.

CONFERENCE CAROLINAS PREVIEW
Pfeiffer — The Falcons showed everyone at the NCAA Tournament in May just how much Conference Carolinas teams have improved. Now Pfeiffer has an even more challenging task of defending its conference title.

Erskine — Outside attacker Michael Michelau should put up some big offensive numbers that will make him a possible All-American and give Erskine a chance to return to the NCAA Tournament.

Mount Olive — Mount Olive has some of the most dynamic young players in the Conference Carolinas. That youth continues to mature and makes the Trojans a conference title contender.

Limestone — Limestone closed out the 2015 regular season on a six-match winning streak. That may be a sign of things to come for this improving program.

King — Give credit to King for scheduling tough non-conference matches and opening its season at the Outrigger Invitational. Those early season matches should pay off in April as it contends for a conference title.

Barton — This team has all the pieces needed to win the program’s first conference title.

Belmont Abbey — How can you not like a team coached by Sean Manzi. There are a lot of good components to this team besides the coach that makes the Crusaders compelling this year.

North Greenville — The Crusaders surprised a lot of people last year earning a postseason bid in its inaugural season. Expect for this program to only get better in year two.

Lees-McRae — First-year coach Henry Chuang will have this program moving in a positive direction. The team should be poised to return to the postseason after missing it last year.

Emmanuel — The team went through growing pains last season as it completed its transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II. It can only get better from here.

INDEPENDENT TEAMS PREVIEW
Coker — Opposite Artur Cabral has plenty of fans — he won the 2015 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Fan Choice National Player of the Year. His play along with his teammate’s play should be even better this season.

Holy Names — Expect for Holy Names to have more than just one win by the time the season is done.

Concordia-Irvine — It takes a lot for a school to transition for NAIA to NCAA Division II. While the Eagles record may be down this year, coach Shawn Patchell will still have this team competitive throughout the season.

Alderson Broaddus — A new head coach for the Battlers but the good news is the program continues to inch closer to becoming a NCAA team.