The wait is finally over after eight long off-season months.
The 2016 college men’s volleyball season begins this afternoon with a top-10 match-up as No. 8 Lewis plays host to No. 9 UC Santa Barbara.
Check out the nation’s college men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight.
No. 8 Lewis (0-0, 0-0 MIVA) vs. No. 9 UC Santa Barbara (0-0, 0-0 MPSF)
Match vitals: 4 p.m. in Romeoville, Illinois
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
What to know: No. 8 Lewis after being one point away from winning the NCAA championship last year will now open the new season at home against a top-10 nationally ranked team. Lewis enters its non-conference match against No. 9 UC Santa Barbara returning several starters from its 2015 team that lost to Loyola in the longest fifth-game overtime in NCAA Tournament finals history. However, the Flyers have to replace graduated All-American outside attackers Greg Petty and Geoff Powell. This season-opener will also feature two of the top setters in the nation. Both Lewis setter Scott Fifer and UC Santa Barbara setter Jonah Seif were named Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-Americans. Fifer guided the Flyers offense last season to the nation’s third best attack percentage at .338, while Seif earned 2015 All-American honors and was among the nation’s leaders with a 10.18 assists per game average. Similar to Lewis though, the Gauchos graduated two of their three starting pin-hitters from last year’s team. Along with its Preseason All-American setter, Lewis middle attacker enters his senior season after being named the 2015 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Blocker of the Year. Walsh finished the last season leading the nation with a 1.54 digs per game average. In addition, UC Santa Barbara returns libero Hayden Boehle, who was selected to the 2015 Freshmen All-American Team. Boehle in the off-season ask played for the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team and had double-digit digs in five matches at the FIVB U21 World Championship. This is the first time since 2012 that the Flyers and Gauchos have played each other. It is also the third consecutive year Lewis will open the season against a top-10 nationally ranked MPSF team. Lewis is 1-1 in those two other season-openers, including defeating UC Irvine on the road last year.