Barton to return to Grow the Game Challenge in 2019 season

[Editor’s note: Off the Block each day from Aug. 6-15 will unveil one team participating in the 2019 Grow the Game Challenge. The entire tournament field and match schedule will be unveiled Thursday, Aug. 16.]

The presumed preseason favorite to win the ConfCarolinas championship will return to the Off the Block Grow the Game Challenge in 2019.

Off the Block announced Friday that Barton for the second straight year will participate in the nation’s largest college men’s volleyball non-conference tournament.

“It was a great experience for our team, the fans and the city so it was easy for us to decide to come back,” Barton coach Jeff Lennox said. “Especially with the level of competition at the event, it will be a huge test for our team to see how we stack up against some of the best teams in the nation.”

The Grow the Game Challenge is an annual event that brings regular season matches to an area of the nation that does not have a NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team. The 2019 tournament will take place on Jan. 18-20 at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Barton won a share of the 2018 ConfCarolinas regular season title and advanced to the conference tournament finals. In addition, the Bulldogs are a year removed from winning their first conference title in program history and advancing to the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Four all-conference starters return for the Bulldogs next season, including opposite Angelos Mandilaris who was named the 2018 ConfCarolinas Offensive Player of the Year.

The Bulldogs come back to the Grow the Game Challenge after finishing 0-2 at the inaugural event last season in Nashville. Barton almost pulled off an upset against Hawai’i before losing four games and then lost to Lindenwood in its tournament finale.

“We have a lot of experience returning so I know we will be ready and prepared for the challenge,” Lennox said. “Excited to be a part of year two at the Grow the Game get men’s volleyball in front of more fans.”

The Grow the Game Challenge operates as a non-profit organization that is based in Nashville. In addition, the organization is committed to help promoting the growth of college men’s volleyball throughout the United States.