First-year team Cumberland to play in 2019 Grow the Game Challenge

[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.]

Its first season as a program and Cumberland already will be participating in one of the nation’s top college men’s volleyball non-conference events.

Off the Block announced Wednesday that Cumberland will compete in the 2019 Off the Block Grow the Game Challenge that will take on Jan. 18-20 on the school’s campus in Lebanon, Tennessee.

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. With a 10-team field, the Grow the Game Challenge will be the largest college men’s volleyball non-conference tournament in the country during the upcoming season.

Cumberland joins Bluefield College as the only NAIA schools to compete at the upcoming Grow the Game Challenge.

“As a first-year program we are very honored to host for the Grow the Game Challenge,” Cumberland coach Scott Barbe said. “We are one of the few universities that has a men’s volleyball program in the state of Tennessee and with this opportunity, it will help us promote the sport of men’s volleyball. The men’s volleyball team at Cumberland University hopes to develop and encourage the sport of volleyball for all young men in the Nashville area and throughout the entire state of Tennessee. We are delighted and thrilled to be apart of this great event.”

The Phoenix announced in the fall of 2017 that they would add men’s volleyball and became the first college in the Nashville area to add the sport.

Cumberland hired Barbe in November to be the the program’s inaugural head coach. Barbe has spent the last nine months recruiting and so far has signed 12 players for the program’s first season.

This is the second year of the Grow the Game Challenge. The inaugural event in 2018 featured 10 NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball teams and took place at Lipscomb Univeristy.

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.