NJIT schedules road match against Hawai’i for 2019 season

Photo courtesy of NJIT athletics

[Editor’s note: Off the Block in collaboration with the EIVA is presenting The Top 15 EIVA Non-Conference Matches. This list spotlights the best non-conference matches scheduled for EIVA teams in 2019 and will be the first time several of these matches have been publicly announced. NJIT versus Hawai’i is ranked No. 5 on the list.]

NJIT will be leaving the mainland in 2019.

Coach Danny Goncalves informed Off the Block that NJIT has agreed to play a road match non-conference match against Hawai’i on Jan. 10.

This early-season match will feature two of the top European players in college men’s volleyball.

NJIT opposite Alvaro Gimeno was the 2018 EIVA Newcomer of the Year after finishing his freshman season among the conference’s top six averaging both 3.29 kills per game and 0.47 aces per game. In the offseason, Gimeno led the Spanish Men’s Junior National Team within one match of the CEV U20 European Championship Finals.

Hawai’i outside attacker Stijn van Tilburg was sixth in the nation with a 3.93 kills per game average and finished the country’s top 20 hitting .328. The All-American and finalist for the 2018 International Player of the Year also spent this offseason playing for the Netherlands Men’s National Team.

van Tilburg helped lead the Rainbow Warriors last season to a top-five ranking in the national coaches poll. In addition, the team narrowly missed an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.

NJIT ended last season in fifth place in the EIVA and did not qualify for the four-team EIVA Tournament.

The Highlanders return a majority of starters for the upcoming season and will attempt to get their second win against a nationally ranked team since 2017.

This will be the teams’ first meeting since 2009 when the Rainbow Warriors swept a two-match home series. Those non-conference matches are the only matches between the two teams in their series history.

Along with its match against Hawai’i, NJIT will have two more non-conference matches in Honolulu during the road trip. NJIT will play USC on Jan. 11 and then will conclude the trip against Concordia-Irvine on Jan. 12.