Off the Block sponsors Division III Grow the Game Challenge for first-year programs

Five first-year college men’s volleyball programs will compete for a championship at a new Division III non-conference tournament.

Off the Block announced Wednesday that Concordia-Chicago, Mount Union, North Park, Trine and Thomas More will participate in the Off the Block Division III Grow the Game Challenge.

The Division III Grow the Game Challenge will take place Jan. 25-26 at Trine University in Angola, Indiana.

“We are very proud and excited to host the Division III Grow the Game Challenge,” Trine coach Brendan Ledwith said. “We are happy that we can give all the new programs and student-athletes a tournament to showcase their talent and hard work they have put in for their inaugural seasons.”

This will be the second of two Grow the Game Challenge events that will occur in 2019.

The Grow the Game Challenge traditionally 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 initial 2019 Off the Block Grow the Game Challenge will be played on Jan. 18-20 at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.

The creation of a Grow the Game Challenge specific for new Division III teams was done in an effort to help celebrate the growth of NCAA Division III men’s volleyball.

There are now about 90 Division III men’s volleyball teams throughout the nation. In addition, the Division III NCAA Tournament is expanding to 14 teams for lthe 2019 season.

The Division III Grow the Game Challenge will feature multiple matches being played simultaneously at Trine University.

The tournament will open at with Mount Union versus North Park and Thomas Moore versus Concordia-Chicago. Concordia-Chicago and Mount Union will then play each other, while Thomas More and Trine conclude the night cap.

There will be six matches on the final day of the tournament with the host school Trine playing in three matches against Concordia-Chicago, Mount Union and North Park. The other matches that day will feature Mount Union playing Thomas More and North Park playing both Concordia-Chicago and Thomas More.