Quick-hits: What to know about EIVA teams for 2019 season

Photo courtesy of Penn State athletics

[Editor’s note: Off the Block will preview each NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball conference leading up to the 2019 season opener on Dec. 30. This conference previews examines every team in the EIVA.]

Forget about top-15 preseason nationally coaches poll that for the first time in recent history did not include an EIVA team.

The EIVA could have several team posed for big breakout seasons.

Off the Block associate editor Jonathan Bates breaks down the EIVA and what to know about each team entering the 2019 season.

Princeton

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: Receiving votes
Preseason EIVA poll ranking: No. 1
2018 record: 12-16 (7-7 EIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in the EIVA Tournament finals
Notable losses: Middle attacker Junior Oboh (Second-Team All-EIVA)
Notable returners/additions: Opposite George Huhmann (First-Team All-EIVA, All-American Honorable Mention); Outside attacker Greg Luck (top of EIVA averaging both 2.62 kills per game and 1.71 digs per game) Outside attacker Parker Dixon (top 15 of EIVA averaging 2.46 kills per game last season); Setter Joe Kelly (U.S. Men’s Junior National Team
Top non-conference match: Princeton at Pepperdine on Dec. 30
OTB bold prediction: Huhmann may finish with more than 1,000 attack attempts on the season. All joking aside, Huhmann will be counted more than any pin-hitter in the nation and will show that he’s one of the top-three pin-hitters in the conference.

Penn State

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: Receiving votes
Preseason EIVA poll ranking: No. 2
2018 record: 15-11 (10-4 EIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in the EIVA Tournament semifinal
Notable losses: Middle attacker Kevin Gear (Second-Tema All-EIVA); Opposite Jaylen Penrose (National Server of the Year); Libero Royce Clemens (led EIVA averaging 3.25 digs per game game in conference matches last season); Outside attacker Aidan Albrecht (2017 Second-Team All-EIVA)
Notable returners/additions: Opposite Calvin Mende (First-Team All-EIVA); Outside attacker Matthew McLaren (All-EIVA First Team); Outside attacker Hendrik Falck Lauren (redshirt last season, Norwegian Men’s National Team); Setter Luke Braswell (2017 Freshman All-American)
Top non-conference match: BYU at Penn State on Jan. 18
OTB bold prediction: After down year in 2018, expect the Nittany Lions to have a bounce-back year in 2019. A 20-win season is quite likely. — Jonathan Bates

George Mason

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: Receiving votes
Preseason EIVA poll ranking: No. 3
2018 record: 17-12 (13-1 EIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in the EIVA Tournament semifinal
Notable losses: Setter Brian Gomez (EIVA Player of the Year); Outside attacker Christian Malias (Second-Team All-EIVA); Libero Johnny Gomez (finalist for Erik Shoji Award)
Notable returners/additions: Outside attacker Kyle Barnes (First-Team All-EIVA); Opposite Hayden Wagner (First-Team All-EVIA, All-American Honorable Mention); Middle attacker Jack Reese (Second-Team All-EIVA)
Top non-conference match: UC Irvine at George Mason on Jan. 12
OTB bold prediction: The Patriots won the league last year during the regular season, but will finish the job and win the EIVA tournament. — Jonathan Bates

NJIT

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: Did not receive votes
Preseason EIVA poll ranking: No. 4
2018 record: 9-17 (5-9 EIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Did not make the EIVA Tournament
Notable losses: Middle attacker Kevin Myren
Notable returners/additions: Opposite Alvaro Gimeno (EIVA Newcomer of the Year); Middle attacker Enrique De Diego Garcia (transfer from Cal Baptist, 2016 All-American Honorable Mention); Opposite Piotr Namiotko (Second-Team All-EIVA); Outside attacker Jens Feldhus (former member of Denmark Men’s Junior National Team); Setter Roque Nido (former member of Puerto Rico Men’s Junior National Team)
Top non-conference match: NJIT at Hawai’i on Jan. 10
OTB bold prediction: Don’t be fooled by the record at the end of the season. The Highlanders are a good team, but they are playing a challenging non-conference schedule. The EIVA coaches also know they return some excellent talent as shown by the No. 4 ranking in the EIVA preseason coaches poll. — Jonathan Bates
 

Harvard

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: Did not receive votes
Preseason EIVA poll ranking: No. 5
2018 record: 13-14 (10-4 EIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Lost to UCLA in NCAA Tournament opening round
Notable losses: Outside attacker Brad Gretsch (First-Team All-EIVA); Setter Marko Kostich (First-Team All-EIVA); Middle attacker Riley Moore (Second-Team All-EIVA)
Notable returners/additions: Setter Matthew Ctvrtlik (Second-Team All-EIVA); Middle attacker Trevor Dow (third in EIVA last season with 101 blocks); Libero Chase Howard (second in EIVA last season averaging 2.66 digs per game)
Top non-conference match: Harvard vs. Long Beach State (at UC Santa Barbara) on Jan. 4
OTB bold prediction: The Crimson lost both starting outside attackers from a the team that made it to the NCAA Tournament. The numbers will not show it, but Ctvrtlik will show he’s the best setter in the EIVA. — Jonathan Bates
 

St. Francis

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: Did not receive votes
Preseason EIVA poll ranking: No. 6
2018 record: 9-20 (4-10 EIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Did not make the EIVA Tournament
Notable losses: Outside attacker Stephen Brazwell (Second-Team All-EIVA)
Notable returners/additions: Outside attacker Michael Fisher (2017 Freshman All-American; 2017 Second-Team All-EIVA); Libero Gabe Woffindin (2017 Second-Team All-EIVA)
Top non-conference match: St. Francis vs Hawai’i (at Queens) on Feb. 8
OTB bold prediction: Things never finish the way we think they will, unless it’s Long Beach State winning the title in 2018. They have the schedule to pull off an upset as the Red Flash play six teams ranked in the top 15, including three of the top-five teams. — Jonathan Bates

Charleston

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: Did not receive votes
Preseason EIVA poll ranking: No. 7
2018 record: 16-10 (5-9 EIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Did not make the EIVA Tournament
Notable losses: Libero Darrin Depellegrini; Setter Anthony Rivera
Notable returners/additions: Outside attacker Max Senica (Second-Team All-EIVA); Outside attacker Brandon Greenway (in top 25 of EIVA last season averaging both 2.01 kills per game and 1.64 digs per game); Setter Chase Johnson (redshirted last season, former member of U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team); Middle attacker Adriel Roberts (Trinidad Men’s National Team); Mike Iandolo (head coach)
Top non-conference match: Charleston vs. UC Irvine (at Grand Canyon) on Feb. 1
OTB bold prediction: There is a clear separation between the top-three EIVA teams, but Charleston will be in position to make the EIVA Tournament for the first time in program history come the final week of conference play. — Jonathan Bates

Sacred Heart

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: Did not receive votes
Preseason EIVA poll ranking: No. 8
2018 record: 7-15 (2-12 EIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Did not make the EIVA Tournament
Notable losses: Libero Joshua Ayzenberg (First-Team All-EIVA); Head coach Greg Walker (USC assistant coach)
Notable returners/additions: Middle attacker Rob Chatterton (led EIVA with a. .348 attack percentage last season); Robert Bertucci (head coach)
Top non-conference match: Purdue Fort Wayne at Sacred Heart on Feb. 1
OTB bold prediction: Bertucci comes with three decades of coaching experience, some in the EIVA. His experience will serve him in coaching this team as it will be an uphill climb. — Jonathan Bates