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

Photo courtesy of The Ohio State University 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 MIVA.]

The MIVA has all the makings this season for the most chaotic conference in college men’s volleyball.

Four teams received at least one first-place vote in the MIVA Preseason Poll that was released earlier this month.

Off the Block editor Vinnie Lopes breaks down the MIVA and what to know about each team entering the 2019 season.

Lewis

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: No. 7
Preseason MIVA poll ranking: No. 1
2018 record: 19-11 (9-5 MIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in MIVA Tournament semifinals
Notable starters lost: None
Notable returners/additions: Outside attacker Ryan Coenen (Second-Team All-American); Setter Matt Yoshimoto (Second-Team All-MIVA); Middle attacker Tyler Mitchem (Freshman All-American); Middle attacker TJ Murray (Freshman All-American); Libero Michael Simmons (First-Team All-MIVA)
Top non-conference match: UCLA at Lewis on Feb. 2
OTB bold predictions: Lewis is the preseason favorite to win the MIVA. At the end of the year it also could be in contention for an at-large bid if it pulls off a couple big non-conference wins and the Big West teams cannibalize each other. — Vinnie Lopes

Loyola

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: No. 9
Preseason MIVA poll ranking: No. 2
2018 record: 23-7 (11-3 MIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in MIVA Tournament finals
Notable starters lost: Jeff Jendryk (First-Team All-American; Ryan Millar Award finalist); Ricky Gevis (First-Team All-MIVA)
Notable returners/additions: Outside attacker Collin Mayan (Preseason MIVA Player of the Year); Setter Garrett Zola (Preseason All-American; MIVA Freshman of the Year); Devin Joslyn (U.S. Men’s Junior National Team)
Top non-conference match: UC Irvine at Loyola on Jan. 4
OTB bold prediction: The Ramblers will have a big hole to replace at middle attacker with the graduation of All-American middle attacker Jeff Jendryk. The emergence of its young pin-hitters will help fill that void. — Vinnie Lopes

Ohio State

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: No. 8
Preseason MIVA poll ranking: No. 3
2018 record: 25-6 (11-3 MIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in NCAA Tournament semifinals
Notable starters lost: Outside attacker Nicolas Szerszen (Three-time MIVA Player of the Year, First-Team All-American, International Player of the Year, Karch Kiraly Award finalist, National Server of the Year finalist, First-Team All-MIVA, 2016 AVCA National Player of the Year); Outside attacker Maxime Hervoir (First-Team All-MIVA)
Notable returners/additions: Opposite Jake Hanes (Preseason All-American, NCAA All-Tournament Team, Freshman All-American, Second-Team All-MIVA); Setter Sanil Thomas (First-Team All-MIVA, Lloy Ball Award finalist); Middle attacker Blake Leeson (Second-Team All-MIVA); Libero Aaron Samarin (224 digs last season — the 11th most for a single-season in Ohio State program history)
Top non-conference match: Ohio State at Long Beach State on Feb. 9
OTB bold prediction: No team can replace a player like Szerszen, who may be the greatest in program history. That may be plainly clear at times this season, but the Buckeyes still have enough talent to make it to at least the MIVA Tournament semifinals — and possibly four-peat as MIVA champions. — Vinnie Lopes

Ball State

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: Receiving votes
Preseason MIVA poll ranking: No. 4
2018 record: 18-12 (10-4 MIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in MIVA Tournament semifinals
Notable starters lost: Middle attacker Matt Walsh (First-Team All-MIVA, National Blocker of the Year finalist, 2017 Ryan Millar Award finalist); Outside attacker Mich Weiler (Second-Team All-MIVA)
Notable returners/additions: Setter Jake Romano (Second-Team All-MIVA); Outside attacker Matt Szews (2017 MIVA Freshman of the Year); Outside attacker Ben Chinnici (MIVA All-Freshman); Middle attacker Parker Swartz (top 25 in the MIVA with 18 aces last season); Outside attacker Blake Reardon (top 20 in the MIVA average 2.52 kills per game last season); Outside attacker Kaleb Jenness (USA National Beach Tour Junior Championship gold medalist)
Top non-conference match: UC Santa Barbara at Ball State on Jan. 18
OTB bold prediction: Ball State has one of the best home court advantages in the nation. If Ball State can finish the regular season with a high enough seed to ensure home court through the MIVA Tournament semifinals, the Cardinals will be back in the NCAA Tournament. — Vinnie Lopes

Purdue Fort Wayne

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: No. 14
Preseason MIVA poll ranking: No. 5
2018 record: 18-11 (6-8 MIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in MIVA Tournament quarterfinals
Notable starters lost: None
Notable returners/additions:. Outside attacker Pelegrin Vargas (First-Team All-MIVA, Puerto Rican Men’s National Team); Middle attacker Tomas Gago (MIVA All-Freshman, Chilean Men’s National Team); Setter Frederick Santos (Portuguese Men’s National Team); Outside attacker Colton Stone (fifth in MIVA averaging 0.37 aces per game last season); Middle attacker Richie Diedrich (among MIVA leaders averaging 0.99 blocks per game last season); Setter Michael Keegan (in MIVA’s top five with both a 9.62 assists per game average and a 2.23 digs per game average last season)
Top non-conference match: Purdue Fort Wayne at Stanford Jan. 25-26
OTB bold prediction: The rebuilding process is on the verge of being complete. With opposing teams paying so much attention to stopping Vargas, Purdue Fort Wayne is capable of pulling off postseason upsets if its other pin-hitters can take advantage of single-block opportunities.

Lindenwood

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: Did not receive votes
Preseason MIVA poll ranking: No. 6
2018 record: 9-16 (3-11 MIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in MIVA Tournament quarterfinals
Notable starters lost: Libero Ryan Vorderer (Second-Team All-MIVA)
Notable returners/additions: Setter Adam Brewster (Second-Team All-MIVA); Middle attacker Connor Hipelius (Preseason All-MIVA); Middle attacker Sam Schindler (top 10 in the MIVA for blocks, aces and attack percentage last season); Outside attacker Michael Jennings (top 15 in the MIVA averaging 2.57 kills per game last season)
Top non-conference match: UCLA at Lindenwood on Jan. 12
OTB bold prediction: Lindenwood lost five matches to nationally ranked teams in the decisive fifth game last season. The trend of almost upsets ends this year. The Lions will have at least four wins against nationally ranked teams by the end of the regular season. — Vinnie Lopes

McKendree

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: Did not receive votes
Preseason MIVA poll ranking: No. 7
2018 record: 11-15 (6-8 MIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in MIVA Tournament quarterfinals
Notable starters lost: Middle attacker Brendan Schmidt (First-Team All-MIVA); Outside attacker Nolan Reuter (Second-Team All-MIVA); Opposite Jared Wilcox (team-high 2.95 kills per game average last season); Setter Pasquale Fiduccia (four-year starter)
Notable returners/additions: Outside attacker Patrick Ross (MIVA All-Freshman); Libero Zach Thompson (fifth in MIVA averaging 2.23 digs per game last season); Middle attacker Wyatt Dimke (top 15 in the MIVA last season with 72 blocks)
Top non-conference match: McKendree vs. Princeton (at BYU) on March 23
OTB bold prediction: McKendree after losing so many starters is bounded to take a step back this season. Teams better get in their wins earlier in the season, though, because the Bearcats will be significantly better by the MIVA Tournament. — Vinnie Lopes

Quincy

Preseason national coaches poll ranking: Did not receive votes
Preseason MIVA poll ranking: No. 8
2018 record: 12-19 (0-14 MIVA)
2018 postseason finish: Lost in MIVA Tournament quarterfinals
Notable starters lost: Outside attacker Anthony Winter (team-high 3.21 kills per game average last season); Libero Collin Merk (third in the MIVA averaging 2.31 digs per game last season)
Notable returners/additions: Middle attacker Shane McAdams (second on team averaging 2.13 kills per game last season); Middle attacker Blake Sprecher (MIVA-best 23 solo blocks last season); Setter Matt Friddle (transfer from Erskine)
Top non-conference match: Quincy vs. Barton (at the Off the Block Grow the Game Challenge) on Jan. 20
OTB bold prediction: Quincy enters the season on an 18-match MIVA losing streak. That streak doesn’t extend into the 2020 season. — Vinnie Lopes