Recap: What happened this college men’s volleyball offseason

Photo courtesy of Long Beach State athletics.

A lot has happened in college men’s volleyball since the NCAA Tournament in May.

With the 2019 regular season starting two weeks ago, it’s time to get caught up on the top news from the offseason. Check out the top 10 items to know heading in the 2019 season.

More NCAA Division I-II growth
Three schools during the offseason announced they would add a NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball programs in 2020. St. Francis Brooklyn in June became the first Division I school in almost 20 years to add the sport. Two Division II schools also opted to sponsor men’s volleyball. Lander University became the fifth NCAA Division I-II team in South Carolina to start a men’s volleyball team. Tusculum University in September announced it would become the third school from East Tennessee to make men’s volleyball a varsity sport.

Defending champs clear preseason favorites
Long Beach State received every first-place vote in the AVCA preseason national coaches poll that was released earlier this month. The 49ers return four All-American starters after they finished last season 28-1 and won their first NCAA championship in 27 years. UCLA, which lost to Long Beach State in NCAA Tournament finals, was ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll.

Changes among NCAA men’s volleyball committee
NJIT athletics director Lenny Kaplan was selected as the chairman of the NCAA men’s volleyball committee for the 2019 season. Kaplan is in the third year of his four-year term as the East Coast representative on the three-person committee that is responsible for determining the NCAA Tournament field. This leadership change comes after former committee chairperson and Ohio State associate athletics director Janine Oman completed her term. Purdue Fort Wayne senior associate athletic director Tim Heffron will replace Oman as the committee’s Midwest representative. Along with his athletics administrative background, Heffron was a head coach of the Purdue Fort Wayne women’s volleyball team and while in college was a back-up setter with the Mastodons.

Long Beach State players keep winning
A national championship was just the start in 2018 for two Long Beach State All-Americans. Outside attacker TJ DeFalco and opposite Kyle Ensing helped lead the U.S. Men’s National Team to a bronze medal at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. DeFalco and Ensing were the only two active college players on the U.S. roster. DeFalco appeared in 19 matches throughout the tournament and had a 2.26 kills per game average on a 45 percent offensive efficiency. In addition, Ensing played in 13 matches and finished averaging 2.72 kills per game on a 46 percent offensive efficiency.

Emmanuel becomes postseason eligible
Emmanuel completed its multiple-year transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II membership and now will be eligible to compete in the ConfCarolinas Tournament. The Lions last season finished in fifth place in the ConfCarolinas but could not play in the eight-team conference tournament during its transition. Along with new NCAA Division II status, Emmanuel will have a new head coach for the 2019 season. James Friddle, a former all-conference opposite with King and an interim head coach for the Palm Beach Atlantic women’s volleyball, was hired in May to takeover the Lions’ program.

Ohio State dominates high school All-American lists
The defending MIVA champions Ohio State had a nation-best four incoming freshman selected to the AVCA Boys’ Volleyball High School Senior All-American Team. A nationwide voting committee of high school coaches for this award chose the seniors who had the best high school performances from teams whose head coach was a AVCA member. Grand Canyon, Pepperdine, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UCLA also each had multiple players make the annual list.

Gimeno delivers breakout performance at European Championship
NJIT opposite Alvaro Gimeno playing for the Spanish Men’s Junior National Team had a tournament-high 4.45 kills per game average in the CEV European Championship third round. The 2018 EIVA Newcomer of the Year had a match-high 24 kills in Spain’s five-game loss to Poland in the finals. In addition, Gimeno finished in the tournament’s top five with a .375 attack percentage.

Stanford opposite serve too much for NORCECA
Freshman All-American opposite Jaylen Jasper led all players with 21 aces at the NORCECA U21 Continental Championship. Jasper’s top performance for the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team during that international tournament was a match-high 11 aces in a pool-play victory against Canada. He also earned the Best Server Award as the United States finished in fourth place.

Loyola, USC make big assistant coaching moves
Matt McCarthy and Greg Walker highlighted the biggest coaching moves of the offseason. McCarthy, a former AVCA National Assistant Coach of the Year, left Lewis to become the associate head coach at its in-state rival Loyola. Lewis won at least 19 matches in each of McCarthy’s nine seasons with the team and and advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times. Walker departed Sacred Heart to become an assistant coach at USC. In his three seasons as the Pioneers head coach, Walker guided the team to its first EIVA Tournament appearance since the tournament moved to a four-team format in 2012.

Ball State opens practice facility honoring Hall of Fame coach
Ball State officially dedicated the Dr. Don Shondell Practice Center in July. The 19,000-square-foot-facility for the Cardinals volleyball and basketball teams is named in honor of former Ball State men’s volleyball coach Don Shondell. Shondell started a men’s volleyball program at Ball State in 1959 and retired in 1998 as a Hall of Famer and the second winningest coach in NCAA volleyball history. He also guided Ball State to 20 MIVA championships and was instrumental in helping make men’s volleyball a NCAA sanctioned sport.