Off the Block unveils All-Decade Starting Lineup for Emmanuel

Photo courtesy of Emmanuel athletics

The top players from Emmanuel during this decade have garnered a college men’s volleyball accolade.

Off the Block announced on Sunday the seven players selected to the Emmanuel All-Decade Starting Lineup presented by Off the Block.

The All-Decade Starting Lineup recognizes the best players to compete with a team since 2010. Similar to the starting lineup for a match, the All-Decade honor is comprised of a setter, opposite and libero along with two outside attackers and middle attackers.

The Off the Block staff determined the All-Decade Starting Lineup using a variety of factors including career statistical performance and the team’s overall success when a player was a member of the program.

This is also part of a series from Off the Block to celebrate the end of the decade in college men’s volleyball. Off the Block throughout the rest of 2019 will release an All-Decade Starting Lineup for every NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team.

Emmanuel began a multiple-year transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II that culminated with the school gaining full membership and becoming eligible for the postseason for the 2019 season. The Lions competed in the ConfCarolinas since the beginning of their transition and have three top-seven finishes in the conference.

Off the Block is a national award winning website that was established in 2011 and is the nation’s leader in college men’s volleyball.

Emmanuel All-Decade Starting Lineup presented by Off the Block

Setter: Caleb Bonaventure
Opposite: Don Thompson
Outside attacker: Alex Barbosa
Outside attacker: Aleksa Lakic
Middle attacker: Alejandro Robles
Middle attacker: Ackeem West
Libero: Meschach McKnight

Alex Barbosa (2013-16)
Awards and honors:
Barbosa in his final college season led Emmanuel and was in the nation’s top 25 with a 3.53 kills per game average. The outside attacker had double-digit kills in all but six matches that season, including a match-high 24 kills while hitting .408 in a five-game victory against King. Barbosa also finished the 2015 season leading Emmanuel with a 3.05 kills per game average that featured a season-high 22 kills in a victory against Coker.

Caleb Bonaventure (2016 – present)
Awards and honors:
Bonaventure in his first two seasons as the team’s starting setter guided the Lions offense to at least a .275 attack percentage in nine ConfCarolinas matches. The setter also concluded his freshman season in the nation’s top 20 averaging 9.66 assists per game and seventh in the ConfCarolinas averaging 0.33 aces per game. Bonaventure switched positions to libero for his final college season in 2019 and ended that year fourth in the ConfCarolinas with a 2.37 digs per game average.

Aleksa Lakic (2017 – present)
Awards and honors:
Lakic has averaged more than 2.00 kills per game in each of his first three seasons, including a career-best 2.65 kills per game average to finish last season in the top 15 of the ConfCarolinas. In the program’s ConfCarolinas Tournament debut in April, Lakic had both a season-high 18 kills and 15 digs as Emmanuel nearly upset the defending champions King in the quarterfinals. Lakic also had 30 aces in 2019 to tie the program’s single-season record since it transitioned from the NAIA to NCAA Division II.

Meschach McKnight (2013-16)
Awards and honors:
McKnight ended his senior season fifth in the nation with a 2.79 digs per game average. This remains the single-season record for Emmanuel since it transitioned to become a NCAA Division I-II program. McKnight in that 2016 season had at least 20 digs in three ConfCarolinas matches, including a season-high 23 digs in a five-game victory against King in March. The previous season McKnight split time as the starting libero and setter and finished in the nation’s top 20 averaging 2.17 digs per game.

Alejandro Robles (2018-19)
Awards and honors:
Robles had back-to-back season in the ConfCarolinas top 15 for blocks, which was highlighted by ending his final season sixth in the conference with a 0.89 blocks per game average. The middle attacker that season was among the ConfCarolinas leaders with a .270 attack percentage. Among Robles’ top career performances included both a season-high 15 kills and 10 blocks as Emmanuel almost upset King in the 2019 ConfCarolinas Tournament quarterfinals.

Don Thompson (2017 – present)
Awards and honors:
2019 Second-Team All-ConfCarolinas
Thompson has hit more than .300 in each of his first seasons with Emmanuel, including leading the ConfCarolinas and being fifth in the nation with a career-best .398 attack percentage in 2018. He also has led the Lions in kills during the last two seasons. Thompson moved from a middle attacker to more of a pin-hitter poster in 2019 and finished the season in the nation’s top 20 averaging 3.52 kills per game and had double-digit kills in 22 matches.

Ackeem West (2016-18)
Awards and honors:
West was in the top five of the ConfCarolinas for blocks in his final two seasons at Emmanuel. The middle attacker in his senior season had a career-high 0.97 blocks per game average and had at least five blocks in 10 matches. Along with his defensive performance, West was second on the team in 2017 with a 2.25 kills per game average and had a team-best 25 aces the following year.