Saint Francis in 2020 to play Pepperdine for first time

Photo courtesy of Saint Francis Athletics

Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor

Saint Francis has fielded a varsity men’s volleyball program for over 35 seasons, and not once have they played the five-time national champion, Pepperdine Waves. That will no longer be the case as the Red Flash will travel to Malibu, California on Friday, March 6.

Pepperdine made it to the National Semifinals last year, but will have to fill the voids left by losing five starters to graduation. Those five graduated seniors represented 86% of the Waves’ kills last season, 73% of their aces, and 70% of their blocks.

On the other side, Saint Francis’ 2019 team had 10 players that were either seniors or redshirt juniors. Those 10 players represented 95% of the Red Flash assists, 88% of their blocks, 81% of their kills, 80% of their aces, and 79% of their digs.

Fortunately for Coach Mike Rumbaugh, all five redshirt juniors have returned to Loretto, Pennsylvania for their senior year, highlighted by outside attacker Michael Fisher. Fisher was named to the 2019 All-EIVA First Team while also receiving AVCA All-American Honorable Mention honors. Fisher led the Red Flash in both kills (386) and aces (36).

Other key returners include setter BJ Blair, libero Gabe Woffindin, middle attacker Cole Carver, and opposite Christian Graziano. Blair, who was named to the All-EIVA Second Team last year, led the Red Flash with 9.78 assists per game. Woffindin led the team with 1.89 digs per game, while Carver led the team with 1.03 blocks per game.

Saint Francis finished the 2019 season with a 15-14 record overall (9-5 EIVA). They finished fourth in the EIVA regular season standings, and lost to eventual EIVA tournament champions, Princeton, in three games in the semifinals.

Saint Francis starts off the season by playing five of their first six matches on the road, but then come back home to Degol Arena to play their next six matches.

Saint Francis’ non-conference schedule includes six matches versus MIVA teams (including a home-and-home series with Ohio State), four matches with independent teams, three matches with MPSF teams, and one against a ConfCarolinas foe. Besides playing Pepperdine, the Red Flash will also face two other teams that made it the NCAA tournament last season – Princeton and USC.

2020 Saint Francis Schedule

Wednesday, Jan. 8 vs. Stanford
Thursday, Jan. 8 at Ohio State
Friday, Jan. 18 at McKendree
Saturday, Jan. 19 at Lindenwood
Friday, Jan. 24 at King
Saturday, Jan. 25 at Lincoln Memorial
Friday, Jan. 31 vs. Ohio State
Saturday, Feb. 1 vs Ball State
Saturday, Feb. 8 vs. Alderson Broaddus
Saturday, Feb. 8 vs. St. Francis-Brooklyn
Friday, Feb. 14 vs. NJIT
Saturday, Feb. 15 vs. Princeton
Friday, Feb. 21 at Harvard
Saturday, Feb. 22 at Sacred Heart
Tuesday, Feb. 25 vs. Penn State
Friday, Feb. 28 vs. Charleston
Saturday, Feb. 29 vs. George Mason
Thursday, March 5 at USC
Friday, March 6 at Pepperdine
Thursday, March 19 vs. Purdue Fort Wayne
Friday, March 20 at Penn State
Friday, March 27 at Daemen
Friday, April 3 at Princeton
Saturday, April 4 at NJIT
Friday, April 10 vs. Sacred Heart
Saturday, April 11 vs. Harvard
Thursday, April 16 at George Mason
Saturday, April 18 at Charleston