Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor
Two teams that were regulars in the Division II Coaches Poll last year will face off in a neutral site match at the Lindenwood Invitational in late January 2020. McKendree finished third in the final poll, while UC San Diego received votes.
Other teams taking part in the tournament are Grand Canyon, Lindenwood, and Lees-McRae.
This is the second edition of the tournament. Last year’s participants were Lindewood, McKendree, Quincy, Long Beach, Lourdes, and Alderson Broaddus.
UC San Diego and McKendree have only faced off twice in their all-time history, with both matches played in 2018. The Tritons took the first match, in #CincoSets, in a neutral site match at UCLA in early January, while the Bearcats won the rematch at home in four games in mid-February.
In total, McKendree will play a dozen matches versus fellow Division II schools.
McKendree ranked No. 7 nationally with 2.41 blocks per game last season. Individually, they were led middle attacker Lucas Galifos’ 1.063 blocks per game, good for No. 13 nationally.
The Bearcats were also led by opposite Zach Schnittker, who led the 2019 team with 0.277 aces per game and 2.43 kills per game.
UC San Diego outside attacker Wyatt Harrison led the 2019 Tritons with 0.217 aces per game and 3.24 kills per game.
One facet that both teams have in common is how much of their production they return in 2020. Both teams return at least 85% of their kills, assists, aces, and total blocks.
For the Bearcats, outside attacker Will Frank and libero Zach Thompson are the graduated players from 2019. The lone graduated player from 2019 for the Tritons is starting outside attacker Xander Jimenez.
Setter Ryan Serrano was named MIVA Freshman of the Year in 2019, while coach Nickie Sanlin was named Co-coach of the Year in the MIVA.
Highlights for the Bearcats in 2019 included defeating then-No. 8 BYU in Provo, which represented the highest-ranked team McKendree has ever defeated. They also defeated Ohio State for the first time in program history.
During the offseason, coach Sanlin announced the hire of graduate assistant David Siebum. Siebum spent the first two years of his collegiate playing career at Quincy before transferring to Ball State for the final two years.
The Bearcats will play four matches against Big West opponents, four against EIVA schools, one each against a ConfCarolinas and MPSF foe, and a pair of matches versus independent programs.
A touching move by coach Sanlin is that she honoring former middle attacker Kirk Jackson by naming the match versus Lindenwood on February 20 in his honor.
McKendree will get the season started on the second weekend of January at the UCSB Asics Invitational against CSUN, Long Beach State, and UC Santa Barbara. They will play a total of six neutral site matches in 2020.
2020 McKendree Schedule
Thursday, Jan. 9, vs. CSUN (Neutral site)
Friday, Jan. 10, vs. Long Beach State (Neutral site)
Saturday, Jan. 11, vs. UC Santa Barbara (Neutral site)
Friday, Jan. 17, vs. NJIT
Saturday, Jan. 18, vs. Saint Francis
Friday, Jan. 24, vs. Grand Canyon (Neutral site)
Saturday, Jan. 25, vs. UC San Diego (Neutral site)
Sunday, Jan. 26, vs. Lees-McRae (Neutral site)
Friday, Jan. 31, vs. Urbana
Saturday, Feb. 1, vs. Tusculum
Friday, Feb. 7, at Lewis
Thursday, Feb. 13, at Ball State
Saturday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State
Thursday, Feb. 20, vs. Lindenwood
Saturday, Feb. 22, vs. Quincy
Thursday, Feb. 27, at Loyola
Saturday, Feb. 29, at Purdue Fort Wayne
Friday, March 13, at Charleston
Saturday, March 14, at Charleston
Saturday, March 21, vs. Lewis
Thursday, March 26, vs. Purdue Fort Wayne
Saturday, March 28, vs. Loyola
Thursday, April 2, vs. Ohio State
Saturday, April 4, vs. Ball State
Thursday, April 9, at Quincy
Saturday, April 11, at Lindenwood