College men’s volleyball is going to mess with Texas.
Off the Block was informed this week that the defending NCAA champions Hawai’i along with Stanford, Queens and Kentucky State will compete in the inaugural First Point Collegiate Challenge on Feb. 4-5 in Austin, Texas.
This non-conference tournament will be the first time that a NCAA Division I-II regular season match will be played in Texas. The two-day event will feature five matches highlighted with Hawai’i and Stanford playing each other to close out the tournament.
The amount of college men’s volleyball recruits from Texas has increased in recent years. In addition, there are four Texans on the participating teams’ rosters who will be returning to their home state for this tournament.
“We are excited to bring men’s collegiate volleyball to Texas for the first time and featuring Hawaii [versus] Stanford,” the event’s founder Glen Lietzke said to Off the Block.
Lietzke is also the director of Austin Junior Volleyball and the father of Stanford MPSF All-Freshman setter Nathan Lietzke.
Stanford returns to the court after its school’s administration following the 2021 season reversed a 2020 decision to eliminate the men’s volleyball team. Both Lietzke and MPSF All-Freshman outside attacker Will Rottman are among the starters coming back to a team that reached the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals last season.
Hawai’i finished the 2021 season winning its first NCAA championship in 19 years. Along with the national title, the team had an undefeated regular season and has now reached the last two NCAA Tournament finals.
The Rainbow Warriors enter this season attempting to replace multiple All-American starters but return setter Jakob Thelle who was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team.
Queens set the program’s single-season record with 14 wins in 2021 and advanced to the IVA Tournament finals. The Royals also finished at No. 8 in the Division II national coaches poll.
Among the Queens starters returning next season includes middle attacker JP Payne who was seventh in the nation with a .446 attack percentage and named the 2021 Independent Teams Player of the Year.
Kentucky State is one of six NCAA Division II schools from the SIAC that will play their inaugural season in 2022. Katrina English will be the inaugural head coach for the Thorobreds and is a Texas native who played college volleyball at Houston Baptist.
While Kentucky State is a first-year program, the rest of the tournament field has a history of non-conference matches against each other.
Hawai’i is 3-0 all-time against Queens and will now have played in three of the last four years.
The Rainbow Warriors and Cardinal, two former conference opponents, have met four times since Hawai’i departed the MPSF to join the Big West in 2018. Hawai’i is undefeated in those non-conference matches and on a six-match winning streak against Stanford dating back to 2017.
First Point Collegiate Challenge schedule
Friday, Feb. 4
11:30 a.m. (CST) — Hawai’i vs. Kentucky State
4:30 p.m. (CST) — Stanford vs. Kentucky State
7 p.m. (CST) — Hawai’i vs. Queens
Saturday, Feb. 5
1 p.m. (CST) — Kentucky State vs. Queens
6 p.m. (CST) — Hawai’i vs. Stanford
*All matches to be played at the Austin Convention Center