The longest tenured program in the newest college men’s volleyball conference is projected to be the inaugural champions.
Saint Francis received all but two first-place votes to finish atop the NEC Preseason Coaches Poll that was released Thursday.
The Red Flash during their final year in the EIVA finished the 2022 season with a winning record and qualified for the conference tournament. The team returns a majority of its starters, including All-EIVA middle attacker Thomas Leahey who was ninth in the nation with a .421 attack percentage last season.
Saint Francis had been a member of the EIVA since 1988 but as NEC school departed the conference this offseason with the NEC opting to start sponsoring men’s volleyball. Along with Saint Francis and fellow long-time EIVA member Sacred Heart, the NEC is primarily comprised of programs that started their NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball programs in the last five years.
St. Francis Brooklyn and Long Island were the only schools to receive first-place votes in the preseason poll.
The fourth-year program St. Francis Brooklyn finished in second place, while second-year program Long Island and Daemen round out the top half of the poll.
The NEC beyond the first-place vote allotments did not release the final vote totals each team received in the poll.
The NEC season will begin in February and conclude with the conference tournament in April, NEC teams are eligible for the NCAA Tournament but the winner of the NEC in 2023 will not receive an automatic bid.
2023 NEC Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Saint Francis
2. St. Francis Brooklyn
3. Long Island
5. Sacred Heart
6. Farleigh Dickinson