Concordia-Irvine in the midst of transitioning to NCAA Division II membership will have a chance to defend its title at one of the most prestigious annual college men’s volleyball tournaments.
The 2015 Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic field will feature the host school Springfield along with Concordia-Irvine, Harvard and Rivier, Springfield coach Charlie Sullivan said in a recent interview with Off the Block.
This is the second consecutive year that the three major college divisions — NCAA Division I-II, NCAA Division III and the NAIA — will be represented at the Morgan Classic.
The defending-tournament champion Concordia-Irvine will open the tournament against Harvard in the semifinals on Feb. 20.
Concordia-Irvine last season defeated Princeton in the semifinals and Springfield in the championship match to win the tournament title for the first time in its program history. The Eagles, which announced earlier this summer that they were beginning a three-year transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II membership, also return to the Morgan Classic after reaching the 2014 NAIA national championship match.
Harvard is making its second appearance at the Morgan Classic in the last three years. The Crimson in 2013 finished the tournament in third place as it lost to Loyola in the semifinals.
The winner Harvard and Concordia-Irvine semifinal match will advance to the championship match the following day against the winner of the other semifinal match between Springfield and Rivier.
Springfield ended last season winning its third consecutive NCAA Division III championship. In addition, Springfield has a chance in 2015 to become the first team in NCAA men’s volleyball history to four straight national titles since UCLA accomplished the feat in 1981-84.
Rivier last season reached the NCAA Division III Tournament quarterfinals and defeated Springfield twice in the regular season.
Sullivan said his team is not only looking forward to its semifinal match but the chance in the tournament’s following round to compete against a NCAA Division I-II team.
“This a great event where we have a big crowd and a lot of the community there to play a Division I team in our gym,” he said. “It’s never been any different, we always enjoy every minute of it.”
Beyond the tournament matches, the Morgan Classic before the championship and third-place match will feature a youth volleyball clinic for players and coaches.
Sullivan said the annual clinic associated with the tournament has increased in popularity in recent years with coaches and players from across the Northeast coming to the event.
“We’re excited about the field, and we’re excited about the tournament,” he said. “I think for us it’s a really good time to give back to the volleyball community.”