The race to Los Angeles and the NCAA men’s Division I-II championship title is about to start and the contest is wide open. Several teams from across the country have the components to contend for the title. A solid core of experienced players from last season have graduated and it will be up to several talented newcomers to step in and the underclassmen to step up to see who will remain standing at the end. Read on to find out a little bit more about some of the teams in the hunt for the title.
2011 Record: 20-8 (16-6 MPSF)
2011 Postseason: 3-1 loss to UC Santa Barbara in MPSF Quarterfinals
Head Coach: Chris McGown
Career Record: First Season
Key Returners: Robb Stowell (Sr., OPP), Taylor Sander (So., OH), Futi Tavana (Sr., MH), Joe Kauliakamoa (Sr., S)
Key Losses: Otavio Souza (MH), Kevin Sagers (OH), BJ Hiapo (L)
Snapshot: Picked to win the MPSF by the league coaches, BYU will be led by Stowell who topped the squad last season with 412 kills and Sander who posted 341 kills. Tavana, who last year was one of the best middles in the country with 234 kills on .436 hitting with 160 blocks, is recovering from surgery and it remains to be seen how long his recovery will take, potentially putting two inexperienced players in the middle. Kauliakamoa is back after leading the team with 961 assists along with 113 digs and 73 blocks. The Cougars will need to replace Hiapo who picked up 124 digs and Souza who posted 94 blocks.
2011 Record: 15-14 (12-10 MPSF)
2011 Postseason: 3-1 loss to UC Santa Barbara in MPSF Semifinals
Head Coach: Andy Read
Career Record: 27-31 (2 seasons)
Key Returners: Jim Baughman (Sr., OPP), Brad Hemmerling (Sr., OH), Ryan Meehan (Sr., MH), Taylor Crabb (So., OH), Connor Olbright (So., S)
Key Losses: Kirk Francis (L), Mike Klipsch (S), Antwain Aguillard (MH), Josh Riley (OH), Kyle Friend (OH)
Snapshot: Headlining the 49ers’ 12 returning letterwinners is Baughman, who led the squad in kills with 314. Also back is Crabb, an MPSF All-Tournament selection who put up 296 kills and 158 digs and Meehan who recorded 111 blocks. Long Beach will need to replace libero Francis (238 digs), setter Klipsch (783 assists, 142 digs) and middle Aguillard (138 blocks).
2011 Record: 21-8 (9-3 MIVA)
2011 Postseason: 3-1 loss to Ohio State in MIVA Finals
Head Coach: Shane Davis
Career Record: 167-63 (8 seasons)
Key Returners: Mike Bunting (Sr., OH), Steve Thompson (Sr., MH), Tommy Becker (RS Sr., L), Eric Daliege (RS Jr., MH), Joe Smalzer (RS So., OPP), Dainis Berzins (So., OH)
Key Losses: Mike Hutz (S)
Snapshot: Loyola brings back a majority of its team from last year but will be looking to replace setter Hutz, who dished out 1,061 assists while also ranking second in digs (149) and service aces (25). Bunting and Smalzer are back to carry the offensive load, as each recorded 417 and 345, respectively, a year ago, as Smalzer also posted 47 service aces. Becker led the defense with 162 digs while Daliege and Thompson combined for 157 total blocks.
2011 Record: 26-6 (11-1 MIVA)
2011 Postseason: NCAA Champions
Head Coach: Pete Hanson
Career Record: 540-288 (27 seasons)
Key Returners: Shawn Sangrey (Sr., OPP), Mik Berzins (Sr., OH), Anthony Hock (Sr., OH/L), Grayson Overman (Jr., MH)
Key Losses: Steven Kehoe (S), John Klanac (OH), Kevin Heine (MH), Jason Tobkin (OH)
Snapshot: The Buckeyes will be looking to replace several key components of last year’s NCAA title run who brought not only skills but multiple years of experience to the floor. Kehoe led Ohio State to a .343 hitting percentage while Heine attacked at a .463 clip with 242 kills and 106 blocks and Klanac and Tobkin notched 372 and 163 kills, respectively, while all four were fifth-year seniors. Sangrey is back to carry the offensive load as he did last season with 380 kills while also adding in 157 digs. Overman ranked second on last year’s team with 105 total blocks while Berzins returns after leading the defense with 210 total digs.
2011 Record: 24-7 (10-0 EIVA)
2011 Postseason: 3-1 loss to Ohio State in NCAA Semifinals
Head Coach: Mark Pavlik
Career Record: 414-120 (17 seasons)
Key Returners: Joe Sunder (RS Sr., OH), Edgardo Goas (RS Sr., S), Nick Turko (Jr., MB), Tom Comfort (Jr., OPP), Jace Olson (So., OH)
Key Losses: Dennis Del Valle (L)
Snapshot: The Nittany Lions return a bulk of their team from last year but will need to replace sparkplug libero Del Valle (300 digs). Sunder racked up 454 kills on .361 hitting while Comfort added in 267 kills. Turko topped the blocking list with 80 stuffs and also returning is four-year starting setter Goas, who led the team to a .309 hitting percentage and collected 1,224 assists, 128 digs and 67 blocks.
2011 Record: 11-15 (7-15 MPSF)
Head Coach: Marv Dunphy
Career Record: 518-214 (28 seasons)
Key Returners: Maurice Torres (Jr., OPP), Matt Pollack (Sr., MH), Mike McMahon (So., L), Chase Ross (RS Sr., OH)
Key Losses: Cory Riecks (OH), Tyler Jaynes (MH), Kasey Crider (S)
Snapshot: The Waves bring back four starters from last year’s team, including Torres who led the squad with 376 kills (4.04 kps) and Pollock who collected 208 kills on .423 hitting and topped the blocking list with 108 stuffs. Called “solid at every position and too far down on everyone’s radar” by one MPSF coach, Pepperdine will need to replace Crider at setter (1,082 assists, .281 team hitting percentage), Riecks at outside (225 kills, 94 digs, primary passer) and Jaynes in the middle (111 kills on .431 hitting, 78 blocks).
2011 Record: 19-9 (15-7 MPSF)
2011 Postseason: Lost 3-2 to Long Beach State in MPSF Quarterfinals
Head Coach: John Kosty
Career Record: 84-62 (5 seasons)
Key Returners: Brad Lawson (Sr., OH), Erik Shoji (Sr., L), Gus Ellis (Sr., MH), Evan Barry (Sr., S), Eric Mochalski (So., OH/MH), Brian Cook (So., OH)
Key Losses: Spencer McLachlin (OH)
Snapshot: The Cardinal returns six of its seven starters from a year ago, including three from their 2010 national championship squad. Lawson, the team leader in kills with 455 who also picked up a second-best 186 digs, returns on the outside as Shoji (286 digs) is back for the defense. Mochalski and Ellis combined for 181 total blocks while Barry dished out 1,272 assists last season. Stanford will need to find an answer for the graduation of McLachlin, who posted 405 kills and 166 digs and was a mainstay in the passing rotation.
2011 Record: 23-4 (20-2 MPSF)
2011 Postseason: Lost 3-1 to UC Santa Barbara in NCAA Semifinals
Head Coach: Bill Ferguson
Career Record: 85-58 (5 seasons)
Key Returners: Tony Ciarelli (Sr., OH), Henry Cassiday (So., L),
Key Losses: Riley McKibbin (S), Austin Zahn (MH), Murphy Troy (OPP), Tri Bourne (OH)
Snapshot: The Trojans will be looking to replace several holes after losing McKibbin (1,187 assists), Zahn (87 blocks), Troy (376 kills) and Bourne (245 kills). Taking the reins at setter will be freshman Micah Christenson and competition in the gym will be fierce at opposite as well as the other outside hitter position to complement Ciarelli, who last season posted 350 kills, good for second on the squad. Cassiday is back at libero (team-high 257 digs) to anchor the defense.
2011 Record: 19-12 (14-8 MPSF)
2011 Postseason: Lost 3-1 to USC in MPSF Semifinals
Head Coach: John Speraw
Career Record: 176-106 (8 seasons)
Key Returners: Carson Clark, (Sr., OPP), Austin D’Amore (Sr., MH), Scott Kevorkan (So., MH), Kevin Carroll (Sr., OH) Connor Hughes (So., OH)
Key Losses: Cory Yoder (OH), Jordan DuFault (OH), Anthony Spittle (S), Kevin Wynne (MH)
Snapshot: The Anteaters bring back offensive threat Clark (509 kills, 47 aces) on the outside who also led the team in digs with 160. Blocking leader Kevorkan also returns after posting 72 stuffs a year ago. Irvine will be contending with the loss of Spittle (1,113 assists) and will also need to find a way to replace Yoder, who put up 364 kills, 22 aces, 139 digs and 47 blocks. Freshman Kevin Tillie could fill these shoes, as his addition to the squad made one MPSF coach comment, “if Tillie is as good as he can be, that will put Irvine over the top as no one else in the country will have two players at the pins like [Tillie and Clark].”
2011 Record: 16-15 (9-13 MPSF)
2011 Postseason: Lost 3-1 to USC in MPSF Quarterfinals
Head Coach: Al Scates
Career Record: 1,217-282 (49 seasons)
Key Returners: Gonzalo Quiroga (So., OH), Weston Dunlap (RS Sr., MH), Kyle Caldwell (Sr., S/OPP), Thomas Amberg (Sr., MH), Jeremy Casebeer (RS Sr., OH), Robart Page (So., OH), Jack Polales (RS Sr., MH), Spencer Rowe (So., OPP),
Key Losses: Alex Scattareggia (S), Tom Hastings (L)
Snapshot: The Bruins return a majority of their offense and Caldwell will step into the setting shoes after playing opposite last season. Quiroga returns to top the offensive list with nearly 300 kills recorded last year and Dunlap sat atop the blocking list with 94 total stuffs while also leading the nation in hitting percentage. UCLA will need to fill the shoes of Hastings who led the team with 234 digs a year ago and also find a replacement for Caldwell on the right.
Originally published in February 2012