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Texas men’s volleyball: Hawai’i, Stanford, Queens, FDU set to play in First Point Challenge

NCAA men’s volleyball — including top-ranked and defending national-champion Hawai’i and No. 14 Stanford — is coming to Texas for the first time.

“It’s really important to get out and play the emerging teams and show different parts of the country what men’s volleyball is like,” Hawai’i coach Charlie Wade said. “And that they have access to playing the very best teams … anything we can do to push boys high school volleyball in Texas would be amazing.”

The First Point Collegiate Challenge is part of a multi-event volleyball weekend in Austin that includes the men’s tournament, a boys tournament, a girls tournament, and a showcase.

It all happens in the Austin Convention Center and while it might have a different look than first expected, it’s a big step in helping grow boys volleyball in a state in which the sport is becoming more and more popular.

More about the First Point Challenge follows, but first a look at other happenings in the men’s game.

TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY — There were two matches Tuesday when independent Daeman (4-2) hit .484 with seven players getting four or more kills in a sweep of Medaille (1-5), and North Greenville (2-2) of Conference Carolinas did the same to independent Tusculum (0-4).

Wednesday, the schedule includes late Austin fill-in Fairleigh Dickinson at the EIVA’s Sacred Heart, No. 13 UC San Diego of the Big West at No. 7 USC of the MPSF, and Belmont Abbey of Conference Carolinas home for Benedict.

Want to watch a match? We have the links at the TV & Streaming Listings.

AVCA POLL — The coaches top 15 had some shakeup this week after a bunch of upsets, but Hawai’i, which lost at Ball State on Saturday and then again Monday after the poll was released, is still No. 1. Pepperdine moved up from fifth to No. 2. Long Beach State stayed No. 3. UCLA dropped two spots to No. 4 and Penn State fell one notch to No. 5. 

USC moved up three spots to No. 7, Ball State jumped five spots to No. 10, UC Santa Barbara moved in and all the way to No. 11, and Loyola dropped out.

Click here for the complete AVCA Men’s Division I-II Coaches Poll.

AVCA POW — The national player of the week is USC graduate student Sam Kobrine. He averaged 4.5 kills and hit .576 in two victories over UC Irvine 

Jack Brinkman of Queens on the attack/Queens photo

FIRST POINT COLLEGIATE CHALLENGE — The tournament was to include Hawai’i, Stanford, independent Queens of Charlotte, North Carolina, and first-year program Kentucky State of the SIAC. But Kentucky State dropped out this week and was replaced by another first-year program, Fairleigh Dickinson of New Jersey. We featured FDU coach Karl France last fall because he also coached the FDU women. 

Things kick off Thursday with a showcase and clinic, conducted by former Texas, USC, and USA women’s Olympic coach Mick Haley. Click for more information and to register for the event that runs from 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. and is open to all boys players. 

The men’s action begins at 11:30 a.m. Central on Friday when Hawai’i plays Fairleigh Dickinson. Then at 4:30 p.m., Central Stanford plays FDU before Hawai’i plays Queens at 7 p.m.

Saturday, FDU plays Queens a 3 p.m., and then at 6 p.m., Hawai’i takes on Stanford.

The five matches will be streamed by Athletes Go Live. Click here for the viewing link.

In addition to the live stream, AthletesGoLive (AGL) will be showing — in Hawai’i only — all three Rainbow Warrior matches on the Spectrum Cable Network. AthletesGoLive is a multi-functional mobile and desktop application using single-camera and multi-camera productions.

The field includes five Texas-bred players, including Stanford junior setter Nathan Lietzke, who is from Austin. His father, Glen Lietzke of Austin Juniors, is the organizer of the event.

“I’ve definitely been looking forward to the trip to Austin. Watching competitive college volleyball always gave me something to aspire to growing up, so to be able to take part in an event that brings the collegiate game to my hometown in person for the very first time should be a pretty special experience, and I’m very grateful.”

Queens has three players from Texas, Ananias Hayes from Dallas, Guillermo Jordan of League City, and Jackson Maples from Fort Worth.

And Fairleigh Dickinson freshman libero Diego Diaz is from Plano.

Hawai’i of the Big West is 4-2 after a tough start to its mainland road trip. The Rainbow Warriors were without four key players, including setter Jakob Thelle, and lost twice at Ball State.

Thelle and middle Guilherme Voss had to stay home because of COVID protocols, but have since flown from Honolulu to Austin and met the team there Tuesday. UH’s Wade said both are fully vaccinated and had no symptoms, “so it was really frustrating.”

Outside hitter Chaz Galloway is out indefinitely after sustaining a sprained ankle during practice at Ball State before the matches, Wade said. Outside Filip Humler was also unavailable at Ball State.

“We should look a little different,” Wade said. “Chaz is out, but having Jakob is big because he’s a special player. He does a lot of stuff on the floor and we’re a lot better team with him out there.”

Stanford of the MPSF is 5-2. The Cardinal last played on January 22 when Stanford beat UC Santa Cruz. Lietzke is averaging 9.22 assists per set, has seen aces, has 14 kills, 15 blocks, and 35 digs. We featured the Stanford team last month.

Queens (4-3) won twice last weekend. On Friday, the Royals swept Barton College of Conference Carolinas, and then Saturday beat Charleston of the EIVA in four. Jack Brinkman had 18 kills, hit .351, and had an ace and five digs. 

Fairleigh Dickinson played the first match in program history last week against LU and lost in four. 

Also, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are two club tournaments, the Southwest Boys Classic and the Lone Star Classic 18s for girls.

Click here for more information on the Southwest Boys Classic, and here for more on the Lone Star Classic 18s.

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