By Dennis Michael Stuart for VolleyballMag.com
Two Conference Carolinas matches Tuesday kick off a busy week in NCAA men’s volleyball.
All four leagues announced their respective players of the week and the AVCA polls show unbeaten and high-riding Ohio State is still No. 1 in the Division I-II poll.
First, Tuesday’s schedule. In Conference Carolinas, Pfeiffer (0-1 overall, 0-1 CC) goes to King (5-1, 1-0) and Limestone (3-1, 3-0) goes to North Greenville (2-6, 2-1). And Charleston of the EIVA (3-3) plays host to Bluefield, an NAIA team that is 0-3.
The AVCA rankings show the Buckeyes at No. 1 at 9-0 and riding a 32-match winning streak. UCLA stayed No. 2, but there was a little shuffling after that, as Long Beach State moved up a notch to third, trading places with BYU. Hawai’i stayed No. 5, but former No. 6 Lewis dropped to eight. The new No. 6 is UC Irvine, Stanford is seventh, and No. 9 Pepperdine and No. 10 Loyola round out the top 10.
The Sports Imports/AVCA Division I-II player of the week is Miles Johnson of Ohio State. The senior right side averaged 5.11 kills per set and hit .430 in three matches, victories over Penn State, Barton and Long Beach State.
The AVCA Division III poll is out for this week and the top six remain unchanged: Springfield, SUNY New Paltz, Stevens, UC Santa Cruz, Wentworth and NYU. And the AVCA DIII POW is senior outside Gabe Shankweiler of Stevens Institute of Technology.
Offensive player of the week: Saint Francis senior setter Daniel Ford. He averaged 11.1 assists per set in a loss to Long Beach State and a win over Barton. He also had four kills, 14 digs and four total blocks. Ford leads the EIVA in assists (366) and assists/set (10.46).
Defensive player of the week: Saint Francis sophomore Gabe Woffindin. He averaged 3.29 digs per set and for the season is second in total digs (87) in the EIVA and fourth in digs/set (2.49).
Key matches this week: Saint Francis (4-5) travels to Penn State (5-4) in the league opener for both teams. Princeton continues its California trip at UC San Diego on Wednesday and at Concordia Irvine on Friday. Sacred Heart (3-1) is home for four matches in four days against non-conference opponents Alderson Broaddus and Lincoln Memorial. Charleston has four in four, also. After facing Bluefield it goes to St. Andrews for two matches and then plays Cincinnati Christian. Harvard (1-3) also plays Alderson Broaddus for its only game this week and Mason (4-4) has the week off.
Last week’s key results: Last Tuesday, Penn State got swept by Ohio State. The biggest surprise of the week was George Mason getting swept at the MIVA’s Fort Wayne, which also swept NJIT.
Worth noting: Jabarry Goodridge of NJIT leads the league in kills at 4.19 per set. SFU’s Michael Fisher is second at 3.90. Penn State’s Chris Nugent leads in kills with 124 and is hitting .307. Princeton’s Junior Oboh leads the EIVA at .353.
Offensive player of the week: Ohio State senior right side Miles Johnson.
Defensive player of the week: There were co-defensive POWs in Fort Wayne senior libero Scott McNerney and Ball State sophomore libero Adam Wessell. Both averaged the same amount of digs against the same teams with no reception errors for both.
Key matches this week: MIVA teams are off until Thursday, but there’s a big one that night when Ohio State (9-0) travels to Ball State (8-1) in the MIVA opener for both teams. Then on Saturday the Buckeyes go to Fort Wayne (3-8) and Ball State welcomes McKendree (5-6). Lewis (6-2, 1-1) and Loyola (4-3, 0-0) take turns playing host to Quincy (3-4) and Lindenwood (0-7).
Last week’s key results: Grand Canyon stunning Lewis in five was the upset of the week a day after Lewis had beaten GCU in five. McKendree got two conference wins over Lindenwood and Quincy and Ohio State swept Penn State.
Worth noting: Four teams from the league remain in the AVCA poll … Miles Johnson of Ohio State leads with 4.34 kills per set. Nicolas Szerszen is second at 4.07. Pelegrin Vargas of Fort Wayne and Mitch Perinar of Lewis lead with 127 kills each, while Johnson is right behind at 126. Sam Schindler of Lindenwood leads in hitting percentage at .404.
Player of the week: Limestone College sophomore outside hitter Kevin Rocklein. Rocklein kept the Saints on top after leading them to a 2-0 week by averaging 2.86 kills per set, hitting .372. He also had eight digs and three blocks. Rocklein ranks seventh in the ConfCarolinas with 2.71 kills/set and ninth in four other categories: hitting (.256), points/set (3.3), aces (.29) and digs (1.86).
Key matches this week: There are plenty of league matches on tap including Barton and Mount Olive playing host to Erskine and Emmanuel. League-leader Limestone is off for 10 days after the Tuesday match at North Greenville.
Last week’s key results: Limestone got victories over Emmanuel and Erskine to open CC play. Mount Olive went to Penn State and got swept, but earlier beat Belmont Abbey. Barton went to Ohio State and lost to the home team and Saint Francis.
Worth noting: Evan Blair of Pfeiffer leads the league with 4.67 kills per set. The next closest is way behind, Mount Olive’s Robert Poole at 3.70. But John Sobel of Lees-MacRae leads with 83 kills overall. Jon Wheaton of King is hitting .438 and also leads in blocks at 1.24 per set.
Player of the week: Pepperdine sophomore outside hitter David Wieczorek. He hit .413 and complemented 32 kills with five aces, eight digs and four blocks in nine sets in home matches against Cal Baptist and USC.
Key matches this week: UCLA goes to BYU for matches on Friday and Saturday and it’s big not only in the MPSF but also the national picture. UCSB goes to Hawai’i for Friday-Saturday matches and USC tries to get on the right track at UCI on Friday.
Last week’s key results: UCLA maintained its dominance by sweeping UCSB twice and then beat Princeton. The stunner was UC Irvine’s upset at BYU but the next night the Cougars swept UCI.
Worth noting: Nine of the league’s 12 teams are ranked. Kevin Rakestraw of Stanford leads in hitting percentage at a whopping .570, but UCLA’s Gyimah Daenan is at .562 and UCI’s Matthew Younggren is hitting .525. Ben Patch of BYU leads with 4.75 kills per set and Lucas Yoder of USC is right behind at 4.69. Rakestraw also leads in blocks at 1.23 per set, just ahead of Long Beach’s Amir Lugo-Rodriguez at 1.22.