2009 NECVA PRESEASON POLL RELEASED
Jan. 15, 2009
JERSEY CITY, N.J. - Defending North East Collegiate Volleyball Association champion Vassar College has been voted the unanimous favorite to win the 2009 NECVA Championship, in the league's preseason poll. The Brewers went 26-7 last year behind the leadership of NECVA and AVCA Division III National Coach of the Year Jonathan Penn and advanced to the national final before falling to Springfield. The Brewers, in their first year as a member of the conference in 2008, posted a perfect 21-0 record against NECVA affiliated schools. Vassar returns five starters and nine letterwinners, including NECVA Player of the Year and First-Team All-American Phil Tully and First-Team All-American John Kessenich.
Ramapo College was picked to finish second and received 77 points. The Roadrunners, who will host the 2009 Molten Championship in Mahwah, NJ, reached the 2008 conference semifinals. Ramapo returns six starters from a team, which finished 29-6, including Shane Donohue and Jairo Sierra and are coached by Don Vanderbeck. Stevens Institute of Technology is ranked third with 63 points. The Ducks went 21-12 last year, reaching the NECVA Quarterfinals and return every starter and every letterwinner from that club. Coach Patrick Dorywalski has All-Conference standout Andrew Cranford and top hitter Tom Boccichio returning.
Rivier College, coached by Craig Kolek, is picked to finish fourth. The young Raiders were 22-13 last year and return every starter, including First-Team All-NECVA selection Matt Ferreira and First-Team All-New England choice Zach Hansen. Nazareth is fifth in the preseason poll. The Golden Flyers were the \#1 ranked team in Division III at one point in 2008 and the top-ranked team in the conference before being upset in the NECVA Quarterfinals. Nazareth (28-7), coached by Cal Wickens, does lose three starters, including two-time All-American Tom Maving. Returning to the floor will be Second-Team All-American Frank Leahy, a First-Team All-NECVA pick.
Philadelphia Biblical University, the surprise team of 2008, is sixth. The Crimson Eagles were 24-6 last year. Justin Brubaker, a 2008 AVCA Second-Team All American, the NECVA Western Division Player of Year and NECVA Rookie of the Year will lead a team coached by his older brother, Jade Brubaker. PBU, with 53 points, was just one behind Nazareth. Newbury College went 33-10 last year and as the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament, made a surprise run to the conference finals. The Nighthawks are seventh with 44 points.
MIT, which will host the 2009 conference tournament, is picked to finish eighth. Paul Dill's club was 25-11 last year, falling to Vassar in the NECVA Quarterfinals. With 27 points, the Engineers bring back six starters, but lose three-time First-Team All-NECVA pick and 2008 New England Division Player of the Year Praveen Pamidimukkala and Ryan Dean. Eastern Mennonite University is always a contender and the Royals are selected ninth with 21 points. Four starters return including the last two Western Division Rookies of the Year, Justin Reesor (2007) and Frankie Coto (2008), but EMU does lose standouts Ethan Fry and Ben Yoder to graduation. Steve Benson's team was 16-13 last year.
Tied for 10th in the poll are CUNYAC Division rivals Hunter College and Baruch College. Hunter made a statement last year, finishing 32-4 overall and won the ECAC South championship. Three starters return for Coach Ray Bello, including Zacarias Ripoll and ECAC Tournament MVP Wojciech Jakubiak. But standout freshman Pablo Oliveira, the CUNYAC Rookie of the Year, has transferred to Baruch, along with teammate Erik Kowalski. Baruch, which was 23-14 last year for Coach Allison Gunther, returns four starters, including CUNYAC Player of the Year Danial Levent, and brings in the two Hunter transfers. The two CUNYAC rivals received 17 points each.
Endicott College and Elms College led the other teams receiving votes. Elms returns New England Rookie of the Year Alberto Bravo. Endicott has five starters back, including First-Team All-American Dan Coleman. D'Youville College also received two votes. The NECVA will release its weekly poll every Tuesday leading up to the conference championship, April 3-5, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Rockwell Cage in Cambridge, MA.
ABOUT THE NECVA:
The North East Collegiate Volleyball Association, the largest known single-sport conference in the United States, is in its 15th year of competition during the 2009 season as a leading Division III men's volleyball conference. Founded in 1995 as the Metro Conference, it became known as the NECVA in 1998. Currently comprised of 43 colleges and universities stretching from New Hampshire to Virginia, Albertus Magnus College, Daniel Webster College, Emerson College and St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) joined the conference for the 2009 campaign.
The league is divided into five smaller divisions: CUNY (8), GNAC (7), Metro (10), New England (8), and Western (9) with one associate member. Each week, schools from the five divisions nominate athletes and then vote for the divisional Player and Rookie of the Week awards. The conference sports information office then selects the NECVA Player and Rookie honors from each of these five divisional winners. The NECVA holds an annual 16-team conference tournament each April with the top two schools in each division and six at-large selections earning berths. The NECVA champion receives one of four automatic bids to the Molten Division III Final Four in April.
2009 POLL VOTERS INCLUDE:
Greg Antonelli, Mount Ida College (GNAC Division); Tim Byram, Endicott College (NE Division); Joseph DeBenedictis, Hunter College (CUNYAC Division); Paul Dill, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (NE Division); Patrick Dorywalski, Stevens Institute of Technology (Metro Division); Chris Gonzales, CUNYAC Office; Bill Gorman, Wentworth Institute of Technology (NE Division); Keith Koch, Medaille College (Western Division); Craig Kolek, Rivier College (GNAC Division); John Neves; Baruch College (CUNYAC Division); Mike Spinner, Yeshiva University (Metro Division); Ira Thor, NECVA Sports Information Director/New Jersey City University; Don Vanderbeck, Ramapo College (At-large voter); Cal Wickens, Nazareth College (Western Division); Chris Wright, Emmanuel College (GNAC Division).