MARSHFIELD, Mass. – Defending champions Elms College and reigning regular season champions Endicott College tied for the top spot in the 2019 NECC Men’s Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll, with each school collecting 60 points. The Blazers and Gulls split the first place votes, collecting four a piece.
The No. 15 Blazers are coming off of their first NECC Championship since 2012, and are led by the 2018 NECC Coach of the Year, Sheila Gisbrecht. Elms was nationally ranked for the first time in program history a year ago, and will return the NECC Rookie of the Year, Jovanny Torres (Juncos, P.R.). Torres finished third in the NECC in overall hitting percentage at .352, helping Elms to the fifth-best hitting percentage in the nation (.294). The rookie was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Honorable Mention All-America team, while also being named the AVCA Newcomer of the Year. Elms will also return 2018 first team All-NECC selection Jeremy Torres (Juncos, P.R.) who finished third in the conference in overall kills per set (3.49).
The Gulls, led by sixth-year head coach George Chapell, return key contributors from last year’s team, which was named the NCAA statistical champion in kills per set (13.50), and made their first national poll appearance since 2011. Stepping back on the court for the Gulls is the reigning NECC Men’s Volleyball Player of the Year, Bryn Lipton (Rockford, Ill.). Lipton finished his sophomore campaign first in league play in service aces per set with 1.14, while landing third in kills per set with 3.27. He was named to the AVCA All-America Second Team, and was recently named to the 2019 Off the Block Division III Preseason All-America Honorable Mention Team. Also returning for the Gulls is 2018 NECC Defensive Player of the Year, Ryan Healy (Fair Lawn, N.J.), who anchored a Gulls defense that led the nation in opponent’s hitting percentage at 0.095.
Landing in third with 45 total points is Eastern Nazarene College, who is led by second-year head coach, Derek Schmitt. The Lions are entering their third year of varsity competition, and reached NECC postseason play in each of their first two seasons. The Lions will look to senior Brandon Jenkins (Norton, Mass.) to guide their squad, as he was second on the team in digs per set (1.84) in 2018 league play, helping the Lions to the lead league in digs per set with 10.95.
Newcomer Nichols College was voted into the fourth slot, with a total of 35 points. Nichols tasked head coach John Post to lead the Bison in their first year of varsity competition. Post will lead a young squad, which includes eight freshmen.
Dean College, led by third-year head coach Natalie Cohen, comes in right behind Nichols with 33 points. The Bulldogs were tied for the league lead in digs per set a season ago, with 10.95.
Newbury College (28), Southern Vermont College (19), and Lesley University (8) round out the 2019 NECC Men’s Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll.
2019 NECC Men’s Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll
T1. Elms- 60 (4)
T1. Endicott- 60 (4)
3. Eastern Nazarene- 45
4. Nichols- 35
5. Dean- 33
6. Newbury- 28
7. Southern Vermont- 19
8. Lesley- 8