Springfield Picked as Men's Division III Preseason Favorite
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The defending Molten Division III Men's Invitational Champion, Springfield, who finished 2008 with a 20-7 overall record and a No. 1 final national ranking, rings in a new season atop the throne with 15 first-place votes after the Bison/AVCA Division III Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll was released by the AVCA headquarters on Tuesday. The Pride is poised to secure a repeat title performance, with the 2008 AVCA All-American duo of Cal Palumbo (First-Team) and Andrew Sipe (Second-Team) back for another go-about.
The Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz boast a pair of returning 2008 AVCA First-Team All-Americans in outside hitters Brad Sullivan and Austin Einhorn, as the squad has been selected as the No. 2 team in the poll this preseason. UC Santa Cruz, who is fresh off a 15-11 overall mark one year ago, grabbed one first-place vote in the process, and will again look to secure an "At-Large" bid to the Molten Invitational in April.
2008 Molten runner-up Vassar also looks to establish itself as the team to beat after concluding last season with a 26-7 overall record and a No. 2 final national ranking. The Brewers will have two AVCA All-Americans back to anchor the 2009 line-up, First-Team selections John Kessenich and Phil Tully. Vassar checks in 2009 as the No. 3 team on the preseason poll.
Juniata again finds itself in the mix for Division III supremacy, taking possession of the No. 4 spot on the poll. After turning in a 10-15 overall record on a schedule largely comprised of Division I and II programs in 2008, and after securing a No. 4 final national ranking, the Eagles welcome back a pair of AVCA All-American performers to their line-up. 2008 First-Team selection and 2007 AVCA National Player of the Year Matt Werle and 2008 Second-Team pick Dan Powers will carry the load for the perennial power.
Numerous other squads will be out to prove themselves as well, with Carthage, Eastern Mennonite, Hunter, MIT, Nazareth, Newbury, NYU, Philadelphia Biblical, Ramapo, Rivier and Stevens amongst those seeking to be king of the Division III men's volleyball world.