PREVIEW: preseason outlook for EIVA conference

Mason's men's volleyball team is predicted to finish fourth in the EIVA this season (photo courtesy
Mason's men's volleyball team is predicted to finish fourth in the EIVA this season (photo courtesy

While other teams at Mason have and are continuing to transition over to the ultra competitive Atlantic 10, men’s volleyball remains in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) in 2014.


Although the Patriots were selected to finish fourth overall in the eight team conference by the coaches, they will continue to look up to Penn State.


Sure you’ve heard all about the New York Yankees 27 World Series titles and for you hockey lovers out there the Montreal Canadiens and their 25 Stanley Cup celebrations, but did you know that the Nittany Lions have won 22 straight conference titles?


Some of the readers out there hadn’t even taken their first steps the last time someone other than Penn State took home EIVA champion honors.


With Mason opening up home play this Thursday against the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras, here is Fourth Estate’s EIVA preview in order of predicted finish:




1.                   Penn State (23-8; 13-1 EIVA in 2013)

After not giving up a single set during EIVA conference tournament play vs. Princeton and Harvard, the Nittany Lions squared off with Brigham Young University in national semifinal spotlight. Despite losing 3-0 along with EIVA tournament Most Outstanding Player Joe Sunder, Penn State is the clear favorite once again. With Fab 50 recruits Aidan Albright, Chris Nugent and Jalen Penrose joining 2013 conference Co-Player of the Year Aaron Russell and his brother Peter, the current No. 12 team in the nation has as good of a starting lineup as any in the entire country.


Games vs. Mason: Saturday March 1st and Saturday March 29th (at Penn State)






2.                   Princeton (13-10; 9-5 EIVA in 2013)


Receiving votes in the top-15 national poll, the Tigers start the season in California before returning to New Jersey to take on current No. 14 IPFW on February 7th. While Penn State has the clear edge on Princeton in terms of high name talent, the Tigers biggest advantage over the Nittany Lions is experience. Over half of the team is comprised of juniors and seniors led by two-time player of the week outside hitter Pat Schwagler and middle blocker Will Siroky.


Games vs George Mason: Friday April 11th and Friday April 18th (at Princeton)






3.                   Harvard (18-9; 10-4 EIVA in 2013)


After taking down Mason in the EIVA semi final before falling to Penn State in the championship game last season, Harvard continues their upwards climb in the rankings, checking in at No. 3 in the EIVA preseason outlook. Following a combined record of 14-29 during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, the Crimson have won 18 and 19 games the past two years. This season they’ll be led by blocker Kyle Rehkemper and All-EIVA second team outside hitter D.J. White. D.J.’s freshman brother Casey will be another name to keep tabs on. A 6-4 outside hitter, Casey led Mira Costa High School in kills with 275.


Games vs. Mason: Friday February 14th (at Harvard) and Friday March 7th



4.                   Mason (15-12; 11-3 EIVA in 2013)

In the first game of the 2014 campaign at No. 15 Ohio State, a game in which the Patriots struggled to match the Buckeyes potent attack in the third set, Mason was led by freshman Radoslav Popov and Jack Wilbon. The duo will be part of a major roster overhaul that is replacing a senior laden squad that featured five first-team all-conference members including  EIVA Co-Player of the Year Mark Jones. Two-time EIVA Coach of the Year Fred Chao, in his 14th season at the helm, is hoping to led the Patriots to their first conference championship since 1988. His overall coaching record is 189-153.






5.                   St. Francis (Pa.) (12-15; 7-7 EIVA in 2013)


With only four teams making the EIVA conference tournament in April, the Red Flash are openly admitting motivation for being forecasted to fall short. According to the Red Flash’s official athletic website, head coach Mike Rumbaugh said “"Being picked to finish one spot out of the playoffs will give our team good motivation in the upcoming season. But we are thrilled to be thought of as being on the cusp of being a playoff team by our peers." The Red Flash are led by a core trio of EIVA first teamer Logan Patterson, Colin Sherwin and Mark Kochan.


Games vs. Mason: Friday February 28th and Friday March 28th (at St. Francis)






6.                   NJIT (7-21; 4-10 EIVA in 2013)


NJIT opened the season with a victory over Limestone 3-1 before falling to Lindenwood eight days later 1-3. The Highlanders play several division III powerhouses before opening conference play at Sacred Heart on February 8th. Whilst NJIT won only 25 percent of their games last season, there is reasonable optimism in terms of improvement as the team returns Chris Kaepernick (231 kills), second-team All EIVA libero Brady Smith (team-high 227 digs in 2013) and Kajetan Borecki.


Games vs. Mason: Friday February 21st and Saturday April 5th (at NJIT)






7.                   Sacred Heart (4-19; 2-12 EIVA in 2013)


The Pioneers were 2-0 vs. Rutgers-Newark and 0-12 against the other six teams on the conference slate in 2013. Hoping to get more victories against the competition in 2014, Sacred Heart will be led by seniors Brad Borsay and Raymond Satagaj along with sophomore A.J. Logosh.


Games vs. Mason: Saturday February 15th (at Sacred Heart) and Saturday March 8th






8.                   Rutgers-Newark (4-21; 0-14 EIVA in 2013)


Hoping to get their first conference win since April 11, 2012, the Scarlet Raiders open EIVA play at St. Francis on February 14th. Despite competing at the Division I level since 1966, 2014 will mark the last year Rutgers-Newark will be a member of the EIVA. Preparing to face division III competition starting in 2015, most of the Scarlet Raider’s non-conference schedule is against D-III foes. Names to follow throughout the season will be Travis Mintzer and Brett Pickens.


Games vs. Mason: Saturday February 22nd and Friday August 4th (at Rutgers-Newark)

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