After a successful 22-11 season in 2017, the Eastern Mennonite men's volleyball team returns most of their roster for a notably tougher schedule in 2018.
EMU's men have 10 home matches on their 32-match schedule, including the season opener against nationally ranked New Paltz in Yoder Arena on Jan. 17, which is the first of five matches in four days.
An early highlight to the schedule will be a huge weekend on Feb 16-17, with the Royals taking on three teams ranked in the AVCA Preseason Poll. The men take on 2017 CVC Champion Juniata College on that Friday along with perennial power UC Santa Cruz. The next day they host developing rival Marymount. The Saints won the CVC's regular season last year before being upset by Eastern Mennonite in the postseason tournament.
Other CVC home dates feature Southern Virginia (Feb. 7), Ramapo (Feb. 24) and Thiel (Mar. 17).
Two former CVC teams, Alvernia and Stevenson, will now compete within the Middle Atlantic Conference in its inaugural volleyball sponsored season.
Among the road dates are two invitationals, including the Wildcat Invite at SUNY Poly in Utica, N.Y., and the Knight Classic hosted by Arcadia in Glenside, Pa. Four of six tri-matches are also on the road this year including dates at Cairn, Lasell, Rutgers-Newark, and Vassar.
Coming off one of the best seasons in program history, which included not only the first CVC Tournament appearance but also a run to the championship match, the Eastern Mennonite men received votes in the 2017 AVCA Final National Poll, finishing just out of the top 15. With today's release of the 2018 preseason poll, EMU's men are in a similar place, three spots outside of the top 15.
CVC teams within the top 15 include: Juniata (No. 6), Kean (No. 11), and Marymount (t-No. 14). Nationally ranked teams outside of the CVC but slated for EMU's men include: New Paltz State (No. 3), Vassar (No. 4), UC Santa Cruz (No. 8), and MIT (No. 12). Lasell was the first team outside of the top 15 to receive votes for the 2018 season.
Within the CVC this year, there are two divisions of five teams, with each team playing twice. For EMU, this means that there are eight CVC matches against division opponents along with five matches against the other CVC division. Only the top three teams from each division will advance to the six-team postseason tourney.
The CVC Tournament starts with quarterfinals on April 10. The semifinals and championship are April 13-14 at the top seed.