The EMU volleyball men have been picked to finish in the upper half of the loaded Continental Volleyball Conference, coming in at No. 5 in the preseason poll.
The Royals, coming off a 21-13 season where they advanced into the semifinals of the CVC Tournament, tallied 95 points in the vote of league coaches, coming in nine points behind fourth-place Juniata. Rutgers-Newark was nine points behind EMU in the poll, which was led by 2018 champion Kean University.
Last year, Eastern Mennonite earned the third seed in the talented CVC West, upsetting second-seeded Juniata in the quarterfinals. The men then lost to Kean, the tourney host, in the semifinals.
Abele recorded 206 kills, 165 digs, and 61 blocks last season while Ocampo finished with 149 kills and was second in the CVC with 106 total blocks. Senior Hunter Taylor (Ashland, Va./Patrick Henry) will add upperclassman leadership for the team. Head Coach Danielle Lickey is hoping that newcomer Angelo Olayvar (Richmond, Va.) can take control at the libero position while the rest of the talented freshman class fills in other roles.
Continuing the recent trend of expansion, three new teams join the CVC this year, with all three being first-year programs: Immaculata, Elizabethtown and Randolph-Macon. R-MC is a familiar school to Royals fans as a fellow ODAC member for the rest of their sports, while Elizabethtown plays in the Landmark and Immaculata belongs to the new Atlantic East Conference.
With the growth of the Continental Volleyball Conference to 12 members, the league returns to a single division set-up this year with each team playing each other once. The top six teams make the postseason tournament.
EMU's men host an exhibition quad match this Saturday, starting at 11:00am against nationally ranked CVC-opponent Southern Virginia. A team of EMU alumni and a Richmond club team will also be part of the day. The 2019 season officially opens on Saturday, Jan. 19, when the Royals host a tri-match against Messiah and No. 15 Elms.
The men face another tough schedule, playing seven of the 15 teams in the AVCA Preseason Poll, including three CVC members.
2019 CVC Preseason Poll
(#) Denotes First Place Votes
1. Kean (11) - 132
2. Marymount - 114
3. Southern Virginia - 107
4. Juniata (1) - 104
5. Eastern Mennonite - 95
6. Rutgers-Newark - 86
7. Ramapo - 77
8. Randolph-Macon - 59
9. Elizabethtown - 50
10. Cairn - 46
11. Immaculata - 33
12. Neumann - 23