Stevens Institute of Technology has won the NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Tournament in a 3-0 sweep over three-time defending national champion Springfield College.
The victory, which took place on the Stevens campus in front of a home crowd over the weekend, is the first team championship in Stevens Athletics history and closes out a magical season with a storybook ending.
“Winning the first NCAA team championship at Stevens is truly special and to be able to do it on our home court in front of our fans was remarkable. I get goose bumps every time I think about how loud Canavan Arena was and the number of people who came there to support the team,” says Russell Rogers, director of physical education, athletics & recreation.
Finishing 31-4 on the season, the Stevens team entered the tournament as not only the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, but the No. 1 team in the country. It marked the first time any Stevens team in any sport has been ranked in the top spot overall. More impressively, the team had only one loss within ranks of DIII, and recorded the second-most wins in a season in program history.
Earlier this month, the Ducks claimed their first United Volleyball Conference title, knocking out No. 2 seed SUNY-New Paltz in four sets. Additionally, Head Coach Patrick Dorywalski took home UVC Coach of the Year honors. Dorywalski has helmed the program since its inception in 1990, and is the winningest coach in Stevens history. He has 502 men’s victories, including his 500th win against Baruch last Friday in the quarterfinals. He also had 136 wins as the women’s head coach from 1986-99.
Stevens - 2015 NCAA Men's Volleyball Champions
Patrick Duffy, assistant director of athletic communications, says what is remarkable about the champs is their ability to balance rigorous academics with their ability to excel and compete athletically at the highest level.
“Coach Dorywalski and Assistant Coach Kody DuBarry pushed the team not only on the court, but to be better students in the classroom,” Duffy says.
This approach by the coaching staff, according to Rogers, is indicative of the athletic culture at Stevens where academic excellence is never compromised for the sake of athletic competition. The team GPA is a cumulative 3.328. In addition, Stevens player Alexander Carpenter won the Elite 89 Award at the NCAA Championship banquet, which is given out to the student-athlete who has the highest overall GPA among the teams competing at the championship site.
Dorywalski expressed awe when describing his players’ work ethic both in the classroom and gym.
“We have to chase them out of the gym. And their workload academically is so unbelievable. To graduate from this school – it’s amazing what they’ve accomplished.”
Named Most Valuable Player in the tournament, Stevens junior Tim Ferriter says he was overcome with emotions during the last few points of the game.
“It was like everything was finally coming together, the hard work was finally paying off.”
Ferriter was eager to give credit to DuBarry, saying DuBarry’s outstanding scouting was instrumental to the team’s success.
“He developed a game plan and we just went in and executed how we wanted, and it worked out for us,” says Ferriter.
Dorywalski could not agree more about the contributions of his assistant coach.
“Kody has been amazing. He has never, on any single day, watched less than three, four, five hours of video. Why he doesn’t have coke-bottle glasses I have no idea, but he has done an amazing job of scouting, preparing, getting these guys ready with a great game plan. He’s been a huge asset to this school and to our program.”
Stevens senior David Evans, who was named United Volleyball Conference Player of the Year earlier this month, says this national championship is the culmination of many years of hard work and was undoubtedly the goal from the beginning of the season.
“We have 4th year-, 5th year- students. We’ve been working with this specific team since we first got to campus. And it just took over from there. Day in, day out everyone was in the gym to get better for today,” recalls Evans.
As one of six seniors on the team, Evans is looking ahead to graduation. But he is immensely gratified about the team’s accomplishments and what winning a national title means to the future of the program.
“This means a lot for the program and the school, and we have no doubt that the talent next year will be just as good and build on this win.”