Nearly every spring sport at Stevens has its season well underway, but one sport, men’s volleyball, kicks off its campaign on Feb. 1. The Ducks travel to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. for their first match in the inaugural NCAA Division III season and hope by season’s end to be a part of the NCAA Championship at Springfield College.
The Ducks have 34 matches slated on the 2012 schedule, including two rounds of crossover play in the United Volleyball Conference and tournaments in Massachusetts, New York City and Florida.
Stevens will be challenged in each match this year, especially in the 12-team United Volleyball Conference (UVC) which is comprised of some of the best DIII colleges in the country. The conference boasts institutions such as Bard College, D’Youville College, Elmira College, Hilbert College, Medaille College, Nazareth College, New York University, Penn State Behrend College, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY IT and Vassar College.
After an 18-12 season last year, Stevens will look to improve on that record and reach postseason play for the 15th consecutive season. Although the Ducks will be fairly young, with no seniors on the squad, head coach Patrick Dorywalski will count on a strong group of sophomores and juniors to lead the way. Dorywalski will also look to a very strong and talented freshmen class to contribute to the team’s success.
Dorywalski, now in his 26th year at the helm on Castle Point and the only men’s coach in program history, has brought in nine freshmen who will look to fill the voids of six graduating seniors and push the upperclassmen for playing time. He also brings back a talented coaching staff in Jeffrey Lipton, Austin Voges and graduate assistant Bryant DeFranco.
Lipton will begin his second consecutive season after a five-year break from Stevens is well aware of the tradition and excellence of Ducks volleyball. He will provide experience and knowledge to this year’s group of student-athletes.
Voges, the school’s club volleyball head coach, is also in his second year at Stevens. He brings a strong coaching background to Stevens and will be an integral part to the guidance of the Ducks throughout this season.
DeFranco, a recent graduate from Stevens in 2010 and former volleyball player and captain, will work with the outside hitters. When he donned the Cardinal and Gray, DeFranco recorded 236 kills, 227 digs and 51 blocks in his four-year career.
Leading the way for the Ducks on the court in 2012 is reigning UVC Rookie of the Year and honorable mention selection, sophomore co-captain outside hitter/defensive specialist David Evans. Evans also landed on the North East Collegiate Volleyball Association All-Tournament Team after compiling 177 kills, 133 digs, 20 assists and 16 service aces. His kills, assists and aces all ranked third on the team while his digs ranked fourth.
Junior co-captain and middle hitter James Mataras played in 22 sets last season and recorded 24 kills and 17 blocks. Mataras will be looked upon to be a vocal leader on and off the court for the Ducks this season. Fellow junior middle hitter Jake Modestow will control the middle of the net for the Ducks after leading the squad with 125 total blocks which ranks 10th all-time in a single-season at Stevens. Modestow also tallied 175 kills from his frontline position.
Stevens also returns outside hitters, junior Thomas Hannum and sophomore Ryan Seifert after solid 2011 campaigns. Hannum saw action in 61 sets last year and registered 57 digs, while Seifert is the top returner in kills per set at 2.27 (159 total).
Junior libero Ricky Budar and sophomore outside hitter Paul Dubuke will add depth to the Ducks’ rotation.
Eight true freshmen, all who played on superb club teams, and a three-year member of the Stevens club squad will step foot on the hardwood for the Ducks this season and all will push for significant playing time.
The eight newcomers to the Hudson are Daniel Smith, Etan Bennett, Dylan Schlosser, Kevin Aeckerle, Ian Tyger, Ryan Hood, Ryan Brandow and Matthew Montera. A senior academically, Wojciech Gajda participates in his first year as a varsity student-athlete.
Smith played for Arizona Premiere, Bennett and Aeckerle were part of the Pace Club Team, Schlosser saw action for Lehigh Club and Tyger was part of the York Club squad before their collegiate careers.
Tyger and junior middle hitter Jon Rohan will be looked upon to fill big shoes for the Ducks after the departure of SteFan PremDas to graduation.