Written and media by Nick Corrigan.
As a new men’s volleyball season starts, the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League is looking as exciting as ever. The MCVL hopes to keep the level of competition high after losing five of its’ top half teams to the newly formed Northern Athletic Collegiate Conference. The MCVL currently has two teams in the AVCA Top 15 Teams. It also features teams like Loras, North Central, and Wittenberg who are in their third and fourth years of participation and are looking to be real contenders this year. The MCVL also has the benefit of an improved bottom half of the conference. All of these factors are proof that the MCVL will be interesting this year.
The conference coach’s poll does not really have any surprises with Carthage and Mount Saint Joseph at the top followed by a very promising North Central College team. Carthage and Mount Saint Joseph are currently ranked in the AVCA Top 15 for Division III Men’s Volleyball. Carthage is currently the third-ranked team in the country, while Mount Saint Joseph is at a well-deserved twelfth place. The middle section of the standings will be a point of interest all season. Every team in that section is capable of finishing from third to eighth. North Central and Wittenberg are currently favored to be the other two teams to face Carthage and Mount Saint Joseph in the conference tournament.
The fight for the top two shall prove to be interesting. Both Carthage and Mount Saint Joseph have lost crucial players in Griffin Shields and Alex Vohland. Both teams have senior leadership capable of taking them to the top. Who will finish third through tenth? That is the million dollar question at the start of the season. The North Central Cardinals boast a strong outside attack force, while teams like Loras and Wittenberg have a powerful tandem of middle hitters. Fontbonne and Augustana are scrappy teams capable of knocking sets and even matches off any of those top teams. Adrian and Olivet are also teams that have improved greatly over the past few years. Neither teams should be slept on.
As for the home team of Greenville University Panthers, the hopes for the season seem bright. Captain Johnny Milabu states, “I’m very optimistic. I feel like we have a lot to prove in the conference. We are ready to show the conference what we’re about.” The Panthers have a big hole to fill when it comes to replacing MCVL Rookie of the Year Manuel Benitez. Look for the Panthers to focus on becoming more of an all-around team with more weapons at each position.
This season should prove to be one of the most interesting in recent memory. With teams performing at their peak, improving and gelling as a unit, and in a conference competitive from top to bottom, the MCVL has the opportunity to prove itself in the eyes of many this year. The MCVL has always been viewed as an underachieving conference, but many are looking for the league to make waves this year.