Written and Media by Nick Corrigan.
The 2018 season has wrapped up for the Men’s Volleyball Team. It was a season that spanned from the start of January to the beginning of April. This was a season full of ups and downs. Although there were more downs than ups, there are definitely some positives to be taken out of this season.
The men ended the season 11-17 overall and 1-8 in conference. The team had set a goal at the start of the year to win 15 games. They did not quite make it there, but there were definitely a few games where wins could have been losses. As they head into the offseason, they will hopefully look back on this as a learning experience and use the last win as momentum for the next season.
The Panthers started the season off strong. They won six of their first seven games of the year. This strong start was lead by outsides George Black and Marc Gonzalez. After the hot start, the team hit a rough patch. They lost nine of the eleven games in the month of February. A few of those games were close, but at that point, good sets were few and far between. As the month of March rolled around, the team started to pick it up, especially after a rough loss to Lindenwood University–Belleville.
March began by facing two tough Chicago teams, Wittenberg and number 12-ranked at the time, Mount Saint Joesph. The Panthers played those two games close, even stealing a couple sets off of both extremely talented teams. After the weekend in Ohio, the men bounced back with a win over Missouri Baptist and Concordia University–Wisconsin. The trend of the month was hard-fought games. That continued against Fontbonne University, North Central College, and Carthage College. Although they only won one set out of three of those games, most of the sets were decided by five points or less.
The final three games of the season were just as hard-fought as the last few games in March with games against Augustana College, Loras College, and Maranatha Baptist. The Augustana game went to five sets with Augustana narrowly coming out with the victory. Loras won in straight sets, but two of those sets were decided by two points. Finally, the last game against Maranatha Baptist was a good win. The men cruised comfortably to a 3-0 win to end the season.
One of the biggest highlights of the season was the play of captain and middle hitter Johnny Milabu. Milabu finished the season with Second Team All-Conference honors. When asked about being on the All-Conference team Milabu said, “It’s an honor I thought I’d never achieve. I’m blessed to represent my team with the All-Conference selection. I couldn’t achieve it without the help of my teammates so, honestly, all thanks go to them and our coaching staff.”
This will be the third year in a
row that the Greenville Panthers will feature one of their players in the All-Conference team. Milabu finished the season with 163 kills and 72 total blocks. As he heads into his senior year, the Panthers will look to him as one of the most dominant middles in the conference.
Other top performers include setter Tanner Smith, who is consistently one of the best players on the team. He leads the team in service aces, assists, and is second on the team in digs. He has been the team’s MVP the last two years. Look for Smith to continue that trend again this year. Another top performer on the team is libero Logan Dameris. He ended the season with 216 digs, leading the team in that category. He also finished fourth in conference in digs. This sophomore libero will be a leader on the team for the next couple years.
In conclusion, the Panthers have some of the pieces and a ton potential to be a top team in conference. This year they were just missing one final piece of the puzzle. As they add talented, new head coach Chad Nelson, and with more recruits coming in, look for them to come back for their best year ever. The team will be returning every starter for the first time in program history and the five seniors will do their best to end their college careers on a high note.