BOSTON, Mass. – Coming off of their sixth consecutive Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship in 2013, the Rivier University men's volleyball team has been selected as the 2014 Pre-season favorite in the GNAC Pre-Season Coaches' Poll, receiving a total of 81 points and all nine first place votes. In the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III Pre-season Poll, Rivier received 110 total points for a No. 8 ranking in the nation. Not far behind them was Emmanuel College, who received 71 points in the GNAC pre-season poll to finish second. The Saints also received four points in the AVCA poll for a No. 18 ranking.
The Raiders, who finished the 2013 campaign with a 27-12 overall record and a perfect 14-0 slate in conference play, return six starters from last year's squad that made it to the Final Four round in the NCAA Championship. Top returners for Rivier include senior middle hitter Aaron Almario who was named an AVCA Second Team All-American last year as well as junior outside hitter Chris Markuson who was the Player of the Year in 2012 and a First Team selection last year. Rivier did lose the reigning GNAC Player of the Year, Steve Visentin, to graduation but will welcome a handful of newcomers to their roster in hopes to make it seven consecutive GNAC titles.
Emmanuel will also feature many of the same names from last season, returning six starters and 15 letterwinners. With another year of experience under their belt, the Saints will look to challenge the Raiders at the top of the conference behind a strong junior class led by outside hitter Ashanti Jackson who led Emmanuel as a sophomore averaging 2.75 kills/set. Keep an eye out for sophomore Garrett McGarry who missed most of the action last year due to a season-ending knee injury.
Wentworth ranked third in the GNAC pre-season poll with 58 points and returns their main core from 2013. Leading the Leopards will be seniors Ross Burdett and Brian Mann. Both were tabbed as All-GNAC selections a year ago.
With 51 points, Johnson & Wales University rounded out the top of the poll in fourth place. The Wildcats boast a roster of 20 this season led by senior outside hitter Shawn Kennedy who was a First Team selection in 2013.
Lasell College earned the fifth spot with 47 points while Emerson College ranked sixth with 36 points in the poll.
Albertus Magnus College received 29 points in seventh while the Mount Ida College mustangs received 22 points in eighth. Rounding out the poll were newcomers, Anna Maria College, with 10 points. This will be the inaugural season for Men's Volleyball for the AMCats.
2014 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Men's Volleyball Pre-Season Coaches' Poll
1 - Rivier University (9 First Place Votes) - 81 total points
2 - Emmanuel College - 71
3 - Wentworth Institute of Tech - 58
4 - Johnson & Wales University - 51
5 - Lasell College - 47
6 - Emerson College -36
7 - Albertus Magnus College - 29
8 - Mount Ida College - 22
9 - Anna Maria College - 10