(Boston, Mass.) The Great Northeast Athletic Conference unveiled their 2014 Men's Volleyball All-Conference team and Season Awards on Monday afternoon and the Rivier University Raiders were well represented. Senior Aaron Almario (Alhambra, California) was selected as the GNAC's Player of the Year, senior Matt Bynon (Burnt Hills, New York) was tabbed the GNAC Defensive Player of the Year and freshman Tyler Blank (Rochester, New York) earned the honor of being the GNAC Rookie of the Year. Seniors Terence Matatall (Danville, New Hampshire) and junior Chris Markuson (Cupertino, California) were named to the All-Conference First Team and junior Shane Spellman (Norwich, Conn.) was named to the All-Conference 2nd Team.
Almario enjoyed a stellar senior season for Rivier in 2014. The 6-7 middle blocker totaled 248 kills and recorded a hitting percentage of .401 with 8 service aces. Almario was also a beast along the net as he registered 115 total blocks and 26 of the solo variety. Almario is the third consecutive Raider to be named GNAC Player of the Year following Steve Visentin '13 (in 2013) and Markuson (in 2012). This is also the third straight year that Almario has been named a First Teamer.
For the second consecutive season, Matt Bynon was named the GNAC Defensive Player of the Year as he totaled 259 digs in just 101 sets played. He averaged 2.56 digs per set and was the leader along the back line for Rivier. The 5-9 libero also recorded 7 kills and 40 assists in the season and was named to the All-Conference Third Team in 2014.
Freshman Tyler Blank became just the third Rivier Men's Volleyball Student-Athlete to be named the GNAC Rookie of the Year. The 6-0 setter accounted for 1,054 assists and a 10.23 assists per set average in just his first year. Blank also helped on the defensive side of the game as he had 69 total blocks, 18 solo blocks and 119 digs. The other two Raiders to receive the honor of being GNAC Rookie of the Year are current Raider Markuson (in 2012) and Taylor Linden (in 2010).
Speaking of Markuson, he was selected to the GNAC All-Conference First Team after leading the Raiders with 326 kills and a 3.17 kills per set average. The 6-5 outside hitter also recorded 36 service aces and totaled 78 blocks – 34 block solos. His 134 digs were tied for second most on the squad with sophomore Nick Ochoa (Whittier, California).
Rounding out the list of four Raiders on the GNAC All-Conference First team is senior Terence Matatall. The lone New Hampshire native on the 2014 roster, Matatall finished his career with one of his best seasons. Standing at 6-7 and playing the middle hitter role, he dominated with 236 kills and a .389 hitting percentage. Along the net he amassed 86 total blocks – 16 block solos and had 15 service aces. This is the second consecutive season in which Matatall was named to the GNAC All-Conference First Team.
Junior Shane Spellman rounds out the list of Rivier Men's Volleyball GNAC honorees as he was named to the All-Conference Second Team for the second consecutive year. Spellman enjoyed a fine season as he laced 150 kills in just 91 sets played but was a force on the service line as he led the team with 45 aces. The 6-4 opposite recorded 45 total blocks and 69 digs in 2014.
The Rivier Men's Volleyball is currently ranked 8th in the latest AVCA National Coaches Poll and have been selected as the 4th seed in the upcoming NCAA Division III National Tournament, hosted by Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.