2019 Conference Carolinas Men's Volleyball Preview and Players to Watch


HIGH POINT, N.C. – The 2019 Conference Carolinas men's volleyball preseason poll has been released. Barton College enters the season as the favorite to win the Conference Carolinas Men's Volleyball Championship, according to Conference Carolinas coaches.

Be sure to also check out the Off the Block preview of ConfCarolinas here.

1. Barton College: The Bulldogs tallied 80 points on eight first-place votes from Conference coaches to enter the season ranked first.

Barton turned in a 21-8 overall record in 2018 and a 15-1 conference record, which earned it a share of the regular season Conference Carolinas title with King. The team would go on to finish as runner-up in the 2018 Conference Carolinas Men's Volleyball Championship.

The 2019 team will be led by reigning Conference Carolinas Offensive Player of the Year and all-conference pick Angelos Mandilaris. Joining him will be another pair of seasoned hitters in all-conference returners Vasilis Mandilaris and Aleksa BrkovicOscar Fiorentino, who was an all-conference selection in 2018, will be tasked with setting the dominant Barton attack. 

The Bulldogs have numerous players featured on preseason watch lists by Off the Block. Fiorentino lands on the Lloy Ball watch list, Angelos Mandilaris is on the Bryan Ivie watch list and Vasilis Mandilaris checks in on the Karch Kiraly watch list.

Players to Watch:

  • *Aleksa Brkovic (Sr.) - Outside Hitter
  • I*Angelos Mandilaris (Jr.) - Opposite Hitter
  • ^*Vasilis Mandilaris (Sr.) - Outside Hitter

 

2. University of Mount Olive: The Trojans sit in second with 66 points and one first-place vote from Conference coaches.

Mount Olive finished last season with a 16-13 overall record and 11-5 in league play.

The Trojans return a pair of all-conference performers in Brad Monaghan and Luke Visgitis. Monaghan was featured on the Karch Kiraly watch list as one of the top outside hitters in the nation.

Players to Watch:

  • Tobi Azeez (Fr.) - Outside Hitter
  • ^*Brad Monaghan (Sr.) - Outside Hitter
  • *Luke Visgitis (So.) - Middle Blocker

 

3.  Belmont Abbey College: The Crusaders were tabbed third after receiving 63 points from Conference coaches.

Belmont Abbey went 13-16 overall in 2018 and 8-8 in league play. The Crusaders return one of the best offensive players in the nation in Liam Maxwell, who was an all-conference pick last season. He enters 2019 as a Karch Kiraly watch list selection.

Also back for The Abbey are a pair of Ryan Millar watch list picks in middle blockers Brian Long and William Morris.

Players to Watch:

  • +Brian Long (So.) - Middle Blocker
  • ^*Liam Maxwell (Jr.) - Outside Hitter
  • +William Morris (So.) - Middle Blocker

 

4. King University: The Tornado check-in with 62 points to enter the season ranked fourth by Conference coaches.

King went 23-6 last season with a 15-1 conference mark, which earned them a co-regular season championship with Barton. The Tornado would go on to win the 2018 Conference Carolinas Men's Volleyball Championship and book the team its first trip to the NCAA Men's Volleyball Championship.

Jon Wheaton will be tasked with leading the 2019 edition of the King men's volleyball team. Wheaton, a 2018 all-conference pick, once again enters the season tabbed a top middle blocker in the nation on the Ryan Millar watch list.

Players to Watch:

  • Dalton Johnson (Sr.) - Middle Blocker
  • Leo de Quadros (So.) - Libero
  • +*Jon Wheaton (Sr.) - Middle Blocker

 

5. Limestone College: Limestone garnered 52 points from Conference coaches to enter the season ranked fifth. The Saints posted a 5-11 record in Conference play last season and went 8-20 overall.

Limestone has the fortune of returning Francisco Salinger Cenzual, who was named the 2018 Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year and all-conference pick. Salinger Cenzual enters 2019 as one of the best opposites in the nation as he was named to the Bryan Ivie watch list.

Players to Watch:

  • Michal Podgorzak (Fr.) - Libero
  • Logan Riley (Sr.) - Setter
  • I*Francisco Salinger Cenzual (So.) - Opposite Hitter

 

6. North Greenville University: The Crusaders collected 47 points and are tabbed sixth by Conference coaches. NGU turned in a 13-16 overall mark in 2018 with an 7-9 league record.

North Greenville has some great talent on its roster, including all-conference returner Jackson Gilbert and freshman Christian Phung. Gilbert enters the season on the Karch Kiraly watch list, while Phung is the only Conference Carolinas libero to appear on the Erik Shoji watch list. 

Players to Watch:

  • ^*Jackson Gilbert (Jr.) - Outside Hitter
  • &Christian Phung (Fr.) - Libero

 

t7. Emmanuel College: The Lions make their preseason poll debut tied with Erskine for seventh with 34 points from Conference coaches.

Emmanuel, who is postseason eligible in 2019, posted a 9-16 overall record and 5-11 Conference mark last season.

Players to Watch:

  • Caleb Bonaventure (Sr.) - Libero
  • Demitrius Maloney (Sr.) - Setter
  • Don Thompson (Jr.) - Middle Blocker

 

t7. Erskine College: The Fleet is tied with Emmanuel for seventh with 34 points from Conference coaches. Erskine finished last year with a 7-20 record while going 4-12 in league contests.

Players to Watch:

  • Alejandro Irizarry (Fr.) - Middle Blocker
  • Griffin Spence (Jr.) - Opposite Hitter
  • Keegan Sullivan (Sr.) - Middle Blocker

 

9. Lees-McRae College: The Bobcats close out the preseason poll in ninth with 30 points from Conference coaches. Lees-McRae finished last year with a 4-22 record while going 2-14 in league contests.

Returning for Lees-McRae is Robert Bowling, who was name a 2019 Karch Kiraly watch list selection.

Players to Watch:

  • ^Robert Bowling (So.) - Outside Hitter
  • Ethan Gardner (So.) - Middle Blocker
  • Hector Serviat (Sr.) - Middle Blocker


 *denotes 2018 All-Conference Carolinas selection

 

2019 Men's Volleyball Preseason Poll

School (first-place votes) Total
1. Barton (8) 80
2. Mount Olive (1) 66
3. Belmont Abbey 63
4. King 62
5. Limestone 52
6. North Greenville 47
t7. Emmanuel 34
t7. Erskine 34
9. Lees-McRae 30

  

^ = Karch Kiraly Award Watch List by Off the Block

I = Bryan Ivie Award Watch List by Off the Block

+ = Ryan Millar Award Watch List by Off the Block

& = Erik Shoji Award Watch List by Off the Block

$ = Lloy Ball Award Watch List by Off the Block

 

Conference Carolinas is a NCAA Division II athletics conference made up of 11 teams from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. These institutions consist of: Barton College, Belmont Abbey College, Converse College, Emmanuel College, Erskine College, King University, Lees-McRae College, Limestone College, University of Mount Olive, North Greenville University, and Southern Wesleyan University.