Sports

Aquinas Mens Volleyball Preseason Outlook

Photo courtesy of AQ Athletics

Story by Sports Editor Mark Musgrave III

Fourteen. That’s the magic number for this season. That’s where the Aquinas Men’s Volleyball team ranks in the NAIA Coaches Preseason Poll. After reaching the National Championship game in 2019, expectations were set higher for the program. After having no season in 2020, no bid for the National Tournament in 2021, and a bid in 2022, these men look to fight their way back to the postseason. The long weeks of practice and conditioning will soon be worth the wait for the players. And for the fans, we’ll finally be back in the stands to root for a successful 5 years deep program. The home opener is February 7th, so the in-person atmosphere will have to wait. However, you can watch virtually on January 27th as they take on Mount Vernon on the road for the season opener as well as WHAC opener.

Some big games to look out for include games against Lourdes, Indiana Tech, Georgetown, The Masters, Menlo, and St. Xavier, all of which have received votes or are ranked nationally. Of all the games, certainly checkout a home match vs. Indiana Tech. These men have a strong vengeance for the Warriors after suffering a 5 set heartbreaker in the WHAC Championship last season.

Head Coach Michael Crane is now in his 5th Season as head coach. After interviewing with him last week, I must say he’s the most dedicated coach I’ve interviewed at Aquinas in my time as Sports Editor. Also it is the program that recruits on a high-scale level nationally and internationally. You could say he’s not looking for the best players, but the right ones. 

Photo courtesy of AQ Athletics

This is also the most freshman heavy team in Aquinas athletics with nine out of seventeen players in their first season. With the culture this team has in place, it shows a high ceiling of potential. According to Crane, the freshmen to watch are Libero Collin Ilagan of Mililani, Hawaii and Outside Hitter Carter Sabo, a Michigan native from Nunica. 

Leading the teams in captaincy this season are Senior Josh Boothroyd, and Juniors Ernesto Lopez and Chase Gil. Boothroyd and Gil, in fact, have received high praise from Coach Crane along with Senior Julian Armendano. Friday, Jan 27, 2023 is the season opener for these men. In a matter of high momentum and high energy, it’s important to remember one thing: Play hard and play well. Go Saints!