FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Defending GNAC champion
Raiders sweep all eight first-place votes
WINTHROP, Mass. – After a run in which Rivier University won all seven Great Northeast Athletic Conference Men's Volleyball Championships from 2008-14, the Raiders experienced a three-year stretch from 2015-17 in which Lasell College and Wentworth Institute of Technology won the league tournament's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
But Rivier made its way back to the top last spring, capturing the GNAC Tournament Final over Wentworth, 3-0, after going an unblemished 14-0 against conference competition before falling to Lancaster Bible in the NCAA Tournament.
As a result, Rivier has been selected as the unanimous choice in the 2019 GNAC Preseason Poll, as voted upon by the league's coaches, with the Raiders receiving all eight first-place votes and 64 points overall. Longtime head coach Craig Kolek's squad, led by senior middle hitter Dashaun Graham, will begin the 2019 campaign on January 25-26 at the Kean Invitational.
Finishing second in the poll was indeed Wentworth, closing out with 51 points overall after winning GNAC crowns in 2016 and 2017. The Leopards won one NCAA Tournament contest each year, including a run to the D3 national semifinals in '17 under head coach Evin Giglio. WIT will begin their season on Jan. 18-19 at St. John Fisher.
Taking the third spot just a mere two points behind WIT was Johnson & Wales University (RI) with a toal of 49 points. JWU went 9-5 in GNAC play last year to cement the No. 3 seed in the GNAC Tournament, where the Wildcats topped Emerson College before faltering against Wentworth.
Lasell, which won the 2016 GNAC Championship for its first-ever and only conference crown, finished fourth in the poll with 39 points. The Lasers finished tied with Wentworth atop the GNAC Standings in both 2016 and 2017 before posting a 6-8 record in league play last year.
Making up the remainder of the poll was Emmanuel College in fifth place with 22 points, Emerson with 21 points, Regis (Mass.) with 18 points and Colby-Sawyer College with 10 points.
Colby-Sawyer is currently in its first year as a full GNAC member and the 2019 campaign will mark the Charger's inaugural season in sponsoring a men's volleyball program.
2019 GNAC Men's Volleyball Preseason Poll
1. Rivier (8) - 64
2. Wentworth - 51
3. Johnson & Wales - 49
4. Lasell - 39
5. Emmanuel - 22
6. Emerson - 21
7. Regis (Mass.) - 18
8. Colby-Sawyer - 10
The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Founded in 1995, the GNAC annually sponsors and administers 20 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunity and community involvement in an effort to enhance the student-athlete experience.
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