Lourdes University's men's volleyball team will have a new look as the Gray Wolves are set for the 2014 season.
The team has seven new faces among the roster of 14, including six freshmen. There's just one senior.
Head coach Greg Reitz returns for the program's third season. Lourdes posted a 15-11 record in 2013, including a 7-5 mark in the MAMVIC East, finishing in fourth place. The MAMVIC has gone through a name change though, and now is known as NAIA Men's Volleyball. The Gray Wolves compete in the newly relined Great Lakes Conference.
Lourdes has four outside hitters that appear to be battling for three spots on the floor as the season opens. Chris Lockwood and Garrett Jones are the only two returnees at the position. Lockwood, the lone senior, averaged 2.2 kills per set as a junior, playing in 21 matches. Jones appeared in 19 contests during his freshman year, tallying 1.51 kills per set.
Jo'Lon Clark arrives at Lourdes after transferring from Long Beach City College where he was named the Western State Conference Most Valuable Player. He helped the team win a pair of WSC championships during his stay. Freshman Keanu Jacinto also looks to make an impact on the roster in his rookie season. A native of Kahului, Hawaii, he played his high school volleyball at La Costa Canyon in California.
The Gray Wolves return both starting middle blockers from last season. Frank Craig appeared in all but one set during his sophomore year, earning Honorable Mention All-MAMVIC East accolades each of his first two seasons at Lourdes. Craig led the Gray Wolves with a .258 hitting percentage one year ago while tallying 70 blocks and adding 1.95 kills per set. Julian Rivera led the team with 0.96 blocks per set during his rookie campaign. He took over the starting role midway through the year.
Freshman Austin Stout will also look to earn some time in the middle this season. As with most freshmen, the Huntertown, Ind. native is still learning the position, after playing club volleyball for Team Pineapple during his high school days.
The setting position is a battle for the starting job as the season begins. Junior Steve Barcus has appeared in 30 matches over his first two seasons and averaged 9.009 assists per set last year. Ryan Ferkel, a freshman from Kimberly, Wis., is also looking to make an impact at the position. He was a Second Team All-Fox Valley Association pick at Kimberly High School last year.
Defensively, Brad Miller appears to be the favorite to return to the libero position after earning First Team All-MAMVIC East honors during his sophomore year. He was the only player to play all 95 sets one year ago, and averaged 3.06 digs per set. Bryan Downs and CJ Rilveria will also see time in defensive roles, whether as the libero as a defensive specialist. Downs, a sophomore, appeared in 22 matches and 76 sets as a freshman, tallying 74 digs. Rilveria was named Most Valuable Player at Kekaulike High School in Hawaii last year where he set numerous school records for aces, assists, and digs.
A pair of freshmen will spend the season as redshirts. Jean Sanchez, a native of Ponce, P.R., and Emmett Ross, from Huntington Beach, Calif., will both get the opportunity to practice with the team this year before having four years of eligibility remaining.
Lourdes will open the season on Friday, taking to the road to battle Cincinnati Christian in a Great Lakes Conference match. Lourdes will stay in Cincinnati the next two days to play in Mount Saint Joseph's tournament before hosting Siena Heights in the Gray Wolves' home opener on Jan. 29 at Tam-O-Shanter. Lourdes will also host GLC members Robert Morris (Ill.), Cardinal Stritch, and Saint Xavier during their opening homestand.
The team will play in a tournament at Cardinal Stritch Feb. 14-15 before entertaining Siena Heights for a second time, this time a non-conference match, on Feb. 28. Lourdes will then head out on a six-match road trip before hosting Cincinnati Christian on March 21 to close the regular season. The Gray Wolves will then host the Great Lakes Conference Tournament at Owens Community College March 28-29.