MILWAUKEE, Wis. --- Defending champion Benedictine University received 14 of a possible 22 first-place votes and is the favorite to capture a third-straight Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) men's volleyball crown according to the league's annual preseason poll released Monday.
The NACC preseason poll is voted on by the NACC's head coaches and athletics communications professionals.
Benedictine (22-3, 14-2 NACC) topped the preseason poll with 234 points, followed by Dominican University in second with 217 points and Milwaukee School of Engineering in third with 205. The Stars (19-11, 13-3 NACC) received six first-place votes, while MSOE (21-8, 13-3 NACC), last year's NACC Tournament champion, collected the final two first-place tallies.
Aurora University is fourth with 172 points, while Lakeland University edged Concordia University Wisconsin, 137-130, for fifth place. Marian University (113), Illinois Institute of Technology (96), Concordia University Chicago (70) and new programs at St. Norbert College (46) and Rockford University (32) round out the poll.
|2020 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference
Men's Volleyball Preseason Poll
|Rank||School (1st place votes)||Points||2019 Record|
|1.||Benedictine (14)||234||22-3, 14-2 NACC|
|2.||Dominican (6)||217||19-11, 13-3 NACC|
|3.||MSOE (2)||205||21-8, 13-3 NACC|
|4.||Aurora||172||13-14, 9-7 NACC|
|5.||Lakeland||137||14-13, 7-9 NACC|
|6.||Concordia Wisconsin||130||9-15, 5-11 NACC|
|7.||Marian||113||10-15, 8-8 NACC|
|8.||Illinois Tech||96||6-19, 3-13 NACC|
|9.||Concordia Chicago||70||4-22, 0-16 NACC|
|10.||St. Norbert||46||Inaugural Season|
New Progams: The NACC grows from nine to 11 men's volleyball programs in 2020 with the addition of Rockford University and St. Norbert College. The Regents are under the direction of former club/high school coach Michael Lanera, while the Green Knights - who join the NACC as an associate member - will be led by B.J. Bryant, who has coached the SNC women's volleyball team for the past five seasons. Both programs are in their inaugural season.
New Coaches: In addition to new programs at Rockford and St. Norbert, there will be four new head coaches at established NACC programs in 2020. Dan Ames - a former head coach at Dominican and, most recently, an assistant at North Central (Ill.) - is the new head coach at Aurora. Dominican also has a new head coach as current head women's volleyball coach Cameron Andrew adds the Stars' men's program to his list of duties.
Lakeland has hired former Marian assistant Brian Rushmer, while Marian tapped former Transylvania (Ky.) women's assistant Tyler Wills as the second head coach in Sabres men's volleyball program history.
Three Named Preseason All-Americans: Benedictine University opposite Elijah Medlock, Dominican University outside Ethan Klosak and Milwaukee School of Engineering libero Danny Martens - all seniors - were named Division III Preseason All-America by Off The Block.
2020 Schedule: Lakeland got the jump on the rest of the conference with four matches in Santa Cruz, California last weekend. St. Norbert opens its inaugural season at Wittenberg (Ohio) Thursday evening before taking part in a weekend tournament at Hiram (Ohio). Aurora, Benedictine, Concordia Chicago and Marian also open their 2020 slates this upcoming weekend, while Concordia Wisconsin, Dominican, Illinois Tech, MSOE and Rockford all begin play the following weekend (Jan. 23-25).
The conference schedule kicks off Thursday, Jan. 23 with one match - Dominican at Marian - and concludes with five matches on Saturday, April 4.
NACC Tournament: The top six teams in the final regular-season standings will qualify for the NACC Men's Volleyball Tournament, which opens with a pair of first-round games on Tuesday, April 7. Semifinals are slated for Thursday, April 9, and the final for Saturday, April 11. The NACC Tournament champion will receive the league's automatic berth in the 2020 NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship.