The 2014 edition of the D'Youville College men's volleyball team heads into the season with a roster of just eight but Head coach John Hutton says, "…that it's going to be a great year for these kids."
"The six returning players have been in and out of the lineup during their time here," said Hutton, "and this year they are going to play extensively and will grow as players."
Third-year player Alex Johnson (Clarence, NY/Clarence) has seen the most playing time of the returning group. Johnson played in every game last year and led the team in digs (293) and digs per set played (2.66).
"Alex is an outstanding defensive player, one of the best around at the libero position," said Hutton. "His play will help keep us in games."
Having expanded roles this season will be a pair of third-year players. Outside hitter Steve Goedtel (Eden, NY/Eden) now has a featured role on the court after being a serving specialist the previous two seasons. Middle blocker Evan Singer (Williamsville, NY/Williamsville South) saw an increase in playing time at the end of last season and totaled 32 kills and 20 blocks in 39 sets played.
The sophomores will have expanded duties this season. Brett Cawthorn (West Seneca, NY/St. Francis) is the team's best serve receive passer and totaled 108 kills and 143 digs in his rookie season. Matt Loos (Cheektowaga, NY/Maryvale) was third on team last year in kills per set played (1.48). Chris Busha (Hamburg, NY/St. Francis) is team's leading returning blocker.
"With no seniors on the roster, as the season progresses the strides forward we expect to make will benefit us the most in 2015," said Hutton.
This year is the Spartans' final season of competition in the United Volleyball Conference. In 2015 D'Youville will play under the banner of the North Eastern Athletic Conference.
"We have loved the competitive challenge of playing in the UVC," Hutton stated. "But competing against schools double and triple our size didn't benefit us. The move the North Eastern Athletic Conference will pair us with school similar in size and facilities and move us closer to our goal of playing in the NCAA Division III Tournament."
The Spartans open the season at the SUNYIT Invitational January 24-25.