LBSU athletes celebrate
LBSU earns an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament (John Fajardo/LBSU Athletics)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 24, 2023) – League championships are now in the rearview mirror across all divisions as the top teams in NCAA men’s volleyball now shift their full attention toward the tournament. The NCAA DI/II bracket has been announced, with all matches hosted by George Mason in Fairfax, Va. The Division III Championship is in the semifinal round and currently being hosted by Stevenson University in Owings Mills, Md. This edition of the college roundup examines each matchup as we look ahead to the final weekend.

Division I

Play-In – Ohio State vs. King (Tenn.)

The Buckeyes (22-9) will face the Tornadoes (16-15) in the play-in round in Fairfax, Va. to open the tournament. Ohio State earned an automatic bid after defeating Ball State 3-1 last week in the MVIA Tournament as the No. 3 seed. King earned a bid with a 3-2 Conference Carolinas Tournament victory over North Greenville. King and Ohio State previously met in the NCAA Tournament in 2018.

Ohio State NTDP Athletes: Jacob Pasteur, Kyle Teune, Shane Wetzel, Niko Williams, Ben Braun

GCU finds out they are in the NCAA Tournament (Zach Campbell/GCU Athletics)

Quarterfinal – Long Beach State vs. Grand Canyon

The Beach (20-4) will face the Lopes (22-7) after earning an at-large bid to the quarterfinals. LBSU won a share of the Big West regular season title and will make the program’s 13th NCAA Tournament appearance. GCU earned the second at-large bid and the program’s first tournament appearance after also posting the best season in program history. The Lopes defeated 10 ranked opponents during the regular season.

LBSU NTDP Athletes: Mason Briggs, Chris Connelly, Clarke Godbold, Nathan Harlan, Dane Hillis, Shane Holdaway, Aidan Knipe, Spencer Olivier, Sebastian Rodriguez

GCU NTDP Athletes: Camden Gianni, Jonah Gilbert, Jordan Lucas, Rico Wardlow

Quarterfinal – Penn State vs. winner of Ohio State/King

The Nittany Lions (26-3) are winners of the EIVA Tournament after defeating Princeton in the championship match. The team earned an automatic qualifier to the quarterfinal round to face the winner of Ohio State/King. Penn State won the EIVA Tournament for the 35th time in program history, with now 23 of those titles coming with Mark Pavlik as head coach.

Penn State NTDP Athletes: Cole Bogner, Toby Ezeonu, Cal Fisher, Blainey Jones, Canyon Tuman, Michael Valenzi, Brett Wildman

Semifinal – Hawaii vs. Penn State/Ohio State/King

The Rainbow Warriors (28-2) are two-time defending national champions and will make the program’s ninth tournament appearance. Hawaii earned the Big West’s automatic berth after winning the conference tournament finals vs. UC Irvine last weekend. With a win this tournament, Hawaii would be the first team to three-peat as national champion since UCLA in 1981-84.

Semifinal – UCLA vs. LBSU/GCU

The Bruins (29-2) are into the semis after securing an automatic bid with a win in the MPSF Tournament vs. Stanford. It is the first tournament victory for UCLA since 2006, which was also a win over Stanford. The last time the Bruins won 19 matches in a season, it was en route to a national championship in 2000.

UCLA NTDP Athletes: Ethan Champlin, Alex Knight, Merrick McHenry, J.R. Norris IV, Cole Pender, Zach Rama, Andrew Rowan, Grant Sloane

Division III

The NCAA Division III Men’s Championship opening weekend saw Vassar advance past its first two opponents in the tournament with wins over Baruch (3-0) and Southern Va. (3-1). Vassar will face North Central (IL) in the semifinal matchup on Friday. The Cardinals defeated Benedictine (IL) (3-2) and Carthage (3-1) to earn a place in the national semifinal.

At the other end of the bracket, Stevens defeated Geneva (3-0) and Wentworth (3-1) to earn a place in the semifinal match against Messiah. The Falcons topped St. Joseph’s (L.I.) (3-1) and Juniata (3-0) in the first two matchups of the tournament. Stevens and Messiah just recently met in the MAC Championship where Stevens was the victor by a 3-2 match score.


Kyle Anema of Vanguard receives award for winning tournament mvp
Kyle Anema of Vanguard wins Tournament MVP (Douglas Wells/Vanguard Athletics)

The Vanguard (Calif.) Lions are NAIA Champions. Vanguard defeated Benedictine Mesa (Ariz.) 3-2 in the championship match in Des Moines, Iowa. The two teams had met three previous times during the season, with Vanguard losing two of the three matches. It was the Lions’ first-ever appearance in the final, while the Redhawks were making a fourth consecutive bid for the championship trophy.

Vanguard NTDP Athletes: Ryan Smith and Kyle Anema. Anema was named Tournament MVP and led all scorers with 23 kills in the championship match.