The Siena Heights men's volleyball team opens the 2018 season as they travel to Calumet St. Joseph (Ind.) on Friday, for a 6 p.m. CST (8 p.m. EST) contest. Saturday, SHU will host crosstown rival Adrian at 1 p.m.
Last season, the Saints ended the season 16-11 overall while finishing 2-2 in the 2017 NAIA Independents Men's Volleyball Qualifying Tournament, falling to conference foe Lourdes (Ohio) twice. Some key losses include Matt Dugan, Julian Ayar, Chris Horner, Emilier De Jesus and John Kalugar.
This season, SHU will look to top returners Tyler Hubbard-Neil and Keegan Crawford to provide stability and experience to this young crew. Hubbard-Neil, senior outside hitter, started all but one game last season, averaging 2.65 kills and 2.08 digs per set while adding 32 service aces on the season. Sophomore setter Crawford averaged 9.31 assists per set and tallied 18 service aces while starting 25 matches.
More experience returns with Ryan Hafner, Cory Grumbach and Parker Saenz. Berrington expects Hafner to see more playing time this season and is ready for Saenz to comeback as someone who can play wherever the team needs.
Three freshman join the group, middle blocker Emmanuel Chaidez, outside hitter Alex Garavalia and defensive specialist Jack Pranckus. When talking about the freshmen, Berrington states, "They're all great athletes and we will count on them this season to help us find success." Another addition to the team is Justin Gray, also plays men's soccer at SHU, who has been a key contributor to building team chemistry and communication.
When talking about this season, Berrington mentions that "Staying away from injuries and keeping our guys healthy will be key for this season. This year will be physically and mentally demanding, but it presents a great opportunity for our younger players."
Next week, Siena Heights will host Davenport in an exhibition contest, Wednesday, prior to traveling to the Judson (Ill.) Early Bird Tournament, on Friday and Saturday.