The California Baptist University Men’s volleyball team is looking to regain the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national champions title this upcoming season.
The team’s theme for this season is BUILD: Brotherhood, Unity, Intelligence, Leadership and D for whatever each player finds motivating, such as Desire, Determination or Dominance. After winning the NAIA National Championship last season, Head coach Ryan McGuyre has the team set to repeat as national champions this season, a feat last seen during the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
Senior setter Blair Penner comes back this season after winning NAIA National Player of the Year. He helped the Lancers win the NAIA Championship last year and will be the catalyst to the team’s success. He holds school records in single match assists, single match aces and career aces. This season he looks to break another record as he is ranked third on the school’s career assists list with 3,263.
Penner said this upcoming season will be one of the closest teams he has ever been on. “It is nice to have an abundance of great players on the team. The thing that sets us apart from most teams though is that we trust every single player on the team. We understand each others strengths and weaknesses. That gives us a huge advantage.”
Junior outside hitter Levi Cabral will also be heavily relied on as the teams go- to hitter in this upcoming season. Cabral was an NAIA All-American last year as he led the Lancers in kills and attempted swings. His versatility to play either the opposite or outside hitter position is an advantage for McGuyre.
Junior Levi Cabral expressed similar ideas to Penner. “I believe that because we are all friends on and off the court, that gives us a significant advantage. We know what is expected of each other and we will need to trust each other in order to win another championship,”Cabral said.
The other outside hitter spot will be a battle among sophomore Aaron McCalmont, sophomore Micah Sherman and senior Mike MacNeill as each player is a proven solid option. MacNeill and Penner are the only 4-year players on this years squad.
Manning the middle positions are sophomore Joseph Fitzpatrick and senior Ricky Brazee. They will continue to be relied upon for their heavy contributions in the kills and block categories.
Sophomore Daniel Freitas will hold down the libero position for the Lancers this season. Recruited as an outside hitter, Freitas made a name for himself by making a smooth transition to the libero position last year. He led the team in digs last year with an average of 1.86 per set.
New to the team is freshman Sebastian Steigmeier. He looks to make a significant contribution to the team as the starting opposite with his live arm and athletic build.
Perhaps the one thing that McGuyre is most excited about this year is the depth that the Lancers have this year. “We go one or two players deep at every position. It is a luxury that we did not have last year, but I will be sure to utilize it this year. If one of our starters is not playing well, we have the luxury of making a substitution and still be able to play at a high level,” McGuyre said. Particular standouts Garet Kreutziger and Filip Tomicic will be relied on to help the Lancers become national champions.
The Lancers’ season has begun and they are expecting great things this year.
Their next game is at Harvard University on Feb. 3. Their next home game is Feb. 24 against Lindenwood University.