Albany, NY–The Sage Colleges' men's volleyball team has named the 2016 team captains for the upcoming campaign. Junior opposite Chris MacArthur (Hillsdale, NY/Taconic Hills), sophomore outside hitter Bailey Cecchi (Agawam, MA/Agawam), and sophomore middle hitter Ryan Guyton (Lockport, NY/Lockport) will lead the Gators this season as tri-captains.
The Gators will open the 2016 season competing on Friday and Saturday, January 22 and 23 at the SUNY-Polytechnic Invitational. Sage will face Wells College and Wentworth Institute of Technology in matches on Friday at 6 and 8 p.m. The Gators will then face Elms College at 11 a.m. on Saturday, before wrapping play in the tournament at 3 p.m. facing No. 4 ranked Nazareth College.
Sage will hold the team's 2016 home opener on Wednesday, January 27 at 7 p.m. in Kahl Gym as the Wildcats of SUNY-Polytechnic visit campus. The busy week continues with Sage hosting the Nighthawks of Newbury College on Friday, January 29 at 6 p.m. in Kahl Gym. On Sunday, January 31, Sage will hold a tri-match with Mt. Ida College and Lehman College as the matches are at 11 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. in Kahl Gym. In conjunction with the tri-match Sage is holding their Flood the Swamp with White Day and encouraging all fans to wear white and fill the Sage stands with white and possibly win prizes!
Taking over the Gator program this season is former Sage assistant coach Robert Verhayden (Schenectady, NY). Verhayden said of his selection, "I am very grateful to Athletic Director Dani Drews for the opportunity to take over the men's volleyball program at The Sage Colleges." He added, "Having been the assistant coach the past two seasons, I am excited about leading both the returning players and our new recruits. During the last two years I have been on the recruiting trail a lot and have met with many high school coaches within a 175 mile radius of The College. I hope these relationships that I have been forming will now pay dividends in securing even more quality student-athletes for the program."
A former women's head volleyball coach at Fulton-Montgomery Community College for three seasons, he has an extensive background within the sport of volleyball. He currently serves as the Girls' Varsity Volleyball Coach at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School, a position he has held since 2009. Most recently the team went 22-4 overall, winning the WAC South Championship.
An accomplished athlete in his own right, Verhayden was a member of the 1998 Men's Masters Championship Team as a competitor at the USA Volleyball IREVA Regional. He also garnered a silver medal as a member of the 1995 Men's Senior Adirondack Team at the Empire State Games. A former USA Volleyball Provisional referee and a former USA Volleyball regional scorekeeper, he has an extensive understanding of the fundamentals of the game and has already been an asset for the Sage program.
New to the staff will be assistant coach, Rob Soris. Verhayden noted, "I am very excited to have Rob Soris join the staff as my assistant coach." Verhayden went on to add, "Rob brings a wealth of volleyball experience to the program. A local product, Rob starred at Niskayuna High School before going on to play for Springfield College. A setter by trade, he will be a great addition to Sage in both the practice gym, working directly with our players and as a recruiter. Being a current volleyball player at the Men's Open Club level, Rob has many contacts in the volleyball community that should assist in our recruiting efforts."
A 2007 graduate of Springfield College with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics, Soris led the Pride for two seasons having played in 2004 and 2005. He racked up 1,229 career setting assists, which remains among the top in program history to this day as he is No. 9. His 10.69 setting assists per set average also ranks among the top 10 in program history as well.
Verhayden noted, "I am very excited for the start of the season and the combined skills and leadership that this year's tri-captains (Chris MacArthur, Bailey Cecchi and Ryan Guyton) bring to the volleyball program." He added, " Chris is now in his third year at Sage and provides a very strong hit and block from his OPP position. Bailey is one of the hardest hitting outsides and has the ability to "carry" the team for stretches at a time. Ryan, our tallest player, is a force to be reckoned with at the net and can also generate many points with his excellent jump serve. All three have been working hard and helping our new players acclimate to "college" ball."
Also back this season for the Gators is 2015 Skyline Conference All-Star Second-Team pick, libero Casey Fitzpatrick (Haverhill, MA/Haverhill). Verhayden noted, "Sophomore Casey Fitzpatrick, although not a captain, is one of the best liberos in the league and the catalyst to our offense."
As a newcomer with the Gators last season, Fitzpatrick led Sage with 243 digs. He had 118.5 points on the season having played in all 88 sets in 27 matches. Fitzpatrick added 97 kills with 37 setting assists. He had a .934 reception percentage as well with eight total blocks. He averaged 2.66 digs per set and finished the season No. 3 in the Skyline Conference with his digs per set average, while helping the team to a 9-18 overall record. Sage went 6-8 in league play and just missed a spot in the 2015 Skyline Conference Tournament.
Last year as a rookie, Cecchi led the Gators with his 274.5 points off his 232 kills with 145 digs. He added a .140 attack percentage with 20 aces. Guyton led the Gators with 41 aces and 49 total blocks, while connecting for 152 kills with 133 digs and 225.5 points. Cecchi was also ranked No. 66 in Division III with his 2.64 kills per set average and was also ranked No. 67 in points per set average.
The 2016 roster also features a pair of local performers with the addition of rookie middle hitter, Tyler Cook (Catskil, NY/Catskill) and rookie setter Austin Laverty (Schenectady, NY/Mohonasen). Additional support will come from sophomore outside hitter Melvin Tejada (Springfield, MA/Springfield Central) as well as rookie outside Zachary Karl (Central Square, NY/Central Square). Look for two members of Sage's 2015 Skyline Conference Men's Soccer Championship team to make their debut in volleyball with the addition of senior defensive specialist Peter Fabrykiewicz (Delancey, NY/Andes) and Skyline Men's Soccer Rookie of the Year, outside hitter River Seybolt (Seldon, NY/Longwood).