Albany, NY- Sage's men's volleyball team will open the 2018 season this weekend. The 2018 season marks the third season for head coach Robert Verhayden at Sage with the men's program. New this year, Sage will compete as a member of the United Volleyball Conference, the UVC. The 10-team conference features Stevens Institute of Technology, SUNY-New Paltz, New York University, Vassar College, Nazareth College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Elmira College, St. John Fisher College, Bard College and The Sage Colleges. The 2018 season marks the ninth year of competition for the Sage men's volleyball team, which started the varsity program in 2010.
A year ago, NYU won the league's championship title and earned an automatic berth to the 2017 NCAA Division III Tournament. This year's championship will be held on the campus of the highest seed based on the regular-season standings. The 2018 UVC Playoffs will run over the course of three days with the quarterfinals beginning on April 13, 2018, followed by the semifinals on April 14, and concluding with the championship game on April 15, 2018.
Sage's team will be led this year by tri-captains Bailey Cecchi (Agawam, MA/Agawam), Ryan Guyton (Lockport, NY/Lockport), and Zackery Karl (West Monroe, NY/central Square). Seniors Cecchi and Guyton held the position a year ago, while the distinction is a new honor for Karl.
Guyton, who is a three-time letterwinner in volleyball is poised to continue his assault of the Gator record book in 2018 as Sage moves to the United Volleyball Conference. As a junior, he picked up his second straight Skyline First-Team honor after averaging 3.45 kills/set. The two-year captain scored his 1,000th career point after averaging 4.04 points/set, 21st in the nation and 3rd in the conference. On defense, the outside hitter averaged 0.31 blocks/set and 1.39 digs/set with a .923 reception percentage. After breaking the Sage career aces record as a sophomore, the two-time Skyline Player of the Week ranks 2nd in aces/set (0.52), 3rd in hitting percentage (.265), 3rd in points (1,077.5), 4th in block solos (40), 4th in kills (844) 5th in kills/set (2.87), 5th in block assists (79), 5th in total blocks (119), 5th in points/set (3.66) and 7th in digs (931) at Sage.
A returning leader and a two-time team captain, Bailey Cecchi is looking to make his impact on the Gators a lasting one as a senior. As a junior co-captain, Cecchi honored as the Gator of the Year in 2017 as the team's MVP. He earned Skyline Conference All-Star Second Team honors for his second straight season. In 2017, Cecchi led the nation in single-match hitting percentage on 10-14 attempts against Southern Vermont (.909). He totaled three double-doubles against Arcadia (15 kills, 12 digs), Purchase (13 kills, 11 digs) and St. Joseph's - Long Island (11 kills, 11 digs). The outside hitter averaged 3.40 points, 2.98 kills, 1.50 digs, 0.28 aces and 0.24 blocks per set. Cecchi also had an impressive .946 reception percentage on 464 attempts. The junior scored his 1,000th career point two weeks after Ryan Guyton to become the fourth player in school history to hit the milestone.
In the Sage career record book, Cecchi currently ranks 3rd in kills (851), 3rd in aces/set (0.32), 4th in aces (95), 4th in points (1,001), 5th in block solos (31), 6th in points/set (3.36) 6th in digs (450) and 10th in total blocks (79).
A returning letterwinner from last year's Sage team, Karl opens his junior season having already played in 61 matches. He is currently eighth in career blocks to open the 2018 campaign having added 92 total blocks. He has 22 solo blocks and 70 block assists in his time as a Gator.
As a rookie, he was a member of the 2016 team that made it to the Skyline Championship semi-finals. Karl played in 94 sets over 29 matches as a newcomer with 1.21 kills/set, 0.06 assists/set, 0.06 aces/set, 1.64 points/set, 0.30 digs/set and 0.57 blocks/set while totaling 114 kills, .172 hitting percentage, 6 assists, 6 aces, 154.0 points, 28 digs, .875 reception percentage and 54 blocks. Karl was first on the team in blocks/set and blocks and second in solo blocks (14). Last year, he started 19 matches and added 132.0 points on 90 kills with a .203 attack percentage. He also picked up 19 aces with 31 digs and 38 total blocks.
Sage's 2018 roster features 10 returning letterwinners with substantial playing experience to their credits. Among the Gator newcomers are two transfers as well as four rookies.
Sage will open the 2018 season on the road at Kean University this Saturday, January 20 facing Mt. St. Joseph's and the College of Mt. St. Vincent in a pair of non-league contests. The Gators will host SUNY-Polytechnic on January 24 at 7 p.m. in the team's 2018 home opener in Kahl Gym. The 2018 season will find Sage taking on a number of new opponents in league play, including five of the Top 15 ranked teams in the AVCA's Division III Men's Pre-season poll. Among the team's home match-ups will be a play date with non-league foes on February 3 with Wells College and Emmanuel College as well as Purchase College and John Jay College on March 31. The final non-league tri-match is slated for April 7 with Lehman College and New Jersey City University in conjunction with Senior Day for the Gators. Home UVC action this season will find Sage hosting Stevens, NYU, and SUNY-New Paltz on March 17 and 18. All told, the 2018 schedule finds the Gators certainly challenged with an impressive list of foes, all with hopes of punching their ticket to the league tournament and a shot at an NCAA bid at season's end.