Story written by Craig Kolek, Posted by Hayden Barbosa, Rivier Assistant SID
(Nashua, N.H.) Rivier, back-to-back GNAC champions, will look to make history chasing a 3-peat in 2020. This veteran group with good post-season experience will need to rely on every ounce of that experience as they will be challenged by some tough and hungry GNAC teams along with some of the best teams in the nation. Rivier returns 5 out of 7 starters from last year's squad along with 7 more lettermen and 4 new faces so expect to see contributions from many for the Blue and White as they strive to continue the tradition of excellence for which the Raiders are known.
Four talented seniors will lead the way in 2020. Pedro Campos (6'1", S, Downey, CA), the 2019 GNAC Offensive Player of the year and All GNAC 1st Team member, will once again direct the Raiders. Expect to see the Raiders offense at a high level with Campos' knowledge and experience running the floor. David Smith (6'3", OH, Canton, OH), the 2019 GNAC Tournament MVP and All GNAC 1st Team member, will be the recipient of many of Campos' sets. The senior outside hitter has elevated his game every year and this his final season should be no exception. If the Raiders are looking for a kill, then Smith will be their first option. Just like Smith's game on offense, the same can be said for classmate Cam Roth's (6'3", OH, Coventry, RI.) game on defense. The 2019 All GNAC 2nd Team selection is the Raiders best passer and defender and will show off those skills once again in the libero position. His 318 digs in 2019 was just 6 digs shy of a Raider record so you can bet the versatile senior will be hungry to prove he's one of the best to play the position. Francis Kokoros (6'7", MH, Braintree, MA) will make the move from opposite hitter to middle hitter in his last season at Rivier. The hard working 6'7" senior will combine a successful off season regimen with great versatility to hopefully elevate as a top middle in the conference.
Junior Eric Roderick (6'0", S, Salem, NH) had a great offseason in the weight room increasing his vertical and overall strength. The junior setter will continue to work on his consistency of running the offense while jumping in as an opposite hitter. Matt Hagan (6'7", MH, Burnt Hills, NY) returns to the Raiders line-up after missing the 2019 season with an injury. Hagan should provide some needed defense with his blocking while continuing to improve his offense. Andrew Panameno (6'2", S, Los Angeles, CA) returns for his third season setting and should provide some good relief for Campos when needed while classmate and fellow California native Ernesto Montes-Gaxiola (6'4", MH/OH, Huntington Park, CA) will continue to work hard for the Raiders both in the middle and on the pin.
A talented sophomore class should play a significant role in the success in the 2020 season. Sokunbuth Ly (6'1", OPP, Lowell, MA), picked up valuable experience over the summer with his 9-Man squad and will bring that experience to the opposite hitter position. The high flier will only get better as the season goes on so expect to see Buth as a major impact player by years' end. Transfer Quinn Foglia (6'5", MH, Remsenburg, NY) should bring a balanced game to the Raider's middle position adding good production both offensively and defensively. Jack Hromada (5'9", L/DS, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, NY) was another player who had a solid offseason in the weight room and will reap the benefits of that work on the court with improved strength to help his already solid defensive and passing ability. The same can be said for classmate Kristjan Cortez (6'3", OH, Newark, CA) who elevated his game in the offseason with hard work in the weight room and on the practice court. Cortez should provide an added spark to the Raider team when needed. Mike DeAngelis (6'6", MH, Coventry, RI), who missed the 2019 season due to injury, will bring some needed size to Rivier as he works himself back onto the court.
Thomas Miller (5'11', L/DS, Clifton Park, NY) and Peter White (5'8', L/DS, Dunstable, MA) will bring added security to the back row for the Blue and White. Both were respective MVP's of their high school teams and both have the ability to come up with big plays defensively as well as be consistent passers.
The Raiders took home all eight first-place votes for the maximum 64 points to lead the way in the 2020 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Men's Volleyball Preseason Poll, as announced by the league office on Tuesday. Their first double header will be hosted by John Jay College in New York City this Saturday. The first challenge of the season will be against the Lions of Eastern Nazarene College at 2PM, then the hosts at 4PM.