On the even of their NCAA Division III National Championship semi-final matchup against Vassar College on Friday (preview here), the AVCA announced the Player and Coach of the Year award winners at its annual banquet on Thursday in Kenosha. Both hail from Springfield College, which has been the dominant team in the 9 year history of the NCAA D3 volleyball championship, playing in all 9 national semi-finals and winning 4 of the last 6 titles.
Coach of the Year honors went to Springfield head coach Charlie Sullivan, which marks the 3rd time that he’s earned the award after 2010 and 2012. Even for a team with so much success, 2018 has been a standout year for Springfield. They have a 29-2 record, including a 27-0 record against Division III programs. Their team hitting percentage of .373 is tops in D3 volleyball for the 7th-straight season, and at one point they had a 28-match winning streak.
They’ve also set a record for the most consecutive weeks ranked as the #1 team in the AVCA Division III national poll at 29 – that poll dates back to 1996, before the NCAA Championship. They’ve won 81 of the 85 sets they played against D3 opponents this season, and at one point set an NCAA record by winning 43 straight before New Paltz (the 2016 champions) won a set on March 31st. That broke the record of 32 set by Hawaii in 2017.
Leading that charge on the court is National Player of the Year Sergio Figueroa Velez. In his senior season, he leads Springfield with 244 kills while hitting .320; ranks 2nd on the team in digs with 154; and ranks 3rd on the team with 39 blogs. That’s the follow-up to his 2017 season where he had 372 kills and hit an unimaginable .459 on the season from the outside.
He played his best against the best competition, too: he’s hit .381 and averaged 4.50 points-per-set against AVCA nationally ranked teams.
Springfield College players have won this award 5 times in its 15-year history, more than any other school in the country.
Past AVCA Division III Player of the Year Winners:
2018 – Sergio Figueroa Velez, Springfield College
2017 – Luis Vega, Springfield College
2016 – Christian Smith, SUNY New Paltz
2015 – David Evans, Stevens Institute of Technology
2014 – Jimmy O’Leary, Springfield
2013 – EJ Wells-Spicer, Nazareth
2012 – Randy Hansen, Carthage
2011 – Cal Palumbo, Springfield
2010 – AJ Nally, Springfield
2009 – Andrew Cranford, Stevens
2008 – Bryan Shires, UC Santa Cruz
2007 – Matt Werle, Juniata
2006 – Chris Schmidt, New York University
2005 – Ricky Ziegler, Juniata
2004 – Kenny Eiser, Juniata