WESTON, Mass. – After two weeks of practice, the Regis College men's volleyball team is ready to open the 2019 campaign, its 10th season of competition, with eyes on returning to a double-digit win total.
Regis welcomes seven players back from last season, led by senior Drew Beimel (Redondo Beach, Calif.), who finished with 198 kills, 125 defensive digs, 13 service aces, and 31 total blocks in 2018. Beimel enters the season third on the Regis all-time blocks list, fourth in career kills and career digs, and fifth on the career service aces list.
Junior Jayson Vega (Ponce, Puerto Rico) was Regis's top setter last year, collecting 500 assists, while sophomore Sebastian Valdes (Diamond Bar, Calif.) finished with 227 assists for the Pride in 2018. Another returner to watch is sophomore Inelson Alves (Brockton, Mass.), as he was fourth on the team with 139 kills last season.
The returners are joined by nine newcomers, all of whom have been working to make an immediate impact on the team. Throughout the group of newcomers, height is an emphasis, as five of the players entering the program stand at six feet or taller.
Regis opens the 2019 season with home matches on consecutive nights. The Pride host MIT, coming off a 16-9 season, Wednesday, Jan. 23, followed by a match against Eastern Nazarene, another opponent with a winning 2018 campaign at 14-12, Thursday, Jan. 24, with both contests beginning at 6 p.m.
MIT has won all 10 previous meetings over Regis, including a 3-0 win in Cambridge at the start of last season. Meanwhile, the Pride hold a 2-1 series advantage over Eastern Nazarene, but the Lions, entering Thursday's match with a 2-1 record, defeated Regis in Quincy last year, 3-2, despite 16 kills from Beimel and 52 assists by Vega.
Next Tuesday, Jan. 29, Regis will travel to face defending national champion Springfield in a Battle of the Pride. This will be only the second meeting between the two squads and the first since April 6, 2013, a 3-0 Springfield victory.
The Pride finished 8-17 overall in 2018, breaking a four-year streak with at least 12 overall victories. Competing within the Great Northeast Athletic Conference for the first time, Regis posted a 3-11 league mark, finishing seventh in the regular season standings to miss qualifying for the GNAC Tournament.
In the 2019 GNAC Men's Volleyball Preseason Poll, defending league champion Rivier was the unanimous selection as the favorite to win the conference again this season. Regis will travel to face the Raiders Wednesday, Feb. 20, and then host Rivier Saturday, March 30, as part of a tri-match also involving Johnson & Wales, picked to finish third in the preseason poll. Wentworth finished second in the poll ahead of JWU, followed by Lasell in fourth, Emmanuel, Emerson, Regis in seventh, and Colby-Sawyer.
Overall, Regis will play 11 home matches as part of its 25-match regular season slate. The Pride host Emerson Tuesday, April 2, in their final home contest of the regular season before completing the year at Lasell Thursday, April 4, and at Wentworth Saturday, April 6. The top six teams in the final regular season standings will qualify for the GNAC Tournament, with matches scheduled for April 9, 11, and 13.