HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Coker College men's volleyball team, under the direction of third-year head coach Eric Snyder, is set to attack the 2017 season on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at home against St. Andrews. First serve is set for 7 p.m.
A Quick Look Back
The Cobras finished their most successful season to date with a 14-9 record last year. Part of their success was due to their impressive aces per set average.
Coker finished the 2015-16 season as the Division I/II men's volleyball statistical champion in the aces per set category. The Cobras finished the season with 172 aces in 84 sets for a 2.05 aces per set average, besting runner-up Ohio State University, who had a 1.89 aces per set average. It was the first time the Coker men's volleyball team has won a NCAA DI/DII statistical championship in its four seasons as a program.
This Season's Roster
The Cobras return eight players from last year's roster and add seven newcomers.
"I think that we brought back players with talent, enthusiasm, and excitement in order to put out a great product this year", said Snyder.
Cabral is one of the most dominant players in the nation and was one of 33 college men's volleyball outside attackers that has been selected to the 2017 watch list for the annual Karch Kiraly Award. The watch list for the 2017 Karch Kiraly Award was determined by Off the Block using a variety of factors including player performances from previous seasons and projections on standout outside attackers to watch during the upcoming 2017 season.
On the court last season, Cabral played in 23 matches for the Navy and Gold, appearing in 80 sets. He compiled 239 kills and nearly a three kills per set average. He finished second in all NCAA DI/DII with a .60 service aces per set average, was a finalist for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Server of the Year and was named the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Player of the Month in February.
Joao Victor Santos is another impact player to watch this season for the Cobras. Santos was named to the 2016 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc Freshman All-American Team during the 2016 season.
In his first year with the Navy and Gold, Santos ranked 13th in the NCAA DI/DII with a 3.73 kills per set average. The Brazilia, Brazil native belted 272 kills and had 10 matches of 15 or more kills, including a program record 27 kills in matches versus Limestone and Emmanuel. Behind the service line, he was equally as dominant, ranking 10th in the country with .44 service aces per set. Lastly, his 4.49 points per set average ranked him 11th in the NCAA DI/DII.
While the Cobras return a wealth of talent to the roster this season, many of the newcomers could make an instant impact as well.
"Our freshman class this year is talented and probably one of the best that this program has had", stated Snyder.
Breaking Down the Schedule
The Cobras have a challenging schedule this year with five Division I opponents including George Mason, Penn St., Harvard, Princeton, and NJIT. Coker will also compete with a couple of tough Conference Carolinas schools such as Barton and Erskine.
"We're looking forward to enhanced competition", stated Snyder. "Our guys are ready for the challenge and are looking forward to it."
In addition to playing a few prestigious Division I schools, the Cobras will host the inaugural Independent Volleyball Association (IVA) Championship. The IVA Championship takes all of the independent men's volleyball teams and brings them to Coker to compete for a championship. The tournament will be sponsored by the AVCA, Off the Block, Molten, and USA Volleyball.
"For the first time in program history, we'll be able to play and compete for a championship on our home floor April 7-9", said Snyder. "It's a pretty exciting year for us."