State of the Sport – Men’s DII

net-set-bugDII men’s Volleyball exists in an enigmatic, almost problematic, relationship with DI men’s volleyball. With 24 active DII programs for the 2017-2018 season, DII is larger in size than DI, which has 22 programs, but much smaller in terms of recognition and prestige. However, DI and DII need each other if the NCAA is to continue sponsoring a “National Championship” tournament since the minimum number of teams for such a tournament is approximately 50 teams. Unfortunately for DII, no DII team has ever won – and retained – this combined championship.*

* Inline footnote – Lewis University, a DII school outside of Chicago, Illinois, did win this combined tournament on the court in 2003, defeating DI competitor BYU. However, Lewis University voluntarily admitted an eligibility error and forfeited this title, which was also later voided and vacated by the NCAA. Lewis was also the Runner–Up to DI Loyola in the 2015 National Championship tournament.

Now we’ll look at an overall DII snapshot first, and then we’ll review each of the five conferences which sponsor DII men’s volleyball programs– CCAR, EIVA, MIVA, MPSF and the Big West

DII Snapshot (25 teams)

DII had a tremendous growth spurt a few years ago when the Conference Carolinas (CCAR) brought men’s volleyball online as a conference sport. Prior to that growth spurt, most of the growth in DII had come from NAIA teams which considered the grass was greener on the other side of the fence and converted from NAIA to DII (California Baptist, Concordia-Irvine, Emmanuel, and Lindenwood, to name a few). DII eligibility rules are considerably looser than DI, and DII schools play DI competition anyway. So, in many ways, DII men’s college volleyball has the best of both worlds. Since volleyball is a full conference sport in the Conference Carolinas with ten teams participating in men’s volleyball, the CCAR receives an automatic bid into the Men’s National Championship Volleyball Tournament. However, the crown jewel of DII men’s college volleyball is clearly Lewis University Flyers in Romeoville, Illinois.

In alphabetical order, then, here’s all 25 DII men’s college volleyball programs, including Queens University of Charlotte, which begins play in the 2017-2018 season.

SCHOOL Plays In Location Undergrad Enrollment *
Alderson-Broaddus Battlers IND Philippi, WV 1,085
Barton Bulldogs CCAR Wilson, NC 985
Belmont Abbey Crusaders CCAR Belmont, NC 1,495
California Baptist Lancers MPSF Riverside, CA 6,630
Charleston Golden Eagles EIVA Charleston, WV 1,727
Coker Cobras IND Hartsville, SC 1,203
Concordia (Irvine) Eagles IND Irvine, CA 1,939
Emmanuel (GA) Lions CCAR Franklin, GA 884
Erskine Flying Fleet CCAR Due West, SC 622
King Tornado CCAR Bristol, TN 2,467
Lees-McRae Bobcats CCAR Banner Elk, NC 1,033
Lewis Flyers MIVA Romeoville, IL 4,652
Limestone Saints CCAR Gaffney, SC 1,227
Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters % IND Harrogate, TN 1,675
Lindenwood Lions MIVA St. Charles, MO 8,285
McKendree Bearcats MIVA Lebanon, IL 2,342
Mount Olive Trojans CCAR Mount Olive, NC 3,251
North Greenville Crusaders CCAR Greenville, SC 2,481
Pfeifer Falcons CCAR Misenheimer, NC 917
Queens (Charlotte) Royals & IND Charlotte, NC 1,641
Quincy Hawks MIVA Quincy, IL 1,140
UPR – Bayamon Cowboys IND Bayamon, PR 4,965
UPR – Mayaguez Tarzans IND Mayaguez, PR 10,994 #
UPR – Rio Piedras Gallitos IND Rio Piedras, PR 15,186 #
UC – San Diego Tritons MPSF La Jolla, CA 26,590

* – From USN&WR Best Colleges Report

# – From Wikipedia

% – Begins play with the 2016-2017 season

& – Begins play in the 2017-2018 season


Conference Carolinas first reached the six team benchmark in 2011 and received an automatic bid to the National Championship when the NCAA expanded the tournament to six teams and added two play-in matches to the tournament. CCAR currently has 10 programs playing men’s volleyball, but will lose Pfeiffer University to DIII for the 2017-2018 season. The 2016–2017 CCAR preseason poll below shows the Barton Bulldogs as the favorite followed by the Mount Olive Trojans.

2017 CCAR Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Barton — 78 points with 6 first place votes
2. Mount Olive — 72 points with 2 first place votes
3. King — 59 points
4. Limestone — 53 points
5. Belmont Abbey — 51 points
6. Erskine — 48 (1) points
7. North Greenville — 43 points
8. Lees-McRae — 35 points
9. Pfeiffer — 29 points (Transitioning to DIII)
10. Emmanuel – Not eligible for postseason play due to transition from NAIA


A blended conference for DI and DII volleyball in the Eastern USA, the EIVA consists of one DII program, the Charleston Golden Eagles, and seven DI programs. The 2016–2017 EIVA preseason poll below shows George Mason as the favorite followed by Penn State with DII member Charleston in the eighth position.

EIVA Preseason Coaches’ Poll

1. George Mason — 63 points with 7 first place votes
2. Penn State — 54 points with 1 first place vote
3. St. Francis — 49 points
4. Princeton — 33 points
5. NJIT — 32 points
6. Harvard — 29 points
7. Sacred Heart — 19 points
8. Charleston — 9 points


The MIVA is riding the crest of the men’s college volleyball world, having won the last three National Championship tournaments (Loyola in 2014 and 2015, Ohio State in 2016). The MIVA is composed of nine teams, four DII teams (Lewis, Lindenwood, McKendree, and Quincy) and five DI teams. Grand Canyon will exit the MIVA for the MPSF effective with the 2017-2018 season. The 2016–2017 MIVA preseason poll below shows Ohio State as the favorite followed by DII Lewis.

MIVA Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Ohio State — 80 points with 8 first place votes
2. Lewis — 69 points with 1 first place vote
3. Loyola — 62 points
4. Ball State — 53 points
5. McKendree — 47 points
6. Grand Canyon — 39 points
7. Fort Wayne — 24 points
8. Lindenwood — 18 points
9. Quincy — 13 points


Long regarded as the best men’s college volleyball conference, the MPSF has seen its reign challenged recently by the MIVA as well as the move of six teams to the Big West for the 2017–2018 season. For the 2016–2017 season the MPSF will continue its rigorous 22 match schedule, with each team playing every other team twice.

In 2017-2018, however, the MPSF will lose CSU Northridge, CSU Long Beach, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Hawai’i, and DII UC San Diego to the Big West while adding DII Concordia Irvine and DI Grand Canyon to its members. This eight-team, reconfigured MPSF will consist of two DII teams (California Baptist and Concordia Irvine) as well as DI members BYU, Grand Canyon, Pepperdine, Stanford, UCLA, and USC. The 2016–2017 MPSF preseason poll below shows BYU as the favorite followed by UCLA.

MPSF Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. BYU — 119 points, 9 first place votes
2. UCLA — 111 points, 3 first place votes
3. CSU Long Beach — 103 points
4. UC Irvine — 79 points
5. Pepperdine — 73 points
6. Hawai’i — 63 points
7. Stanford — 61 points
8. UC Santa Barbara — 58 points
9. CSUN — 53 points
10. USC — 36 points
11. Cal Baptist — 24 points
12. UC San Diego — 12 points

The Big West

Volleyball history was made when the Big West Conference became the first NCAA Division I conference to sponsor competition in men’s volleyball, beginning in the 2017-2018 season. The Big West Board of Directors approved a six-team league consisting of full conference DI members CSU Northridge, CSU Long Beach, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, and Hawai’i.  A sixth team from DII UC San Diego will join the group as an associate member and gives the conference the minimum six teams required for postseason NCAA automatic qualification. An associate member in the Big West is an institution that participates in three or less conference championships. Other current Big West associate members are CSU Bakersfield in women’s beach volleyball and Sacramento State in men’s soccer and women’s beach volleyball. For more information on this newsworthy event, visit this article: (


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