East Coast Region Season Preview 2022-23

The following was prepared by the NCDA Content Team:

The East Coast Region had an up and down 2021-22, with many schools recovering from low numbers due to the pandemic. James Madison was the clear standout, as the Dukes got back to the Final Four for the first time since 2015. They look like the favorites once again in 2022-23. Towson and Penn State seem like the next tier in the East, both squads need to replace some stars but their depth will help them this year. Maryland and Virginia had poor showings last season and both rosters will be young in 2022-23, but don’t count either of them out from pushing for a higher ranking. Lastly, VCU struggled to field a team at the end of last season. They are looking to get back to competing in the NCDA by 2023.


  1. James Madison
  2. Towson
  3. Penn State
  4. Maryland
  5. Virginia
  6. Virginia Commonwealth


Program on the Rise: Penn State

Biggest Unknown: Virginia Commonwealth

Most Underrated Player: Claudio Tapia-Manon (PSU)

Coach of the Year: Colin Sporer (Towson)


  1. Evan Eschenburg (JMU)
  2. Garrett Abbott (Towson)
  3. James Turner (JMU)
  4. Nate Urlock (Towson)
  5. Mason Blanchard (PSU)
  6. Drew VanDenburg (VCU

Team Previews

James Madison

Preseason National Rank: 5

Preseason Regional Rank: 1

2021-22 Record: 14-6

2012-22 Nationals Finish: Semifinals

Returning Starters: 7

Captains: Nick Spear, Evan Eschenburg, Andrew Luzik, and Trenton Shaffer

Standout Players: Evan Eschenburg, Patrick Kaczmarek, Andrew Luzik, Trenton Shaffer, and James Turner

Key Departures: Drew Funk, Zack Tillery, Michael Cone, Jack Marsh, and Ben Hoare

The Good:

Returning the National Player of the Year is a good place to start. JMU had a DEEP and talented group last year, and are known for strong recruiting classes. Don’t be surprised if JMU is ‘good” to start the year, but “great” by winter. This roster will be the most talented in the East.

The Bad:

James Madison returns only 7 starters, which is less than every East Coast team outside of VCU. Can JMU replace the offensive production from that group of graduates including 2022 All-American Drew Funk?

Our Call:

James Madison enters the season at #5 nationally, but the potential is there for this group to be a Final Four caliber team or better in 2022-23. If we see early in the season that JMU has a strong core to support Eschenburg, this team will be in the National Title discussion.

I’m really looking forward to this upcoming year. We lost some great players but we’re also returning a very talented team mixed with several guys who have big game experience as well as some younger guys looking to break out. We have high expectations and look to build off a strong spring 2022.

Nick Spear


Preseason National Rank: 7

Preseason Regional Rank: 2

2021-22 Record: 13-10

2012-22 Nationals Finish: Quarterfinals

Returning Starters: 9

Coaches: Colin Sporer

Captains: Nate Urlock, Garrett Abbott

Standout Players: Kyle Strong (fall semester only), Chris Joyce, Scott Wilson, Tommy Mollen, Grant Hines, Quinn McHugh

Key Departures: Hunter Friedman, Jake Friedman, Griffin Bass

The Good:

Towson brings back a lot of numbers which bodes well for a strong Fall semester at a minimum. Considering Towson was one point away from the Final Four last year it’s reasonable to have this group in a contender conversation. Captains Nate Urlock and Garrett Abbott were both solid pieces last season and will likely see themselves as the centerpieces for this year’s team. Grant Hines and Quinn McHugh showed a lot of promise as rookies on last year’s team, and with a Sophomore leap like we’ve seen with NCDA players of the past we should expect them to only get better.

The Bad:

Losing two All-Americans in Hunter and Jake Friedman is never a good thing, and losing last year’s Captain Griffin Bass isn’t better. There is only one player remaining on the team who was on the championship 2019 team, so there will be some question marks around experience for this team and how they handle adversity.

Our Call:

Yes Towson has lost some top end talent, but they’ve become a program that has learned how to reload instead of recover. This year should come with some strong expectations to dominate within their own region given the departure of many JMU and PSU players from last year’s team. For this team I think they’ll be a consistent presence in the top 10 at a minimum, and it would not be shocking for them to stay within the top 5 for most of if not all of next season.

Penn State

Preseason National Rank: 13

Preseason Regional Rank: 3

2021-22 Record: 10-7

2012-22 Nationals Finish: Quarterfinals

Returning Starters: 9

Captains: Mason Blanchard, Zach Eck

Standout Players: Zack Eck, Cloud Tapia-Manon, Hunter Stewart, Alfredo Jimenez, Joey Tiger, Zach Taylor

Key Departures: Christian Iannuzzelli, Brady Eck, Noah Grube

The Good:

Penn State was so hot and cold last year. With 9 returning starters, expect this team to be more coordinated and disciplined in 2022-23. Mason Blanchard is the headliner, but this team has depth and should once again have the ability to score points quickly due to their playstyle and skillsets. PSU will be one of the most intriguing and exciting teams to watch in the NCDA.

The Bad:

Losing Christian Iannuzzelli, Brady Eck and Noah Grube would leave holes on even the deepest rosters in the league. That’s a lot of production to replace. Penn State wasn’t the most consistent team last year. They certainly have some things to improve.

Our Call:

Penn State lands at #3 on the East Coast, and you better believe they believe they are better than a #13 ranking nationally. This squad had a quarterfinals ceiling a year ago. If they prove early this fall their level of talent and depth has improved, don’t be surprised if they launch up the standings.


Mason Blanchard


Preseason National Rank: 17

Preseason Regional Rank: 4

2021-22 Record: 5-14

2012-22 Nationals Finish: Round of 16

Returning Starters: 8

Coaches: Daniel Fernald

Captains: Connor Engel, Chris Duchak

Standout Players: Connor Engel, Chris Duchak, Zach Demos, Caleb Dixon, Adam Butz

Key Departures: Alec Goodman, Michael Cho, Bryce Bathras, Daniel Fernald

The Good:

It can’t be overstated how important numbers are, and UMD now has a full roster and plenty of experience after a 5-14 season. Maryland showed flashes at Nationals 2022, and that was with a roster of majority rookies! Let that sink in. If they can compete regularly on the East Coast this season, expect a big jump in performances their young roster makes that next leap in skill level.

The Bad:

Maryland loses some key leaders from last season’s team. UMD doesn’t have as many dynamic top-level arms as some other teams, so if they are going to compete with top teams they will need to work well as a team and have great leadership/communication. Keep an eye on them in their first tournament to see how they replace some vocal leaders.

Our Call:

Maryland is another East Coast team that looks ready to take a step up after a transitional 2021-22 season that had many ups and downs. UMD is not yet at the level to compete consistently with the top 3 schools in the East, but check back in the spring to see if they close that gap.

We are really excited about our potential this year in the NCDA. Opposed to many other NCDA teams, especially those in the East Coast Region, we did not lose many seniors. Almost our whole team besides 4 players were rookies last season and will only improved. We definitely have the potential to be one of the top 2-3 East teams and top 10 in the nation!”

Coach Daniel Fernald


Preseason National Rank: 18

Preseason Regional Rank: 5

2021-22 Record: 2-3

2012-22 Nationals Finish: Did Not Attend

Returning Starters: 8

Captains: Cole Faggert, Nick Wells, Ben Kelley, Wyndam White

Standout Players: Cole Faggert, Nick Wells, Ben Kelley, Wyndam White, Alex Zuch, Thomas Mossberg

Key Departures: Jake Korman

The Good:

Be honest. You’ve seen their social media lately. This group looks far more talented than UVA teams of the past. Plus, they still have a good amount of returners to blend with their new talent. If there is a team nationally that is flying more under the radar heading into the year, please help us identify them. UVA is primed for a breakout season.

The Bad:

Losing Jake Korman hurts. He was a very strong player and a fairly well-known name nationally, so losing his skill and leadership will require an adjustment. UVA also seriously lacks in-game experience. This team is headed for a breakout, but only if they can ramp up the amount of games they play each semester.

Our Call:

Virginia Dodgeball looked to be in a tough spot after the pandemic, but this group seems to be turning the corner. After a 2-3 season where UVA did not attend Nationals, the expectations are higher than one might expect. Don’t be surprised if this group far outperforms their #19 preseason ranking.

There is a lot of new talent for the upcoming season, and there are more seasoned players than years prior. Y’all will see a lot of UVA wins this year.

Joshua Cole Faggert

Virginia Commonwealth

Preseason National Rank: 19

Preseason Regional Rank: 6

2021-22 Record: 1-7

2012-22 Nationals Finish: Did Not Attend

Returning Starters: 6

Coaches: Hunter Ford

Captains: TBD

Standout Players: Lloyd Bishop, Drew VanDenburg

Key Departures: Ike Fleckenstein

Our Call:

VCU will look to get back in action this season after not competing in events down the stretch last season.

5-season Trends

Author: Kevin Bailey

Current NCDA Chief of Content. Former Captain for Grand Valley State University (#4).

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