June 29, 2021 – By NJP ***UPDATED JULY 9, 2021***
HERE IS THE LINK TO WATCH GAMES — https://www.nvausa.com/schedule
The NVA is preparing for Championship weekend and looks to crown it’s second Champion in the young existenece of the professional volleyball league. NJP had a chance to sit down with Carlo Edra, the Head Coach for NJ’s Team Freedom, to pick his brain on the event and, as always, he provided a world of knowledge for the NJ Volleyball community to get ready for Championship weekend.
Carlo is not only the Head Coach of Team Freedom, but he also heads up the Men’s Volleyball program at NJCU. The Gothic Knights are coming off an amazing season where they earned a ticket to the NCAA Dlll National Championship Tournament for the first time in their existence. Carlo is also a former player at NJCU and has a long history of Playing and Coaching excellence.
Team Freedom is made up of many former NJ high school players as well as local college standouts over the years. Justin Beaumont, owner and general manager, started the team and wanted to keep a lot of local talent to help properly represent the state of New Jersey in the volleyball world. Carlo shared this information about the Freedom roster.
Outside Hitters: Chris Nugent (Penn State / Fair Lawn / Sixpack), Chris Vaughan (Stevens Tech / No HS team / Quandomania), Josue Castillo (Ramapo /Garfield / No club), and Besmir Arslani (NJCU/Kean (Wayne Valley / Sixpack).
Middle Blockers: Matthew Seifert (Penn State), Mikheil Hoyte (Trinidad & Tobago National Team), Doug Dzema (Sacred Heart / Christian Brothers Academy / Sixpack), Krystian Pescinski (Rutgers New Brunswick (club) / Hillsborough / Sixpack), and Keith Kegerries (Saint Francis).
Opposite: Joe Norman (George Mason/SUNY New Paltz), and John Lutz (George Mason).
Setters: Matthew Elias (Juniata), Ron Dunn (Kean / Collingswood / No club), and Ryan Kenny (Montclair State (club) / Cinnaminson / South Jersey VBC).
Liberos: John Cunningham (Kean / Cinnaminson / Quandomania), Jordan Robinson (Springfield), Glen Demagalihaes (NJIT / Newark East Side / Sixpack).
Edra told us there is also a roster of 20+ additional standout players who practice with the team who can potentially be future Freedom players. There are other NJ based players on other teams in the NVA that fans can add to their watch list. Thomas Burrell from St. Joe’s Metuchen is on the Chicago Untouchables and Langston Payne, from Piscataway, is on Southern Exposure.
It’s great to see these former NJ high school and Club players excel at the pro level. It’s clear that Volleyball has a path to professional play, like many other sports like Baseball, Football, and Hockey. For those that have a passion for playing and eventually coaching, the NVA can be a goal for NJ students. As Volleyball, especially Men’s volleyball, continues to advance as the fastest growing sport across the country at the high school level, these leagues have the potential to continue to gain fan support in the next decade to create opportunities for more players and added compensation levels.
The NVA structure has ten teams broken into two divisions:
10 Total Teams, 2 Conferences
o American Conference
§ Los Angeles Blaze
§ Las Vegas Ramblers
§ Utah Stingers
§ Texas Tyrants
§ Chicago Untouchables
o National Conference
§ Southern Exposure (Florida)
§ New Jersey Team Freedom
§ Ontario Matadors
§ Orange County Stunners
§ Dallas Tornadoes
Each team played each other once and that was the regular season. There were 3 total regular season events. Each event, each team played 3 matches. The bottom team in each conference was eliminated for playoffs (Blaze and Tornadoes).
The Criteria for seeding is as follows: W-L record, FIVB points system (3 points for a win in 3 or 4 sets, 2 points for a win in 5 sets, 1 point for a loss in 5 sets, 0 points for a loss), Set ratio, and Point ratio.
The Championships (technically event #4), is coming up soon. Here is the schedule and seeds:
The Quarterfinals start on Friday, July 9th with Semifinals on Saturday, July 10th.
The 3rd place match along with Championship match will be Sunday, July 11th.
You can watch the livestream of the matches on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa15EyEa3I6BqsPxZt0L6SQ or search for “NVA USA”
TEAM FREEDOM INFO-Schedule and Results
Event #1 – April – San Bernadino, CA
Freedom def Tornadoes, 3-0
Freedom def Untouchables, 3-1
Freedom def Stunners, 3-0
Event #2 – May – Atlantic City, NJ
Freedom def Blaze, 3-2
Freedom def Stingers, 3-2
Matadors def Freedom, 3-0
Event #3 – June – San Bernadino, CA
Exposure def Freedom, 2-3
Ramblers def Freedom, 2-3
Tyrants def Freedom, 2-3
Coach Carlo was upbeat about Freedom’s chances in the tournament. “We hit the ground running at the beginning of the season and it carried over to event #2 in Atlantic City.” said Edra. “We were the last undefeated team in the league at 5-0. We’ve been struggling a bit as of late having dropped our last 4 but 3 out of those 4 have been 5-set losses. We’re showing a lot of fight but we’re not closing out matches like we should be.”
The brilliant start to their season peaked when they faced The Stingers in Atlantic City. This is the team they will face in the quarter-finals in the upcoming Championship tournament. Team Freedom rode a wave of momentum created by local fans in Atlantic City. Carlo shared “Something I have to shout out is the crowd and fans that gathered for our two wins against LA Blaze and the Utah Stingers in Atlantic City. Feeling the energy knowing they had our back with every point we won gave us that little extra motivation to win that match for them. It was surreal to hear them chant ‘Let’s go Freedom’.”
The pandemic has thwarted fan support at many early events so it was a welcome feeling. “The staff and players kept looking at each other mind-blown that we had that kind of support. I saw a bunch of current high school and college players in attendance during our matches. I love seeing it because it gives those guys something to work for. It’s humbling to know there was a point where the guys at Freedom were once high school players wishing and hoping to play at a certain level.”
The NVA has had just one Champion in their league history. The Utah Stingers won in the innaugural season. With the 2020 season cancelled due to COVID, Freedom will start their quest for the NVA title against the defending Champs. “Justin Beaumont and I are very confident going into championship weekend. We know what adjustments we need to make as a team and we will be working on those things in the practices leading up to the event. We have a really tough draw having to play the defending champs in the Utah Stingers but we are ready for the rematch from our epic 5-setter this past May.”
HOW TO FOLLOW FREEDOM
You can watch edited Freedom matches on youtube at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjdSzukOTmYODr8mXdxqyGw/featured
You can follow Team Freedom on social media on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/teamfreedomvbc/?hl=en