Before the COVID-19 outbreak in mid-March of 2020, college sports had packed bleachers and post-game handshakes, but now that’s been replaced with socially distanced spectators and constant hand sanitizing.

With the pandemic still ongoing, Stevens Institute Men’s Volleyball Head Coach Dan Buehring told Slice of Culture that there are new rules in place to avoid catching the virus. Players have to be tested three times a week and must play with a mask on. If someone tested positive, half of the team would be shut down. 

But the coach said despite the new rules and regulations, his love for the sport runs deep.

“This job is a joy. I love this sport and the teams are special,” he said. “We have one goal and have 18 people working toward that goal. This team is like a family.”

Buehring had high praise for his roster, stating that they’re two teams deep.

After a disappointing 1-3 start to the season, the Ducks won nine straight, hitting a stride.

Buehring mentioned Jack Fyda, Percy Bickford and Nathan Lancia as key players to the team. He stated that Fyda is a high performer, with Bickford and Lancia improving so much during the season. 

Lancia was named AVCA’s DIII National Player of the Week on March 30th.

Fyda is the team’s leader in kills, digs, and service aces while being fifth in blocks and assists, placing top five in every statistical category.

Bickford and Lancia are both top three in kills and digs, while also being top five in every other category except assists.

“I’m really proud of my players. They came into this program as boys, they’re now men,” he added.

On Feb. 2, the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) — the conference the Hoboken college is part of — announced the return of men’s volleyball and its six-week schedule. It included a “double round robin schedule during the regular season,” leading to two postseason tournaments including a championship and consolation brackets.

Men’s volleyball returned in February with a six-week schedule (MAC)

Then a month later, on Jan. 19, Buehring was named the head coach of the men’s volleyball team at Stevens Institute of Technology.

The Director of Athletics at Stevens, Russell Rogers said:

“Dan emerged as a clear choice among an outstanding group of candidates for the head men’s volleyball coach position.”

Before Buehring joined the Ducks, he was coaching at Benedictine University, but it came to an abrupt halt when it was cancelled halfway due to the pandemic. A typical volleyball season runs until April — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy began to shut everything down in mid-March.

The coach didn’t get to properly end his last season with Benedictine University. He said he was disappointed with the cancelled season because senior players never got a chance to play their last full season.

Buehring built up the Benedictine men’s volleyball program from the ground up, and stayed with the team from 2015-2020. His overall record with Benedictine was 89-47, winning back-to-back NACC titles in 2018 and 2019.

When asked about his decision to join Stevens, he mentioned their “premier” DIII athletic department and felt as though he now has a “higher ceiling.”

He praised Benedictine, but he felt like Stevens was a great fit.

On April 7, the Ducks suffered a loss against Stevenson University in the MAC semi-finals, ending their season with a 10-4 record. 

But Beuhring said he has high hopes for his team, and added that he has no doubt that they will make huge strides in the offseason.

With Fyda being a junior, and Bickford and Lancia being sophomores, they are expected to be back with the team next season. 

“This is a special group with all the right stuff to do special things in the future,” he said.

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