It’s about 1 a.m. Sunday and I’m sitting at my computer desk, shaking my head with all the match results now in for the weekend.
The top eight spots are set for my voting ballot this week in the ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Media Poll. It’s the final two spots that have me pondering late into the night as I get ready to go to sleep.
Parity doesn’t make it easy for a poll voter and I have about five teams who could move into my top 10 ballot this week.
No. 6 UC Irvine (4-6, 2-4 MPSF) and Pepperdine (2-5, 0-5 MPSF) have dropped out of my top 10 ballot after both teams lost two matches this week. Talent wise these are top 10 caliber teams and they are playing a brutal MPSF schedule. However, I am a big believer to get in the top 10 you need to win the matches on your schedule and be at least .500.
As a result, I have two opening on my ballot for next week. The only problem is none of the bubble teams stood out well enough this weekend to make it easy for me to put them in my top 10 ballot.
Here are the teams I’m looking at with some of their pros and cons when deciding to put them on my ballot.
Ball State (3-3, 0-0 MIVA)
Pro: A nice signature win against then-No. 5 Hawai’i two weeks ago.
Con: That win against Hawai’i is looking less impressive each week. In addition, Ball State lost to George Mason on Friday and then barely survived against Sacred Heart winning in five games on Saturday.
George Mason (5-2, 1-0 EIVA)
Pro: A nice victory against Ball State on Friday and a good record
Con: George Mason lost in five games to IPFW on Saturday. This loss dropped the Patriots record to 1-2 against Division I teams.
IPFW (5-3, 0-1 MIVA)
Pro: IPFW had a road win against George Mason on Saturday with outside attacker Darryl Shank having a career-high 37 kills. The Mastodons also earlier this season split a two-match series against Pacific, a West Coast and MPSF team.
Con: Opening its weekend East Coast road trip with a bad four-game loss to Sacred Heart
Lewis (6-1, 0-0 MIVA)
Pro: A good road victory against St. Francis and a nice record
Con: Lewis has one of the most deceiving records in the nation with a majority of its victories coming against Conference Carolinas teams or Division III and NAIA schools. This was its first weekend with matches against top-level competition and it went 1-1 — losing to No. 8 Penn State in three games.
Loyola (4-2, 0-0 MIVA)
Pro: A nice record and took a game from No. 8 Penn State
Con: Loyola lost to Penn State and St. Francis this weekend. Similar to Lewis, Loyola’s record is somewhat deceiving with all of its wins coming against Division III or NAIA teams.
Mount Olive (5-2, 1-0 Conference Carolinas)
Pro: They have a nice record, and I would be the first voter in the either the media or coaches poll to vote for a Conference Carolinas team. However, the vote would be more to show my disappointment in MIVA, MPSF and EIVA schools for losing matches that they should win.
Con: I think I would lose my voting privileges if I voted for a Conference Carolina team that has lost to the Stevens Institute of Technology and its biggest victory is against Eastern Mennonite University. Mount Olive has a quickly developing program that in a year or two could be nationally ranked. However, it is not there just yet.
Pacific (4-4, 1-3 MPSF)
Pro: Who doesn’t love to pull for an underdog. With its victory against Cal State Northridge on Saturday, Pacific this year has already matched its combined conference win total from the last two seasons — one.
Con: It’s a 4-4 record, but the most impressive victory is against a struggling Cal State Northridge team. In addition, IPFW, No. 2 BYU and No. 5 Long Beach State have all won a match in three games against Pacific this season.