There isn’t a whole lot of question about who are the top four teams. USC, Stanford, BYU and Long Beach State have clearly established themselves as the four best teams in the nation during the first month of the season.
However, the question who are the other six teams remains unsettled.
Some teams such as a Ohio State have shown significant improvement since the start of the season, while teams like UCLA have struggled in recent weeks. These streaks continue to create a fluid voting ballot with the final few slots every week in the ballot feeling like a revolving door of teams.
Check out this week’s top 10 men’s volleyball media poll and my ballot with explanations on why ranked each team where I did.
Let the debate begin on who are the best teams in the nation.
ASICS/VBM Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll
1. Southern California (10) — 100 points
2. BYU — 87 points
3. Long Beach State — 78 points
4. Stanford — 75 points
5. UCLA — 52 points
6. Ohio State — 49 points
7. UC Santa Barbara — 45 points
8. UC Irvine — 26 points
9. Penn State — 23 points
10. Hawai’i — 9 points
My ASICS/VBM Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll ballot
1. USC (6-0, 6-0 MPSF)
Last week’s results: idle
For the first time this season the Trojans didn’t blew out an opponent — it took a bye week for that to happen. USC remains undefeated and is now well rested for its upcoming match against Pepperdine.
2. Stanford (8-2, 5-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Lewis, Loyola
The Cardinal survived their weekend Chicago road trip with two non-confernce victories against good MIVA teams. Most impressive, though, was Stanford breaking Loyola’s 22-match home winning streak with its four-game victory at Alumni Gym. Alumni Gym’s features of dim lights and low ceilings have given road teams fits in previous non-conference matches. Yet, the Cardinal overcame this and had a .398 attack percentage.
3. BYU (9-2, 6-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UCLA twice
The Cougars showed why Provo, Utah, is one of the toughest places to win on the road in the MPSF with another home two-match series sweep — this time against No. 5 UCLA. BYU now gets to prove this weekend it can win on the road by going into Alumni Gym for a non-conference match against Loyola.
4. Long Beach State (6-3, 5-1 MPSF)
Last week’s results: idle
A bye week does hurt you in my media poll. Now let’s see if after its 12-day layoff Long Beach State can remain the hottest team in the nation and extend its four-match winning streak with a victory against Cal State Northridge.
5. Ohio State (6-2, 1-0 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge
Anyone need more prove that the Buckeyes are a legitimate NCAA Final Four team this season. Ohio State had at least a .450 attack percentage in three games of its five-game victory against No. 8 UC Irvine. In addition, outside attackers John Klanac and Shawn Sangrey had more than 20 kills in the win. If Ohio State can now beat No. 9 Penn State on Wednesday it will solidify itself as the best men’s volleyball team east of the Mississippi River.
6. UC Santa Barbara (6-5, 4-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results: spilt a two-match series against Hawai’i
We are more than a month into the season and the Gauchos are not going away. Outside attackers Cullen Irons and Jeff Menzel are both in conference’s top 10 for kills per game average and have emerge as one of the best outside attacker combination in the nation. Sitting fifth place in the MPSF, UC Santa Barbara is primed to make its first postseason appearance in four years.
7. UCLA (7-5, 4-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results: lost to BYU twice
Losing a match against No. 1 USC is nothing to worry about. Losing its next two matches against No. 3 BYU during the weekend, and there is cause for concern, especially with UCLA’s outside attackers. The Bruins don’t have an outside attacker with more than 2.50 kills per game average this season and against the Cougars freshman outside attacker Robert Paige led UCLA with a combined 22 kills in the two matches. This week’s two-game series against UC Santa Barbara is a must-win for UCLA.
8. Penn State (7-2, 2-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Cal State Northridge; lost to UC Irvine
After losing a match to UC Irvine that coach Mark Pavlik called the one program’s worst performances in 10 years, Penn State was able to salvage its weekend home invitational with a victory Saturday. The win against Cal State Northridge was nice, but beating an unranked MPSF team won’t do much in the rankings to overcome the lingering affects of allowing a .446 attack percentage in a home loss.
9. George Mason (7-2, 1-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated St. Francis and Juniata
After two down years, the Patriots are back as a legitimate competitor in the EIVA. George Mason has defeated the teams it is suppose to beat and had a nice upset, signature victory against Ball State. In addition, the Patriots are holding teams to a .183 attack percent, and outside attacker Mark Jones is among the EIVA leaders with a 4.64 kills per game average.
10. Rutgers-Newark (7-0, 1-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Barunch and Princeton
Quick question: besides No. 1 USC, who is the only remaining undefeated team in the nation? Answer: Rutgers-Newark. Yes, the Scarlet Raiders most impressive victory has been against a young Princeton team, and yes, this is not one of the top 10 most talented teams in the nation. This is also not the Rutgers-Newark teams of the 1970s and 1990 that reached the NCAA Final Four. However, let’s give credit to an improving program, which even upset Penn State last season. Until Rutgers-Newark loses it will be on my ballot.
On the bubble
UC Irvine: This team is a top-10 team talent wise playing a brutal schedule. If the Anteaters can find a way to not have a losing record they will quickly climb in my poll.
Ball State: The win against Hawai’i at the start of the season was good, but it needs another big victory before it can get into the top 10. Ball State playing IPFW and Lewis this weekend gives it that opportunity.
Hawai’i: The Warriors’ play has significant improved from losing all three matches to open the season at the Outrigger Invitational. At 3-6, though, Hawai’i needs to get some wins and bring that record to .500 before they get into my ballot.