Sometimes change is not needed.
With no upsets and all the top 10 ranked teams winning matches, it made my job as a voter easy this week. For the first time in my three years of voting in the men’s volleyball media poll, I have submitted identical top 10 ballot on back-to-back weeks.
There were changes in the overall poll. However, part of the reason my ballot did not change is because I was a little ahead of the curve with a few teams, which is due given the amount of unranked teams I’ve voted for this year. I have been putting Loyola in my top 10 for weeks, and the Ramblers finally gained enough votes this week to crack into the rankings at No. 10.
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/Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll
1. USC (9) — 99 points
2. BYU — 86 points
3. Stanford — 76 points
4. Ohio State (1) — 73 points
5. UC Santa Barbara — 59 points
6. Long Beach State — 55 points
7. UC Irvine — 40 points
8. Penn State — 23 points
9. UCLA — 18 points
10. Loyola — 9 points
Others Receiving Votes: Hawai’i, Pepperdine
My ASICS/VBM Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll ballot
1. USC (10-1, 10-1 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State
Even when outside attacker Murphy Troy has a bad night USC is able to find a way to win. Troy had a season-low .147 attack percentage, but the Trojans were still able beat the 49ers — the first team to beat Long Beach State at the Walter Pyramid this year. USC is playing the best volleyball in the nation and will get No. 2 BYU at home for two matches this weekend.
2. Stanford (12-4, 9-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UCLA and UC Santa Barbara
The Cardinal continue to win ugly but their victories still makes this a top-five team. Stanford rallying to defeat Long Beach State in five games was the second time this season it overcame a two-game deficit to win a match. Prior to this season, Stanford had not made a two-game comeback in two years.
3. BYU (13-4, 9-3 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UC San Diego twice
BYU remains the best blocking team in the nation averaging more than three blocks per game. In addition, middle attacker Futi Tavana has a nation-best 1.75 blocks per game average and recorded his 100th block of the season last week — before any other player had 85 blocks. The only thing keeping BYU from being ranked higher on my ballot is its two losses to Stanford at the beginning of the season.
4. Ohio State (12-2, 5-0 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated IPFW and Juniata
It has almost become boring to watch the Buckeyes tear through the MIVA this season. Ohio State is not only on pace to become the first MIVA team in 13 years to go undefeated in conference play, but has swept every MIVA opponent this season. If Ohio State can beat third-place Lewis and second-place Loyola at home this weekend it will almost guarantee the Buckeyes’ fifth consecutive MIVA regular season title.
5. Long Beach State (8-6, 7-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pepperdine, lost to USC
If only the 49ers could play every match at the Walter Pyramid. Long Beach State is 5-1 at home this season, with the one loss coming in five games against USC on Friday. In addition, outside attacker Jim Baughman is among the conference’s top 10 with a team-high 3.78 kills per game average. However, no other 49er starter is average more than two kills per game.
6. UC Santa Barbara (10-7, 8-6 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pacific, lost to Stanford
What could have been a statement victory against Stanford ended in UC Santa Barbara blowing a two-game lead and falling into sixth place in the MPSF standings. The Gauchos, though, continue to be on pace to make their first postseason appearance in five years. Jeff Menzel and Cullen Irons also remain the best outside attacker combination in the nation with each averaging more than 3.80 kills per game.
7. UC Irvine (10-8, 7-5 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Hawai’i twice
After hovering at .500 for almost a month, the Anteaters are on a four match winning streak — tied with USC for the longest current winning streak in the MPSF. Outside attacker Carson Clark has a team-high 71 kills during this winning streak and has moved into the nation’s top five with a 4.65 kills per game average.
8. Penn State (13-3, 6-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated St. Francis and George Mason
Penn State recovered from almost being upset at home to Lees-McRae, a Conference Carolinas team, and reasserted its dominance in the EIVA with a road sweep against second-place George Mason. Beating the Patriots, which prior to the match were undefeated in conference play, once again gives the Nittany Lions a stranglehold on the EIVA as they look to clinch their 12 consecutive EIVA championship.
9. Loyola (12-3, 5-0 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Juniata and St. Francis
Loyola outside attacker Mike Bunting might be one of the most overlooked players this season. The junior is the only player in the nation’s top 10 for both kills per average and attack percentage. He is also a large reason why the Ramblers are third in the nation with a .385 attack percentage. The biggest test for Loyola, though, comes this weekend when it plays Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.
10. UCLA (9-9, 4-8 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pacific, lost to Stanford
After having two extremes of a five-match winning streak and a five-match losing streak earlier this season, UCLA is beginning to balance out going 2-2 in its last four matches. Despite no Bruin outside attacker averaging more than 2.50 kills per game, middle attacker Wes Dunlap leads the nation with .477 attack percentage.
On the bubble
Lewis — As stated in previous weeks, the Flyers at 12-4 have one of the best records in the nation but lack a signature victory against a top 10 team. Lewis will get another chance with road match against Ohio State on Friday.
Hawai’i — It is rare that a team can have a player leading the nation in kills per game average and not be ranked in the top 10. Once the Warriors get a winning record they will be on ballot.
Pepperdine — The Waves season in short: beat Ohio State twice, lose five conference matches, win three conference matches and then lose two conference matches. Similar to Hawai’i, If this team can ever gets a winning record it will be on my ballot.
Sacred Heart — You don’t just waltz into Connecticut and mess with the Pioneers. Sacred Heart is 4-1 at home this season with victories against IPFW and George Mason. At 6-3 if Sacred Heart can win its three road matches this week against NJIT, IPFW and Ball State it will begin to get some serious consideration.