The aftermath of No. 1 versus No. 2 resulted in little change to the men’s volleyball media poll.
USC remains the only team to be ranked No. 1 this season after winning both matches in five games against BYU during the weekend, while the Cougars stays at No. 2 following the road losses. Despite little change at the top, the bottom of the ranking saw some movement with UCLA jumping ahead of Penn State to No. 8 and Hawai’i breaking back into the top 10 after a one-week absence.
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 — 84 points
3. Stanford — 80 points
4. Ohio State (1) — 76 points
5. Long Beach State — 56 points
6. UC Santa Barbara — 47 points
7. UC Irvine — 44 points
8. UCLA — 27 points
9. Penn State — 20 points
10. Hawai’i — 10 points
Others receiving votes: Loyola
My ASICS/VBM Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll ballot
1. USC (12-1, 12-1 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated BYU twice
The question of who is No. 1 in men’s volleyball remains undebatable after USC’s two five-game victories against BYU during the weekend. The Trojans are off to their best start in almost 20 years and at the halfway point of the season are the clear favorites to win their first NCAA championship since 1990.
2. Stanford (14-4, 11-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UC Irvine and UC San Diego
Outside attacker Brad Lawson had 40 combined kills in Stanford’s two wins during the weekend, including a match-high 23 kills against No. 7 UC Irvine. Stanford since being swept at USC is on a six match winning streak heading into its bye week. The only downside for the Cardinal is their 20-day layoff before their next MPSF match.
3. BYU (13-6, 9-5 MPSF)
Last week’s results: lost to USC twice
BYU players came into its weekend series against the USC saying they wanted to give the Trojans the experience of losing at home — that kind of did not work out. The Cougars lost both matches in five games showing this an elite team capable of playing with anyone. The only reason I haven’t had them higher on my ballot in recent weeks is because of its two losses to Stanford at the start of the season.
4. Ohio State (14-2, 7-0 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Lewis and Loyola
Ohio State maintained its pace to become the first team in 13 years to go undefeated in MIVA play with victories against third-place Lewis and second-place Loyola. In addition, outside attacker Shawn Sangrey was named the MIVA Offensive Player of the Week for the third consecutive week and is sixth in the nation with a 4.39 kills per game average. The good news for the rest of the MIVA — at least the Buckeyes won’t sweep every conference match this season after winning in four games against the Ramblers.
5. Long Beach State (9-7, 8-5 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UC Santa Barbara; lost to UCLA
The 49ers lead the conference with a . 241 opponent attack percentage and have held opponents to less than a .300 attack percentage in four of their last five matches. In addition, senior Kirk Francis has quietly emerged as one of the best liberos in the conference this season averaging 2.59 digs per game average, fourth best in the nation.
6. UC Santa Barbara (11-8, 9-7 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Cal State Northridge; lost to Long Beach State
With six conference matches left the Gauchos are in sixth place and poised to make their first MPSF Tournament appearance in five years. UC Santa Barbara’s victory against Cal State Northridge also snapped a two-match losing streak as the Gauchos head into a stretch of three non-conference matches and a bye week before playing their next MPSF match March 31.
7. Penn State (14-3, 7-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Springfield
The Nittany Lions beat all the teams they were expected to beat and are on seven match winning streak with a stranglehold once again on first place in the EIVA. However, the true test for Penn State comes this week during its annual Spring Break trip to the West Coast as it plays UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State. The Nittany Lions are 2-2 against the MPSF this season and 1-3 against top-10 ranked teams.
8. UC Irvine (11-9, 8-6 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pacific; lost to Stanford
The Anteaters’ five matching winning streak ended with their four-game loss to the Cardinal on Friday. This team, though, has enough offense to make its upcoming match against USC on Saturday interesting. Outside attacker Carson Clarke is fourth in the nation with a 4.59 kills per game average. UC Irvine’s .351 attack percentage also is second in the MPSF — and only trails USC.
9. UCLA (11-9, 6-8 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State
This is without a doubt the streakiest team in the nation. The Bruins have so far this season had a five match winning streak, a five match losing streak and are now on a three match winning streak. Middle attacker Wes Dunlap has led UCLA in kills for two matches during this winning streak and leads the nation with a .492 attack percentage.
10. Loyola (12-4, 5-1 MIVA)
Last week’s results: lost to Ohio State
The positive for the Ramblers is they forced the first-place Buckeyes to four games and will get to play them again at Alumni Gym with the MIVA regular season title likely being on the line. The bad news is that loss to Ohio State puts Loyola into a difficult situation to make the Final Four without winning the conference tournament. Loyola will likely have to win out the rest of the season, including winning its road matches this week against UCLA and Cal State Northridge, to get any consideration for an at-large bid. Even if the Ramblers do that, they have an outside shot at best.
On the bubble
Hawai’i — The Warriors won both their matches against the Waves during the weekend and are now one match from being .500. If Hawai’i beats Pacific this weekend and gets to a winning record it will likely be on my ballot next week.
Lewis — The Flyers continue to have the most deceiving record in the nation at 12-5 with all five losses coming to teams ranked in the top 10. Lewis will get another chance this week to pick up a signature victory with road matches against UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach
Ball State — The team is on a four matching winning streak. However, it will need upset Ohio State on Friday to get any consideration.