No team dropped out the top 10 media poll this week but there was a significant amount of movement.
The bottom six teams all moved spots in this week’s poll with Hawai’i and UC Santa Barbara having the biggest leaps. Hawai’i jumped up three spots to No. 5 after winning a home match against No. 1 USC, while UC Santa Barbara climbed four spots to No. 6 following its upset victory against No. 3 Stanford.
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 (10) — 100 points
2. BYU — 90 points
3. Stanford — 77 points
4. UC Irvine — 72 points
5. Hawai’i — 51 points
6. UC Santa Barbara — 40 points
7. Penn State — 35 points
8. Long Beach State — 33 points
9. Ohio State — 24 points
10. UCLA — 21 points
Others receiving votes: Loyola
My ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll ballot
1. USC (18-2, 17-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results: split two matches against Hawai’i
The Trojans lost on the road to Hawai’i, but let’s look at the entire body of work. USC has five fewer losses than any team in the MPSF, three fewer losses than any team in the nation, already clinched the MPSF regular season title and still leads the nation in assists per game, kills per game, digs per game and attack percentage. This is still the No. 1 team in the nation, and even if it loses in the conference tournament it will still be the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
2. BYU (20-7, 16-6 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pepperdine twice
I’m joining the rest of the nation this week in moving BYU ahead of Stanford to No. 2 on my ballot. The Cougars having one less overall loss out-weighs Stanford holding the head-to-head advantage. BYU continues to be one of the best blocking teams in the conference averaging 2.88 blocks per game. In addition, middle attacker Futi Tavana is second in the nation with a 1.50 blocks per game average.
3. Stanford (18-8, 14-7 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UCLA, lost to UC Santa Barbara
Stanford finally seemed to get out of its late season funk with a three-game road victory against UCLA. Outside attacker Spencer McLachlin had a match-high 10 kills in the victory as Stanford out-hit UCLA .283 to. .041, including holding the Bruins to a -.161 attack percentage in the second game. Prior to this match, though, the Cardinal were 3-4 since its bye week, including a four-game loss to UC Santa Barbara on Friday
4. UC Irvine (17-11, 13-8 MPSF)
Last week’s results: Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge
Can anyone recall a better mid-season turnaround in recent men’s volleyball history. After starting the season 6-8, the Anteaters are 11-3 and on a five match winning streak. It also clinched the No. 4 seed and a home match in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals. In addition, outside attacker Carson Clark is fourth in the nation with a 4.58 kills per game average and outside attacker Corey Yoder is fourth in the nation with a .411 attack percentage.
5. Penn State (21-5, 10-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Ohio State
The success of this rebuilding season for Penn State resulted from its upperclassman leadership. Senior libero Dennis Del Valle is second in the nation with a 2.61 digs per game average and is on pace to repeat as an All-American. Junior outside attacker Joe Sunder is third in the nation averaging 4.63 kills per game. Penn State is on a six match winning streak and can get the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament if it wins its remaining two regular season match and the EIVA Tournament.
6. Hawai’i (15-12, 13-9 MPSF)
Last week’s results: split two matches against USC
Hawai’i is not going to sneak up on anyone this year entering the conference tournament, especially after upsetting USC. Outside attacker Jonas Umlauft has 169 kills in the last eight matches and continues to be the only player in the nation averaging more than five kills per game. The biggest question for this team as the No. 5 or 6 seed is can it win on the road in the conference tournament. The Warriors are 4-6 in road matches this season.
7. UC Santa Barbara (14-12, 11-9 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Stanford, lost to Pacific
For most of this season the Gauchos followed the script of beating the teams they were suppose to beat and losing to the teams ranked higher than them. That script was reversed last week with a brutal home loss to last-place Pacific followed by a redeeming upset against Stanford. UC Santa Barbara will be on the road to open the MPSF Tournament and could make some noise in its first postseason match in five years.
8. Ohio State (20-6, 11-1 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Princeton twice, lost to Penn State
Pretty sure after having a season-worst 16-point loss in the fourth game, the Buckeyes wished the Big Ten Network never switched over from its college softball coverage to their match against the Nittany Lions. With the loss, Ohio State is 3-4 in its last seven matches and almost lost at home to Princeton earlier in the week. The positive news for the Buckeyes is outside attacker Shawn Sangery for the first time since returning from his appendectomy looked like an All-American with 15 kills in the loss.
9. Loyola (18-6, 8-2 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Ball State
It is starting to become more and more of an adventure every time the Ramblers play a match. Loyola barely survived a home match against Ball State — a team it always seems to beat at Alumni Gym — and have almost lost to Lewis and IPFW in recent weeks. However, this team continues to find ways to win and is in good position as the No. 2 seed entering the conference tournament.
10. Long Beach State (13-13, 11-10 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UC San Diego; lost to UC Irvine
The 49ers are back on my ballot after splitting their matches last week, but primarily made it because of how bad UCLA looked in its loss to Stanford. Long Beach State is in the conference tournament with a chance to get the No. 6 seed and play Stanford in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals. Having won both matches against the Cardinal in the regular season, if the 49ers get that match up they could pull off the upset of the tournament.
On the bubble
UCLA — The Bruins hit a season-low .041 attack percentage in a three-game home loss against Stanford to move out of my top 10 ballot. One of the problems for UCLA remains its outside attackers. Freshman Gonzalo Quiroga is averaging a team-high 2.71 kills per game and is the only Bruin outside attacker in the nation’s top 60 for kills.
Ball State — The Cardinals clinched the No. 3 seed in the MIVA Tournament and continue to lead the nation with a 3.01 blocks per game average. However, Ball State will need to beat Penn State at home Friday to have any chance to move into next week’s media poll.