Projected preseason top 10 national rankings: No. 10 Pepperdine

Pepperdine is projected by Off the Block to be No. 10 in the preseason national rankings.

Off the Block throughout December will reveal its projected men’s volleyball preseason top 10 national rankings and will profile a top-10 team each day. The Off the Block projected preseason rankings were created independently of the AVCA Coaches Poll and the Volleyball Magazine Top 10 Media Poll.

The college men’s volleyball season begins on Jan. 3 and concludes with the Final Four in May.

Check out what to know about Pepperdine as it enter the 2012 season.

Hall of Fame coach Marv Dunphy has five starters from last year returning for the upcoming season. Among the returning starters includes Maurice Torres. Torres ended the 2011 season in the nation’s top 10 for kills per game average and helped lead the United States to a nation-best fourth-place finish at the World Championships this summer. In addition, the Waves add setter Matt West and outside attacker Joshua Taylor — who were both ranked as top 50 incoming freshman recruits. Dunphy said West will open the season as the team’s starting setter. The Waves were picked to finish the conference in eighth place in the MPSF Preseason Coaches Poll.

Pepperdine ended the regular season in ninth place in the MPSF and missed the conference tournament for the first time in its program history. After sweeping a two-match series against Ohio State to open the season, Pepperdine went on a five-match losing streak to begin conference play. In addition, the Waves athletics department in March self-imposed a postseason ban on the men’s volleyball team for the 2011 season because of NCAA rule violations.


Pepperdine will open its season in non-conference play with a two-match home series against Lewis on Jan. 7-8. Lewis finished last season No. 12 in the national rankings. This will also be the second time the two schools have played each other since meeting in the 2003 NCAA championship match. For more on the Waves upcoming schedule, check out the team’s complete schedule breakdown.

Off the Block: Coach, how do you feel the preseason went for your team?

Marv Dunphy:Things went well and it was about what we expected it would be. Things are starting to fall into place. We graduated six guys and we had four guys come in and we should have some good starters. We have four freshman that could start. We have some good, young kids. I think someone told me that there are six or seven [MPSF] teams with everyone coming back and that makes for everyone being really good in the league. The league is going to be really strong and I’ll be surprised if one team runs away with it.

OTB: Speaking about some of your freshman players, how have two of your top recruits — Matt West and Joshua Taylor — looked so far in practice?

MD: Matt is a good young setter and I think that he is going to continue to get physically stronger — he just turned 18. I think he’s done growing and with him there is a lot of potential. And Josh, he is one of those special players, and he has that hunger to develop the skills needed to succeed. And I think he is going to continue to develop those skills.

OTB: Your team last season missed the conference tournament for the first time in program history. Has that been a big motivation factor for your team during the preseason and entering the upcoming season?

MD: I think every team establishes it’s own identity, and I think these guys are good and aware with the forum and history of the program. I don’t think it’s something that negatively is hanging over everyone’s heads. I think we are focused on this year and we don’t have to think about what happened in the past, and we do not have to live in it. I think this group is establishing its own identity.

OTB: Maurice Torres is returning for his junior season. Can you talk in little bit about his development and what you expect from him this season.

MD: I think he is continuing to get better and has shown some flashes of brilliance. He has become much more mindful with his hitting and serving and has cut down his unforced errors.

OTB: The last couple of years there has been increased talk of the parity in men’s volleyball. You’ve been involved in college volleyball more than 20 years. What’s your perspective on the amount of parity in the sport?

MD: I think some times when you hear parity some people see that as watered down, but in reality there are more good teams. I know what good volleyball looks like and the standards needed to play good volleyball. When we play good teams, I’m impressed with level of the game. I think if you talk to coaches they’d agree that the MPSF from top to bottom is really good. I know the same thing is true with the Midwest. Men’s volleyball is getting better and I’m pleased with that being around for as long as I’ve been. There was a time when you could say, “this match, that’s a gimme.” There was also only one good team in the Midwest. That is not the case anymore. The MPSF is strong and there are multiple really good team outside of the MPSF. It’s great to see that in men’s volleyball.