Most of the time all the preseason talk surrounding a team can be summed up in one or two sentences — and that’s what we did.
With the NCAA men’s volleyball season beginning in earnest this weekend, get a quick breakdown of every men’s volleyball team from around the nation as they enter the 2012 season.
Check out what to know about each Division I-II men’s volleyball team at the start of the 2012 season.
BYU — They’ve assembled a dream team coaching staff and are one of the best BYU teams in recent years. BYU is this year’s preseason favorites to make the Final Four and win the NCAA championship.
UC Irvine — Outside attacker Carson Clark and Jeremy Dejno make UC Irvine the best serving team in the nation. Add Kevin Carroll and Kevin Tillie and it’s also the deepest team at outside attacker in the nation.
UCLA — Al Scates’ final season makes the Bruins the sentimental favorite to win the championship this year. It has been six long years since they won the NCAA title — that’s a drought according to UCLA standards.
Stanford — Outside attacker Brad Lawson is one of the best offensive players in the nation, and libero Erik Shoji is the best defensive player in the nation. This could be one of the toughest teams to beat come the postseason.
USC — Tony Ciarelli is one of the best outside attacker in the college game, and now add a standout freshman setter like Micah Christenson. Yeah, you can call it a rebuilding year for USC, but it sure doesn’t seem like it.
Long Beach State — This team has improved each season under interim head coach Andy Read. If the younger players can continue to develop throughout the season, U.S. Men’s National Team coach Alan Knipe after the Olympics could return to a defending-Final Four team.
Cal State Northridge — The rise and fall of the Matadors could be quicker than a Kardashian marriage. Coach Jeff Campbell added some transfers and international students, making Cal State Northridge the most intriguing team in the nation at the beginning of the season.
Pepperdine — With Matt West setting and Maurice Torres on the outside, the Waves will be good on offensive. If outside attacker Josh Taylor can have a big freshman year, this team will be in the hunt come the postseason.
Hawai’i — The biggest question mark in college men’s volleyball entering the season is Hawai’i. A lot of turnover from last year’s team, but a lot of buzz about some of the international recruits that coach Charlie Wade brought to the island.
UC Santa Barbara — Remember UC Santa Barbara’s great postseason run last year — keep remembering those moments Gauchos fans throughout this year. This will be a rebuilding year, but the Gauchos may be in contention for one of the final MPSF Tournament berths at the end of the year.
Pacific — Pacific was one of the feel good stories of last season — winning more MPSF match than it had won combined in the previous three years. This program is continuing to improve and don’t be surprised if the Tigers pull off a few upsets this year.
UC San Diego — The Tritons lost their two best players from last year, including setter Phil Bannan. This could be a long rebuilding year for UC San Diego.
Loyola — If this is the year that the Ohio State dynasty falls, Loyola is the prime suspect to knock the Buckeyes off their MIVA perch. This is the deepest non-West Coast team at outside attacker.
Ohio State — A revamped Ohio State starting lineup will attempt to win the program’s sixth straight MIVA title this year. It’s a young Buckeyes team this year, but the toughest thing to do in sports is knock off the defending champions.
Lewis — Lewis has one of the nation’s toughest home courts environments to win at for road teams. If this team is playing on its home court during the postseason it will be near impossible to knock out.
Ball State — It’s been 10 long years for Ball State fans since the team last reached a Final Four. If the Cardinals can’t get consistent production from their outside attackers this year, the drought will continue.
Quincy — As members of the Ball State media say about Quincy, “fear the stache.” The Hawks’ coaching staff last season grew mustaches for the postseason and Quincy upset Ball State to reach the MIVA Tournament semifinals — imagine what this team can do now that all the assistant coaches have full beards.
IPFW — IPFW is the Hawai’i of the Midwest. Lots of international players will get significant playing team for coach Arnie Ball but how the team will fare is a giant question mark entering the upcoming season.
Grand Canyon — Coach Jeremy Price has a history of building up programs — just look at what he did at Juniata. The Antelopes will be going through some growing pains this year before the program begins to thrive in a few years.
Penn State — Penn State might be the only team in college sports expected every year to go undefeated in conference play and make the Final Four. It’s a true testament to the program that coach Mark Pavlik has built at Penn State.
George Mason — After a two-year absence from the national rankings, expect George Mason to be consistently in the top 15 throughout the season. The program is growing but hasn’t caught-up to Penn State just yet.
Sacred Heart — Sacred Heart is a young team that could turn a lot of heads and pull off some big upsets this season. It also is a tough team to beat at home — but in all fairness who really wants to travel to Connecticut in the middle of the winter.
St. Francis — The Red Flashes lack of size at the net could be a significant problem this season. However if history tells us anything, St. Francis won’t be a push-over by any stretch of the imagination.
Princeton — The Tigers had their growing pains last season and finished in last place in the EIVA Tait Division. The program is on the rebound this year and will be in contention for a spot in the four-team EIVA Tournament.
Harvard — The Crimson will likely have a tough time making the EIVA Tournament this season, but outside attacker Matt Jones is one reason to keep an eye on this team in 2012. The senior was among the nation’s leaders last season with a 3.95 kills per game average.
NJIT — Remember in 1998 when NJIT upset Penn State, and now remeber in 2010 when the Highlanders went 3-18. Only think about those positive thoughts NJIT fans as the Highlanders continue to show improvement from recent years.
Rutgers-Newark — A new coach and some exciting players are returning for the Scarlet Raiders. However, the lack of funding and the program transitioning to Division III for 2014 will hinder the 2012 team.
Cal Baptist — Somebody please give Cal Baptist interim head coach Allan Vince a hug. Vince not only gets named the interim head coach two weeks before the season starts but is now responsible for transitioning the Lancers from the NAIA to the NCAA.