For the second straight week there is a new No. 1 in the men’s volleyball national media poll.
BYU’s two victories against then-No. 1 UC Irvine was enough to move the Cougars back to No. 1 after a one-week absence from the top spot in the rankings. Despite the two losses, UC Irvine didn’t fall far the top and finished at No. 2.
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.
Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll
1. BYU — 97 (7) points
2. UCLA — 83 (2) points
3. UC Irvine — 82 points
4. Stanford 74 (1) points
5. Penn State — 60 points
6. USC — 54 points
7. Lewis — 32 points
8. Pepperdine — 30 points
9. Long Beach State — 17 points
10. Ohio State — 16 points
Others receiving votes: Loyola, George Mason
My ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll ballot
1. BYU (5-1, 2-0 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated BYU twice
BYU responded after losing its season opener against UC Irvine with a two-match road sweep of the Anteaters during the weekend. The Cougars are on a nation-best four-match winning streak, and outside attacker Taylor Sander looks like the best player in the nation. Something special is brewing in Provo, Utah, this year.
2. UC Irvine (4-2, 0-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results: lost to BYU twice
I’m pretty sure this is the one of the first times in NCAA men’s volleyball history that a team is ranked No. 2 and tied for last place in their conference. However, don’t hit the panic button yet Anteaters fans. This is still one of the best teams and the deepest at outside attacker in the nation.
3. UCLA (5-1, 0-0 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Lewis, Springfield and Hawai’i
UCLA waltzed to the Outrigger Invitational championship with No. 9 Lewis posing the only significant challenge. Thomas Amberg and Wes Dunlap continue to be the best offensive middle attacker combination in the nation. In addition, coach Al Scates moving Nick Vogel to outside attacker gives the Bruins an additional offensive option.
4. Penn State (1-0, 0-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Ohio State
The Nittany Lions had a seven aces in a season-opening sweep of the Buckeyes. The scary thing about that stat: in recent years Penn State gets better at serving line throughout the season.
5. Stanford (2-0, 0-0 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Juniata and Loyola
All the preseason talk about Stanford was All-American outside attacker Brad Lawson and All-American libero Erik Shoji returing for their senior seasons. Both have been good in Stanford’s first two matches, but the best Cardinal player has been middle attacker Eric Mochalski, who a school-record .833 attack percentage against Loyola.
6. USC (3-0, 2-0 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge
Just about everything that could have gone right for USC in its first three matches has gone right. Freshman setter Micah Christenson is living up to all the preseason hype, outside attacker Tony Ciarelli looks like an All-American and Tanner Jansen is emerging as strong offensive option at outside attacker. The big test for USC comes this week when it travels to BYU for a two-match series
7. Lewis (3-2, 0-0 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Hawai’i and Springfield; lost to UCLA
This five-match West Coast road trip could not have gone better for Lewis. The Flyers defeated two MPSF nationally ranked teams and did not get blown out in any matches. Less than 10 years after getting the men’s volleyball equivalent of the NCAA death penalty, Lewis looks primed to return to the Final Four at the end of the season.
8. Pepperdine (3-1, 2-0 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State
Freshman outside attacker Josh Taylor has led the Waves in kills in each of their four matches this season and has a team-high 4.88 kills per game average. Freshman Matt West setting to Taylor is something Pepperdine fans are going to get to enjoy for another four years.
9. Long Beach State (2-3, 0-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results: lost to USC and Pepperdine
I really don’t like to put teams with a losing record on my top 10 ballot, but Long Beach State gets a pass this week with all its losses against top 10 ranked team. With that said, the 49ers need to pick up wins this week to remain in the top 10.
10. George Mason (1-1, 0-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated IPFW, lost to Ball State
Don’t sleep out the Patriots this season. Outside attacker Jonathan Lutz had 38 combined kills in the Patriots’ two matches this weekend. When All-EIVA outside attacker Mark Jones returns to the court this team will have a strong combination on the outside.
On the bubble
Ohio State — The Buckeyes are 2-3 but give this young team time. Ohio State traditionally has slow starters to the season and peak around the postseason
Cal State Northridge — Extremely similar to Ohio State and USC: a young team that will improve throught the season. It’s just a little rough at the start.
Grand Canyon — The Antelopes are 4-2 and defeated UC San Diego for its first win against a MPSF team in program history. Now they need to win some MIVA matches this season.