My men’s volleyball media poll ballot

For the third time this season, there is a new No. 1 in the national media poll.

UCLA received eight first-place votes to move up one spot and finish atop this week’s media poll that was released Tuesday night

Along with UCLA moving to No. 1, Stanford jumped four spots to No. 3 following its two road victories against then-No. 1 BYU. The Cougars dropped three spots to No. 4.


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. UCLA — 98 (8) points
2. UC Irvine — 92 (2) points
3. Stanford — 72 points
4. BYU — 69 points
5. Penn State — 63 points
6. USC — 52 points
7. Lewis — 38 points
8. Pepperdine — 27 points
9. Ohio State — 25 points
10. Long Beach State — 8 points
Others receiving votes: Loyola, IPFW, Hawai’i

1. UCLA (11-1, 6-0 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
defeated Pepperdine and USC
The Bruins are on a nation-best nine-match winning streak and for the first time this season are No. 1 on my media poll ballot. UCLA with coach Al Scates in his final season before he retires was the sentimental favorite at the beginning of the season to win the NCAA championship. One month into the season the Bruins look like a team that can make that happen.

2. UC Irvine (7-2, 3-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
idle
Putting UC Irvine behind UCLA on my ballot was tough because the Anteaters have the head-to-head advantage over the Bruins. However, UC Irvine having one more loss was what tilted the scale in UCLA’s favor. The Anteaters are still a NCAA championship contender and the deepest team in the nation at outside attacker.

3. BYU (6-3, 4-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
lost to Stanford twice
Perhaps the best thing to happen to outside attacker Taylor Sander’s candidacy for National Player of the Year was injuring his hand. With Sander, BYU is the clear favorite to win the NCAA championship and without Sander it looked an above average MPSF team in two losses to Stanford. Give this team a little team adjust and it will be able to weather the injury storm.

4. Penn State (6-1, 0-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results:
defeated Mount Olive and Cal Baptist
It doesn’t matter who you are playing. If you defeat a Division I-II team by 19-points, like Penn State did against Mount Olive, it’s impressive. The Nittany Lions are the best team East of the Mississippi River and will only get better when All-American outside attacker Joe Sunder returns to the startng lineup.

5. Stanford (7-2, 4-1 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
defeated BYU twice
Outside attacker Brian Cook is quietly becoming an All-American candidate. Cook is in the MPSF top 10 with a 3.44 kills per game average and led the Cardinal with 30 combined kills in two victories against BYU. He’s the perfect compliment to All-American outside attacker Brad Lawson and makes the Carindal an increasingly dangerous offensive team.

6. Lewis (7-3, 1-1 MIVA)
Last week’s results:
defeated Ball State; lost to IPFW
Lewis defeated Ball State 44-42 in the opening game of their match — the highest scoring game since NCAA men’s volleyball changed from 30 to 25 points per set. That overtime win potentially saved what could have been a disasterous Indiana road trip after losing to unranked IPFW earlier in the weekend.

7. USC (5-4, 4-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
defeated UC Santa Barbara; lost to UCLA
USC this entire season has beaten the teams it was supposed to beat and lost to the teams most people asssumed it would lose to. There is enough standout freshmen on this team and with an All-American senior outside attacker Tony Ciarelli people can be optimistic that the upsets will start coming later this season.

8. Ohio State (8-4, 0-0 MIVA)
Last week’s results:
defeated Cal Baptist and Mount Olive
The positive from Ohio State’s East Coast road trip was it won a match when outside attacker Shawn Sangrey did not play. Sangrey is leading the team and conference with a 4.76 kills per game average, but no other Buckeye is averaging more than 2.25 kills per game.

9. Pepperdine (6-4, 5-3 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
lost to UCLA and UC Santa Barbara
The revamped and young Pepperdine team is facing its first obstacle losing three of its last four matches, including a bad home loss to UC Santa Barbara. It doesn’t get much easier for the Pepperdine this week having to travel to USC.

10. Long Beach State (5-4, 1-3 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
defeated Princeton and Cal State Northridge
The 49ers handled the soft part of its schedule sweepint Cal Bapist, Princeton and Cal State Northridge in its last three matches. How good Long Beach State really is will be determeined when it plays Stanford on Friday.

On the bubble
IPFW —
The team beat Lewis on Friday for its first victory against a top-10 ranked team since 2007. IPFW can now get another signature victory if it beats Ohio State on Friday.

Harvard — The Crimson are the final undefeated team left in Division I-II NCAA men’s volleyball. If Harvard can win its next four matches, which includes a home match against Penn State in two weeks, Harvard will make my top 10 ballot.