In a sentence or two about every NCAA men’s volleyball team

With most teams all the preseason talk around a team can be summed up in a few sentences — and that’s what we did.

As 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 2013 season.

Check out what to know about each Division I-II men’s volleyball team at the start of the season.


MPSF TEAMS
UC Irvine —
The defending NCAA championship lost its head coach and an All-American outside attacker from last season. Good thing they are still the best serving team in the nation and have two potential All-American outside attackers in Jeremy Dejno and Kevin Tillie.

BYU — Outside attacker Taylor Sander is the early front-runner to win National Player of the Year. Now the big question is do they have enough to make their first Final Four appearance in almost 10 years.

Pepperdine — The Waves spent two seasons rebuilding and are now about the reap the benefits. Pepperdine has all the offensive weapons to make a run at a Final Four while on NCAA probation.

Stanford — Outside attacker Brian Cook is poised for a breakout season and freshman setter James Shaw was one of the most sought after high school recruit last year. The Cardinal have a new look from last season but will still be in the hunt for a MPSF title.

UCLA — The John Speraw era has begun at UCLA. The Bruins might be one year away from a NCAA title run but never count out a Speraw coached team come the postseason.

Long Beach State — Alan Knipe has returned to the 49ers’ sidelines after his stint with the U.S. Men’s National Team. That’s reason enough for Long Beach State fans to be excited about the upcoming season.

USC — Setter Micah Christenson lost his top offensive option from last season, AVCA National Player of the Year Tony Ciarelli. Guess what, though, Christenson is still the best setter in college and Bill Ferguson is one of the top coaches in the nation — the Trojans will be fine.

Cal State Northridge — Goodbye one-and-done Julius Hoefer. The Matadors will have to find a replacement for their top offensive option from last season if they are to make the MPSF Tournament.

UC Santa Barbara — Dylan Davis is one of the best middle attackers in the nation. It’s hard not to want to see a player like that reach the postseason in his final season.

Cal Baptist — The Lancers have prepared for years to join the MPSF. Their inaugural season could be rough, but they will not be a push-over by any stretch of the imagination.

Pacific — It’s been nine long years since the Tigers qualified for the MPSF Tournament. Pacific has assembled a team this year capable of ending that streak.

Hawai’i — The Warriors remain the biggest question mark in college volleyball. One thing is certain, though, the Hawai’i fan base won’t be happy with another season of the team finishing in last place.

UC San Diego — The Tritons every season seem to pull off one or two upsets that has the volleyball world shaking their heads. Who’s it going to be this year?


MIVA TEAMS
Lewis —
Lewis is the best team in the MIVA and outside attacker Jay Petty is the best player in the MIVA. Now can they exorcise the final ghost of the Dave Deuser era and win a national championship team.

Loyola — Chicago area volleyball fans are already starting to salivate at the thought of a Loyola versus Lewis MIVA championship match. The Ramblers depth at outside attacker gives them the best chance to take down preseason favorite Flyers.

Ohio State — All-American outside attacker Shawn Sangery is gone and so to is his nation best kills per game average. The Buckeyes will have to find a new offensive threat if they are to win their seventh consecutive MIVA regular season title.

Grand Canyon — The Antelopes were the unanimous pick last year to finish last in the MIVA and ended the year tied for fourth place. This year Grand Canyon could surprise people again and end up in the national rankings before the season is done.

Ball State — Kevin Owens and Matt Leske are the best middle attacker combo in the Midwest, but the Cardinals will need a big-time outside presence to emerge this year if they are to contend for a title.

IPFW — The Mastodons have the back-row defense to stay in most matches. This could be the year IPFW wins its first postseason match since reaching the Final Four in 2007.

Lindenwood — Lindenwood will take its lumps during its inaugural season in the MIVA, but this team will continue to get better and upset some conference opponents.

Quincy — Quincy in the last two years has defeated Ohio State and won a conference tournament match. The program is improving and could make that next jump this year.

EIVA Teams
Penn State —
The public’s expectations for Penn State remain the same: go undefeated in conference play and make the Final Four. No other team in any college sport has those expectations. Everyone should appreciated the fact that Penn State hasn’t lost a conference match since Geogre W. Bush was in office.

George Mason — After a couple of years out of the national rankings, the Patriots open the season at No. 14. The Patriots will be a tough team to beat at home and could be even tougher come the conference tournament.

Princeton — Outside attacker Cody Kessel has a chance to be the first non-Penn State player in a long, long time win the EIVA Player of the Year. He also gives the Tigers a realistic chance to beat any team in the conference.

Harvard — The Crimson were the feel good story of the year last season — ending in nationally ranked for the first time in program history. Harvard has some rebuilding to do, but don’t expect them to fall back to the bottom of the EIVA standings.

St. Francis — Middle attacker Adam Roche could be the most under-rated player in the nation. The Red Flashes have added more size to their roster this season and look primed to return to the four-team EIVA Tournament.

NJIT — The school’s emphasis on recruiting international players is starting to pay off. This is the sleeper EIVA team that could surprise a lot of people by the end of the season.

Sacred Heart — Kelani Efstahioui will begin his first season as the Pioneers’ head coach. It says a lot about a school when they don’t even send out a news release announcing it made a coaching change.

Rutgers-Newark — One more year until Scarlet Raiders will be serious contenders for a NCAA championship. It will playing for Division III championship then, so enjoy your final year in the EIVA Rutgers-Newark fans.

Conference Carolinas Teams
Pfeiffer —
First-year head coach Greg Walker takes over a program with multiple returning all-conference players and is eyeing a repeat as Conference Carolinas champions. The Falcons may not only win the conference, but could knock off some MIVA and EIVA teams in non-conference play.

Lees-McRae — Jose Ribas and Joshua Jones give the Bobcats a strong combination at outside attacker and Efrain Negron is the best libero in the conference. This team could surprise some people in early February when it takes a three-match EIVA road trip.

Limestone — Outside attacker Scott Warren returns after being named the Co-Conference Carolinas Player of the Year and has a chance to shatter the Limestone record book. Now can this be the year the Saints get their first win against a MIVA team in program history.

Mount Olive — Former Lewis assistant coach David Heller will begin his first season as Mount Olive’s head coach. He not only inherits a team that will compete for a conference title, but the roster resembles a United Nations committee with players from Brazil, Korea, Cuba, Scotland, Israel, Germany and Australia.

King — The Tornadoes last season had multiple losing streaks of at least five matches and had the nation’s lowest home attendance average. It can only go up from here for King.

Barton — Barton entering its second season has had more head coaches, two, than wins in program history. This should be the year, though, the Bulldogs break through and get their first win.

Belmont Abbey — Mary DeJute will become the first female head coach of a Division I-II NCAA men’s volleyball team. That’s reason enough to keep an eye on Belmont Abbey in its inaugural season.

Erskine — The Flying Fleet are one of three Conference Carolinas men’s volleyball teams playing in their inaugural season. How about the southeast being the hotbed for men’s volleyball growth.

Coker — The Cobras make their men’s volleyball debut this season. Wonder how many fans during their road matches will scream out “sweep the leg,” and other Corba Kai phrases from the “The Karate Kid.”