The UC Santa Barbara Invitational on its 40th anniversary will have a revamped look for the 2014 season.
UC Santa Barbara coach Rick McLaughlin said Wednesday that the annual non-conference tournament will undergo numerous format changes for the upcoming season including adding a pool-play round and decreasing the matches counting towards a team’s overall season record.
The new pool-play round will take place on the opening day of the two-day tournament with the 10-team field divided into two divisions. Each team in the pool-play round will play four best-of-three game matches.
The pool-play results will not factor towards a team’s season record because they are not the NCAA standard best-of-five game match format. However, the pool-play matches will determine a team’s seeding for the final day of the tournament when each team will play a cross-over match that will be the traditional best-of-five games.
McLaughlin said coaches have requested this format change for numerous years to prevent this early-season tournament from significantly hurting a team’s RPI ranking or chances at getting the at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“A lot of the MPSF coaches have been wanting me to change the format,” he said. “They wanted the chance to play a guy without worrying about RPI or at-large bids. I think it’s a great idea. All of the MPSF teams were in argument that we do that.”
With the old tournament format, each team played three matches that would all count towards its overall record.
In previous years the match results from this format has played a role in the selection committee determining the lone at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Most recently UC Irvine earned the at-large bid over Long Beach State to the 2013 NCAA Tournament in part because the Anteaters defeated the 49ers in the second round of the UC Santa Barbara Invitational.
The new format changes, though, will now result in only the one cross-over match being included in a team’s overall record.
The two teams that win their divisions in the pool-play round will meet in the tournament’s championship match. Similarly, the remaining teams in the tournament will play their cross-over match against the team that finished the same place in the standings of their pool.
The new tournament changes, McLaughlin said, will give coaches more flexibility with the lineups they use for the tournament. The coach also said the changes resulted in more teams willing to participate in the upcoming tournament.
“In the MPSF it definitely enticed more teams to join,” McLaughlin said. “There’s a lot of reasons, including getting to play more guys with the match not counting against you.”
The 10-team field will be a two-team increase from last season’s UC Santa Barbara Invitational.
Among the tournament field includes eight MPSF teams — UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, UC San Diego, Long Beach State, Stanford, Pacific, Cal Baptist and Cal State Northridge. In addition, IPFW and Harvard will participate in the upcoming non-conference tournament.
This will be the first time in recent history for IPFW or Harvard to compete in the UC Santa Barbara Invitational.
“I like to get that opportunity or extend that opportunity to the MIVA teams each year,” McLaughlin said. “We are trying to get more and more. This year Harvard had a strong interest. [IPFW coach] Arnie Ball has been waning to get back in this tournament for a while so I wanted to get him back in here.”
The UC Santa Barbara Invitational will be the first weekend of the college men’s volleyball season in early January.
McLaughlin said regardless of the tournament format he is looking forward to his team playing host to this non-conference tournament for the 40th consecutive year.
“It’s huge for us and our growth as a program and a way to kick off the year. We bring in a lot fans for this tournament,” he said. It’s a big thing for us and our community loves it.”