The preliminary round pools are set for one of the biggest annual non-conference tournaments in college men’s volleyball.
UC Santa Barbara earlier this week unveiled the tournament schedule and the two pool play groups for the newly reformatted UC Santa Barbara Invitational in January.
The groups will include UC Santa Barbara, Pacific, Stanford, Cal Baptist and Harvard in Pool A. In addition, Pool B will be comprised of UCLA, IPFW, UC San Diego, Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State.
The annual non-conference tournament changed its format to include a one-day pool-play round of exhibition matches. Each team during the pool-play round Jan. 3 will play four best-of-three game matches against the teams in its pool.
The pool-play results will not count towards a team’s season record or be included at the end of the season when the selection committee determines the NCAA Tournament fields because the matches are not the NCAA stanford best-of-five game format. However, the UC Santa Barbara Invitational pool-play round results will be used to determine a team’s seeding for the final round of the tournament.
The second day of the non-conference event will feature cross-over matches with each team playing an opponent that received its same seed from the other pool. These cross-over matches also will be regulation best-of-five game matches that will count towards the a team’s overall standings.
The cross-over matches begin at 10 a.m. on Jan. 4 with ninth-place match between the two teams that finished in last place in the two pools. In addition, the UC Santa Barbara Invitational championship match — between the two teams that finished in first-place in the pool-play round — will start at 8 p.m.
These changes to the UC Santa Barbara Invitational format were made in an effort to allow teams to experiment more with line-ups while not having every match affecting their season records, Gauchos coach Rick McLaughlin said in an interview with Off the Block earlier this year.
With the old tournament structure, each team played three matches that all counted towards overall record.
This upcoming tournament will be the 40th anniversary of the UC Santa Barbara Invitational. The non-conference tournament has become an annual event played during the opening weekend of the college men’s volleyball season.