[Editor’s note: Off the Block is partnering with VolleyMetrics this season to provide the volleyball community with an in-depth analysis at the stats and in-match metrics for college men’s volleyball. The following analysis is from VolleyMetrics.]
This is a week for those teams just outside of the top 10 and the top 15 to be able to make some movement and shake up the national rankings.
The coaches poll didn’t see much movement this week as top teams won or split match-ups this week with only No. 11 UC Irvine dropping out of the top 10 after its third and fourth straight defeats. However, they remain within striking distance of the top 10. On the other hand, another loss following last night’s loss to unranked Cal Baptist and they will have a hard time staying in the poll. That could open up room for three teams looking determined to bust into the rankings.
There are three teams, Grand Canyon, USC, and Pfeiffer, that also received votes this week but didn’t crack the rankings and the schedule this week can give way to a major shakeup.
Grand Canyon recovered from their two losses to Hawai’i by splitting road matches with Lewis during the weekend. USC took a hard loss to Stanford, which played statistically very well in their two wins last week. Pfeiffer put an end to Belmont Abbey’s winning streak by managing the Player of the Week Nolan Albrecht as much as that was possible in order to improve to 5-0 on the season.
All three of these teams have a chance this weekend to make a move as Grand Canyon will play host host NJIT for two matches, USC will travel to UC Irvine and UC San Diego, and Pfeiffer will travel to EIVA teams George Mason and No.15 St. Francis. All of these are winnable games and a 2-0 weekend for any of these teams will look good as the teams in the lower part of the rankings have a tough road this weekend.
No.10/8 UC Santa Barbara travels to Provo to play No. 3/2 BYU twice this weekend. Smith Fieldhouse is not an easy place to win at and BYU is hot now with two sweeps of UC Irvine last weekend.
UC Irvine hosts Cal Baptist and USC, two teams that they could easily lose to or that could easily help them find their groove and get back on track. No. 12 CSUN plays hosts to No. 6/4 Stanford, and they already find themselves on a three-match losing streak. No. 14 Ball State will travel to play No. 7 Ohio State after defeating McKendree on Thursday.
So the three matches that you could have big impact on the rankings are Ball St versus McKendree, USC versus UC Irvine and St Francis versus Pfeiffer. Let’s look at how the VMRI models the USC versus UC Irvine match.
This is a close match-up but the favor has to go to UC Irvine based off of the home court advantage and their clear fundamental advantage. This is a big game for USC to prove that they belong in the discussion of the best in the nation. Next week’s rankings can be quite interesting, we have a great weekend of volleyball ahead of us.