Geographical proximity triumphed in the latest college men’s volleyball conference realignment move.
Grand Canyon announced Thursday that it will leave the MIVA at the end of the upcoming season and become a member of the MPSF.
The Antelopes as the only NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team in Arizona will be one of two non-Californian team in the eight-team MPSF. Grand Canyon in the program’s second year joined the MIVA in 2010, despite being located more than 1,000 miles away from the nearest school in the Midwest-based conference.
“Joining the MPSF for men’s volleyball connects us to schools committed to academic and athletic excellence in our region of the country,” Mike Vaught, Grand Canyon Vice President of Athletics, said in a statement. “Competing against top-ranked programs in this conference will only enhance the experience of our program as it continues to rise and will be a great test for our student-athletes.”
Grand Canyon entering its eighth and final season in the MIVA has three times finished in the top-five of the conference standings. It also has one postseason victory in its program history — a road victory against Ohio State in the 2013 MIVA Tournament quarterfinals.
The Antelopes under first-year head coach Matt Werle ended last year a program-best 17-12 and lost in the conference tournament quarterfinals.
“We are extremely excited to make the transition into the MPSF,” Werle said in a statement. “This will allow for an exciting amount of conference matches with some of the best competition in the country. We look forward to the new challenges ahead.”
This is the second team to join the MPSF this summer after six schools announced they would leave the conference to compete in the newly-formed Big West men’s volleyball conference beginning in 2018. The MPSF also approved membership to Concordia-Irvine starting in 2018, which by then will have completed its transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II membership.
Along with adding two new members, the MPSF announced its conference regular season and conference tournament format for the 2018 season.
The new MPSF schedule will be a home-and-home double-round robin with each team playing 14 regular season conference matches — seven home matches and seven road matches. In addition, all eight teams will qualify for the MPSF Tournament with the top four seeds having home court advantage for the quarterfinals.
The highest remaining seed following the quarterfinals will have the right to play host to the conference tournament semifinals and finals.
The MPSF since forming in 1993 has won all but six NCAA championships with its most recent national title occurring in 2013.