Defending champs Ohio State start season No. 1 in national coaches poll

The two-time defending NCAA champions will open the upcoming season atop the national coaches poll.

Ohio State received all but six first-place votes to finish at No. 1 in the preseason AVCA National Coaches Poll that was released on Thursday.

The Buckeyes earn the top ranking despite losing two All-American starters from their championship team last year. However, among the returning starters includes All-American outside attacker Nicolas Szerszen, the 2016 AVCA National Player of the Year and the 2017 International Player of the Year.

Long Beach State picked up four first-place votes and earned the No. 2 ranking with 345 votes — 16 fewer votes than Ohio State.

The 49ers ended last season winning the MPSF championship and for the second straight year reached the NCAA Tournament semifinals. Long Beach State returns three All-American starters as it will compete in the Big West during the conference’s inaugural season sponsoring men’s volleyball.

Both BYU and UCLA were the only two other schools to receive a first-place vote.

The NCAA Tournament finalists BYU finished the preseason poll at No. 3, while its MPSF rivals UCLA earned the No. 4 ranking. In addition, another Big West school Hawai’i rounded out the top-five teams in the poll.

Despite losing six Big West schools as part of conference realignment in the offseason, the MPSF continued to lead the country in nationally ranked teams. All but one of the conference’s seven teams were ranked in this preseason poll.

The MIVA and Big West each had four teams make the top-15 rankings.

The college men’s volleyball season will begin in January and conclude with the seven-team NCAA Tournament in May.

2018 AVCA Preseason National Coaches Poll

1. Ohio State — 361 (19) points
2. Long Beach State — 345 (4) points
3. BYU — 326 (1) points
4. UCLA — 297 (1) points
5. Hawai’i — 274 points
6. Lewis — 248 points
7. UC Irvine — 204 points
8. Stanford — 194 points
9. Penn State — 172 points
10. Pepperdine — 163 points
11. CSUN — 99 points
12. USC — 89 points
13. Loyola — 76 points
14. Ball State — 68 points
15. Grand Canyon — 55 points
Others receiving votes: Princeton 13, UC Santa Barbara 7, George Mason 5, UC San Diego 2