Long Beach State picked as preseason favorite in first season of Big West

A defending conference champion is the preseason favorite for the inaugural year of Big West men’s volleyball.

Long Beach State received four of the six first-place votes to be ranked No. 1 in the Big West Preseason Coaches Poll that was released on Thursday.

The Big West during the offseason officially became the second multi-sport conference in the nation to sponsor NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball. This addition resulted in conference realignment with five Big West schools and UC San Diego leaving the MPSF to form the new men’s volleyball conference.

Long Beach State in its final MPSF season won the 2017 conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. Among the three All-American starters returning for the 49ers includes outside attacker TJ DeFalco, who was the 2017 AVCA National Player of the Year and the 2017 recipient of the Karch Kiraly Award.

Long Beach State received 34 votes in the preseason conference poll to beat Hawai’i by two votes for the top ranking. The Rainbow Warriors were the only other school to receive first-place votes.

Both CSUN and UC Irvine finished tied for third place to round-out the top half of the inaugural Big West preseason rankings.

The Big West will have a 10-match conference schedule with each team playing every conference opponent twice during the regular season. In addition, all six teams will qualify for the Big West Tournament.

The winner of the Big West Tournament in April will receive an automatic bid to the seven-team NCAA Tournament.

2018 Big West Preseason Coaches Poll

1. Long Beach State — 34 (4) points
2. Hawai’i — 32 (2) points
T-3. CSUN — 21 points
T-3. UC Irvine — 21 points
5. UC Santa Barbara — 10 points
6. UC San Diego — 8 points