There’s no question who is the preseason favorite to win the national title.
The defending NCAA champions Long Beach State received every first-place vote to finish atop the preseason AVCA National Coaches Poll that was released on Tuesday.
The 49ers return a nation-best four All-American starters after ending last season 28-1 and winning their first NCAA title in almost 30 years.
Setter Josh Tuaniga was named the 2018 AVCA National Player of the Year and guided the offense to the best single-season attack percentage during the NCAA 25-point rally scoring era. Opposite Kyle Ensing and outside attacker TJ DeFalco, the 2017 AVCA National Player of the Year, also spent the offseason helping the United States win the bronze medal at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
UCLA, which lost to Long Beach State in five games in the NCAA Tournament finals last season, was ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll. Among the starters returning for the Bruins includes All-American setter Micah Ma’a and All-American middle attacker Deanna Gyimah.
Hawai’i, UC Irvine and BYU round-out the top five of the poll.
The Rainbow Warriors edging out the Anteaters for the No. 3 ranking is a role reversal from last season. UC Irvine narrowly beat out Hawai’i for the final at-large bid to the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
The top-six ranked teams are all members of the MPSF or Big West. Lewis is the highest ranked MIVA school at No. 7, while Ohio State and Loyola are also in the top 10.
Both the ConfCarolinas and EIVA did not have any teams ranked in the preseason poll.
Penn State was the top EIVA vote-getter with 18 votes but finished outside the top 15. Barton led all ConfCarolinas schools with two votes.
The 2019 college men’s volleyball season will begin with No. 6 Pepperdine playing host to Princeton on Dec. 30.
PRESEASON AVCA NATIONAL COACHES POLL
1. Long Beach State — 240 (16) points
2. UCLA — 216 points
3. Hawai’i — 203 points
4. UC Irvine — 190 points
5. BYU — 166 points
6. Pepperdine — 156 points
7. Lewis — 143 points
8. Ohio State — 137 points
9. Loyola — 118 points
10. UC Santa Barbara — 80 points
11. CSUN — 64 points
12. Concordia-Irvine — 39 points
13. Stanford — 33 points
T-14. Grand Canyon — 29 points
T-14. Purdue Fort Wayne — 29 points
Others receiving votes: Ball State 19; Penn State 18; George Mason 13; Princeton 13; USC 5; Barton 2