Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor
It’s no surprise the two MPSF teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament last season – UCLA and BYU – are the two teams that received first-places votes in the MPSF preseason coaches poll released Thursday. Both teams spent the offseason filling in major holes created by graduated starters.
UCLA, No. 2 in the AVCA preseason poll the NCAA Tournament runner-up, received six of the seven first-places votes.
UCLA is replacing starters outside attacker/libero JT Hatch, outside attacker Jake Arnitz, middle attacker Oliver Martin, and opposite Christian Hessenauer from last year’s team. Fortunately for UCLA, they should have some immediate stability at the middle attacker and outside attacker positions, as former UC Irvine middle attacker Matthew Younggren, and former Hawai’i opposite Austin Matautia transferred into UCLA over the summer.
BYU, No. 5 in the AVCA preseason poll and winners of the 2018 MPSF regular season and the 2018 MPSF Tournament, were hit with losses on both the court and also on the coaching side.
The Cougars lost starters middle attacker Price Jarman, outside attacker Brenden Sander, and setter Leo Durkin to graduation. The Cougars will look to rely heavily on the services of MPSF Freshman of the Year, opposite Gabi Garcia Fernandez.
On the coaching side, Shawn Olmstead has replaced Luka Slabe (U.S. Women’s National Team) and Jaylen Reyes (Nebraska Women’s volleyball) with Devin Young (former BYU Player) and Micah Naone (previously BYU’s volunteer assistant coach).
Just getting nudged out of second place was Pepperdine, which also was No. 6 in the AVCA preseason poll. The Waves, which will be guided by second-year coach David Hunt, lost starters Colby Harriman and Alex Harthaller to graduation, but return 2018 MPSF player of the year/back-to-back-to-back Off the Block/Springbak Fan Choice National Player of the Year outside attacker David Wieczorek.
Rounding out the MPSF preseason poll are Stanford, USC, Concordia, and Grand Canyon.
The season starts on Dec. 30, when Pepperdine hosts EIVA foe Princeton in Malibu, California.
2019 MPSF Preseason Coaches Poll
1. UCLA – 36 (6) points
2. BYU – 28 (1) points
3. Pepperdine – 26 points
4. Stanford – 21 points
5. USC – 16 points
6. Concordia – 14 points
7. Grand Canyon – 6 points