Only eight months away from the 2020 college men’s volleyball season. That makes it a perfect time to attempt to accurately project the top-10 teams in the nation for next season.
Check out Off the Block’s way too early top-10 preseason rankings for the upcoming season.
The rebuilding year for BYU could not have come at a better time. While the majority of top teams from 2019 will be trying to replace All-American starters, the Cougars will have the best pin-combo in the nation with opposite Gabi Garcia Fernandez and outside attacker Davide Gardini.
The big breakout year for Stanford is set to happening in 2020. All-American opposite Jaylen Jasper returns for his junior season and all-conference setter Paul Bischoff returns for his second season in the starting lineup. Add all-conference middle attacker Kyler Presho along with a strong freshmen recruiting class and the Cardinal has all the makings to return to the NCAA Tournament.
The Rainbow Warriors lose a lot from a team that reached the NCAA Tournament finals. However, Hawai’i still has Rado Parapunov, the 2019 Bryan Ivie Award winner as the nation’s top opposite; middle attacker Patrick Gasman, the 2019 National Blocker of the Year; and Gage Worsley, the 2019 Erik Shoji Award winner as the nation’s top libero. Oh, and it has a deep bench Plus, it still has one of the best home court advantages in the nation.
4. UC Irvine
A healthy Joel Schneidmiller at outside attacker will make the Anteaters an early favorite to win the Big West. Coach David Kniffin also is loaded at opposite with Jonny Bowles and Alexandre Nskanda battling to be the new starter. The biggest question for UC Irvine this offseason will be determining a new starting setter to replace Dante Chakravorti who concluded his college career.
All-American middle attacker Daenan Gyimah will be the most electric player in college men’s volleyball next season and will continue to be a match-up nightmare for opposing coaches. Opposite Austin Matautia returning to the court after suffering a season-ending injury and the late-season emergence of Adams Parks as the starting setter gives the Bruins a lot of reasons to be optimistic. However, replacing All-American Micah Ma’a will be one of the biggest holes to fill for any team in the nation.
Setter Garrett Zolg has been one of the top setters in the nation the last two years, and he returners for his junior season. Plus, Devin Joslyn and Luke Denton have the potential to be one of the best young pin-hitter combinations in the nation. The Ramblers will likely be the preseason favorites to win the MIVA championship.
This season was about the resurgence and next season will be about the maintaining — that slogan, though, doesn’t have the same ring to it. Despite losing all three of its pin-hitters, the Trojans return All-MPSF honorable mention setter Chris Hall and middle attacker Sam Lewis. Among the new pin-hitters that could have big breakout seasons in 2020 are Brandon Browning, the 2018 Boys’ High School Player of the Year, and Izac Carracher, a member of the Australian Men’s Junior National Team.
8. Penn State
Let’s be the first to say it — Penn State is back. The Nittany Lions because of injuries had a lineup this season primarily comprised of freshmen and sophomores. It still came within a few points of winning the EIVA championship. All that experience gained this season will pay off next season for the Nittany Lions. In addition, outside attacker Brett Wildman is poised for a breakout season in 2020 after having back-to-back matches with at least 20 kills in the EIVA Tournament.
9. Long Beach State
The 49ers lose four All-American starters after winning back-to-back national championships. The positive news is all the likely new starters just spent a season competing every day against one of the top college men’s volleyball teams of all-time. That has to count for something moving into in 2020.
10. Ball State
It’s now or never for this group at Ball State to make a deep run in the postseason and end the program’s 17-year drought of reaching the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals return a majority of their starters, including All-MIVA outside attacker Matt Szews. The starting setter position, though, could be a battle throughout the preseason. All-MIVA setter Jake Romano returns healthy after Quinn Isaacson spent the second half of the season replacing the injured Romano in the starting lineup.