What a difference a year makes deciding who is No. 1 in the rankings.
For most of last season there was a revolving door at the No. 1 spot with three teams having the top ranking by late February. However, this season USC has maintained the No. 1 spot since the preseason and is receiving all but one first-place vote in the coaches and media poll for the second consecutive week.
The other nine spots in the poll this season, in contrast, have been constantly changing as more teams begin to play better after slow starts or come back down to the rest of the pack following a quick start.
Check out this week’s top 10 men’s volleyball media poll and my ballot with explanations on why ranked each team where I did.
Let the debate begin on who are the best teams in the nation.
ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll
1. USC (9) — 99 points
2. BYU — 85 points
3. UC Santa Barbara — 71 points
4. Ohio State (1) — 69 points
5. Stanford — 64 points
6. Long Beach State — 56 points
7. UC Irvine — 41 points
8. UCLA — 20 points
9. Penn State — 16 points
10. Hawai’i — 14 points
Others Receiving Votes: Loyola, Pepperdine, Lewis
My ASICS/VBM Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll ballot
1. USC (8-1, 8-1 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Stanford and Pacific
If there was any doubt that this is the best team in the nation it was erased last week with USC sweeping Stanford. In addition, without outside attacker and National Player of the Year candidate Troy Murphy in the starting lineup against Pacific the Trojans were still able to sweep a team that took them to five games twice last year.
2. Stanford (10-4, 7-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pepperdine; lost to USC
When Stanford loses this year it loses ugly. Three of the Cardinal’s four losses this season have been in three games, including last week’s loss to USC. However, when the Cardinal wins it looks pretty impressive, as evident last week with its sweep against Pepperdine on Saturday. Having the second fewest overall losses in the MPSF and two victories against BYU still makes this one of the best teams in the nation.
3. BYU (11-4, 7-3 MPSF)
Last week’s results: split a two-mach series against UC Santa Barbara
The Cougars continue to be the top defensive team in the country averaging a nation-best 3.10 blocks per game. In addition, middle attacker Futi Tavana leads the nation with a 1.80 blocks per game average and is one block from his 100th block of the season — 32 more blocks than anyone in the MPSF.
4. Ohio State (10-2, 4-0 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Ball State
The Buckeyes pursuit of the first perfect season in MIVA play since the 1998 continues after extending its three-year winning streak against Ball State to nine match with a sweep on the road Friday. Ohio State’s offense is second in the nation with a .368 attack percentage and All-American setter Steven Kehoe leads all players with a 12.33 sets per game average. This team is the MIVA’s best chance to legally win a national championship in a long time.
5. Long Beach State (7-5, 6-3 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UC San Diego; lost to USC
After a four-match winning streak, the 49ers have come back to earth a little bit losing two of their last three matches. Junior Outside attacker Jim Baughman is in the MPSF top 10 with a 3.74 kills per game average and is on pace to receive his first all-conference selection since his freshman year.
6. UC Santa Barbara (9-6, 7-5 MPSF)
Last week’s results: split a two-match series against BYU
The Gauchos continue to not go away. Along with a top five ranking in both the media poll and coaches poll, UC Santa Barbara is in contention for its first postseason appearance in five years. The Gauchos also remain the only school in the nation with two outside attackers — Jeff Menzel and Cullen Irons — in the nation’s top 20 for kills per game average.
7. UC Irvine (9-8, 7-5 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge and Hawai’i (on Monday)
The Anteaters have awaken from their early season slumber and look like the team predicted to win the MPSF in the preseason. With its victory against Hawai’i on Monday, UC Irvine has a winning record for the first time this season and is on three match winning streak. The only thing better than UC Irvine’s recent winning streak was its promotion Monday giving the first 600 students fake mustaches.
8. Penn State (11-3, 4-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Mount Olive and Lees-McRae
Is their any question that outside attacker Joe Sunder is one of the most valuable players in the nation. Not only is he second in the nation with 5.02 kills per game average, but with Sunder out of the lineup Lees-McRae took Penn State to five games and nearly pulled the upset of the season. This also might be the last time Penn State’s schedule home matches during THON, a two-day event on Penn State’s campus that is one of the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
9. Loyola (9-3, 4-0 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Grand Canyon and Ball State
Loyola broke its Worthen Arena curse picking up one its second victory on the road against Ball State in almost 10 years. It was also the team’s first significant victory away from Alumni Gym. Being third in the nation with .366 attack percentage, this might be the one team in the MIVA that can offensively match Ohio State.
10. UCLA (8-8, 3-7 MPSF)
Last week’s results: split a two-match series against Hawai’i
UCLA defeated Hawai’i to snap its five-match conference winning streak, but then had a .176 attack percentage in a three-game loss to conclude their two-match against the Warriors. In addition, no Bruins player is averaging more 2.50 kills per game or is in the nation’s top 50 for kills or kills per game average. Freshman Gonzalo Quiroga leads all UCLA outside attackers with a 2.33 kills per game average.
On the bubble
Hawai’i — Outside attacker Jonas Umlauft is leading the nation with a 5.27 kills per game average, but the Warriors have yet to win back-to-back conference matches this season.
Lewis — The Flyers at 9-3 have the second most wins in the nation, but all three losses have come against teams ranked in the top 10.
Pepperdine — After starting the conference season 0-5, the Waves have won three of its last four MPSF matches.
George Mason — The Patriots remain undefeated in the EIVA with a big match against No. 9 Penn State on Saturday.