The madness of March hit men’s volleyball this weekend and the aftermath is now being felt in the polls.
Three top 10 ranked teams dropped in the media poll after losing matches, including BYU and Stanford that both lost to unranked teams. In addition, several teams made significant gains in the poll with Ohio State receiving its highest national ranking in program history at No. 2 and Hawai’i jumping four spots to No. 6.
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. Ohio State (1) — 85 points
3. Stanford — 83 points
4. BYU — 70 points
5. UC Irvine — 48 points
6. Hawai’i — 43 points
7. UCLA — 34 points
8. UC Santa Barbara — 33 points
9. Penn State — 30 points
10. Long Beach State — 16 points
Others receiving votes: Loyola, Lewis
My ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll ballot
1. USC (15-1, 14-1 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Harvard
With its backups playing almost the entire match USC was unable to sweep Harvard and won in four games. For anyone who even searching for a reason to hit a panic button that’s not a logical reason to hit it. The Trojans have already clinched a spot in the MPSF Tournament and barring an absolute collapse will win the conference regular season title. This remains the best team in the nation and the gap between them and everyone else continues to grow every week.
2. Ohio State (18-2, 10-0 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Grand Canyon
The Buckeyes did not do anything that impressive last week to jump up two spots to No. 2 on my ballot. It’s more result of BYU and Stanford both losing matches, while Ohio State just keeps winning — 18 consecutive times for the nation’s longest winning streak. However, the true test for the Buckeyes comes this weekend on its two-match West Coastroad trip. A loss to UC Irvine would not hurt Ohio State too much in the polls, but a loss to UC San Diego would be a devastating blow for Ohio State and the entire MIVA.
3. Stanford (14-5, 11-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results: lost to Cal Baptist
Despite losing to an NAIA team, Stanford’s loss was the most forgivable upset of the weekend. The Cardinals were coming off a bye and coach John Kotsy opted not to play three starters, including All-American outside attacker Brad Lawson. Stanford is not reading too much into this non-conference loss and it should be fine when it returns to conference play against Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State this weekend. If anything all the match showed was Cal Baptist is ready to move to the Division II and Lawson is one of the most valuable players in the nation.
4. BYU (14-7, 10-6 MPSF)
Last week’s results: split two matches against Cal State Northridge
Players said prior to playing Cal State Northridge that the 14-day layoff after losing two matches to USC was not mentally good for the team — and it showed this weekend. BYU salvaged its two-match weekend series with a win Saturday but not before the Cougars in the opener lost their third consecutive conference match. The Cougars, though, continue to lead team in the MPSF with a 2.94 blocks per game average, and middle attacker Futi Tavana is leading the nation with a 1.57 blocks per game average.
5. UC Santa Barbara (12-9, 9-7 MPSF)
Last week’s results: idle
A bye week does not hurt you and can only help you in my ballot. The same also held true of the MPSF standings. The Gauchos moved into a tie for fifth place and should be well rested for their final six conference matches as they attempt to make the MPSF Tournament for the first time in five years.
6. UC Irvine (12-10, 9-7 MPSF)
Last week’s results: idle
Hope the Anteaters enjoyed the bye week because the next two weeks of their schedule is brutal with four matches against teams in the top 10. The player to watch, though, coming off the bye will be outside attacker Carson Clark and if he can continue his 4.67 kills per game average — fourth best in the nation.
7. UCLA (13-9, 6-8 MPSF)
Last week’s results: idle
Alright, I will admit in hindsight I screwed up ranking UCLA No. 5 in my ballot last week and I’m correcting it. This is still the streakiest team in the nation and with potential All-American Wes Dunlap in the middle it could make a run in the conference tournament. Right now, though, I don’t think this team is better than UC Irvine. Luckily, that question will to be answered on the court Thursday night.
8. Hawai’i (12-9, 10-6 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Long Beach State twice
It’s difficult to improve upon a five kills per game average but outside attacker Jonas Umlauft was even able to do that against Long Beach State. Umlauft had 22 kills in a sweep against the 49ers and is leading the nation with a 5.44 kills per game average. After their early season struggles, the Warriors are on a season-best six match winning streak with a two-match road series against BYU this weekend.
9. Penn State (17-5, 7-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Ball State and IPFW
The Nittany Lions are beginning to have more of a balanced offense instead of just relying on outside attacker Joe Sunder. This team should win all its remaining regular season matches, with possibly an exception to that home match against Ohio State, and win its 12th consecutive EIVA Tournament. Wake me up when Penn State is playing USC on its home floor in the NCAA Final Four.
10. Loyola (15-5, 5-1 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated George Mason and NJIT
Outside attacker Mike Bunting is possibly having the greatest single-season in Loyola’s program history and it is going somewhat unnoticed because of Ohio State’s dominance this season. Bunting is among the conference and nation leaders with a .407 attack percentage and 4.36 kills percentage. He is also the only player to be the nation’s top 10 for both of those categories.
On the bubble
Long Beach State — Long Beach State has lost four of its last five matches, including to unranked Lewis and twice to Hawai’i on its home court. In addition, the team’s schedule does not get much easier with matches against Stanford, BYU and UC Irvine in the next three weeks.
Lewis — The Flyers have a signature victory against the 49ers, but that is really their only impressive victory at 15-6. That could change this week playing Loyola at home before traveling for a road match against Ball State.