Who is No. 1 never came into question this season.
USC remained No. 1 the final regular season top 10 men’s volleyball media poll released Tuesday to become the first team since UCLA in 1995 to stay in the top spot in the polls from the preseason to end of the regular season.
Outside of No. 1, four teams moved spots in this week’s media poll. Long Beach State and Ohio State both moved up two spots to No. 6 and No. 7 after picking up wins last week, while UC Santa Barbara dropped three spots to No. 9 follow two losses to close the season.
This will be the final media poll before the NCAA Tournament on May 5-7 in University Park, Pa.
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 (1) — 91 points
3. Stanford — 78 points
4. UC Irvine — 71 points
5. Hawai’i — 57 points
6. Long Beach State — 49 points
7. Ohio State — 33 points
8. Penn State — 29 points
9. UC Santa Barbara — 28 points
10. UCLA — 12 points
Others receiving votes: Loyola, Lewis, Quincy
My ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll ballot
1. USC (21-2, 20-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UCLA and UC Santa Barbara
The Trojans became the first men’s volleyball team in more than 15 years to be ranked No. 1 from the preseason to the end of the regular season. This is the best team in the nation and USC could have three First-Team All-Americans with setter Riley McKibbin and outside attackers Murphy Troy and Tony Ciarelli. Even if the Trojans lose in the MPSF Tournament, they will still be the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
2. BYU (20-7, 16-6 MPSF)
Last week’s results: idle
Nothing changed with this team during its bye week. The Cougars are still one of the most balanced teams on offense and defense. Middle attacker Futi Tavana is second in the nation averaging 1.50 blocks per game, while outside attacker Robb Stowell is in the nation’s top 10 averaging 4.05 kills per game. Now if only the BYU student body can only get the phrase “Futi Fever” to catch on like “Jimmer Fever.”
3. Stanford (19-8, 15-7 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pacific
The Cardinal snapped out of its late-season funk defeating UCLA and Pacific in its final two matches of the regular season to end a 3-4 skid. Even better for Stanford was that outside attackers Brad Lawson and Spencer McLachlin each had more than 20 kills in the four-game victory against Pacific. Those types of performances will be needed as Stanford tries to become the first team in 15 years to repeat as national champions.
4. UC Irvine (18-11, 14-8 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UC San Diego
No one ended the regular season better than the Anteaters. UC Irvine enters the MPSF Tournament on a nation-best six match winning streak, which included four victories against top 10 ranked teams. Outside attacker Corey Yoder in the last three matches has one attack error with a 35 kills and a .471 attack percentage — almost .075 above his top five national average. In addition, outside attacker Carson Clark continues to be in the nation’s top 10 for aces per game and kills per game.
5. Hawai’i (15-12, 13-9 MPSF)
Last week’s results: idle
Outside attacker Jonas Umlauft finally hit below his nation-leading 5.55 kills per game average. It took an exhibition match against alumni that he did not play the entire time for a team to finally keep Umlauft below his average. Hawai’i enters the postseason after going 9-3 in the last two months and will attempt to win its second road match in the MPSF Tournament in the last 15 years.
6. Ohio State (22-6, 11-1 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated George Mason and St. Francis
The most discussed appendectomy recovery in recent men’s volleyball history seems to be over. Outside attacker Shawn Sangery for the first time since returning from his mid-season surgery appeared to back to his All-American form. Sangery had a combined 27 kills in sweeps against George Mason and St. Francis during the weekend. The Buckeyes now enter the MIVA Tournament looking for their fourth consecutive conference title — a feat that has not been accomplished since the 1960s.
7. Long Beach State (14-13, 12-10 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Cal State Northridge
Long Beach State won its final two matches to end a three match losing streak and avoid any talk of a second straight season late-season collapse. The 49ers also could not have imagined a better scenario entering the MPSF Tournament as a low seed playing on the road. The team in first round gets to play the No. 3 seed Stanford, which it defeated twice this season.
8. Penn State (22-6, 10-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated IPFW, lost to Ball State
Coach Mark Pavlik was the first to admit his team played horrible and his players overlooked Ball State following its nationally televised victory against Ohio State. Good thing the loss happened in a non-conference regular season match rather than the EIVA Tournament. The Nittany Lions got their wake-up call and should be fine to win their 13th consecutive conference title to advance to the Final Four on their home court.
9. UC Santa Barbara (14-14, 11-11 MPSF)
Last week’s results: lost to Pepperdine and USC
Setter Vince Devany had the least talked about, most overlooked season of any player in the nation. The senior is third in the nation averaging 11.8 assists per game and ran an offense that was sixth in the nation with a .329 attack percentage. UC Santa Barbara making its first postseason appearance since 2007 has already made this season a success. An upset victory against BYU in the first round would just be an extra perk.
10. Quincy (21-13, 3-9 MIVA)
Last week’s results: split two matches against Loyola
No, Quincy is not one of the top 10 teams in the country. I’m not even sure it would be in the top 25. This is an honorary ranking for the job coach Hadley Foster has done with the program. Foster guided Quincy to its first 20-win season in program history and upset Loyola last week. Foster achieved this, despite talks in recent years around the MIVA that his program could be cut or dropped to Division III. Don’t be surprised if this team continues to become more competitive in the MIVA in upcoming seasons.
On the bubble
Loyola — I know potential All-American Mike Bunting did not play and Loyola was resting players against Quincy, but it still should not have lost. This team, though, has a good draw in the MIVA Tournament and chance to reach the Final Four.
Ball State — The Cardinals are one of the few teams in the nation playing their best volleyball of the year entering the postseason. Ball State overcame its Penn State demon with a win, and now it will attempt to perform two more exorcisms — against Loyola at the dungeon of Alumni Gym and against Ohio State — to make its first Final Four since 2002.
UCLA — Middle attacker Wes Dunlap leads the nation with a .451 attack percentage. Can anyone think of another positive for this team entering the MPSF Tournament?