It didn’t take UCLA long to reclaim the top spot in the national rankings.
The Bruins received all but one first-place vote and following a one-week abscence moved back to No. 1 in the new national media poll released Tuesday.
Check out this week’s top 10 men’s volleyball media poll and my ballot with explanations on why I ranked each team where I did.
Let the debate begin on who are the best teams in the nation.
Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll
1. UCLA — 99 (9) points
2. Stanford — 83 points
3. UC Irvine — 82 (1) points
4. Penn State — 64 points
5. USC — 62 points
6. BYU — 56 points
7. Lewis — 43 points
8. Ohio State — 25 points
9. Pepperdine — 18 points
10. Long Beach State — 14 points
Others receiving votes: UC Santa Barbara, IPFW
My Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll ballot
1. UCLA (15-2, 9-1 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Cal Baptist
Good to be back in the majority on my No. 1 ranking this week. UCLA is the biggest benefactor of the Stanford loss and moved to No. 1. The Bruins have a MPSF-best .360 attack percentage and the most balanced team on offense in the nation. No UCLA player is in the nation’s top 30 for kills per game average.
2. Penn State (12-1, 6-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Princeton and George Mason
Penn State just continues to win. The Nittany Lions are on a 10-match winning streak and did not lose a set during the entire month of February. The big test for Penn State comes in its next three matches as it plays three top-10 ranked teams — Ohio State, Pepperdine and USC.
3. Stanford (12-3, 9-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pepperdine, lost to USC
Stanford returned home from its season-long 10 match road trip and dropped a five-game match to USC. Don’t look too much into that loss. Both Stanford and USC are top-five quality teams and will be in the hunt for a berth to the Final Four.
4. UC Irvine (12-3, 8-3 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State
Eight of the Anteaters’ 10 remaining regular season matches will be on the road. That actually might not be such a bad thing for UC Irvine. The Anteaters are 5-0 away from UC Irvine and look primed to make a second-half run having won eight of its last nine matches.
5. USC (9-4, 7-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pacific and Stanford
If anyone still wondered whether a USC player could step up and take over a big match they got their answer Saturday. Outside attacker Tony Ciarelli had a season-high 28 kills in a five-game upset victory against then-No. 1 Stanford. The Trojans are young but look to be a dark horse contender in the MPSF.
6. Lewis (12-3, 3-1 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Ohio State and Lindenwood
Lewis’ victory against Ohio State gives it the upper-hand in what is becoming a two-team race between the Flyers and Buckeyes for the MIVA regular season title. If Lewis can win the regular season title and get home-court advantage throughout the conference tournament it will be extremely difficult to beat the Flyers in Romeoville, Ill.
7. BYU (10-4, 7-3 MPSF)
Last week’s results: split a two-match series with UC Santa Barbara
The Cougars are a completely different and more offensively explosive team with outside attacker Taylor Sander in the lineup. Wait for Sander to get this week or next week, and don’t be surprised if BYU runs the table the rest of the season.
8. Ohio State (12-5, 3-1 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Loyola, lost to Lewis
After losing to Lewis, Ohio State responded with an absolute thumping of Loyola, including a 25-9 victory in the second game of its sweep. The Buckeyes are at home for most of their remaining MIVA matches and a sixth straight conference regular season title is still possible.
9. Pepperdine (8-6, 6-5 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pacific, lost to Stanford
There are lots of reasons to be excited about Pepperdine with freshmen like outside attackers Josh Taylor and Matt Tarantino and freshman setter Matt West. This year, though, the Waves are going through some growing pains as they figure out how to beat the top-caliber teams.
10. Long Beach State (8-7, 4-5 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UC San Diego, lost to UC Irvine
The 49ers continue to hoover around .500 and remain one of the biggest mysteries in the MPSF. Long Beach State’s upcoming road match against UCLA will give a clear picture of if this team can consistently beat the top-four MPSF teams.
ON THE BUBBLE
UC Santa Barbara — Outside attacker Miles Evans is 10th in the nation with a 3.87 kills per game average. The Gauchos are in the content for a berth to the MPSF Tournament, and don’t be shocked if it pulls off a few more upsets the rest of the season.
IPFW — The Mastodons have two victories this season against nationally ranked teams. If IPFW can beat Long Beach State and Cal Baptist at the upcoming Active Ankle Challenge it will get serious consideration to be in the top 10.
Pfeiffer — Everyone freaked out last week for me having Pfeiffer on the bubble. Pfeiffer isn’t a top 10 team, but something has to be said for beating everyone on your schedule and that’s what Pfeiffer is doing.