My men’s volleyball media poll ballot

The stability has returned to the national rankings.

UCLA dropping two spots to No. 4 and USC and BYU both moving up one spot were the only changes in the new top 10 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. UC Irvine — 100 (10) points
2. USC — 88 points
3. BYU — 77 points
4. UCLA — 75 points
5. Stanford — 54 points
6. Penn State — 45 points
7. Lewis — 43 points
8. Pepperdine — 36 points
9. Ohio State — 18 points
10. Long Beach State — 7 points
Others receiving votes: Hawai’i, Pacific, Loyola, Harvard, Grand Canyon

1. UC Irvine (18-3, 14-3 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
defeated Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State
The Anteaters enter a bye week and return home after going undefeated during a season-long six match road trip, including victories against UCLA and Long Beach State. In addition, UC Irvine continues to be the nation’s best serving team and deepest at outside attacker. Enjoy the time off.


2. BYU (17-4, 13-3 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
defeated Hawai’i twice
The Cougars continue to be undefeated since the return of All-American Taylor Sander from a hand injury. Sander in his six matches back has four matches with at least 15 kills. Sander is the front-runner for National Player of the Year and don’t be shocked if BYU runs the table the rest of the season.

3. USC (15-4, 12-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
defeated USC and UC Santa Barbara
USC is on a nation-best 10 match winning streak and had an emphatic sweep against its cross-town rival UCLA last week. However, USC remains below BYU on my ballot because the Cougars swept the two-match season series at the beginning of the season.

4. UCLA (19-4, 13-3 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
defeated Pepperdine, lost to USC
UCLA experienced its first losing streak of the season and responded with a sweep against Pepperdine. The Bruins are dropping in the polls, but don’t hit the panic button. UCLA has the most balanced offense in the nation and will be in contention for a berth in the Final Four.

5. Lewis (18-4, 4-1 MIVA)
Last week’s results:
defeated King, Limestone and King
The Flyers concluded non-conference play and will close out their season with seven MIVA matches. Lewis also remains one of two undefeated teams at home this season. If the Flyers can win the MIVA regular season they will be extremely difficult to beat in Romeoville, Ill., during the conference tournament.

6. Penn State (14-3, 7-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results:
defeated St. Francis
Penn State is halfway through its conference season and has yet to lose a game. Only one other team in NCAA volleyball history — the 2009 Penn State team — has gone an entire conference season without losing a game. That’s stat is really the only mystery left for Penn State during its EIVA season.

7. Stanford (14-5, 11-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
Stanford is in the midst of its 23-day hybernation between matches. Forget a bye week, Stanford’s got itself a bye month.

8. Pepperdine (11-10, 7-9 MPSF)
Last week’s results:
defeated Harvard and UC Santa Barbara, lost to UCLA
The Waves are one of the few consistent teams in the MPSF this year — beating the teams its suppose to beat and losing to teams its suppose to lose to. Pepperdine has settled into the No. 6 seeds for the MPSF Tournament and will give whoever gets the No. 3 seed a tough quarterfinals match.

9. Ohio State (13-7, 3-2 MIVA)
Last week’s results:
lost to Ball State
Outside attacker Shawn Sangrey is without a doubt one of the best conditioned athletes in the nation. The All-American is averaging almost 50 attack attempts per match and had 65 attempts in a five-game loss to Ball State on Sunday. However, the Buckeyes will need to get offensive production beyond Sangrey if it wants to repeat as NCAA championships.

10. Harvard (13-3, 5-2 EIVA)
Last week’s results:
defeated Cal Baptist
Harvard is tied for the fewest losses in the nation and has three signature victories agaisnt West Coast teams — beating Cal Baptist twice and Cal State Northridge. Until the Crimson lose again they will be in the top 10 on my ballot.

Long Beach State —
The 49ers without its starting setter Connor Olbright lost at home to last-place UC San Diego. That was enough for me to take Long Beach State off my ballot for at least this week.

Grand Canyon — The Antelopes are a legitmate top four team in the MIVA. However, Grand Canyon Canyon’s second-half of its conference schedule is absolutely brutal with two-match series against Lewis, Ohio State and Loyola.