The team on the nation’s longest winning streak has climbed its way to the top of the national rankings.
USC after extending its winning streak to 12 matches with two victories during the weekend jumped one spot 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. USC — 99 (9) points
2. UCLA — 84 (1) points
3. UC Irvine — 82 points
4. BYU — 74 points
5. Stanford — 58 points
6. Penn State — 52 points
7. Pepperdine — 37 points
8. Ohio State — 25 points
9. Lewis — 18 points
10. Long Beach State — 17 points
Others receiving votes: Harvard, Loyola, UC San Diego
My Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll ballot<
1. USC (18-4, 14-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pacific and Stanford
Doesn’t every coach wish a rebuilding year would include their team being No. 1 in the national rankings. Coach Bill Ferguson has taken a team with four new starters and that was early season long-shot to win the conference to the brink of a Final Four berth. No need to wait until the end of the season, just announce Ferguson the National Coach of the Year.
2. BYU (20-5, 16-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Cal State Northridge
The end of season gauntlet is about to being for the Cougars. BYU will close out the regular season with two-match series against UCLA and Penn State. The next two weeks will determine whether BYU can make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team or if it will have win the MPSF Tournament to get invited.
3. UCLA (20-5, 14-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UC Irvine, lost to UC Irvine
If there was ever a loss to completely overlook it’s UCLA losing to UC San Diego. The Bruins without their starting setter Kyle Caldwell were upset in four games and then less than 24 hours later with Caldwell in the lineup defeated then-No. 1 UC Irvine. As long as Caldwell’s achilles tendon injury continues to heal, UCLA will remain in the hunt for a Final Four berth.
4. UC Irvine (19-4, 15-4 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UC Santa Barbara, lost to UCLA
The Anteaters had an opportunity to take a commanding lead in the MPSF and be on the verge of hosting the MPSF Tournament if they defeated the Bruins. The three-game loss to UCLA, though, has made UC Irvine’s chances of winning the MPSF regular season title that much more difficult. The Anteaters for that scenario to happen will have to run the table and hope that UCLA and BYU split their two-match series this weekend.
5. Penn State (18-3, 11-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Penn State and Princeton
The definition of winning ugly was what Penn State did during the weekend. Penn State survived multiple match-points against Princeton before winning in five games and then rallied from a one-game deficit to beat George Mason. It wasn’t pretty but it still counts, and the Nittany Lions can now win their 14th consecutive EIVA regular season title with a win this weekend.
6. Stanford (15-6, 12-5 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pepperdine, lost to USC
There was some rust to Stanford’s 23-day layoff as the Cardinal failed to hit more than .300 in both its weekend matches — well below its .339 attack percentage season average. Now that the Cardinal got through last weekend its schedule sets up favorable for it to make a late-season run at a top four seed for the MPSF Tournament.
7. Lewis (19-6, 5-3 MIVA)
Last week’s results: lost to Loyola and Ohio State
Through the second game of Lewis’ match against Loyola it appeared the Flyers were going to waltz to the MIVA regular season championship. Six games later the Flyers are now not only out of first place but will have run the table and get help to have a chance to win the regular season title. Following last week’s two losses, this upcoming week will be a big judge character for the team and if it can bounce back.
8. Harvard (16-3, 8-2 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Rutgers-Newark and NJIT
Honestly, what more does this team have to do to get into the nationally rankings. Its non-conference schedule was weak with lots of matches against Division III team, but the Crimson went 3-1 against Division I-II West Coast teams. It appears Harvard is going to have to shock the volleyball world and beat Penn State this weekend if it wants to move into the national coaches poll or media poll.
9. Ohio State (16-8, 6-3 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated Loyola and Lewis
The Buckeyes have a history of bouncing back after bad losses. Ohio State in 2009 following a loss to Juniata closed out its season 10-2 and won the MIVA Tournament to reach the Final Four. Following its road loss to last-place Quincy two weeks ago, Ohio State has responded with victories against Loyola and Lewis to move back into first place in the MIVA. Don’t be shocked if Ohio State runs the table the rest of the regular season and wins its sixth straight MIVA regular season title.
10. Pepperdine (13-11, 8-10 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pacific, lost to Stanford
The Waves continue to be the most consistent team in the nation this season: beating the teams they are suppose to beat and losing to the teams ranked higher than them. Pepperdine is due to pull off an upset sometime soon and that may just happen in the first round of the MPSF Tournament.
On the bubble
Long Beach State — Long Beach State swept their two-match conference series against Hawai’i and all but clinched the No. 5 or No. 6 seed for the MPSF Tournament. The 49ers are starting to find their stride at just the right time.