The eight-month offseason is here, but the news doesn’t stop for college men’s volleyball.
From a possible play-in match being created for the NCAA Tournament to every team trying to compile its ideal schedule for the upcoming season, there are numerous storylines to track before the 2014 season begins in January.
Check out the top five offseason college men’s volleyball storylines to follow during the next eight months.
1. The NCAA Tournament play-in match
Nothing has been officially announced, but all signs point to a play-in match starting next year for the NCAA Tournament as the Conference Carolinas will begin to receive an automatic bid. The biggest remaining uncertainty that will be announced this summer is how the NCAA men’s volleyball committee will decide the two teams for the play-in match. Committee members told Off the Block in April that one of the leading options is a creating a Rating Percentage Index formula commonly used in other college sports and applying it college men’s volleyball. The system would determine the two lowest ranked conferences and then the champions from those conferences the following year would be required to play in the play-in match. If this type of system is adopted, the mathematical formula used for the men’s volleyball RPI would not likely be publicly released until an official announcement is mabe about the play-in match. For more on possible tournament expansion, check out this Off the Block story.
2. Future of the MPSF schedule
MPSF coaches before the 2013 season started discussions on changing its conference schedule format, and that potential move could become official during this offseason. The upcoming MPSF conference schedule will remain a balanced 24-match season, which allows each MPSF team to play every conference opponent twice. However, coaches at the league meetings last year proposed moving back to a 22-match conference schedule beginning in 2015. A 22-match schedule would free up the MPSF to schedule more non-conference matches against the MIVA and EIVA teams. It would also allow more West Coast teams to participate in non-conference tournaments such as the UC Santa Barbara Invitational, the Active Ankle Challenge and the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic. Reducing the conference schedule, though, would create an unbalanced league schedule with teams only playing each other once in the conference regular season. A decision on the future MPSF regular season schedule will likely be determined within the next few weeks as conference completes its league meetings.
3. U.S. playing in Junior World Championship
USA Volleyball will send 12 men’s college players to Turkey at the end of the summer to represent the United Sates in the FIVB Junior World Championship. The team, which will be coached by Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson, announced its 22-player training roster last week. Among the players to make the initial roster includes USC All-American setter Micah Christenson and BYU All-American outside attacker Ben Patch. The United States at the last Junior World Championship finished in fourth place — the nation’s highest finish at the international volleyball tournament. The 2013 Junior World Championship is a 10-day event that begins Aug. 22.
4. EIVA and MIVA non-conference scheduling
With the MPSF keeping its conference schedule at an expanded 24 matches for the upcoming season, EIVA and MIVA teams will have to continue to get creative with its 2014 non-conference schedules as they try to fill out all their playing dates. The 2013 season saw fewer non-West Coast teams playing West Coast teams and more MIVA and EIVA schools scheduling matches against each other and Conference Carolinas teams. This upcoming regular season, though, could result in West Coast teams traveling out to the Midwest because Loyola is playing host to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. In addition, non-conference scheduling will have increased importance to the MIVA and EIVA as both conferences may be forced to scheduled with the RPI in mind to avoid having to compete in the potential NCAA Tournament play-in match.
5. Assistant coaching changes
Stability remains in the college men’s volleyball coaching landscape as this off-season could have zero heading coaching vacancies in the EIVA, MIVA and MPSF. The big coaching shift in the upcoming months, though, could come with assistant coaches on the move. The last two years have seen numerous schools add or change assistant coaches for the upcoming season. In addition, each offseason tends to have several recently graduated college men’s volleyball players make the transition to the sidelines as an assistant coach at the college level.