So much for a quiet off-season summer in college men’s volleyball.
The last three months produced everything from the announcement of what conferences will have to participate in the new NCAA Tournament play-in match to schools scheduling big non-conference matches for the upcoming season. Check out the top 10 college men’s volleyball storylines from the summer.
1. NCAA Tournament play-in match set — The NCAA committee informed Off the Block in June that the champions from the EIVA and Conference Carolinas will play in the inaugural NCAA Tournament play-in match next season. The two conferences were selected after receiving the lowest ratings in the newly-created men’s volleyball RPI. In addition, the NCAA announced the Conference Carolinas will have the home-court advantage for the postseason match. To read more about the selection process for this play-in match and reaction from EIVA, click here.
2. UC Santa Barbara Invitational reforms — The oldest annual non-conference tournament in college volleyball will get a new look for the upcoming season. UC Santa Barbara coach Rick McLaughlin said in July that the tournament will change formats for 2014 to limit the amount of matches counting towards a team’s overall record and to increase the amount of teams participating in the event. To find out more about the tournament changes and the teams in the 2014 UC Santa Barbara Invitational, click here.
3. Ball State lands home match vs. defending national champs — Ball State will have a huge challenge for its season opener as it will play host to the two-time defending NCAA champions UC Irvine. This is the first time that the Anteaters have traveled to Muncie, Ind., and it will be the first meeting between the two programs in almost 10 years. To get more reaction and analysis on the scheduling of this non-conference match, click here.
4. All teams returning to Outrigger Invitational — There won’t be any changes to the field for the 2014 Outrigger Invitational as Penn State, Ohio State and UCLA will all return to Hawai’i’s non-conference tournament for the second consecutive year. Hawai’i coach Charlie Wade said in an interview with Off the Block that he was not only happy to get all three teams to return but considers it to be the ideal tournament field. To read more about the field set for the 2014 Outrigger Invitational, click here.
5. UCLA record-setting recruiting class — In coach John Speraw’s first recruiting class as the UCLA head coach, the Bruins tied a record with eight recruits being named to the Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 list. Among the eight Fab 50 recruits signed by UCLA includes the nation’s top ranked recruit Mitch Stahl along with two of the other top-five ranked recruits in the country. To read more about UCLA recruiting class and the Fab 50 list, click here.
6. USC to make rare Midwest road trip — USC announced in July that it will play road non-conference matches against Loyola and Lewis to open the upcoming season. This will be the first time since 1999 that the Trojans will travel to the Midwest for regular season matches. To read more about these non-conference matches and the changes to USC’s schedule for the 2014 season, click here.
7. Penn State and Long Beach State to meet in 2014 — A potential 2014 Final Four preview could take place in March as Penn State agreed to travel to Long Beach State for a non-conference match. Penn State has advanced to the NCAA Tournament the last 15 years as the EIVA champions, while Long Beach State returns a majority of starters after narrowly missing out on the lone at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament last season. To read more about this non-conference match, click here.
8. MPSF keeps conference schedule at 24 matches — The MPSF coaches during their annual conference meeting voted overwhelmingly to maintain the 24-match conference schedule for future seasons. The conference schedule last season as an experiment was expanded by two matches to 24 after Cal Baptist joined the MPSF. To read more why the MPSF opted to preferred to keep a balanced 24-match schedule, click here.
9. Princeton to play in Morgan Classic — Princeton has bolstered its non-conference schedule for the upcoming season and for the first time in its program history will compete in the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic. The 2014 Morgan Classic will also be the first time in the tournament’s history that it will feature teams from all three major college volleyball divisions — NCAA Division I-II, NCAA Division III and NAIA. To read more about the field for the upcoming Morgan Classic, click here.
10. Conference champs Pfeiffer hire new coach — Pfeiffer announced in July that it hired Paul Lawson to be its new men’s and women’s volleyball head coach for the upcoming season. Pfeiffer last season repeated as Conference Carolinas champions after defeating Limestone in the championship match. To read more about Lawson and Peiffer’s decision to hire the coach, click here.