Top 10 college men’s volleyball storylines from the off-season

A lot has happened in college men’s volleyball since UC Irvine won the NCAA championship in May.

The 2013 off-season has seen everything from major shake-ups to the NCAA Tournament and conference alignments to big non-conference matches being scheduled and new national awards added for the upcoming season. Check out the top 10 college men’s volleyball shorelines from the off-season.

1. NCAA Tournament changes — The NCAA announced in October that it would expand the NCAA Tournament to include two play-in matches and two at-large bids starting in 2014. The new six-team format comprised of four conference automatic bids and two at-large bids will have the two top seeds receiving byes into the semifinals, while the four remaining teams playing in the quarterfinals. This is the first time the NCAA Tournament has expanded since the NCAA sanctioned the sport in 1970 and created a four-team tournament field. To read more about the NCAA Tournament changes, click here.

2. Pacific drops men’s volleyball program — Pacific in an effort to cut the university’s budget and finance a new strategic initiative opted in October to eliminate its men’s volleyball team at the end of the 2014 season. The Tigers, which started their program in the early 1990s, were the first nationally ranked men’s volleyball team to be cut by its university in almost 20 years. To read more about Pacific’s leadership cutting its men’s volleyball team, click here.


3. Charleston, North Greenville add teams — Two colleges during the off-season announced it will sponsor men’s volleyball teams beginning in the 2014-15 school year. North Greenville, a Division II school in North Carolina, will become the ninth men’s volleyball team to play in the Conference Carolinas. In addition, the University of Charleston, a Division II school, will become the first NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team from West Virginia. To read more about North Greenville’s new program, click here. To read more about Charleston’s new program, click here.

4. Sites set for future NCAA Tournaments — The NCAA unveiled in December the future host sites for the men’s volleyball Division I-II NCAA Tournament between 2015 to 2018. Two West Coast schools won bids with Stanford playing host in 2015 and UCLA in 2008. Penn State also will play host to the NCAA Tournament in 2016, while Ohio State earned the 2017 bid. To read more about the future locations for the NCAA Tournament, click here.

5. New college men’s volleyball award added — Off the Block announced in December that the National Setter of the Year will be renamed after Lloy Ball. Ball in his four seasons at IPFW was a three-time All-American and after college led the United States to an Olympic gold medal in 2008. This will be the inaugural year of the Lloy Ball Award, which will be presented to the best setter in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season. To read more about this new national award, click here.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. MIVA to add ninth member — The McKendree athletics department announced in September that was awarded membership to the MIVA starting in 2015. McKendree, a Division II school located in Illinois, is entering its inaugural men’s volleyball season when it will compete as an independent team. The addition of the Bearcats will also expand the MIVA to nine teams — the most NCAA Division I-II schools to be in the conference since its inception in 1961. To read more about McKendree joining the MIVA, click here.

9. 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.

10. 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.