Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor
Everyone knew that the defending national champions Long Beach State would be ranked first in the Big West preseason poll, but the bigger question would be which team would finish second and third.
Hawai’i finished second and two points ahead of third-place UC Irvine in the conference’s preseason poll that was released Friday.
Long Beach State, which received all six first place votes, was also the unanimous No. 1 ranked team in the national coaches poll released earlier this month. The 49ers return five players who were All-Americans last season, including AVCA Player of the Year setter Josh Tuaniga. Also returning is the AVCA National Coach of the Year Alan Knipe.
Hawai’i, which was No. 3 in the national coaches poll, return all of its starters from last year’s squad besides All-American libero Larry Tuileta.
The Rainbow Warriors narrowly missed the final at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament last season. UC Irvine earned the berth despite Hawai’i having a better RPI and winning the head-to-head series.
UC Irvine, ranked No. 4 in the national coaches poll, returns a majority of starters, including First-Team All-American middle attacker Scott Stadick.
UC Santa Barbara finished fourth in the Big West poll. The Gauchos will look to First-Team All-Big West outside attacker Corey Chavers to lead them in 2019.
CSUN, fifth in the poll, lost both middle attackers and their All-American opposite Arvis Greene from last year’s squad. UC San Diego, sixth in the poll, lost All-American opposite Tanner Syftestad, as well as four-year starter setter Milosh Stojcic.
The Big West men’s volleyball season starts on Jan. 3 when Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara and CSUN take the floor in the UCSB Asics Challenge against Concordia-Irvine, Grand Canyon and Harvard.
2019 Big West Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Long Beach State – 36 (6) points
2. Hawai’i – 28 points
3. UC Irvine – 26 points
4. UC Santa Barbara – 16 points
5. CSUN – 11 points
6. UC San Diego – 9 points