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My men’s volleyball media poll ballot

January 27, 2011

Well it took a bunch of hours going over box scores, game articles and videos, but I finally have my first ballot of the year for the ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Media Poll.

The first few weeks are always a little bit difficult to rank because you are still balancing preseason expectations with how the team is actually playing and who it has beat. Some teams like USC and Stanford have lived up to the preseason hype setting themselves above everyone else. While other teams like UC Irvine and Hawai’i are beginning to play well after horrific starts.

Check out this week’s top 10 men’s volleyball media poll and my ballot with explanations on why ranked each team where I did.

Let the debate begin on who are the best teams in the nation.

ASICS/VBM Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll
1. Southern California (10) — 100 points
2. Stanford — 80 points
3. BYU — 79 points
4. UCLA — 61 points
5. Long Beach State —59 points
6. UC Irvine — 46 points
7. UC Santa Barbara — 37 points
8. Penn State — 35 points
9. Hawai’i — 24 points
10. Ohio State — 17 points
Others Receiving Votes: Pepperdine, Ball State

My ASICS/VBM Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll ballot
1. USC (4-0, 4-0 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UC Irvine and UC San Diego
The Trojans are off to their best start since 1995 and have dropped one game the entire season. Outside attacker Murphy Troy is among the national leaders with a 4.31 kills per game average and the early front runner for the National Player of the Year award.

2. Stanford(4-1, 3-1 MPSF)
Last week’s results: spilt a two-match series against Hawai’i
The Cardinal survived the weekend in Hawaii and won a highly contested five-game match in overtime against the Warriors. Libero Eric Shoji and outside attacker Brad Lawerance are playing like All-Americans and making Stanford a title contender.

3. BYU (5-2, 2-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pacific twice
It had an easy chance to recover from losing two home matches to Stanford with wins against an improving Pacific team. The real test for BYU comes this when it plays UC Irvine and UCLA in the next two weeks.

4. UCLA (6-2, 1-1 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Cal State Northridge; lost to Long Beach State
The loss to Long Beach State leaves me wondering if this UCLA team can be an elite MPSF team this season, or if it will be like last year when the Bruins had a great start and then quickly faded to a No. 7 seed in the conference tournament.

5. Penn State (4-1, 2-0 EIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated St. Francis and Springfield
Replacing multiple All-American from last year, Coach Mark Pavlik said his team is a work in progress. The wins this year aren’t as pretty and quick as they were in the past few seasons. However, they are still wins and this team just keeps winning.

6. Long Beach State (4-3, 3-1 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated UC Santa Barbara and UCLA
The 49ers won the first half its four-match conference homestand and have looked impressive in the process. Jim Baughman in second season after switching from middle attacker to outside attacker is playing like an All-American with a team-high 3.96 kills per game average.

7. UC Santa Barbara (4-3, 2-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Cal State Northridge; lost to Long Beach State
The Gauchos have one player in the MPSF top 10 for kills per game average — and it’s not outside attacker Jeff Menzel. Opposite outside attacker Cullen Irons has a team high and is seventh in the conference with a 3.91 kills per game average. This combination could keep UC Santa Barbara in the top 10 the entire season.

8. Pepperdine (2-3, 0-3 MPSF)
Last week’s results: lost to UC Irvine
I’m breaking one of my rules of putting a team with a losing record in my top 10 ballot. My excuses: two wins against Ohio State, all three loses have gone five games and it is still early in the season. With that said, the Waves need to start winning some conference matches to stay in my ballot.

9. Ohio State (3-2, 1-0 MIVA)
Last week’s results: defeated George Mason and IPFW
If anyone is wondering whether the Buckeyes could go undefeated in the MIVA this season just look at their season-opener against the Mastodons. Ohio State hit .417 in the sweep and outside attacker Shawn Sangrey had a match-high 17 kills.

10. UC Irvine (4-4, 2-2 MPSF)
Last week’s results: defeated Pepperdine; lost to USC
The good news: outside attackers Carson Clark and Cory Yoder both set career highs for kills in the Anteaters’ five-game victory against Pepperdine. The bad news: it took both Clark and Yoder having career nights for the Anteaters to beat the Waves. UC Irvine, though, is improving and will likely continue to climb in my ballot.

On the bubble
Ball State — It had a nice road victory against No. 5 Hawai’i but got manhandled by Penn State. This weekend’s East Coast road trip to George Mason could go a long way to show how good this Ball State team can be this season.

Loyola — Undefeated, but you eventually need to beat a Division I team to get in the top 10.

Lewis — See Loyola.

George Mason — After two down seasons, the Patriots and coach Fred Chao might be poised to have the surprise team of the year.

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