My men’s volleyball media poll ballot
There will not be any type of split national champion in men’s volleyball this season.
Ohio State received every first-place vote to be ranked No. 1 in the final men’s volleyball media poll released Tuesday.
Ohio State defeated UC Santa Barbara in five games in the NCAA championship match to become first MIVA team to win a national title in the 42 years of the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes jumped up six spots to No. 1 from the last media poll that was released at the end of the regular season.
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/Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll
1. Ohio State (10) — 100 points
2. USC — 84 points
3. UC Santa Barbara — 80 points
4. UC Irvine — 66 points
5. BYU — 58 points
6. Stanford — 52 points
7. Long Beach State — 38 points
8. Penn State — 35 points
9. Hawai’i — 18 points
10. UCLA — 9 points
Others Receiving Votes: Loyola, Lewis, Mount Olive
My ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll ballot
1. Ohio State (27-6, 11-1 MIVA)
Postseason results: defeated Lewis, Loyola, Penn State and UC Santa Barbara
It is important that in a sport with an actual playoff that voters honor the on-the-field champion. Ohio State won the NCAA Tournament, had a nation-best 17 match winning streak during the regular season, won a conference championship and defeated several top 10 ranked teams throughout the season. This is first MIVA team to legally win a national championship and deserves the No. 1 spot in the final poll.
2. USC (23-4, 20-2 MPSF)
Postseason results: defeated UCLA and UC Irvine, lost to UC Santa Barbara twice
USC was the most talented team throughout the season. Despite not winning the national championship, the Trojans became the first team since UCLA in 1995 be ranked No. 1 from the preseason to the end of the regular season. In addition, senior outside attacker Murphy Troy was named the National Player of the Year and three Trojans were All-American selections. Coach Bill Ferguson has this program moving in the right direction and it will be back to more Final Fours.
3. Stanford (19-9, 15-7 MPSF)
Postseason results: lost to Long Beach State
Once again a defending national champion was unable to repeat. It has now been 15 years since UCLA became the last team to win back-to-back national championships in 1995 and 1996. The Cardinal season end with an early postseason exit but they likely would have been in the Final Four as the at-large bid if UC Santa Barbara did not go on its historic postseason run.
4. BYU (20-8, 16-6 MPSF)
Postseason results: lost UC Santa Barbara
The early postseason exit does not take anything away from its successful regular season. The Cougars continued to be one of the best teams at home in the nation, going undefeated in the regular season in Provo, Utah, and were among the nation’s leaders in blocks per game average. With All-Americans Futi Tavana and Taylor Sander returning next season this will be one of the early favorites to win the 2012 national title.
5. UC Santa Barbara (18-15, 11-11 MPSF)
Postseason results: defeated BYU, Long Beach State and USC twice, lost to Ohio State
The Gauchos had without a doubt the greatest underdog postseason run in men’s volleyball history and possibly in college sports history. Making its first postseason appearance since 2007, UC Santa Barbara defeated four top-five ranked teams before losing to Ohio State in the national championship match. UC Santa Barbara coach Rick McLaughlin is also a virtual lock to be the 2011 National Coach of the Year. My ballot, though, is based on the entire season and not just the postseason. Thus, it is the No. 5 ranking on my ballot.
6. UC Irvine (19-12, 14-8 MPSF)
Postseason results: defeated Hawai’i, lost to USC
After being .500 for the first six-weeks of the season, the Anteaters went 12-3 in the final two months of the regular season and finished in the top four of the MPSF. In addition, junior outside attacker Carson Clark finished the season in the nation’s top five for kills per game average and is youngest player on the initial roster for the U.S. National Men’s Volleyball Team. With Clark returning for his senior season and freshman outside attacker Jeremy Dejno continuing to develop, this team could be one of the best offensive teams next season.
7. Penn State (24-8, 10-0 EIVA)
Postseason results: defeated Rutgers-Newark and Springfield, lost Ohio State
In what was considered a rebuilding year, Penn State was ranked in the top 10, went undefeated in conference play for the third consecutive season, won its 13th straight EIVA championship, had three All-Americans and reached the Final Four. You know you’re an elite program when that is considered a rebuilding year. If you are a Penn State fan start looking at airplane tickets costs for the 2012 Final Four in Los Angeles.
8. Hawai’i (15-13, 13-9 MPSF)
Postseason results: lost to UC Irvine
It’s hard to believe that outside attacker Jonas Umlauft is only a sophomore. Umlauft, a First-Team All-American, was the only player in the nation to average more than five kills per game. Warrior fans enjoy two more years of Umlauft because he will likely be leading Hawai’i to a Final Four appearance in 2012 or 2013.
9. Long Beach State (15-14, 12-10 MPSF)
Postseason results: defeated Stanford, lost to UC Santa Barbara
If only Long Beach State could play every match against Stanford. The 49ers went 3-0 against the Cardinal, including an upset victory in the MPSF quarterfinals to end Stanford’s season. Long Beach State by making the postseason and pulling the first-round upset officially exorcised the demon of its 2010 late-season collapse that resulted in it missing the postseason.
10. Mount Olive (20-7, 7-1 Conference Carolinas)
Postseason results: defeated King
Mount Olive won its second consecutive Conference Carolinas title, but no, this is not one of the top 10 teams in the nation. This a symbolic ranking to recognize the growth of men’s volleyball outside the West Coast and the emerging new league of the Conference Carolinas. The second-year conference had teams win non-conference matches against the MIVA and will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2014.