In the final week of the regular season for some and the penultimate one for others, many league races in the regular season were decided. The picture is becoming more clear as to who will make the NCAA Tournament, but still some teams can make for a late change with two monumental weeks ahead prior to the big dance.
One constant all season long though has been the only undefeated team left in Long Beach State, who looks to finish off a historic regular season this week:
1. LONG BEACH STATE 49ERS
- 23-0 (8-0, Big West)
- Last Week: #1; Def. at UC San Diego (3-0), vs. UC San Diego (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: at #5 Hawaii, at #5 Hawaii
- LBSU is now just two matches away from a perfect regular season, but a big hurdle stands in their way in Hawaii twice – where it could be easy to enjoy the surroundings while already sitting on the Big West title and get upended.
2. BYU COUGARS
- 20-6 (10-2, MPSF)
- Last Week: #2; Def. at #7 Pepperdine (3-0); Lost at #3 UCLA (0-3)
- Upcoming Week: None
- BYU took care of a good Pepperdine team on the road to clinch the MPSF. After that though, whether it was a metaphorical hangover from doing so or just getting straight up beat by UCLA, they didn’t have the finish they wanted. The reason they stay ahead of the Bruins though is because it’d be easy to understand the emotional difference in a match that didn’t affect them, and they won the MPSF over UCLA while sweeping them in Provo earlier.
3. UCLA BRUINS
- 22-6 (9-3, MPSF)
- Last Week: #3; Def. (RV) Stanford (3-1), #2 BYU (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: MPSF Quarterfinals (vs. Stanford)
- The Bruins earned a huge victory over BYU to add to their lengthy resume and potentially secure an at-large bid should they win their first (or maybe first two) MPSF Tournament matches. The reason they don’t hop the Cougars though is because BYU still won the MPSF over them and BYU swept UCLA back in Provo.
4. UC IRVINE ANTEATERS
- 19-7 (5-3, Big West)
- Last Week: #4; Def. #8 CSUN (3-2), at #8 CSUN (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: at #12 UCSB, vs. #12 UCSB
- UC Irvine finally earned some separation for themselves ahead of a big pack in the Big West while simultaneously getting a pair of top 10 wins with other at-large contenders losing this week. Put simply, it was a good week for the Anteaters.
5. HAWAII RAINBOW WARRIORS
- 17-6 (5-3, Big West)
- Last Week: #9; Def. at #11 UCSB (3-0), at #11 UCSB (3-1)
- Upcoming Week: vs. #1 LBSU, vs. #1 LBSU
- With three teams in front of them losing and their first two road wins of the season, Hawaii jumps back into the top five. They’ve still got some ground to make up in the NCAA Tournament ‘at-large’ department, but being the first to knock of LBSU could do wonders for their resume this week.
6. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
- 20-5 (11-3, MIVA)
- Last Week: #5; Def. at #13 Fort Wayne (3-0); Lost at #12 Ball State (2-3)
- Upcoming Week: MIVA Quarterfinals (vs. Quincy)
- Two weeks ago Ohio State was a match back of Loyola Chicago, yet here they sit two weeks later as not just the MIVA regular season champions, but the #1 seed. They did fall at Ball State, emphasizing their need to win the MIVA to make the NCAA Tournament, but now as the #1 they would avoid Ball State in the semis.
7. LOYOLA CHICAGO RAMBLERS
- 21-6 (11-3, MIVA)
- Last Week: #6; Lost at Lindenwood (1-3); Def. Quincy (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: MIVA Quarterfinals (vs. Lindenwood)
- Loyola Chicago has to feel even worse about their loss at Lindenwood with Ohio State losing to where they would have won the MIVA outright, but now they get a chance for a bit of revenge over Lindenwood on Saturday.
8. PEPPERDINE WAVES
- 15-7 (8-4, MPSF)
- Last Week: #7; Lost vs. #2 BYU (0-3); Def. (RV) Stanford (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: MPSF Quarterfinals (vs. #20 USC)
- With UCLA winning out and Pepperdine falling to BYU, the Waves finish the regular season as the #3 seed, meaning they will play in the quarterfinal round. At the very least they have to win that and down UCLA in the semifinals to strengthen their at-large chances, but more likely than not they will need to win the tournament.
9. LEWIS FLYERS
- 18-10 (9-5, MIVA)
- Last Week: #10; Def. at Quincy (3-0), at Lindenwood (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: MIVA Quarterfinals (vs. #13 Fort Wayne)
- Lewis looked strong to close out the regular season, as now they have the task of taking down a top 15 opponent to move on to what will likely be the rubber match with Ohio State.
10. BALL STATE CARDINALS
- 17-11 (10-4, MIVA)
- Last Week: #12; Def. vs. #17 McKendree (3-0), vs. #5 Ohio State (3-2)
- Upcoming Week: MIVA Quarterfinals (vs. #19 McKendree)
- Ball State had a rough go in the non-conference early, but really got things rolling in the middle of the season. Now they end the year with a huge victory over Ohio State to get the #3 seed as they’ve downed both of the co-league champs.
11. CSUN MATADORS
- 13-10 (3-5, Big West)
- Last Week: #8; Lost at #4 UC Irvine (2-3), vs. #4 UC Irvine (0-3)
- Upcoming Week: vs. UC San Diego, at UC San Diego
- The Matadors missed a big opportunity to solidify their at-large case with a win over UC Irvine, but they fell just short in five sets despite a remarkable 40 kills from Arvis Greene. Now their hopes rest on a run in the Big West Tournament, so they’ll look to roll into it with strong play this week.
12. UC SANTA BARBARA GAUCHOS
- 10-11 (3-5, Big West)
- Last Week: #11; Lost vs. #9 Hawaii (0-3), vs #9 Hawaii (1-3)
- Upcoming Week: vs. #4 UC Irvine, at #4 UC Irvine
- UCSB has now lost six of seven at the wrong time of the season and it doesn’t look too hopeful to end this week with UC Irvine on the ledger. Still, if they can re-kindle some of the magic that had them downing BYU and Pepperdine earlier this season they could be a disruptive force come the Big West Tournament.
13. FORT WAYNE MASTODONS
- 18-10 (6-8, MIVA)
- Last Week: #13; Lost vs. #5 Ohio State (0-3); Def. #17 McKendree (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: MIVA Quarterfinals (at #9 Lewis)
- Fort Wayne had a fantastic regular season in getting this ranking and record after they weren’t ranked through the first couple weeks of the season. They’ll look to add to it with a postseason win at Lewis this week.
14. CONCORDIA IRVINE EAGLES
- 15-14 (5-7, MPSF)
- Last Week: #14; Def. at UC Santa Cruz (3-0), vs. #19 USC (3-1)
- Upcoming Week: MPSF Quarterfinals (vs. #15 Grand Canyon)
- The Eagles finished out the regular season strong to earn the #4 seed in the MPSF Tournament, allowing them to host on Saturday. Their opponent will be Grand Canyon right in the middle of the league standings as they look for a Cinderella run through the postseason.
15. GRAND CANYON LOPES
- 18-10 (4-8, MPSF)
- Last Week: #15; Def. Benedictine (3-0), #19 USC (3-1)
- Upcoming Week: MPSF Quarterfinals (at #14 Concordia Irvine)
- Grand Canyon’s MPSF slate has not gone as hoped, as now they are in a competitive race for the final half of the league. They can still earn a bit of redemption against USC, which comes at home where they’ve been better at 8-4.
16. GEORGE MASON PATRIOTS
- 15-11 (11-1, EIVA)
- Last Week: #16; Def. Saint Francis (3-0); Lost vs. #18 Penn State (2-3)
- Upcoming Week: vs. (RV) Harvard, vs. (RV) Harvard
- George Mason’s victory over Saint Francis means that one win over Harvard this week will lock up the EIVA title (outright as well). However, their loss to Penn State not only ends their undefeated streak but means two losses to Harvard will keep them from even a share of the EIVA regular season crown.
17. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
- 14-9 (9-3, EIVA)
- Last Week: #18; Def. at Charleston (3-0), at #16 George Mason (3-2)
- Upcoming Week: vs. (RV) Princeton, vs. NJIT
- There’s no way that Penn State can earn a share of the EIVA title anymore, but they still can finish in second if George Mason can take care of Harvard. Most importantly though they showed someone from the EIVA can take down the Patriots, as the Nittany Lions will have plenty of confidence come EIVA Tournament time.
18. KING TORNADO
- 19-5 (15-1, Conf. Carolinas)
- Last Week: UR; Def. at Limestone (3-0), (RV) Barton (3-1), Mount Olive (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. Lincoln Memorial
- King jumps into the rankings after downing Barton to earn a split in the Conference Carolinas regular season championship. They also earned the one seed as the tiebreaker in the league is sets won/lost in conference play. Their non-league win over McKendree though plays into this ranking as well as they move to #18.
19. MCKENDREE BEARCATS
- 11-14 (6-8, MIVA)
- Last Week: #17; Lost at #12 Ball State (0-3), at #13 Fort Wayne (0-3)
- Upcoming Week: MIVA Quarterfinals (at #10 Ball State)
- McKendree didn’t finish the way they wanted to, not just losing twice but being swept in both. They could more than make up for it with a road upset of Ball State in the #3 vs. #6 matchup in the MIVA Tournament though.
20. USC TROJANS
- 7-19 (3-9, MPSF)
- Last Week: #19; Lost at #15 Grand Canyon (1-3), at #14 Concordia Irvine (1-3)
- Upcoming Week: MPSF Quarterfinals (at #8 Pepperdine)
- USC followed its upset of UCLA with two road losses, but again even in defeat they were competitive. They could really put a strong finish on the season with even one upset in the MPSF Quarterfinals over Pepperdine as they look for a launching pad into 2019.
On the Cusp/’Receiving Votes’:
Note: * indicates ranked last week; (#) is what they were ranked
Harvard (11-11, 10-2 EIVA)
Princeton (10-14, 6-6 EIVA)
Barton (19-7, 15-1 Conf. Carolinas)