The first week of action always has arguably the most impact on any of the polls. That’s because at VolleyMob we heavily value resume to pair with the eye test. Knowing that the preseason rankings are mostly based on hype and returning players as opposed to actual on-the-court action, a strong or bad performance in week one can heavily offset preseason perception.
Knowing all that, we have a new number one team who played both a multitude of matches with a few strong victories coming in the opening week of play.
1. LONG BEACH STATE 49ERS
- 4-0 (0-0, Big West)
- Last Week: #2; Def. McKendree (3-0), #15 Princeton (3-0), NJIT (3-1), (RV) Saint Francis (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: at Lewis, at Loyola-Chicago
- The new number one team climbs up to the top spot with both quantity and quality of wins. They not just earned four, but two over solid competition in Princeton and most notably Saint Francis – who besides the loss to LBSU had a big-time week in jumping the rankings.
2. UC IRVINE ANTEATERS
- 2-0 (0-0, Big West)
- Last Week: #8; Def. #5 Lewis (3-0), #12 Loyola Chicago (3-1)
- Upcoming Week: at UCLA, vs. USC, at Pepperdine
- No one saw a more meaningful jump in the first real poll than UC Irvine, who at the moment actually has the best early resume in all of college men’s volleyball. Not only that, but their big win over Lewis was a sweep while they downed an impressive Loyola-Chicago bunch to pair. The schedule ramps up even more this week, but early on it looks like we could be on a major collision course in the Big West.
3. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
- 1-0 (0-0, MIVA)
- Last Week: #1; Def. North Greenville (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. Stanford, vs. BYU
- Ohio State drops down to number two with Long Beach State posting a stronger opening weekend. As pre-explained, with the preseason poll more about expectations, this week heavily factors in what happened in week one since it’s the only true data point we have so far. Still though, we know the Buckeyes are really good even though they weren’t tested so they remain near the top.
4. UCLA BRUINS
- 3-0 (0-0, MPSF)
- Last Week: #4; Def. NJIT (3-0), (RV) King (3-0), McKendree (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. UC Irvine, vs. UC Santa Barbara
- Nine sets played, nine sets won for UCLA thus far in 2018. None of their opponents stick out as being juggernauts, but the fact that they’ve dominated lesser competition is a good thing. They’ll get their first test this week with a pair of fellow southern California teams who are ranked.
5. LOYOLA CHICAGO RAMBLERS
- 1-1 (0-0, MIVA)
- Last Week: #12; Def. at #3 BYU (3-2); Lost vs. #8 UC Irvine (1-3)
- Upcoming Week: vs. George Mason, vs. Long Beach State
- Loyola Chicago was another team that made big moves in the opening real rankings, as they got one of the best early wins of the year by going into Provo and coming out victorious. They did fall to UC Irvine, but considering how high the Anteaters are ranked, the resume early on for the Ramblers looks very good. Two more tough matches come this week as they look to unseat the top dog.
6. BYU COUGARS
- 1-1 (0-0, MPSF)
- Last Week: #3; Lost vs. #12 Loyola Chicago (2-3); Def. #5 Lewis (3-1)
- Upcoming Week: at Ball State, at Ohio State
- It wasn’t quite the opener that BYU had hoped for, as they were upended in five. They redeemed themselves in the next match against Lewis though as they don’t fall too far in the rankings. Speaking of redemption, they get a chance for some more this week at Ohio State in a rematch of last year’s National Championship that the Buckeyes won.
7. HAWAII RAINBOW WARRIORS
- 3-0 (0-0, Big West)
- Last Week: #7; Def. Stevens Institute of Tech. (3-0), Juniata (3-0), #14 USC (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. Lincoln Memorial, vs. Barton, vs. Grand Canyon
- Hawaii dominated their competition in the opening weekend, winning all sets of action. They tacked on a ranked win vs. USC as well. They still won’t have played a team near the top of the rankings after this week, but they’ll have two more capable teams on the ledger.
8. CSUN MATADORS
- 3-0 (0-0, Big West)
- Last Week: #13; Def. (RV) Saint Francis (3-1), NJIT (3-0), #15 Princeton (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. UC Merced
- CSUN has plenty of depth and talent back this season and skipped no beat early on in the year by winning nine of 10 sets they appeared in. Most impressively was the wins over Saint Francis, who knocked off a few other ranked teams for the week, and Princeton who has a good amount of contributors back as well.
9. LEWIS FLYERS
- 0-2 (0-0, MIVA)
- Last Week: #5; Lost vs. #8 UC Irvine (0-3), at #3 BYU (1-3)
- Upcoming Week: vs. Long Beach State, vs. George Mason
- Lewis had a tough opening weekend in losing two matches in Provo, Utah. They have lots of talent throughout the roster to go with some experience though, so they should work things out. That won’t be easy this week though with two ranked opponents, notably Long Beach State coming to town.
10. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
- 0-0 (0-0, EIVA)
- Last Week: #9; None
- Upcoming Week: vs. Mount Olive, Alderson-Broaddus
- The Nittany Lions were one of a few who didn’t play in the opening week, so it’s hard to judge where to rank them. They get going this week with a solid Mount Olive squad, but should be able to handle both matches.
11. PEPPERDINE WAVES
- 1-0 (0-0, MPSF)
- Last Week: #10; Def. Cal Lutheran (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. UC Irvine
- The Waves had a one-match week, as they have this and next week. They didn’t get to show a ton considering the competition, but they didn’t show many negatives either with a dominating sweep. They’ll have a true test now with an upstart UC Irvine bunch in a former MPSF match.
12. BALL STATE CARDINALS
- 2-0 (0-0, MIVA)
- Last Week: #11; Def. Lees-McRae (3-0), Emmanuel College (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. BYU, vs. Stanford
- Ball State impressed in the opening week, winning all six sets of play. They slide a spot just because Loyola Chicago had such big wins so they jumped ahead, but Ball State will get their chance at upending BYU like the Ramblers did this week.
13. USC TROJANS
- 3-1 (0-0, MPSF)
- Last Week: #14; Def. #15 Princeton (3-1), Juniata (3-0), Stevens Tech (3-1); Lost vs. #7 Hawaii (0-3)
- Upcoming Week: at UC Irvine, vs. UC Santa Barbara
- USC would have made a huge jump in the rankings had they upended Hawaii on the road, but still with the loss they slide up one spot in the rankings. That’s because they got three other wins, headlined by Princeton. The schedule really ramps up now for USC, with their next 11 matches against teams currently in the VolleyMob Top 20.
14. GRAND CANYON LOPES
- 3-0 (0-0, MPSF)
- Last Week: #16; Def. at #19 Barton (3-1), at #17 George Mason (3-2), at George Mason (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. North Greenville, vs. Limestone College, vs. Hawaii
- The Lopes earned a trio of top 20 wins over the week, each more impressive than the last as they capped it off with a sweep of George Mason. They face two easier opponents to start this week but then a more difficult one with Hawaii on the horizon.
15. SAINT FRANCIS RED FLASH
- 2-2 (0-0, EIVA)
- Last Week: RV; Def. #6 Stanford (3-1), at #18 UCSB (3-1); Lost vs. #11 CSUN (1-3), vs. #2 LBSU (0-3)
- Upcoming Week: vs. Alderson Broaddus, Mount Olive
- Saint Francis did suffer two losses, but they also burst onto the scene with their two wins. All four of the matches came against VolleyMob Top 20 foes, making that 2-2 record pretty impressive. Penn State is currently ranked higher, but Saint Francis may indeed be the team to beat in the EIVA.
16. UC SANTA BARBARA GAUCHOS
- 2-1 (0-0, Big West)
- Last Week: #18; Def. NJIT (3-1), #6 Stanford (3-0); Lost vs. (RV) Saint Francis (0-3)
- Upcoming Week: at UCLA, at USC
- UC Santa Barbara was one of three teams to pick up a win over a top-10 Stanford bunch. That waters it down a bit, but the Cardinal are still a top 20 team. They did get swept by Saint Francis so stay a spot behind, but the Gauchos continue the trend of strong teams in the new Big West.
17. PRINCETON TIGERS
- 1-3 (0-0, EIVA)
- Last Week: #17; Lost at #14 USC (1-3), vs. #2 LBSU (0-3), vs. #13 CSUN (0-3); Def. #6 Stanford (3-2)
- Upcoming Week: vs. IPFW
- Princeton had a loaded first week and didn’t see a ton of success, but going 1-3 against four ranked teams isn’t the worst thing in the world. They can try snag a win this week though as then they’ll have almost three weeks between matches to work on some things and hopefully get star middle blocker Junior Oboh healthy.
18. STANFORD CARDINAL
- 0-3 (0-0, MPSF)
- Last Week: #6; Lost vs. (RV) Saint Francis (1-3), vs. #15 Princeton (2-3), at #18 UCSB (0-3)
- Upcoming Week: at Ohio State, at Ball State
- Stanford came into 2018 with huge expectations amid plenty of returning talent and firepower. However, things got started off on the wrong foot with three straight losses. All were to teams now ranked, but the troubles will only get tougher this week with road meetings at Ohio State and Ball State.
19. UC SAN DIEGO TRITONS
- 2-0 (0-0, Big West)
- Last Week: #20; Def. McKendree (3-2), (RV) King (3-1)
- Upcoming Week: vs. UC Merced
- UC San Diego’s biggest boon of the week was that they may have had a star emerge in Tanner Syftestad. A win over (RV) King keeps them in the top 20 too, with a winnable match against UC Merced coming in a one-match week.
20. GEORGE MASON PATRIOTS
- 1-2 (0-0, EIVA)
- Last Week: #17; Def. Limestone College (3-0); Lost vs. #16 Grand Canyon (2-3), vs. #16 Grand Canyon (0-3)
- Upcoming Week: at Loyola Chicago, at Lewis
- George Mason couldn’t overcome Grand Canyon in both tries, although they came close in the first go around. If they can find a way to earn a split this week that would be a success considering the competition.
On the Cusp/’Receiving Votes’:
Note: * indicates ranked last week; (#) is what they were ranked
Barton (0-1)* (19)
Sacred Heart (0-0)
Concordia University Irvine (0-0)
King University (1-2)
Mount Olive (0-0)
Preseason (Week 1)