The 2018 Men’s Volleyball season is less than a week away, so it’s time to unveil the inaugural VolleyMob Men’s Power Rankings. Over the course of the season this set of data will go 20 deep and take into account a heavy portion of resume to go with eye test, statistics, etc.
We begin our journey into the preseason rankings with teams ranked 16th to 20th in the opening rendition. Teams ranked 11th to 15th will be released tomorrow with the top 10 coming out over the weekend. Let’s get started with number 16:
16. GRAND CANYON LOPES
- 2017: MIVA Tourn. Runner-Up, #13 in final Coaches Poll, 19-11 (11-5 MIVA, 3rd)
- Returning Letterwinners/Starters (at least half of matches): 11/3* + Libero
- Incoming Freshmen (AVCA All-Americans)/Redshirts/Transfers: 6 (0)/3/2
- Key Losses: MB Drake Silbernagel (2017 MIVA Second Team), S Michael Milstein (2017 MIVA HM)
- Key Returners: OH Cullen Mosher (2017 MIVA Second Team), L Sky Engleman (2017 MIVA HM)
- Top Newcomers: MB Jerod Alleman (transfer from Arizona State), MB Alex Schmelev (transfer from Utah Valley)
- Other Notes: Grand Canyon is moving into the MPSF this season
- Bottom Line: Coming off its winningest season in school history and first time ranked in the AVCA poll, Grand Canyon could be even better in 2018. They have nine seniors on the roster and should be strong in serve receive. They also technically have a fourth starter plus the libero back if you combine four others returning who combined for 27 starts. The reason that they start on the outskirts of the top 15 though is because of two big losses, ,mainly Silbernagel. If the two transfers can make a strong impact, Grand Canyon should be better than this ranking, but until that question is answered we rank them at 16.
17. GEORGE MASON PATRIOTS
- 2017: No postseason, NR in final Coaches Poll, 13-14 (6-8 EIVA, T-6th)
- Returning Letterwinners/Starters (at least half of matches): 13/4* + Libero
- Incoming Freshmen (AVCA All-Americans)/Redshirts/Transfers: 2 (0)/3/1
- Key Losses: RS Jack Wilson (2017 EIVA First Team), OH Radoslav Popov (All-EIVA in 2014 and 2015)
- Key Returners: L Johnny Gomez (2017 AVCA All-America HM), S/RS Brian Negron (2015 EIVA First Team)
- Top Newcomers: OH Travis O’Gorman (transfer from Long Beach City College)
- Other Notes: OH Christian Malias returns after redshirting last season with injury
- Bottom Line: George Mason won their first conference title in 25 years in 2016, but couldn’t defend the crown last year in a season filled with injuries. On the bright side, the Patriots had plenty of freshman get playing time. That should help this season when they return four starters plus the libero, although they basically have a fifth starter with the return of Bryce Gatling, who started 12 matches in 2017. The loss of Wilson will sting though and the Patriots will have to find an identity of top options on offense. If they can do that then they could easily rise the ranks.
18. UC SANTA BARBARA GAUCHOS
- 2017: No postseason, NR in final Coaches Poll, 10-16 (5-13 MPSF, 10th)
- Returning Letterwinners/Starters (at least half of matches): 13/5
- Incoming Freshmen (AVCA All-Americans)/Redshirts/Transfers: Unknown
- Key Losses: OH Jacob Delson (2017 MPSF HM)
- Key Returners: MB Keenan Sanders (2017 MPSF Freshman Team)
- Top Newcomers: N/A
- Other Notes: UCSB joins the Big West in 2018
- Bottom Line: UCSB is a rare team that doesn’t have its 2018 roster up, so some of those numbers are assumptions based on last year’s roster transitioning to this season while no post on the team’s page has indicated newcomers. From what we know though they have five starters back and plenty of returning faces. They do lose their top attacker, but should be better all around just from that in a competitive Big West. How high of a ceiling they have might depend on Sanders, who will be looking to make a big jump in his second season.
19. BARTON COLLEGE BULLDOGS
- 2017: NCAA Tournament, NR in final Coaches Poll, 23-6 (16-2 Conf. Carolinas, 1st)
- Returning Letterwinners/Starters (at least half of matches): 9/5
- Incoming Freshmen (AVCA All-Americans)/Redshirts/Transfers: 1 (0)/2/0
- Key Losses: S Federico Pagliara (2017 Conference Carolinas First Team)
- Key Returners: OH Vasilis Mandilaris (2017 AVCA All-America HM), OH Aleksa Brkovic (2017 Conference Carolinas First Team), RS Aggelos Mandilaris (2017 Conference Carolinas First Team, CC Freshman of the Year), MB Justice Lord (2017 Conference Carolinas Third Team)
- Top Newcomers: None with National recognition
- Other Notes: S Oscar Fiorentino comes off a redshirt year after transferring from Park University.
- Bottom Line: Barton is one of the more intriguing teams out there because they aren’t getting any love from the coaches poll since they play in an easier conference and have an easier schedule compared to teams in other leagues. However, they are the favorite once again in the Conference Carolinas, which would put them as a threat since they’d earn an NCAA Tournament bid. They also have five starters back with all kinds of firepower at the front. If they can replace the libero and setter position seamlessly, this team’s experience losing to BYU in the first round last year could fuel an even better season in 2018 on the backs of the Mandilaris brothers.
20. UC SAN DIEGO TRITONS
- 2017: No postseason, NR in final Coaches Poll, 7-20 (3-15 MPSF, 11th)
- Returning Letterwinners/Starters (at least half of matches): 11/4 + Libero
- Incoming Freshmen (AVCA All-Americans)/Redshirts/Transfers: 10 (0)/2/0
- Key Losses: None with National/Conference award recognition
- Key Returners: RS Tanner Syftestad (2017 MPSF Second-Team)
- Top Newcomers: None with National recognition
- Other Notes: UC San Diego joins the Big West for 2018
- Bottom Line: 25 seasons in the MPSF are done for UC San Diego as 13 year head coach Kevin Ring will lead the way into the Big West. The six-member conference will be extremely difficult to pair with UC San Diego’s difficult non-conference slate, but they will look to find a spark from last year when they won five straight matches. They’ll mix plenty of returners who will be looking for improvement with a big recruiting class as they hope the blend leads to results.