By Dennis Michael Stuart for VolleyballMag.com
A busy week in NCAA men’s volleyball starts Tuesday when top-ranked Ohio State plays host to No. 14 Penn State in another MIVA-EIVA battle in which the Midwesterners have held the upper hand. Also Tuesday, there’s a Conference Carolinas match with Mount Olive going to Belmont Abbey.
The MIVA is off until Wednesday when Cal Baptist goes to No. 9 Pepperdine and No. 11 UC Santa Barbara plays at No. 2 UCLA.
The four leagues — MPSF, ConfCarolinas, MIVA and EIVA — announced their respective players of the week and the AVCA poll came out with no one leaving and very few significant changes.
And there are also a few women’s coaching transactions of note, not the least of which is Loyola Marymount hiring Aaron Mansfield to replace Tom Black.
MIVA: The league honored Gabriel Domecus of Ohio State as its defensive POW and Mitch Perinar of Lewis as the offensive POW.
Domecus had 12 digs and was errorless in 16 serve receptions in a sweep of Saint Francis.
Perinar hit .449 with 4.20 kills per set in the Flyers’ 3-2 wins at Penn State and Saint Francis and his 27 kills against SFU are a league high for this season.
Four MIVA teams remain in AVCA poll, including No. 1 Ohio State (6-0), No. 6 Lewis (5-1), No. 10 Loyola (4-3) and No. 13 Ball State (6-1).
Interestingly, Grand Canyon, at 3-3, went 2-0 in conference play and sits alone atop the MIVA standings after defeating winless Lindenwood in consecutive nights. Things get tougher when Lewis comes to town for back-to-back matches.
After playing Penn State, Ohio State gets Conference Carolinas preseason favorite Barton and No. 4 Long Beach State in St. John Arena, the site of next May’s NCAA Championship.
Also this week, Ball State takes on two EIVA teams, No. 12 George Mason (4-2,) and NJIT (3-2).
Lost in the shuffle on Sunday was Fort Wayne getting off the schnide after starting 0-8. The Mastodons swept Alderson Broaddus in a non-league match.
EIVA: Jack Wilson of No. 12 George Mason is the league’s offensive POW, while teammate Johnny Gomez is the defensive POW.
Wilson had 14 kills in a 3-0 sweep of King and hit .385 and in a five-set loss to No. 10 Loyola, he had a season-high 18 kills and added two service aces.
Gomez averaged 2.6 digs per set. He played in just one set against King and finished with four digs and an assist. In a five-set loss to Loyola, he had a season-high 11 digs and another assist.
Mason (4-2) and Penn State (3-3) are the league’s only ranked teams.
Mason has two matches against MIVA teams in Indiana this week, heading to Ball State on Thursday and Fort Wayne on Friday.
After playing Ohio State, Penn State is home for the CC’s Mount Olive and independent Coker.
NJIT (3-2) follows Mason as it plays at Ball State on Friday and Fort Wayne on Saturday. Last season’s EIVA Co-Player of the Year, Jabarry Goodridge, leads the league at 4.05 kills per set.
Princeton (3-3) travels west to UCLA on Sunday and stays in SoCal for a February 1 match at UC San Diego and a February 3 match at Concordia.
Doug Dzema of Sacred Heart (3-1) boasts an NCAA-best .571 hitting percentage, which won’t change, since his team is off until the Pioneers play Alderson Broaddus on February 2.
MPSF: Nine of the 12 member institutions are in this week’s AVCA poll and USC got votes.
Speaking of USC, junior-college transfer Gianluca Grasso has joined the Trojans.
Grasso was the 2016 All-Pacific Coast Conference co-MVP as he had 241 kills, 145 digs, 40 aces and 34 blocks as a freshman outside hitter at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.
His father, Mauro, and mother, Rejane, both played volleyball on Brazil’s national teams and his brother, Marco, was a setter at Pacific (2013-14) and the last two years at Ohio State, including last year’s title team. His sister, Carol, played indoors and beach at Cal State Bakersfield.
USC (2-5) plays Stanford and Pepperdine this week.
USC currently is 2-5 overall in 2017, with matches this week against No. 8 Stanford on Thursday and No. 9 Pepperdine on Saturday.
The MPSF POW is Kyle Ensing of Long Beach State. The sophomore opposite had 24 kills against Hawai’i and followed it up with 11 more two days later against the Warriors. He hit .455 in the two matches and and had 12 digs and five blocks.
League-leading UCLA (6-1, 4-0) plays three times this week, Wednesday against UCSB (6-1, 3-1), two days later at USCB, and then Sunday when Princeton visits.
BYU is ranked No. 3 and Ben Patch leads the nation with 5.35 kills per set. His team leads the country with 13.58 kills per set. The Cougars (6-2, 2-0) play host to No. 7 UC Irvine (6-2, 3-2) on Friday and Saturday.
No. 8 Stanford (4-2, 1-0) sits in third place in the conference standings and will play three matches in three days. Stanford’s Kevin Rakestraw will look to improve on the nation’s second best hitting percentage of .569 as the Cardinal plays host to USC (2-5, 1-3) on Thursday, Cal Baptist (2-5, 1-3) on Friday and cap the week off with a Saturday trip down the road to No. 9 Pepperdine (2-2, 0-1).
Conference Carolinas: Dylan Lavner of Limestone College is the CC POW.
The senior middle blocker had 14 kills and hit .480 against Barton and also had five blocks and three aces. Lavner ranks fifth in Conference Carolinas with one block per set, while ranking fourth in points per set and ninth in kills per set (2.86).
Among the CC matches this week of note, Barton has the aforementioned trip to Ohio State, where it also plays Saint Francis. Also, King (4-1) and Lees-McRae (2-2) open CC play.
Women’s hires: LMU tabbed Mansfield, an assistant at Santa Clara the past five seasons, to replace Black, who left for Georgia. Mansfield was also the Santa Clara beach coach.
Mansfield was an All-American player at Santa Barbara. Click here for the LMU release.
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