NCAA: Polls, POWs, a coaching change, news, notes, analysis

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Long Beach State libero Andrew Sato is the MPSF player of the week/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

There’s been another men’s coaching change, this one at Belmont Abbey of Conference Carolinas. This also a week in which there are quite a few non-conference matchups that ultimately could have a huge effect on the NCAA field of six, in terms of who gets the two at-large bids.

All the polls follow — men’s Division I-II, men’s Division III and women’s beach — plus some analysis, the POWs, and notes.

Polls

AVCA Division I-II Poll: After a week of few surprises, it’s not surprising that the AVCA poll remains the same for positions 1 through 8. That includes Ohio State, of course, staying No. 1, followed by Long Beach State and BYU. The first movement was at Nos. 9 and 10, where Pepperdine moved up and Loyola moved down. The top 15 teams are still the same, although Grand Canyon continues to get votes.

Click here for the AVCA Division I-II poll

AVCA Division III Poll: The top four spots stayed the same, Springfield (16 votes at 19-1), UC Santa Cruz (the other vote, 10-3), SUNY New Paltz and Stevens.

Then there was some movement, with Vassar going from sixth to No. 5 and Carthage from No. 8 to No. 6. Hunter jumped into the poll, going from unranked to No. 11.

Click here for the full AVCA Division III poll

AVCA Collegiate Beach Poll: The first regular-season poll came out Monday and the top two teams — who played each other in last year’s inaugural NCAA championship — stayed the same with USC No. 1 and Florida State No. 2. Pepperdine is fourth, followed by UCLA and Hawai’i. Two teams moved into the top 15 that weren’t in the preseason poll, Arizona State, tied for 12th with Florida International, and South Carolina at No. 15. There were 11 other teams that received votes.

Click here for the entire AVCA Beach poll

National POWs

AVCA Division I-II POW:  Sacred Heart senior outside hitter Michael Comens. He had 19 kills and hit .395 against Harvard. He also had five digs and a four blocks. It’s the second time a Sacred Heart player has won the award. The other was Bradley Borsay in 2011.

AVCA Division III National POW: Marymount University junior setter Erich Bratke. Bratke averaged 10.44 assists in two victories for the 14th-ranked team. He also had 16 digs and three blocks. He’s first player in his school’s history to receive the honor.

NCAA men’s volleyball

It’s early but it’s late.

Barring some total collapses or remarkable runs, here’s what the NCAA men’s postseason landscape looks like.

There are six spots available in the NCAA Tournament. Four of those six are automatic bids, one each for the MIVA, MPSF, EIVA and Conference Carolinas. While the other three are up for grabs, the MIVA winner will be Ohio State.

What’s more, neither the EIVA nor Conference Carolinas have a team that will get an at-large.

The prevailing thought is that as of right now, Lewis, the second-place team in the MIVA — the league that has won the last three NCAA titles — will get one of those at-large bids. The other will go to one of three MPSF team that does not win that league’s tournament, either Long Beach State, BYU or Hawai’i. The only way any of the other teams get in is by winning the MPSF tournament.

That’s why the trip Lewis is making to Los Angeles this week is so significant. If the Flyers win at UCLA and USC, it would be hard to imagine them not getting an at-large. However, if Lewis loses them both, you would have to think both at-larges would then go to the MPSF.

Meanwhile, Belmont Abbey athletic director Stephen Miss confirmed that he’s made a change in the men’s volleyball program, although there is nothing on the school’s website.

Sean Manzi is out and women’s coach Toni Elyea will take over.

Belmont Abbey is 3-11, 2-8 in the Conference Carolinas and has lost six in a row. Elyea’s women’s team went 19-13 last fall, 12-4 in the league. Manzi is moving to Canada, he told us, to be with his wife.

This is the second men’s coaching change this season. Quincy earlier fired its coach two weeks ago and also replaced him with the women’s coach.

Michael Comens of Sacred Heart is both the AVCA national POW and EIVA POW.
Michael Comens of Sacred Heart is both the AVCA national POW and EIVA POW.

EIVA

Offensive Player of the Week: Sacred Heart senior outside hitter Michael Comens. See AVCA national POW above.

Defensive Player of the Week: Princeton junior middle blocker Junior Oboh. Oboh had seven blocks in two matches. He also had 17 kills and hit .577.

Key matches this week: As teams step out of conference, there’s a chance for the EIVA to make a positive statement. Saint Francis plays host to No. 6 UC Irvine and George Mason goes to California to play No. 2 Long Beach and No. 11 CSUN, while Harvard goes to No. 7 UCLA.

Last week’s key results: Saint Francis took a set off Ohio State, then-No. 15 Penn State beat visiting then-No. 13 UC Santa Barbara and the two teams traded places in this week’s poll, Princeton had to go five to beat Charleston, and Stanford swept Penn State.

Worth noting: There are three teams tied with two leagues losses, Penn State and Princeton at 6-2 and Sacred Heart at 5-2, while NJIT stands at 3-3 in a race that’s clearly wide open once they get back to conference playTaylor Bloomquist of Sacred Heart leads in blocks with 1.15 per set, but Penn State’s Kevin Gear is way ahead of the pack with 82 total, eight solo. Eugene Stuart of Charleston leads with 14 solo … Kendall Ratter of Princeton and Jabarry Goodridge of NJIT top the league with 54 aces apiece … For that matter, Goodridge is having the best statistical year of anyone in the EIVA. He’s third in hitting (.319), leads in kills (4.30, 232) and leads in points (4.93/set).

Click here for the EIVA standings

MIVA

Offensive Player of the Week: Lewis sophomore setter Matt Yoshimoto, Yoshimoto averaged 10.57 assists per set in two victories. He added a career-high eight kills against Lindenwood and two more against Quincy

Defensive Player of the Week: Ball State junior middle blocker Matt Walsh. Walsh had 20 blocks in two wins over Grand Canyon and his 12 — three solo — are the most in a three-set match this season.

Key matches this week: The West Coast swing is huge as No. 5 Lewis goes to No. 7 UCLA on Wednesday and the next night plays at No. 14 USC. Ohio State plays host to UC Irvine and Loyola goes to Long Beach State.

Last week’s key results: Grand Canyon split two matches at Ball State and Lindenwood upset Loyola, all but knocking the Ramblers out of contention both for the league title and at-large NCAA consideration.

Worth noting: Ohio State has won a MIVA-record 41 in a row … Loyola, down a notch to No. 10, has been ranked in 69 consecutive AVCA polls … Lindenwood’s Conner Hipelius leads with 1.48 blocks per set in conference play only … Quincy plays its next five matches out of the league … Ohio State leads the MIVA in hitting percentage (.373), assists (12.59 per set), kills (16.64 per set) and aces (117, 1.83 per set). Ball State leads in total kills with 895, 22 more than Ohio State.

Click here for the MIVA standings

MPSF

Player of the Week: Long Beach State senior libero Andrew Sato. He had 20 digs — 10 in each — in wins over UC Irvine and UC San Diego, which left him with a school-record 893. He also had four assists last week and is the first libero to earn the POW honor in more than two years.

Key matches this week: So many, starting Wednesday with No. 5 Lewis at No. 7 UCLA and the next night with Lewis at No. 14 USC. Stanford makes a two-match trip to Hawai’i, while BYU does the same at Pepperdine. UCI is at Ball State and Ohio State and Long Beach entertains George Mason and Loyola.

Last week’s key results: The big one was Long Beach holding off UCI in four in a battle of No. 2 vs No. 6. Stanford went to Penn State and gave up a set to Lees-McRae before sweeping the home team.

Worth noting: Third-place Hawai’i, picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches poll, has won 26 sets in a row … Stanford leads in digs per match at 9.78 but UCLA and USC are tied for most overall digs at 477 … Long Beach State is the clear leader in blocks with 243 and senior Amir Lugo-Rodriguez leads with 60 overall, six solo, and 1.38 per set … Teammate Bryce Yould leads in hitting percentage, .542, and USC’s Lucas Yoder continues to lead in kills with 4.98 per set, although Arvis Greene of CSUN is the overall leader with 219.

Click here for the MPSF standings

Conference Carolinas

Player of the Week: North Greenville junior middle blocker Matthew McManaway. In a 3-0 week, McManaway had 45 kills and hit .487. He also had 12 blocks, 10 digs and four aces.

Key matches this week: There is only one conference match this week, with Belmont Abbey going to North Greenville on Thursday. All the others are non-conference matches.

Last week’s key results: Lees-McRae took a set off Stanford.

Worth noting: It’s becoming a three-team race with Mount Olive on top at 12-6, 10-1, King right behind at 15-2 and 9-1, and Barton a game back in the loss column at 12-4, 10-2 … More on McManaway, who is averaging 2.92 kills per set on a .340 hitting percentage with 59 total blocks. He ranks second in Conference Carolinas in hitting percentage (.340), total blocks (59) and solo blocks (23), while ranking fifth in blocks per set (.95) and eighth in block assist (36) and kills per set (2.92).

Click here for the ConfCarolinas standings

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