Cougars Picked to Finish 5th in MPSF

WOODLAND -- With six teams picking up first-place votes, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation released the men’s volleyball preseason coaches’ poll Wednesday. BYU was picked to finish fifth with 85 points and two first-place votes.

“We have a very competitive team this year and we are going to have the opportunity to do very well,” Neilson said. “We will be an exciting team for our fans to watch and we will represent BYU well. Our goal is to develop the belief, habits and skills that allow us to compete for and win a national championship.”

2010 MPSF semifinalist BYU checked in at No. 5 with 85 points and two first-place picks, as All-American blocker Futi Tavana returns with All-MPSF selections Robb Stowell and Russell Lavaja. Newcomers will provide depth to the already-experienced squad.

UC Irvine and USC each picked up 100 points and three first-place votes in topping the 2011 MPSF Men’s Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The 2009 national champion Anteaters are coming off an eighth-place MPSF finish from last year, returning All-American hitters Carson Clark and Jordan DuFault, as well as middle blocker Austin D’Amore.

The Trojans placed sixth in the regular season last year, and bring back most of their team who also played in the NCAA Tournament two season ago. Back are All-American hitters Murphy Troy and Tony Ciarelli, setter Riley McKibbin, and middle blocker Austin Zahn. Both UCI and USC were MPSF quarterfinalists in 2010.

Stanford came in third in the poll for the second-straight year, collecting 96 points and a pair of first-place votes. The defending conference and national champions return MPSF Player of the Year and All-American Brad Lawson, All-American libero Erik Shoji, as well as four-year starting hitter Spencer McLachlin.

Pepperdine placed fourth with 90 points and one top vote, guided by All-American setter Kasey Crider and hitters Cory Riecks and Maurice Torres.

2010 MPSF Freshman of the Year Jonas Umlauft returns for Hawaii, along with hitter Josh Walker and setter Nejc Zemljak, as the Warriors rounded out the top half of the coaches’ poll with 83 points.

UCLA placed seventh with a first-place vote, 10 point ahead of eighth-place finisher UC Santa Barbara, each projected to reach the postseason. Long Beach State, 2010 NCAA Semifinalist Cal State Northridge, Pacific and UC San Diego completed this year’s coaches’ poll.

The 2011 season gets underway on Wednesday, January 5, while the first night of MPSF competition is one week later on January 12. The Cougars will first travel to the Santa Barbara Tournament Jan. 7-8, starting conference play Jan. 14-15 at Stanford.


Rank Team Points (1st) 2010 Record (Overall;MPSF) 2010 MPSF Finish

1T UC Irvine 100 (3) 15-15; 10-12 #8 (MPSF Quarterfinal)

1T USC 100 (3) 16-11; 13-9 #6 (MPSF Quarterfinal)

3 Stanford 96 (2) 24-6; 16-6 #1 (MPSF/NCAA Champion)

4 Pepperdine 90 (1) 16-10; 14-8 #4 (MPSF Quarterfinal)

5 BYU 85 (2) 22-9; 15-7 #2 (MPSF Semifinal)

6 Hawaii 83 19-10; 14-8 #4 (MPSF Semifinal)

7 UCLA 68 (1) 16-14; 11-11 #7 (MPSF Semifinal)

8 UC Santa Barbara 58 13-16; 9-13 #9

9 Long Beach State 43 12-17; 8-14 #10

10 CS Northridge 35 23-10; 15-7 #2 (MPSF Final/NCAA Semi)

11 Pacific 18 9-21; 1-21 #12

12 UC San Diego 16 11-19; 6-16 #11