February 3rd, 2016
This is a week for those teams just outside of the top-10 and the top-15 to be able to make some movement and shake up the rankings. The poll didn’t see much movement this week as top teams won or split matchups this week with only UC Irvine dropping out of the top-10 after their 3rd and 4th straight defeats. However, they remain within striking distance of the top-10 as they face two unranked opponents this week. On the other hand though, two more losses and they will have a hard time staying in the poll and open up room for three teams looking determined to bust into the rankings.
There are three teams, Grand Canyon, USC, and Pfeiffer, that also received votes this week but didn’t crack the rankings and the schedule this week can give way to a major shakeup. Grand Canyon recovered from their two losses to Hawaii by splitting with Lewis over the weekend, at Lewis I might add. USC took a hard loss to Stanford, who played statistically very well in their two wins last week. Pfeiffer put an end to Belmont Abbey’s winning streak by managing the Player of the Week Nolan Albrecht as much as that was possible in order to improve to 5-0 on the season. All three of these teams have a chance this weekend to make a move as Grand Canyon will host NJIT for two matches, USC will travel to No.11 UCI and UCSD, and Pfeiffer will travel to EIVA teams George Mason and No.15 St. Francis. All of these are winnable games and a 2-0 weekend for any of these teams will look good as the teams in the lower part of the rankings have a tough road this weekend.
No.10 UCSB travels to Provo to play No.3 BYU twice this weekend. Provo is not an easy place to win at and BYU is hot now with two sweeps of UCI last weekend. No. 11 UCI hosts Cal Baptist and USC, two teams that they could easily lose to or that could easily help them find their groove and get back on track. No.12 CSUN hosts No.9 Pepperdine and No.6 Stanford, and they already find themselves on a two-match losing streak. No. 14 Ball State will travel to play No. 7 Ohio State after playing McKendree two days earlier.
So the three games that you could have big impact on the rankings are Ball St vs McKendree, USC vs UCI, and St Francis vs Pfeiffer. Let’s look at how the VMRI models the USC vs UCI game.
This is a close matchup but the favor has to go to UCI based off of the home court advantage and their clear fundamental advantage. This is a big game for USC to prove that they belong in the discussion of the best in the nation. Next week’s rankings can be quite interesting, we have a great weekend of volleyball ahead of us.