It’s time for the gloves to come off as the top five teams claw their way toward the championship. Stanford continues to reign supreme (some of us aren’t surprised) while the next four spots get reshuffled like a deck of cards. The full AVCA poll is here.
Let’s deal with these top five teams in turn (sorry, teams 6 thru 15):
After being upset by No. 4 Cal State Northridge on Friday, the Cardinal rebounded to defeat No. 11 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday to regain sole possession of the top spot in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF).
Stanford, who hit a season-low .240 in their loss against Northridge, were temporarily tied with Pepperdine until Stanford’s win on Saturday and Pepperdine’s loss to UC Irvine (more on that shortly).
Both No. 3 Pepperdine and No. 6 USC travel to Stanford this weekend for the Cardinal’s last home matches of the regular season.
The Cougar’s undefeated weekend earned them the No. 2 spot this week, and it even got them 3 first place votes. BYU took down No. 8 Long Beach State on both Thursday and Friday nights. This marks the fourth weekend in a row that the Cougars have gone undefeated, a fact that pleases their coach.
“This weekend was huge for our program to win two on the road in April,” said BYU head coach Shawn Patchell. “The team played extremely well tonight against a skilled Long Beach team.”
Pepperdine’s only match this week was against No. 10 UC Irvine, a match that the Waves dropped in a gut-wrenching fifth game with a final score of 17-19. The first game was a blowout, with the Waves dominating the Anteaters and winning 30-19. They dropped the next two games before taking the fourth and forcing a fifth game.
The Waves have only gone to fives games four times this season and they’ve won every time, but unfortunately not this weekend. They drop from their long-time No. 2 spot to No. 3, and they face a tough battle at Stanford on Friday.
Cal State Northridge
The Matadors more than earned their No. 4 ranking this week by dealing No. 1 Stanford their first loss in the last nine matches. Northridge capped their undefeated weekend with an easy 3-game sweep of Pacific on Saturday, keeping them well within striking distance in the MPSF.
Taking down No. 14 UC San Diego with ease wasn’t enough for Hawaii to keep their No. 4 ranking after Northridge’s defeat of Stanford. Nevertheless they stayed in the top five and have clinched a spot in the MPSF playoffs. The trip to the post-season ends a 2-year playoff drought for the Warriors, who have their alumni match this coming weekend.
Stanford and Pepperdine play this Friday (April 9), which I must say I’m looking forward to. BYU hosts Cal Baptist this weekend and Cal State Northridge on April 16th and 17th. This weekend we’ll see Northridge face UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday followed by No. 9 Penn State on Saturday.
What will next week’s rankings bring? We’ll have to wait and find out!