Waves Predicted to Place Eighth in MPSF Preseason Coaches' Poll
Dec. 7, 2011
MALIBU, Calif. - The Pepperdine men's volleyball team was chosen to finish eighth in the 2012Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings today in a preseason vote by the league's coaches. The Waves received 68 points in this year's poll.
Pepperdine is predicted to finish ahead of Hawai'i, Pacific, UC San Diego and 2011 MPSF Champion UC Santa Barbara.
BYU took the top spot on the poll with 115 points, while UC Irvine, Stanford and UCLA all picked up at least one first-place vote.
The Waves return four starters from last year's squad, who ended the 2011 season with an 11-15 overall record and finished ninth in conference play with a 7-15 record. Pepperdine's veteran players include junior opposite hitter Maurice Torres (Riverside, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS) and senior middle blocker Matt Pollock (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg HS).
Torres led the squad last season with 4.04 kills/set and spent much of his summer competing at the FIVB Men's Junior World Championship in Brazil with the US Junior National Team.
Pollock led the defense with 1.09 blocks/set to rank 14th in the NCAA and fifth in the MPSF. His 2.10 kills/set were earned on a .423 hitting percentage - one of the best percentages in the nation.
Head coach Marv Dunphy, now in his 29th season at the helm of the program, also brings back Mike McMahon (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic HS), who averaged 1.98 digs/set to rank first on the team, eighth in the MPSF, and 21st in the NCAA as a freshman in 2011.
Chase Ross (Carlsbad, Calif./Carlsbad HS) and Beau Vandeweghe (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon HS), who both saw action on the outside last season, return for their senior campaigns. Ross tacked down 2.50 kills/set in his 15 matches played, while Vandeweghe was the only Wave to garner MPSF Player of the Week honors last year.
Bolstering Pepperdine's lineup this season are six high-caliper freshman including Nikola Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson HS), Evan Dean (Corona del Mar, Calif./Corona del Mar HS), Scott Rhein (Pleasant View, Tenn./Aaron Academy), Matt Tarantino (Van Nuys, Calif./Bishop Alemany HS), Josh Taylor (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) and Matt West (Seattle, Wash./Shorewood HS).
BYU collected 115 points and six of 11 possible first place votes in taking the No. 1 spot in the 2012 MPSF Preseason Coaches' Poll. Both of the point and first place totals for the Cougars are the most in the annual poll since 2007, when eventual national champion UC Irvine posted 121 points and seven top votes. The Cougars are coming off a 20-win season, second place MPSF finish, and an undefeated regular-season at home.
Four coaches placed UCI in first place, as the Anteaters finished in a close second with 112 points. MPSF Semifinalists a year ago, All-American opposite Carson Clark returns, as do Austin D' Amore and all-freshman honoree Scott Kevorken in the middle.
With a veteran roster, Stanford took third in the poll with 92 points and one first place vote. 2010 MPSF Player of the Year Brad Lawson and libero Erik Shoji own five All-American honors between them. Eric Mochalski returns from an all-freshman season, after posting Stanford's all-time record in single-season hitting percentage.
UCLA also had a first place vote and 90 points to place fourth, as legendary head coach Al Scates makes his 50th and final run. The Bruins should be particularly strong in the middle, led by Thomas Amberg in addition to the nation's top hitter last year, Wes Dunlap (.446).
On the heels of an MPSF Finals and NCAA Tournament appearance, USC took fifth with 72 points. The
Trojans won 20 of their 22 conference matches last year, returning All-Americans Tony Ciarelli on the outside and Henry Cassiday in the back row.
Long Beach State and Northridge tied for the six spot with 68 points apiece, while Pepperdine's 62 points were more than enough to be projected as a postseason conference tournament participant.
The preseason poll was rounded out by Hawaii in ninth with 44 points, defending MPSF Tournament Champion UC Santa Barbara in 10th with 32 points, followed by Pacific and UC San Diego with 26 and 11 points, respectively.
The Waves open the 2012 campaign with a two-match home series versus Lewis on Jan. 7 and 8. MPSF action gets underway when Pepperdine welcomes Cal State Northridge to Firestone Fieldhouse on Jan. 11.
2011 MPSF Preseason Coaches' Poll