Dec. 4, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team was picked to finish 10th in the 2008 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Preseason Coaches Poll, which was released Tuesday. In a very tight vote, national semifinalist Pepperdine topped the poll and was followed by BYU and UCLA.
Just four points separated the top three selections. The Waves garnered 108 points and five first place votes, while the Cougars collected 105 points and also had five first place votes. The Bruins were just behind with 104 points and one first place vote.
Defending national and MPSF Tournament champion UC Irvine was fourth, Cal State Northridge was fifth, USC sixth, Long Beach State placed seventh, Hawai'i was eighth, and Stanford ninth. Following UCSB was Pacific in 11th and UC San Diego in 12th.
Pepperdine won the 2007 MPSF regular season crown and received an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships. The Waves return AVCA and MPSF Player of the Year Jonathan Winder at setter and all-conference first teamer Paul Carroll at opposite.
BYU advanced to the MPSF semis last season and will return a pair of all-Americans in outside hitter Ivan Perez and middle blocker Russell Holmes. Also returning is AVCA Newcomer of the Year Yamil Perez at setter.
UCLA, which was ousted by UCSB in the MPSF quarterfinals last season, brings back first team all-conference selection Tony Ker at libero. Outside hitter Garrett Muagututia and middle blocker Jamie Diefenbach also return for the Bruins, who won the NCAA title in 2006.
The Gauchos ended 2007 with a 20-12 overall record and placed fourth in the MPSF with a 14-8 mark. They advanced to the MPSF semis where they were defeated in four games by Pepperdine. Senior opposite Theo Brunner, an AVCA First Team All-American, returns to lead a fairly young squad this year. Other returners that possess extensive experience include senior libero Ben Brockman, senior outside Michael Fisher, and junior setter Max Klineman.
UCSB has holes to fill due to the graduation of several key players. AVCA First Team All-American opposite Evan Patak led the nation in kills, aces, and points last year. Middle blocker David Kennedy was second on the team in total blocks and third in total kills. Also gone is outside Bryan Berman, who was third in kills per game, second in total aces, and second in total digs. Setter Bart Kowalski picked up MPSF honorable mention accolades in 2007.
UCSB begins its 2008 campaign with an exhibition match against Canadian powerhouse Alberta on Jan. 2 (7 p.m.). The regular season kicks off with the annual Elephant Bar Restaurant Collegiate Invitational on Jan. 5-6. Also competing at the E-Bar will be Alberta, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, Pacific, Stanford, UC Irvine, and USC.
2008 MPSF PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Pepperdine, 108 points (5)
2. BYU, 105 points (5)
3. UCLA, 104 points (1)
4. UC Irvine, 88 points
5. Cal State Northridge, 85 points (1)
6. USC, 68 points
7. Long Beach State, 57 points
8. Hawai'i, 51 points
9. Stanford, 50 points
10. UC Santa Barbara, 40 points
11. Pacific, 23 points
12. UC San Diego, 13 points
(first place votes)