The inaugural season of Big West men's volleyball – the conference's 18th sponsored sport – officially gets underway this week with all six schools in action.
Big West Makes Men’s Volleyball Debut
The long awaited debut of Big West men’s volleyball is finally here.
Fans of the conference’s 18th-sponsored sport can witness the historical first serve on Wednesday, Jan. 3 when Long Beach State hosts McKendree at the Walter Pyramid.
The first NCAA Division I conference to have a home for men’s volleyball, the six participating schools competing for a Big West championship are CSUN, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and Hawai‘i.
Opening week features three tournaments. The UCSB Asics Invitational includes CSUN, LBSU and the host Gauchos. Hawai‘i is hosting the Texaco Rainbow Warrior Classic. UC San Diego is playing in the Wooden Classic Tournament hosted by UCLA. UC Irvine is involved in a pair of neutral site matches in Provo, Utah, taking on Lewis and Loyola-Chicago.
The National Rankings
The depth and quality of Big West men’s volleyball is already evident with just a quick glance at the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll. Four teams are ranked within the AVCA’s top 15, led by Long Beach State in the No. 2 slot. The Beach received four first-place votes and are second only to Ohio State. Hawai‘i is No. 5 in the poll, followed by UC Irvine at No. 7 and CSUN at No. 11. UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego are on the cusp of entering the top 15 as “others receiving votes” schools.
Coaches Tab Long Beach State As Favorite
The six Big West coaches basically agreed with the AVCA national rankings in plotting out the predicted order of finish in the conference’s year one of men’s volleyball. Long Beach State was selected first on four head coach ballots for 34 points. Hawai‘i captured the other two first-place votes and finished second with 32 points. UCI is ahead of CSUN in the AVCA poll, but the two foes shared third place in the Big West rankings with 21 points apiece. UCSB and UC San Diego rounded out the poll with 10 and eight points, respectively.
Off The Block All-Americans
Eleven Big West representatives filled out the Off The Block Preseason All-American lists, led by a group of five on the first team. The LBSU junior trio of TJ DeFalco, Kyle Ensing and Josh Tuaniga joined the Hawai‘i duo of Stijn van Tilburg and Larry Tuileta on the first team. CSUN senior Arvis Greene and UC Irvine sophomore Scott Stadick secured second team accolades. The foursome of Dimitar Kalchev (CSUN), Aaron Koubi (UC Irvine), Rado Parapunov (Hawai‘i) and Tanner Syftestad (UC San Diego) earned honorable mention.
Big West Tournament On The Horizon
The first annual Big West Men’s Volleyball Tournament will be held April 19-21 at Long Beach State’s Walter Pyramid. All six teams will compete for the tourney title and an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Hawai‘i (2020) and UC Irvine (2021) are the next hosts.