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Beverly Oden

NCAA Men: UCI Leads Pack Early

By January 9, 2013

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The men's volleyball season is just getting underway and now that we've seen some pre-season matches and are beginning to enter conference play, we have an early frontrunner. Defending champion UC Irvine sits atop the AVCA rankings this week after earning all of the first place votes.

The so-far undefeated Anteaters return 12 players from that surprising national championship team. With new coach David Kniffin at the helm, they had no problem beating No. 4 Pepperdine last night in three sets. Until last night they've been without last year's leading hitter Kevin Tillie. Tillie played against the Waves but hit only .125 for the night. This Friday UCI will take on USC in a re-match of last year's national championship.

BYU, Stanford and Pepperdine follow UCI in the rankings. Junior OH Taylor Sander is still leading the way for the Cougars. Stanford is so far going with 6'7" freshman James Shaw (son of long-time Stanford women's coach Don Shaw) at the setting position over fellow freshman, 6'2" Joe Ctvrtlik (son of Olympian Bob Ctvrtlik.)

One new addition to the top 15 is Cal Baptist. Now a member of the MPSF conference, Cal Baptist has a couple of great Brazilians in the line up. One of the Brazilians, senior OH Levi Cabral, was named the MPSF's first Player of the Week after his performance in that tournament. The two  team up with last year's leading hitter Aaron McCalmont, giving the Lancers a formidable aresenal. They beat Lewis and Loyola-Chicago in the Santa Barbara tournament so we'll have to keep an eye on them.

Lots of great matches to watch this week, so check out the schedule below.

Wednesday, January 9th
Long Beach State @ Santa Barbara

Thursday, January 10th
UCLA vs. Penn State (UH Tourney)
Ohio State @ Hawaii (UH Tourney)
USC @ UCSD
UCSB @ CSUN

Friday, January 11th
USC @UCI
Lewis @ BYU
UCLA vs Ohio State (UH Tourney)
Penn State @ Hawaii (UH Tourney)
UCSB @ CSUN

Saturday, January 12th
Lewis @ BYU
Pacific @ Stanford
Pepperdine @ UCSD
UCLA @ Hawaii (UH Tourney)
Penn State vs. Ohio State (UH Tourney)

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