Week 3 College Beach Volleyball Power Rankings: Florida State Asserts Itself
Thus far in the 2019 college beach volleyball season, the West region teams have mostly beaten up on West region teams and the East region teams have mostly beaten up on the East region teams with very few, if any, clashes between the two.
That is set to change this weekend, when UCLA hosts its annual East Meets West tournament, which pits four of the top teams from the East region — No. 7 LSU, No. 4 Florida State, No. 9 Florida International, TCU — against four of the best from the West in No. 1 UCLA, No. 3 USC, No. 2 Pepperdine and No. 5 Hawai’i. It could be revealing and it could also make a mighty mess of things. It could separate some teams or it could jumble it all back up again.
What is certain is this: If it is high level volleyball you seek, Manhattan Beach this weekend is where you want to be.
1. UCLA (9-0, previously #1)
The UCLA sweep machine continues, even as coach Stein Metzger toggles and experiments with various lineups, as he said he would at the beginning of the year. His court one and two — Nicole and Megan McNamara and Sarah Sponcil and Lily Justine, respectively — have remained the same, but from three through six, it’s been a revolving door of mishmashes and different partnerships. All of them, of course, are working, no matter who he puts where. The Bruins are now 9-0 with seven of those wins coming by sweep.
2. Pepperdine (6-1, previously #2)
The Waves were tested a bit on a rainy Saturday at Zuma Beach with Long Beach State. Though the final score shows 4-1, it wasn’t quite as lopsided as it seems. The Beach won three of five first sets, requiring comebacks on court two from Deahna Kraft and Gigi Hernandez and court five from Katie Gavin and Nikki Lyons. A win is a win is a win, and the Waves’ only loss remains to undefeated UCLA, something two other teams on this ranking can claim.
3. USC (4-1, previously #3)
The first look at USC was not a disappointing one. The Trojans hosted LMU and UCLA last Wednesday night, two formidable programs, both of which could make it to Gulf Shores at season’s end. USC pushed UCLA as close as it has come to a loss this year, dropping 3-2 to the Bruins after their court two pairing of Sarah Sponcil and Lily Justine beat Terese Cannon and Sammy Slater to remain undefeated.
Since, the Trojans have swept three straight, over Arizona, Stanford and Oregon.
4. Florida State (8-1, previously #5)
The response to the first loss of the season has been a perfect one thus far for the Seminoles. A defeat to LSU to open the year has been followed by eight consecutive wins, including a revenge victory over those very same Tigers at the FAU Beach Burrow Bash.
The ‘Noles have also logged significant wins over Tulane, Cal Poly, South Carolina — which upset LSU — twice as well as Florida Atlantic.
5. Hawai’i (2-2, previously #6)
Sometimes staying clear of the fray is the best thing a program can do for its ranking. Not that Hawai’i has much choice in the matter. I’m sure they’d love to be battling it out with top-tier programs, though living on the island can make that difficult sometimes.
That’ll change this weekend at East Meets West, where Hawai’i will see TCU, Florida State, Florida International and LSU, all programs in the top 20.
6. Long Beach State (3-1, previously #7)
There is such thing as a good loss, and The Beach’s lone loss of the season, to Pepperdine on Saturday, can certainly fall under that category. Yes, a loss still goes on the right side of the ledger, but to put pressure on the Waves by winning three of five first sets is evidence enough to know that Long Beach is a legitimate contender this season to make it back to Gulf Shores.
7. LSU (6-2, previously #4)
Tough week for LSU after a brilliant start to the season. Not that it was that bad of a week. The Tigers lost to Florida State, which is by no means a bad loss, and now they’re even with the ‘Noles on the season. The other, to South Carolina, was a bit unexpected, as it was the Gamecocks’ first win over a top-5 program in school history. But, again, South Carolina is a good program, ranked No. 10 in the AVCA coaches’ poll.
They weren’t bad losses, exactly, but enough for the Tigers to have a little to prove this weekend in Manhattan Beach.
8. Cal (4-1, previously #8)
Cal has only been truly tested once, when it played UCLA on Sunday. As it has gone with most teams the Bruins have faced, it was a sweep, though it is worth noting that two matches went to three sets. These next two weeks will be a bit more revealing for what type of team Cal has this year, with matches against Stanford and Hawai’i upcoming.
First Four Out
Florida International (4-0)
Florida Atlantic (6-2)
Cal Poly (3-3)
Previous Power Rankings
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