Week 9 College Beach Volleyball Power Rankings: The Field is Evening Out
It’s beginning to steady out now, the hierarchy of college beach volleyball. For much of the season, spots two through 15 fluctuated as teams piled up big wins but also absorbed odd losses. Such is the nature of a season that begins in late February and is a frenetic dash to the first weekend of May.
One by one, though, programs have solidified themselves, evened out. There hasn’t been a move in the top six in more than a month, with teams wrestling for those final two spots. Here’s what the penultimate beach volleyball power rankings looks like:
1. UCLA (26-1, previously #1)
The Bruins haven’t played a match since Sunday, April 7, when they took their first loss of the season, to a red-hot USC team, and turned it around with a 4-1 win over Stanford.
They’ll be back on the sand this Saturday, hosting Grand Canyon and Long Beach State for their final regular season matches. Then it’s onto the Pac-12 Championships and, shortly after, the NCAA Tournament in Gulf Shores.
2. USC (22-4, previously #2)
The Trojans remain very much the same Trojans who have run the beach volleyball world for the past half-decade. USC is the only program to beat UCLA this season, and it has responded by rattling off wins over Long Beach and No. 5 Pepperdine as well.
USC is playing as well as it could be heading into the final few weeks of the year.
3. Florida State (23-5, previously #3)
Then, as it always is with the Seminoles, one of only two programs to make every AVCA or NCAA Tournament, it’ll be onto Gulf Shores.
4. LSU (25-5, previously #4)
Another week, another display of dominance for LSU in its shiny new stadium. The Tigers hosted the Battle on the Bayou this weekend, bringing in Nicholls, New Orleans, ULM and Spring Hill. All they did was, oh, win 19 sets to just one loss.
Friday and Saturday will be fun ones to keep up with as the Tigers and the Seminoles both compete in the CCSA Championships, with a pending match between the best in the East.
5. Pepperdine (18-7, previously #5)
The Waves closed out their regular season perfectly, as their seniors went undefeated against Cal Poly and Cal Berkeley, sending them out with a 36-2 record at Zuma Beach.
Now it’s onto West Coast Conference Championships, where challengers await in the vastly underrated and sneaky good Gaels of St. Mary’s as well as LMU.
6. Hawai’i (24-7, previously #6)
A season that has seen coach Jeff Hall turn his lineup this way and that, flip it upside down, shake it out, experiment and experiment again has met a successful end. At 24-7, the Bows finished the year strong after a 4-4 start.
With the lineup settled and each pair playing as well as they have all season, Hawai’i heads into the Big West Conference Championships next week with as much momentum as it has had all year.
7. Cal Poly (19-8, previously #7)
It’s possible that the single biggest victory by a pair this year for the Mustangs came on Saturday at Zuma Beach, on court four. It is there that Vanessa Roscoe and Brayden Gruenwald survived a 23-21, 14-21, 15-13 battle with Cal Berkeley’s Abby Waldburger and Mia Merino to finish a win over the Bears, staving off what could have been the loss that kept them out of Gulf Shores.
With Roscoe’s and Gruenwald’s clutch win, the Mustangs retained their spot at No. 7 while a few programs below — Florida International, namely — slipped.
8. Stetson (26-8, previously unranked)
What a week for the Hatters! Just when it looked like they might be on the wrong side of the NCAA Selection Committee for the second year in a row they turn it around with three huge wins, beating No. 17 Florida Atlantic twice, sandwiching a massive victory over Florida International.
The third East Coast spot is now likely in the hands of Stetson with just the ASUN Championships remaining on the schedule.
First Four Out
Long Beach State (17-7)
Florida International (14-10)
Cal Berkeley (17-7)
South Carolina (18-9)
Previous Power Rankings
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