Week 5 College Beach Volleyball Power Rankings: East Region Mixing Things up
The biggest move in college beach volleyball was made early this week, by the giant killers in Columbia, South Carolina. The Gamecocks have had an interesting season thus far, beginning 1-4 before winning nine of their next 11 matches.
But it’s the teams they’ve beat in those nine matches that are cause for the biggest mixups. On March 2, current No. 4 LSU went down, followed, 10 days later, by current No. 2 USC. And then, of course, Stetson, who is as hot as any team not named UCLA, took down the Gamecocks, proving that there is a wealth of depth and a fun power struggle to follow in the East.
1. UCLA (15-0, previously ranked #1)
It’s almost frightening, how quickly this UCLA team is improving throughout the year, in spite of the fact that the Bruins have been the unquestioned No. 1 team throughout the entire year. USC remains the only team to take two sets off the Bruins in a match, while Pepperdine, who had never been swept prior to this year, has now been swept twice by UCLA.
It’s been the Bruins’ year, all year long.
2. USC (13-2, previously ranked #2)
Yes, the Trojans lost to South Carolina, the upset-minded Gamecocks. But they still hold the head-to-head edge over the next two teams on the ranking, and they recovered just fine, with three 4-1 wins over three quality programs in Georgia State, Florida International and Florida Atlantic.
A big weekend looms ahead for USC, with Pepperdine and Hawai’i on tap at Arizona State’s invitational.
3. Florida State (11-4, previously ranked #3)
After a packed schedule on the West Coast last week, the Seminoles took a little spring break. Their next match will be this weekend, when they host Arizona, Stetson and Austin Peay for a tournament. The Hatters, who have been playing excellent volleyball of late, will provide another opportunity for a quality East Region win.
4. LSU (9-4, previously #4)
Big week for LSU. Not necessarily because the Tigers padded their record — they did win one over Coastal Carolina, a 5-0 sweep — but because LSU alas has a place on campus to call home. On Friday night, LSU debuted its stadium, which had formerly been home to the tennis team. They’re justifiably stoked about it, and will be hosting a tournament there this weekend, featuring North Florida, Tulane, Georgia State and Southern Mississippi.
5. Pepperdine (11-5, previously #5)
Though the week ended poorly for Pepperdine, with a sweep at UCLA, it was still, all in all, a positive one for the Waves. They won all three matches on Wednesday during the Waves’ Invite, including two big victories over West Coast schools in LMU and Cal Poly. And, at this point in this season, losses to UCLA are sort of washes anyway. The Bruins are expected to win, no matter who’s on the other side of the net, and when they do, it’s more of a shrug it off and move on than it is a reset of mindset.
The Waves head down to Arizona State this weekend, which will feature two important matches against Hawai’i and USC.
6. Hawai’i (10-4, previously #6)
Huge week for the Bows, winning six in a row when they hosted Nebraska, Boise State and Cal, who is proving as difficult to beat as was advertised in the pre-season. Coach Jeff Hall completely overhauled the lineup, switching up every single partnership by Monday’s rematch with Nebraska. That’s part of what the early season matches and tournaments are for: finding what works on what court with what partnerships. Hall and the Bows seem to be finding the alchemy they’ve been looking for.
7. Stetson (10-3, previously unranked)
Stetson has been sneakily climbing up the ranks all season long, beating quality teams in Georgia State, Long Beach and LMU in the early goings. This week, the Hatters went 5-0, including a 4-1 win over South Carolina, who has proven capable of beating just about any team in the country. Already this week, they have a win over Florida Atlantic, with another matchup with the Owls looming.
8. Florida International (6-5, previously unranked)
It’s difficult to put a team with five losses in the top eight, but geez, those five losses are not bad at all. Four could have gone either way, and then, of course, there’s UCLA. The Panthers, with a lineup full of international players, are one of the most talented teams in the country. At this point, it’s just a matter of turning one of those 2-3 losses the other way around.
They won’t be tested for about two weeks, when they’ll meet LSU, Florida State and Stetson in a clash of East Region powers, as well as another crack at UCLA.
First Four Out
Cal Berkeley (10-3)
South Carolina (10-6)
Long Beach State (6-3)
Grand Canyon (10-2)
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