Exploring the Polls (and Week 6) by Lionsfan


The AVCA, and Rich Kern, and North Pole Polls (and Pablo)

It’s cold at the top of the DigNittany North Pole Poll

Here are the AVCA, Rich Kern, and Pablo rankings for 9-30-13:

AVCA, Rich Kern and Pablo - 9-30-13

SchoolAVCA Poll
Rich Kern PabloWinsLossesConf.
Texas43582Big 12
Penn State541102B1G
Hawai'i654131Big West
Michigan State9912131B1G
Ohio State121130131B1G

And here’s DigNittany’s North Pole Poll (It’s Cold at the Top), in which lionsfan votes. We also lift the AVCA poll votes of Russ Rose, Christy Johnson-Lynch and John Dunning (a link to all the votes can be found in the lower left-hand column of the page if you Click Here). Huskies on top (Wahine pushing hard), Lionsfan has major crush on Sparty (see below), and B1G looking good, with four teams in Top 10:

DigNittanyVolleyball's North Pole Poll (It's Cold at the Top) 9-30-13

Top 10
Top 10
Top 10
2Hawai'i30FloridaPenn StateWashingtonTexas
4Penn State28Penn StateSouthern
Michigan State
5Florida27TexasTexasPenn StatePenn State
8 - tieMinnesota9MinnesotaMinnesotaNorth
8 - tieMichigan State9Michigan StateNebraskaSan DiegoMinnesota
MinnesotaOhio State

Sparty Hearty!


It serves lionsfan right. Up until last weekend, he just wasn’t sure where Michigan State realistically stood . . . he had them consistently in the 20s (never as high as the AVCA voters), not sure how to judge their ability (that win over Oregon wasn’t enough to convince him).

But with road wins over then-No. 1 Penn State and then-#13 Ohio State, the Spartans made the statement of the week and skyrocketed into the Top 10—the biggest jump of any team this week.  Michigan State is one of five teams to garner first-place votes, and their #9 ranking is its highest since coming in at #6 in the 1997 pre-season poll.  Senior OH Lauren Wicinski picked up Player of the Week honors from both the B1G and the AVCA.

If head coach Cathy George and the Spartans keep this up, they’ll be re-living the program’s heyday of 1995 and 1996. From the Spartans SID:

 The Spartans win their tenth straight and improve to 12-1 on the season, and snapped an 18-match losing streak to the Nittany Lions…MSU last won in State College in 2001, a 3-1 victory. The last win for the Spartans over the Nittany Lions came a year later, a 3-2 victory at Jenison Field House. In PSU’s 18-match winning streak against MSU, the Spartans had won just seven sets, and won two sets in the same match just twice during that streak (in the two meetings in 2003).

For Penn State, the 5-set home loss was a shock to many — not because the Spartans didn’t pose a tough challenge, but because it happens so infrequently.  Nittany Nation hasn’t witnessed many home losses in the last two decades, going undefeated in Rec Hall in 1996-1999, 2006-2010, and 2012. Here are their Rec Hall losses since 1993:

  • 2011: 2 (3-1 to Oregon; 3-2 to Illinois)
  • 2005: 1 (3-1 NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Tennessee)
  • 2004: 2 (3-2 to Minnesota; 3-2 to Ohio State)
  • 2003: 1 (3-0 to Minnesota)
  • 2002: 2 (3-2 to Wisconsin, 3-1 NCAA Second Round loss to Temple)
  • 2001: 4 (3-1 to Stanford, 3-0 to Ohio State, 3-1 to Michigan State, 3-0 NCAA Second Round loss to UCLA )
  • 2000: 1 (3-1 to Minnesota)
  • 1995: 3 (3-2 to Michigan State, 3-0 to Ohio State, 3-2 to Illinois)
  • 1994: 1 (3-1 to Ohio State)
  • 1993: 1 (3-2 to Nebraska, lionsfan’s first ever PSU volleyball match!)


Husky Leap!


With wins over rival Washington State and Oregon, Washington raced to the top of the pack (tee hee…get it?!) — the fourth team to hold the ranking this season. It’s the Huskies first time at the top since 2005, when they won the national championship.

Overall, it’s the Huskies’ ninth week ever at #1, which ranks them 10th overall. If it can stay there for four more weeks (a tall order—especially in the latter half with matches against Stanford, UCLA and Southern Cal), Washington would tie Florida (who sits 9th with 13 weeks at the top).

While it may seem like an easy win to some, Washington’s contest at Colorado on Friday is one to keep your eye on (well, at least the little corner of one of your eyes . . .).  The Buffalos have been solid this season, splitting with St. Mary’s, putting up a 5-set fight at Utah and upsetting UCLA in Boulder in a 5-set thriller last weekend. (A great win followed up by a 5-set home loss . . .to Wyoming?!) Depending on which Buffalo team shows up, this match could be more competitive than some expect.

(And can someone please explain to me why Colorado and Colorado State don’t play each other every year?!)


Speaking of Gaels . . .

Gaels - Trinity UKThe Gaels were rock solid against San Diego

St. Mary’s should arguably be in the Top 25, a sentiment solidified by their 5-set road win over then #8 San Diego. From the school’s SID:

I’ve said repeatedly throughout the season that we are a very good team,” Saint Mary’s coach Rob Browning said. “We’ve proven it in some tough losses to other great teams and we showed it again today in a nice win over a great team… It’s fun to win, but it’s most gratifying to see our team execute skills and tactics that we have been working on and that we have not necessarily been very good at but are much better at now…There is a balance that our team strikes where we have to believe we are good enough on any day to beat any team while still knowing that we can be even better if we keep learning and working hard.

In addition to their split in Boulder, the Gaels have “good” losses at Nebraska and at Stanford (taking a set off each) and “not awful” 5-set losses to Dayton and BYU.  Throw in a 3-1 win over Iowa State, and they have just as much claim to a ranking as some other teams ahead of them.

and Speaking of Illini . . .

Illinois Arboretumlionsfan places Illinois over St. Mary’s — but the Illini’s path to the NCAAs is narrow

And that brings up a great topic for debate: Who deserves a ranking more: St. Mary’s (7-5) or Illinois (5-7)?

Both teams beat Iowa State (Illinois a little more convincingly, and in Ames), and both teams lost to Nebraska (St. Mary’s put up a better fight, and did it in Lincoln). Call it even so far? St. Mary’s was able to beat the Torerros in San Diego while Illinois lost to them on a neutral floor. Advantage, St. Mary’s.

You can’t fault either team for the “expected” losses (St. Mary’s to Stanford; Illinois to Texas and Washington), so you have to look elsewhere to really get the full picture. Illinois has impressive wins earlier in the season (Florida State, Kentucky and an asterisk win against Arizona State), and not-so-great losses at Long Beach State, North Carolina and against Duke.  St. Mary’s can’t match those wins, and has similar could-have-wons at Colorado, BYU, Utah and against Dayton.

Wow…this is hard! For now, lionsfan is giving the slightest of edges to Illinois, but they’re gonna need to be competitive (and most likely pull off one win) at the Michigans this weekend to stay there. St. Mary’s is next in line (lionsfan has no idea why Iowa State is ranked above both of these teams who beat them…)

Looking Ahead

This week’s AVCA Top Ten Action

  1. Washington @ Colorado, @ Utah
  2. Southern Cal vs. #7 Stanford, vs. Cal
  3. Florida @ Marquette, vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  4. Texas @ Baylor, @ LSU
  5. Penn State @ Indiana, @ #24 Purdue
  6. Hawaii @ Long Beach State, @ UC Irvine
  7. Stanford @ #16 UCLA, @ #2 Southern Cal
  8. Minnesota @ #10 Nebraska, @ Iowa
  9. Michigan State vs. Illinois, vs. Northwestern
  10. Nebraska vs. #8 Minnesota, vs. #23 Wisconsin

B1G Media Watch

Here are the B1G matches on TV week:

  • Penn State’s Thursday night clash at Indiana can be seen on ESPN2 (yeah, we’d probably rather see the Purdue match instead),
  • Illinois @ Michigan contest airs Saturday on BTN.
  • It’s the Friday night BTN showdown between the Gophers and the Huskers that figures to be the most entertaining viewing.
  • For those who get the Pac Network, maybe you can help the rest of us see Stanford at USC? Pretty please?

Other Key Clashes

  • #12 Ohio State @ #24 Purdue
  • #15 Arizona State vs. #21 Oregon

Upset Alerts

  • Colorado over Washington
  • Long Beach State over Hawaii
  • Wisconsin over Nebraska
  • Illinois over Michigan State
  • Purdue over Ohio State
  • Pepperdine over San Diego
  • Illinois over Michigan
  • Cal over UCLA
  • Arizona over Oregon
  • Oklahoma over Iowa State

“Receiving Votes” Team Most Likely to Crack Top 25

  • Western Kentucky

Lionsfan’s Completely Uninformed Picks for the Big Matches

  • Stanford over UCLA (Editor’s note: lionsfan made this pick on Wednesday morning, and thinks Stanford is starting to get scary good)
  • Stanford over Southern Cal
  • Penn State over Purdue
  • Minnesota over Nebraska
  • Nebraska over Wisconsin
  • Ohio State over Purdue
  • Arizona State over Oregon

Lionsfan’s Season-to-Date “Big Match” Prediction Record: 20-19

Hottest Team

  • Michigan State

Losing Steam

  • San Diego
  • Michigan
  • Purdue

Next Week’s AVCA Top 10

  1. Washington
  2. Florida
  3. Texas
  4. Stanford
  5. Penn State
  6. Hawaii
  7. Minnesota
  8. Southern Cal
  9. Michigan State
  10. Nebraska