Penn State Men Favored as 2009 Campaign Nears
LEXINGTON, Ky. (December 30, 2008) - One year removed from a dazzling 30-1 record, Penn State University debuts the 2009 season as the No. 1 team in the nation, after the Bison/AVCA Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll was released by the AVCA headquarters on Tuesday.
The defending NCAA Champion, Penn State landed 14 first-place votes in the poll and brings a wealth of experience back to the court in 2009. The Nittany Lions, who earned a No. 1 national ranking after impressive campaign, will again showcase the talents of a trio of AVCA All-American performers from 2008 - Max Holt (First-Team), Dennis Del Valle (Second-Team) and Max Lipsitz (Second-Team).
UCLA, ending 2008 as the nation's No. 6 squad, is the preseason poll's No. 2 vote-getter, securing one first-place nod after a 17-14 record last season. The Bruins will look to junior All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Second-Team honoree Garrett Muagututia on the outside to put up some big numbers, as well as senior middle blocker D.J. Stomath and senior right side/opposite Sean O'Malley, both of whom were MPSF Honorable Mention selections a season ago.
Pepperdine, who finished the year at No. 2 with a 17-11 overall record and secured a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships, is seated third in the inaugural poll of 2009, nabbing one-first place vote in the process. The Waves return 2008 AVCA First-Team All-American Paul Carroll on the right side, as well as a pair of outside hitters in J.D. Schleppenbach and sophomore Cory Riecks, both of whom contributed significantly in the NCAA Tournament.
Fellow Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) and Southern California foe, Long Beach State, will also look to make a statement, as the No. 3 ranked program in 2008 finished with a 23-7 overall record. The 49ers welcome back the services of two 2008 AVCA All-Americans, Dan Alexander (First-Team) and Dean Bittner (Second-Team), as well as MPSF Freshman of the Year Mike Klipsch.