NCAA Men's Volleyball Countdown: No. 8 UC Irvine
The No. 8 spot goes to UC Irvine this year, and here's why:
The Anteaters have plenty of seniors, plus a star freshman who was the No. 1 recruit in the nation.
10-19 overall, 7-15 in MPSF (eighth place)
0-1 in MPSF Tournament (lost 3-0 at BYU)
Final 2016 RPI: 16
Team Hitting Percentage: .265 (#21 in NCAA)
Team Blocks Per Set: 1.92 (#28)
RETURNING STARSTamir Hershko | 6-foot-6 | Senior | Outside Hitter
3.71 kills/set; .299; 1.93 digs/set
Michael Saeta | 6-5 | Senior | Setter/Opposite
1.97 kills/set; .319 (#26 in NCAA); 0.35 blocks/set; 0.52 aces/set (#4)
Dante Chakravorti | 6-4 | Sophomore | Setter
9.58 assists/set (#20 in NCAA)
Dillon Hoffman | 6-1 | Senior | Libero
2.13 digs/set (#22 in NCAA)
David Parker | 6-1 | Junior | Outside Hitter
1.02 kills/set; .180; 1.60 digs/set
PROMISING NEWCOMERSScott Stadick | 7-0 | Freshman | Middle Blocker
Matthew Younggren | 6-8 | Freshman | Middle Blocker
Grant Friedman | 6-5 | Redshirt Freshman | Outside Hitter
BIGGEST LOSSESJason Agopian | 6-7 | Middle Blocker
2.01 kills/set; .385 (#13 in NCAA); 0.77 blocks/set
Marty Ross | 6-10 | Middle Blocker
1.31 kills/set; .431; 1.06 blocks/set (#16 in NCAA)
Kyle Russell | 6-9 | Outside Hitter
2.88 kills/set; .243; 0.34 blocks/set
Nonconference Matches to Watch
March 11 at Ohio State
The Anteaters look healthy after battling injuries last season. Coach David Kniffin says senior outside hitter Tamir Hershko, a first-team All-American, looks strong and hungry after being limited to playing just 41 sets in 2016. Junior David Parker has the inside track for the other outside slot but may be pushed by senior Andrew Benz. Opposite is still up in the air, since senior Michael Saeta has proven he can play both right side and setter. If Saeta stays on the pins, then sophomore Dante Chakravorti is the likely setter, with senior Dillon Hoffman anchoring the defense at libero. On an otherwise veteran team, two freshmen may start in the middle, 7-0 Scott Stadick and 6-8 Matthew Younggren. Stadick, the nation's top recruit, has decent bulk for his height and youth. His parents own a bison ranch in Wisconsin, and he has six immediate family members who played collegiate volleyball.
This could be the most unpredictable team in the NCAA, with a potentially high ceiling amid a number of question marks. Look for many upsets along the way.
FloVolleyball NCAA Men's Volleyball Countdown
8. UC Irvine
7-1. Check back each day to see the complete rankings!
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