Last year, the UC Irvine men’s volleyball team lost to USC in the Big West Conference Tournament, but avenged that loss in the NCAA Tournament by beating the Trojans 3-2 on national television. This year, Coach John Speraw’s Anteaters received three first place votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Coaches Poll, second to USC’s 13 first place votes.

The Anteaters, who were 27-5 a year ago, lost votes to USC due to the loss of several seniors, including captain, All-American setter, and NCAA Tournament MVP, Ryan Ammerman. Fellow California schools Stanford and Pepperdine finished third and fourth respectively. The Anteaters were picked to finish second in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation pre-season coaches’ poll as well.

The Anteaters will return three All-Americans, sophomore opposite Carson Clark, junior middle blocker Kevin Wynne, and junior outside hitter Jordan DuFault.

The Anteaters will also sport new sleeveless jerseys this season.

The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association named senior pitchers Daniel Bibona, Eric Pettis, and Christian Bergman to preseason All-American teams. Lefty ace Bibona and last season’s closer Pettis earned first-team honors, while second starter Christian Bergman was voted to the third team.

Bibona and Pettis were also selected to the 2010 Louisville Slugger preseason All-American baseball teams. Bibona, who was a 16th round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals, chose to return to UCI to lead the Anteaters back to the College World Series. The team suffered an unfortunate early exit last year at the hands of ACC champions University of Virginia after being ranked No. 1 in the nation for part of the season.

Redshirt sophomore guard Derrick Strings was not dressed for Saturday evening’s game against UC Santa Barbara, as Coach Douglass said that Strings needed to make some adjustments in practice, and get back to doing what he is supposed to be doing.

The sweet shooting guard has suffered a lack of playing time this season after averaging 5.5 points and 1.9 rebounds in 29 games last year. Strings has only played 7 out of the Anteaters’ 13 games this year, and has not scored since Nov. 23 against the University of Texas San Antonio. Averaging a dismal 1.6 points per game this season, UCI could really use Strings’ offense.