The torch has been passed back to Pauley Pavilion, where UCLA has reassumed the throne in the annual VolleyballMag.com men’s top recruiting class ranking after a two-year absence.
UCLA boasts four 2022 VolleyballMag.com Boys Fab 50 selections and has two of the Class of 2022’s top recruits in Arizona product Zach Rama (No. 2) and standout setter Andrew Rowan (No. 3). One voter labeled both Rama and Rowan as two future national-team players.
Previously, the Bruins logged top recruiting classes for a three-year run from 2017-2019 and then took runner-up honors in 2020 and 2021. In the last seven years, UCLA has registered four No. 1 classes, a pair of No. 2s and a third-place class (2016).
UCLA and coach John Speraw racked up all but one first-place vote this time around.
In the 2022 voting, there was a clear-cut delineation between the high upper tier and the rest of the top 10. These annual recruiting class rankings are voted on by a panel of NCAA Division I-II coaches.
USC, under the direction of Jeff Nygaard, takes runner-up honors this year after a No. 9-ranked recruiting class in 2021 and earning honorable-mention honors in 2020. This is the Trojans’ top class since a No. 3 ranking in 2017. This year’s USC class is highlighted by outside hitter Dillon Klein, who was tabbed the top recruit in the class of 2022 by the Boys Fab 50 voting panel.
Long Beach State, which reached the national championship match last spring, continues its strong run of top classes, checking in this time at No. 3. In addition to wins in 2021 and 2020, the 49ers had the No. 3-ranked class in 2019 and the No. 5-ranked class in 2017. Three Long Beach State recruits made this year’s VBM Boys Fab 50 list in 2022, while a fourth, Ryan Peluso, was a VBM boys high school All-American first-team pick.
The rest of the top five this year features Stanford at No. 4 and Ohio State in the No. 5 position. This is Stanford’s highest ranking since a runner-up finish in 2019. The Cardinal had the top recruiting class in 2016 and was also runner-up in 2017.
Ohio State was fourth last year, eighth in 2020 and 10th in 2019. It’s the Buckeyes’ highest finish since a No. 4-ranked class in 2016.
Pepperdine has been a constant with No. 3 (2018) No. 4 (2019), No. 7 (2020) and No. 5 (2021). Princeton had two recent strong classes at No. 5 (2020) and No. 6 (2021), while national-champion Hawai’i checked in with classes at No. 7 (2018), No. 8 (2019), No. 9 (2020) and honorable mention last season. Ball State, an honorable-mention pick this time, hadn’t been in the rankings since 2017 (honorable mention). North Greenville, the seventh team in the 2022 national field, has not appeared in the rankings.
Who’s new: David Decker, 6-8, OH, Fresh., Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), Ocean Bay; Troy Gooch, 6-0, Libero, R-Sr., Purdue-Fort Wayne; Christopher Hersh, 6-9, MB, Fresh., St. Francis (Mountain View, CA), Bay to Bay; Coleman McDonough, 5-11, Libero, Fresh., Seneca Valley (Harmony, PA), Vanguard; Zach Rama, 6-8, OH, Fresh., SD O’Connor (Phoenix, Arizona), Arizona Fear; Andrew Rowan, 6-6, S, Fresh., J Serra (San Juan Capistrano, CA), OCVC.
Notable: The Bruins and coach John Speraw cleaned up with this class, which, as stated above, was a near unanimous top choice among the voting panel, receiving all but one first-place vote. Rama and Rowan finished in the top five for top recruit honors in the 2022 VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 voting — Rama was second and Rowan third. In addition to Rama and Rowan, Hersch and McDonough also were 2022 Fab 50 selections. Decker is a prep standout from South Florida where he was named to the all-Broward County first team as a senior. Gooch started 27 matches for Purdue-Fort Wayne last season and earned all-MIVA first-team honors and was an AVCA All-America honorable-mention pick.
Who’s new: Riley Haine, 6-4, OH, Fresh., Punahou (Honolulu, Hawai’i), Spike and Serve; Dillon Klein, 6-4, OH, Fresh., Loyola (Los Angeles, CA), MB Surf; Kevin Kobrine, 6-5, RS, R-Sr., UCLA; Trevor Powell, 6-5, S, Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Illinois) Sports Performance; Noah Roberts, 6-7, OH, Fresh., Los Alamitos (CA), Team Rockstar; Ryan Sprague, 6-3, S, Fresh., Loyola (Los Angeles, CA), MB Surf.
Notable: Jeff Nygaard and his staff did quite well with this haul, which was voted as one of three clear-cut top-tier classes this year along with UCLA and fellow Southern CA resident Long Beach State. Klein was voted the top recruit in the Class of 2022 by voters on the VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 panel. Klein, Roberts and Sprague were Fab 50 selections. Klein and Sprague are products of both the successful Loyola High School (Los Angeles) and MB Surf programs. One voter was particularly impressed with the additions of Klein and Roberts. Kobrine is a redshirt-senior addition from UCLA whose brother Sam played at USC. Kevin Kobrine was no stranger to these lists during his prep and club days. He was an AVCA second-team All-American and MPSF first-team pick last season at UCLA after hitting .375 with 192 kills and 107 digs.
3. LONG BEACH STATE
Who’s new: Chris Connelly, 5-10, Libero, Fresh., Florida Virtual (Naples, Florida); Island Doty, 6-5, S, Fresh., Doherty (Colorado Springs, Colorado), Nico Lietz, 6-0, RS, Fresh., Rangitoto College (Auckland, New Zealand), DiAeris McRaven, 6-5, MB, Soph., Orange Coast College; Derek Owens, 6-7, MB, Jr., University of Jamestown, Ryan Peluso, 6-2, S-RS, Fresh., Winter Park (Florida),, 6-3, OH, Soph., Ohio State, Skyler Varga, 6-7, OH, Soph., Muenster (Saskatchewan, Canada), Joshua Weyerhaeuser, 6-7, MB, Fresh., Warren Township (Gurnee, Illinois).
Notable: Connelly, from the 352 club program in Florida; Doty, a Colorado product; and Weyerhaeuser, from the Chicago suburbs, all were 2022 Fab 50 selections, while Peluso was a 2022 VolleyballMag.com boys high school All-American first-team pick.
Coach Alan Knipe also has four transfers, including the notable Cyprus native Siapanis, who played at Ohio State, McRaven, from the Orange Coast JUCO program, and Owens, who played at NAIA Jamestown in North Dakota. Siapanis was the MIVA newcomer of the year and an all-MIVA first-team pick as a freshman where he was 10th in the country in kills at 3.93 per set. He missed his sophomore year at Ohio State due to injury. Lietz (New Zealand) and Varga (Saskatchewan) are new international players for the 2022 national runners-up.
Who’s new: Theoren Brouillette, 6-3, S, Fresh., Bellarmine Prep (San Jose, CA), Bay to Bay; Ryan DuRoss, 6-3, OH, Fresh, Christopher (Gilroy, CA), Bay to Bay; Luke McFall, 6-9, MB, Fresh., Amador Valley (Pleasanton, CA), Bay to Bay; Alex Rottman, 6-6, OH, Fresh., Santa Barbara (CA), Santa Barbara Coast; Theo Snoey, 6-8, OH, Fresh., Head-Royce (Oakland, CA), Bay to Bay; Moses Wagner, 6-6, RS, Fresh., Bellarmine Prep (San Jose, CA), Bay to Bay.
Notable: If you Google Maps the distance between the location of the Bay to Bay club in the Bay Area and Santa Barbara Coast club in Santa Barbara, CA, you get about a 280-mile straight shot. That’s the exact radius coach John Kosty and his staff encompassed with this top-five recruiting class that features five players from Bay to Bay and Rottman from the Santa Barbara area. DuRoss, Rottman, Snoey and Wagner were all 2022 VolleyballMag.com Boys Fab 50 picks with Snoey rated the No. 5 recruit in the class.
5. OHIO STATE
Who’s new: Alex Cabana, 6-5, MB-RS, T-Sr., Life University; Hudson Harris, 6-8, MB, T-Soph., Charleston University; Dan Hurley, 6-8, OH-RS, Fresh., Cox (Virginia Beach, Virginia), Coastal Virginia; Jack O’Riordan, 6-8, OH, Fresh., Barrington (Illinois); Ben Putnam, 6-5, OH, Fresh., Needham (Massachusetts); Shane Wetzel, 6-7, RS, Fresh., Lake Mary (Florida), Winter Park VBC; Niko Williams, 6-6, S, Fresh., Poway (CA).
Notable: A lot of height (6-8, 6-8, 6-7 6-6 and 6-5) and heavy on the pins (3 OH, 1 RS) here with this incoming Ohio State class. Wetzel was rated the No. 4 recruit in the 2022 VolleyballMag.com Boys Fab 50 rankings and was a member of the USAV U21 training camp national team. Wetzel, Hurley, O’Riordan and Williams (all-CIF; U21 national team training camp) were all VBM Fab 50 selections earlier this year. Cabana is a Cuba native, who had 184 kills and hit .402 for Life University, an NAIA school in Marietta, Georgia, last season. The 6-8 Harris transferred from EIVA entrant Charleston (West Virginia) University, where he hit .462 last season.
Who’s new: Nathan DeGraaf, 6-7, RS, Fresh., Seneca Valley (Harmony, PA), Vanguard; Syver Drolsum, 6-6, RS, Fresh., Top Volley Norway; Daniel Haber, 6-6, OH, Fresh., Westhampton Beach (New York), Academy; Cole Sweitzer, 6-4, OH, Fresh., Middleton (Wisconsin), Milwaukee VBC; Nico Paula, 6-1, Libero, Fresh., Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Florida), 352 Elite; Carson Steinbach, 6-1, S, Fresh., Penncrest (Delaware County, PA), Yorktowne; Pitor Wymoczyl, 6-6, MB, Fresh., Buffalo Grove (Illinois), Adversity.
Notable: Lewis and coach Dan Friend helped themselves with this class. All four of the domestic freshman recruits are 2022 VolleyballMag.com Boys Fab 50 selections and with an East Coast edge with DeGraff (PA), Haber (New York) and Paula (Florida). Drolsum is from Norway and is making an immediate impact in the gym, Friend noted. The Flyers also stayed local and snagged standouts Sweitzer from the Milwaukee area and Wymoczyl from the Chicago northwest suburbs.
Who’s new: Andreas Cardenas-Marouf, 6-5, S., Fresh., Francis Parker (La Jolla, CA), WAVE; James Eadie, 6-7, MB, Fresh., Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, CA), Balboa Bay; Callahan Hefner, 6-5, OH, Fresh., Westlake (Austin, Texas), OCVC; Aidan Tune, 6-1, OH, Fresh., Punahou (Honolulu, Hawai’i), Spike and Serve; Ethan Watson, 6-8, MB, Fresh., Saint Francis (Mountain View, CA), MVVC.
Notable: Pepperdine has a new head coach in Jonathan Winder, who replaces David Hunt. Hunt is an assistant on the Texas team that just won the NCAA women’s title and left behind a team in good stead. The Waves, who won the MSPF tournament title last spring, were rated highly on multiple ballots, thanks to this inbound class that features 2022 Fab 50 selections Eadie, Hefner and Tune.
Cardenas-Marouf brings a decorated prep resume out of the San Diego area and has USAV indoor and beach experience. Watson was a 2022 AVCA All-American first-team selection. Eadie was named the 2022 CIF Southern Section Division I co-player of the year and earned Orange County Register player of the year honors. Hefner, a Texan, played his final club season with OCVC (flying back and forth between California and Texas) and helped it win an AAU title at 18U. Tune, whose aunt played volleyball at Pepperdine, and whose dad, Rick, is the head coach at Punahou School in Honolulu, was part of two Spike and Serve teams that won USAV club national titles.
Who’s new: Brad Bell, 6-9, MB, Fresh., Westosha Central (Salem, Wisconsin); Cooper Evans, 6-5, OH, Fresh., Glenbrook South (Glenview, Illinois); Nick Martinski, 6-7, OH, G-TR, Ball State; Ryan McElligott, 6-5, S, Fresh., Mundelein (Illinois), Adversity; Vanja Petrasinovic, 6-5, OH, Fresh., Serbia, OK Ribnica Kraljevo; Bryce Robbins, 6-3, OH, Fresh., SD O’Connor (Phoenix, Arizona), MOD VBC; JJ Sowa, 5-11, Libero, Fresh., Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA), Pulse; Miller Trubey, 6-11, RS, Fresh., St. Mark’s Texas (Dallas, Texas), StepUp.
Notable: New Ramblers coach John Hawks, the 2022 AVCA Division I-II assistant coach of the year who spent the previous seven seasons as UCLA’s assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, welcomes four 2022 VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 picks in Bell, Robbins, Sowa and Trubey. Bell, in the middle, and Sowa, shoring up the defensive-serve-receive efforts at libero, are two examples of potential immediate impact players, as one voter noted. Trubey is a talented 6-11 lefty right side. Explosive attacker Robbins has a USAV nationals MVP honor on his resume. This Loyola class has a heavy local flavor to it with Bell, Evans and McElligott (setter) all in the Wisconsin-northern Illinois area. Martinski transferred in from 2022 NCAA semifinalist Ball State, which took eventual national-champion Hawai’i to five in Westwood. He finished with 130 kills and 132 digs for the Cardinals.
9. UC SANTA BARBARA
Who’s new: Owen Loncar, 6-3, OH, Fresh, Loyola (Los Angeles, CA), MB Surf; Patrick Kane, 6-4, OH, Mountain View (CA); MVVC; Ben Pearson, 6-2, OH, Fresh., Mount Madonna (Gilroy, CA), Bay to Bay; Jack Walmer, 6-3, S, Soph., University of Hawai’i.
Notable: Loncar and Kane were 2022 Fab 50 selections after enjoying decorated prep careers. Pearson is a product of the successful Bay to Bay club in Campbell, CA, which has numerous alums listed throughout these rankings. Walmer, a Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, CA) High School product, transferred from Hawai’i. He played in 27 matches as a freshman and is notable for serving the match-winning point in the 2022 title match against Long Beach State at UCLA.
Tie 10. UC SAN DIEGO
Who’s new: Evan Boyle, 6-0, Libero, Fresh., Crescenta Valley (La Crescenta, CA); Josh Ewert, 6-4, RS, Fresh., Campolindo (Moraga, CA), Pacific Rim; Spiro Maranda, 6-7, MB, Soph., York (Elmhurst, Illinois), Future; Leo Pravednikov, 6-5, OH, Fresh., Wilson (Long Beach, CA), Team Rockstar; Michael Robertson, 6-6, RS, Fresh., Loyola (Los Angeles, CA), MB Surf; Sam Warren, 6-4, OH, Jr., Orange Coast College; Zachary Weston, 6-8, MB, Jr., Orange Coast College; Cameron Wurl, 6-7, S, Fresh., Cathedral (San Diego, CA), Coast.
Notable: First-year coach Brad Rostratter, who started the NAIA Vanguard University program in Costa Mesa, welcomes a large class of newcomers. Ewert, from Northern California, was a 2022 VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 honoree. Warren and Weston are both transfers from power Orange Coast College (coached by Travis Turner), which won a CA JUCO state title last season. One voter was impressed by UCSD bringing in Warren and Weston.
Tie 10. HAWAI’I
Who’s new: Derek Bradford, 6-8, OH, Fresh., Royal (Simi Valley, CA), MB Surf; Josh Friedman, 6-3, S, Soph., Orange Coast College; Devon Johnson 6-6, OH-RS, Jr., Westlake Village (Thousand Oaks, CA), SMBC Pali; Kai Taylor, 6-2, OH-Libero, Fresh., Capistrano Valley Christian (San Juan Capistrano, CA), Balboa Bay; Alex Parks, 6-7, MB, Fresh., Maryknoll (Honolulu, Hawai’i), Outrigger.
Notable: Bradford and Taylor join the 2022 NCAA national champions after earning VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 honors earlier this season. Johnson, a 6-6 pin hitter, was a member of the team from 2019-2021 but did not compete in 2022. Friedman was named to the all-tournament team for Orange Coast, which won a California JUCO state title last year. He prepped at Corona del Mar in Newport Beach,. Taylor helped CVCS win a CIF Southern Section Division 6 title and was named San Joaquin athlete of the year, while also earning club All-American honors. He’s the cousin of former Rainbow Wahine player Nikki Taylor. Parks is a local Hawai’i product.
HONORABLE MENTION: Ball State, BYU, George Mason, Grand Canyon, Princeton, Purdue-Fort Wayne, UC Irvine.
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