The UC Irvine men's volleyball team tops the American Volleyball Coaches Assn. Division I-II coaches preseason poll for the second consecutive year.

The two-time defending champion Anteaters rank first with 246 points and nine first-place votes. UCLA, coached by former UCI head man John Speraw, was second at 238 and three-first place votes, followed by BYU with 235 votes and four-first place nods.

Also garnering one first-place vote was No. 4 Long Beach State (218), while Stanford (202) sits at No. 5.

“I'm intrigued by this ranking,” second-year UCI coach David Kniffin said. “Kevin Tillie was, in my estimation, the best player in the country last year [as a senior]. Plus we lost our two-time national championship starting setter in Chris Austin. I think there will be more parity in the league than in the past few years. We're happy to wear the target for now, but are also prepared to have it move around a bit.”

In 2013, the Anteaters won their fourth NCAA championship in the seven seasons, posting a 25-7 record.

UCI returns 10 lettermen in 2014, including All-Americans Michael Brinkley, a junior libero, and Collin Mehring, a junior middle blocker.

UCI opens its regular season on Dec. 20 at Concordia.

The 'Eaters' first home matches will be a doubleheader on Dec. 28 against the University of British Columbia at 2 p.m. and Red Deer at 5 p.m. in the Bren Events Center.

The rest of the poll, from six down, includes Pepperdine, Loyola-Chicago, UC Santa Barbara, Penn State, Lewis, USC, Ohio State, Hawaii, Cal State Northridge and Cal Baptist.

— From staff reports