It’s April fools day, but there are no jokes on the men’s volleyball schedule tonight.
All but one of the top 10 teams play tonight, including two matches between nationally ranked teams as No. 1 USC travels to No. 3 Stanford and No. 2 BYU closes out its home series against No. 7 Long Beach State. In addition, No. 6 Ohio State will attempt to recover from a disastrous West Coast road trip by accomplishing a feat that has not been achieved in more than 40 years
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight.
1. No. 1 USC (16-1, 15-1 MPSF) vs. No. 3 Stanford (16-6, 12-5 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Stanford, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Radio feed, Pay-per-view online video
What to know: The top two teams in the MPSF standings will play each other tonight. USC enters on a nation-best 10 match winning streak and is two wins away from clinching MPSF regular season title. In addition, it is vying to become the first team in more than 15 years to be ranked No. 1 from the preseason to end of the regular season. Stanford is three-and-half matches behind first-place USC and is coming off of a loss to No. 7 Long Beach State in its last conference match. A Stanford victory could help it separate itself from No. 2 BYU in the race for the one at-large bid to the Final Four. This match will also feature the reigning MPSF Offensive Player of the Year and one of the front-runners for the conference award this season. Stanford outside attacker Brad Lawson, who won the award in 2010, is seventh in the nation averaging 4.34 kills per game, while USC outside attacker Murphy Troy is eighth in the nation averaging 4.30 kills per game. For more of an in-depth statistical analysis on this match, check out this article in VolleyMetrics.
2. No. 3 BYU (17-7, 13-6 MPSF) vs. No. 7 Long Beach State (12-11, 10-8 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video
What to know: Futi Tavana won the match-up of potential All-American middle attackers as BYU defeated Long Beach State in the four games to open their two-match series Thursday. Tavana had 15 kills with a match-high .737 attack percentage and four blocks, while Long Beach State’s Antwain Aguillard had nine kills and two blocks. The Cougars out-hit the 49ers .386 to .225, including holding Long Beach State to a match-worst -.269 attack percentage in the final game. With the victory, BYU remains in third place in the MPSF standings and can clinch a first-round home match in the conference tournament if it wins tonight. The 49ers are in a three-way tie for fifth place with No. 5 UC Irvine and No. 10 Hawai’i.
3. No. 6 Ohio State (17-4, 10-0 MIVA) vs. Loyola (17-5, 7-1 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Chicago
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video
What to know: The Buckeyes have a chance tonight to do something that has not been accomplished in more than 40 years: win their fifth consecutive MIVA regular season title. Ohio State enters tonight’s match against second-place Loyola with a perfect MIVA record. A victory gives Ohio State home court advantage throughout the MIVA Tournament and ties the conference record for most consecutive titles. The only other program win five straight MIVA regular season championships was Ball State from 1964-68. Loyola since losing to Ohio State earlier this month has won five of its last six matches, including victories against Cal State Northridge and Lewis. Ohio State lost two non-conference matches on a West Coast last week to snap its 17 match winning streak.
4. No. 5 UC Irvine (14-11, 10-8 MPSF) vs. No. 8 UC Santa Barbara (13-10, 10-7 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: The Gauchos get to celebrate making the postseason for the first time in five years by playing a top-five nationally ranked team. In its first conference match in almost one month, UC Santa Barbara swept UC San Diego to clinch a spot in the MPSF Tournament. Now that Gauchos are in it’s a matter of playoff position. UC Santa Barbara is in fourth place and UC Irvine is tied for sixth place. UC Irvine clinched a spot in the eight-team tournament Wednesday as outside attacker Carson Clark had a match-high 22 kill. in a four-game victory against No. 5 UCLA.
5. No. 10 Hawai’i (12-11, 10-8 MPSF) vs. Cal State Northridge (6-18, 4-13 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed
What to know: If there is one reason to watch this match it’s Hawai’i outside attacker Jonas Umlauft. Umlauft is leading the nation with a 5.47 kills per game average — almost one kill better than anyone’s average in the conference. The sophomore also has at least 20 kills in four of the Warriors’ last five matches against top 10 ranked teams. Cal State Northridge is in second to last place in the MPSF and is on a three match losing streak. However, the team pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season defeating BYU two weeks ago.
Best of the rest
No. 4 UCLA (15-10, 8-9 MPSF) vs. UC San Diego (8-17, 4-14 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, Radio feed
What to know: One loss would not be a big deal for any other team but UCLA. It just doesn’t win or lose one match, instead it goes on streaks. UCLA lost to UC Irvine on Wednesday to end a seven match this season. This streak was in addition to a five match winning streak and five match losing streak to team had earlier this season. UCLA will look to avoid another streak with a match against last-place UC San Diego, a team it swept on the road last week.
Ball State (14-9, 4-4 MIVA) vs. Grand Canyon (8-17, 0-6 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7:30 p.m. in Muncie, Ind.
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed, In-match tweets
What to know: The coolest thing about this match will be the scoreboard. The last time Ball State had a home match against the Grand Canyon Antelopes it abbreviated the road team’s name to “Lopes” on the scoreboard. In that match I won the opening game before losing to the Cardinals in four games. Regardless of who wins tonight, I at least get my last name in neon lights for about 90 minutes.