After four months of regular season matches and conference tournaments, the men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament is upon us.
The NCAA announced the four-team tournament field and semifinals pairings Sunday afternoon. Here is an initial look and historical information you need to know heading into the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday at Penn State.
NCAA Tournament semifinals
No. 1 seed USC (23-3, 20-2 MPSF) vs. No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara (17-14, 11-11 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Thursday
Season series: USC leads 2-1
How they got here: USC received the lone at-large bid. UC Santa Barbara won the MPSF Tournament to receive the conference’s automatic bid
Players to watch: USC outside attacker Murphy Troy was named the MPSF Player of the Year after finishing the regular season in the nation’s top 15 in kills per game average, attack percentage and aces per game average. UC Santa Barbara outside attacker Jeff Menzel, a First-Team All-American, had a conference-best 78 combined kills during the Gauchos run in the MPSF Tournament.
Last NCAA championship: USC 1990; UC Sanat Barbara never
Historical stat to know: This is the second time in the last 10 years that two MPSF teams have been paired against each other in the NCAA semifinals.
No. 2 seed Penn State (24-6, 10-0 EIVA) vs. No. 3 seed Ohio State (24-6, 11-1 MIVA)
Match vitals: 9 p.m. Thursday
Season series: Tied at 1-1
How they got here: Ohio State won the MIVA Tournament to receive the conference’s automatic bid. Penn State won the EIVA Tournament to receive the conference’s automatic bid.
Players to watch: Ohio State setter Steven Kehoe was in the nation’s top five in assists per game average and became the sixth player in conference history to win back-to-back MIVA Player of the Year awards. Penn State libero Dennis Del Valle was an All-American selection for the third time in his career and was named the EIVA Tournament MVP after having a match-high 24 digs in the conference championship.
Last NCAA championship: Penn State 2008; Ohio State never
Historical stat to know: A MIVA team has never legally won the NCAA championship and has advanced beyond the NCAA semifinals four times in the last 41 years.