Several matches tonight could be previews of Final Four matches in four months.
Three matches tonight pit top 10 ranked against each other teams, including No. 1 UC Irvine and No. 3 BYU closing out their two-match series. In addition, No. 5 Penn State renews its rivalry with No. 8 Ohio State, while No. 6 Long Beach State and No. 10 Pepperdine meet each other in conference play.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow tonight.
1. No. 1 UC Irvine (4-1, 0-1 MPSF) vs. No. 3 BYU (3-1, 1-0 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Irvine, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match Tweets (BYU), In-match Tweets (UC Irvine)
What to know: It’s the second week of the season, but this match could have significant ramifications four months from now for the MPSF Tournament and possibly even the NCAA Tournament. BYU and UC Irvine split the first two matches against each other — the Anteaters won the season opener at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational last week and the Cougars won the two teams’ conference opener on Friday. If BYU wins tonight’s match, it will hold the tiebreaker over UC Irvine in the MPSF standings. In addition, the winner of tonight’s match will hold the head-to-head advantage. Head-to-head record is one of the criteria used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee to determine the lone at-large team and seeding for the Final Four.
2. No. 5 Penn State (0-0, 0-0 EIVA) vs. No. 8 Ohio State (2-2, 0-0 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Columbus, Ohio
Follow live: Gametracker, Pay-per-view online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: The Nittany Lions will open their season against the team that eliminated them from the national championship hunt last season. Penn State ended its season last year with a four-game loss in the NCAA Tournament semifinals to Ohio State, which two days later would win its first NCAA championship in program history. While this will be Penn State’s first match of the season, Ohio State has already played four matches. The Buckeyes went 1-2 at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational last week and swept Lees-McRae in its home opener Friday. This match also will be the first time that two non-West Coast teams with NCAA championships will play each other.
3. No. 3 UCLA (4-1, 0-0 MPSF) vs. Hawai’i (2-2, 1-1 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed, Pay-per-view online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: In Al Scates’ final match at the Outrigger Invitational, the soon-to-retire Hall of Fame coach will attempt to lead UCLA to a record number of tournament championships. The Bruins can win their seventh all-time — and second consecutive — Outrigger Invitational championship. UCLA defeated No. 9 Lewis in four games and swept Springfield in its first two matches at the non-conference tournament. Hawai’i after losing to Lewis in five games on Saturday has to defeat UCLA to have a chance to win the Outrigger Invitational. This match will be televised live nationally on Fox Sports College.
4. No. 6 Long Beach State (2-2, 0-1 MPSF) vs. No. 10 Pepperdine (2-1, 1-0 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Malibu, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video
What to know: Pepperdine freshman outside attacker Josh Taylor has a chance to have three consecutive matches with at least 20 kills as Pepperdine plays Long Beach State in conference play. Taylor led Pepperdine in kills in both its victories this season, including a match-high 22 kills in a conference win against Cal State Northridge earlier this week. The freshman also has a team-high 4.69 kills per game average through the first three matches. Long Beach State opened conference play Wednesday with a three-game loss to No. 7 USC. Outside attacker Jim Baughman leads the 49ers with a 3.62 kills per game average.
5. No. 4 Stanford (2-0, 1-0 MPSF) vs. Loyola (2-3, 0-0 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: After going 0-3 at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational last week, Loyola has a chance to end its six-match West Coast at .500 if it beats Stanford. Loyola following the season-opening non-conference tournament, defeated UC San Diego and Pacific earlier this week. Outside attacker Joseph Smalzer has led the Ramblers in kills in both victories, including a match-high 13 kills in a sweep against UC San Diego. Stanford open its season Wednesday with a sweep against Pacific. Middle attacker Brian Cook had a match-high 13 kills in the victory.