It’s the start of the second half of the season, and it’s a must-win day for several teams with the conference tournaments looming.
No. 6 BYU will look to stay in the top four of the MPSF standings as it plays host to No. 9 Pepperdine. In addition, Hawai’i will attempt to stay in contention for a spot in the conference tournament as it travels to play No. 5 USC.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow tonight.
1. No. 6 BYU (11-4, 7-3 MPSF) vs. No. 9 Pepperdine (8-6, 6-5 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: BYU will continue its season-long eight match homestand with a two-match weekend series against Pepperdine, but the major question entering these matches is the status of the Cougars All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander. Sander missed last month with a hand injury and reports came out last weekend that the sophomore could play against Pepperdine. BYU since Sander’s injury is 3-3 in MPSF play, including an upset loss to UC Santa Barbara on Saturday to drop to fourth place in the conference. Pepperdine since opening the conference 5-1 as lost four of its last five MPSF matches. However, Pepperdine defeated Pacific on Saturday for its second road victory.
2. No 5 USC (9-4, 7-4 MPSF) vs. Hawai’i (6-9, 3-7 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, Pay-per-view online video
What to know: Two of the nation’s top outside attackers will face each other as USC and Hawai’i open a two-match conference series. USC outside attacker Tony Ciarelli is third in the nation with a 4.17 kills per game average. Ciarelli is also the reigning AVCA National Player of the Week after having a season-high 28 kills in a five-game upset victory against then-No. 1 Stanford on Saturday. Hawai’i outside attacker Steven Hunt leads the MPSF and is second in the nation with a 4.18 kills per game average. The Warriors, though, are on a four-match losing streak and a half-match behind Long Beach State for the eighth place in the conference — the final spot for a berth in the MPSF Tournament.
3. No. 1 UCLA (16-2, 10-1 MPSF) vs. Cal State Northridge (6-9, 4-7 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. at Northridge, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: If Cal State Northridge is going to upset UCLA, its best chance will be tonight at home. The Matadors have one of the nation’s greatest home-to-road record disparities going 4-1 at home and 1-7 on the road. Cal State Northridge’s only home loss was against then-No. 4 Stanford. UCLA midway through the MPSF season is in first place and has a one-match lead on second-place Stanford. The Bruins also swept the Matadors in the first conference match against each other in January.
4. No. 3 UC Irvine (12-3, 8-3 MPSF) vs. Pacific (5-11, 3-8 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Stockton, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: UC Irvine will begin its season-long six match road with a conference match against Pacific. The Anteaters close out the regular season with eight of their final 10 matches on the road. In addition, UC Irvine is 5-0 away from its home court and is on a three-match winning streak. Pacific has a better record on the road than at home this season. The Tigers are on a six-match home losing streak and has not won a home match since the first week of the regular season.
5. Lindenwood (9-6) vs. Cal Baptist (3-13)
Match vitals: 4 p.m. in St. Charles, Mo.
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed
What to know: Former NAIA powerhouses that are transitioning to the NCAA Division I-II will meet in the Lindenwood Classic. Lindenwood will play host to Cal Baptist, the defending NAIA champions, to open its two-day non-conference tournament. Lindenwood is in the second year of its NCAA transition and will likely join the MIVA, while Cal Baptist is in the third year of its transition and will join the MPSF next season. Both teams have had some struggles in this transition year against Division I-II teams. Lindenwood is on a three-match losing streak to Division I-II teams, and Cal Baptist is on a seven-match losing streak.
BEST OF THE REST
IPFW (8-6, 2-2 MIVA) vs. NJIT (6-8, 2-2 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: It’s the unofficial Alphabet Soup Bowl as IPFW and NJIT begin a two-match non-conference weekend series. IPFW enters this match after rallying from a two-game deficit to defeat Loyola last week, while NJIT has lost three of its last four matches. For more on this match, check out this article in today’s The News-Sentinel.