It’s the midway mark of the regular season and several teams are looking to make statement victories tonight.
No. 2 Stanford and No. 3 UC Irvine will play each other in a match that could have ramifications at the end of the season when the selection committee determines the Final Four field. In addition, No. 6 Penn State after a perfect February looks to get a signature victory against its Big Ten brother No. 9 Ohio State.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches to follow this weekend.
1. No. 2 Stanford (13-3, 10-2 MPSF) vs. No. 3 UC Irvine (13-3, 9-3 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Palo Alto, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Pay-per-view online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: Two weeks after Stanford swept UC Irvine in match that Anteaters coach John Speraw described as his team getting their “butts kicked,” both teams will meet again for a MPSF matches. UC Irvine since that lost is on a four-match winning streak, including a four-game win against Pacific on Friday. In addition, Anteaters outside attacker Kevin Tillie has at-least 10 kills in each match during the winning streak. Stanford enters this match after losing a five-game against USC last week to snap a conference-best eight match winning streak. The loss also resulted in the Cardinal dropping from No. 1 in the national rankings.
2. No. 6 Penn State (12-1, 6-0 EIVA) vs. No. 9 Ohio State (13-5, 3-1 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match Tweets
What to know: The nation’s best offense will go up against the nation’s best offensive player as Ohio State and Penn State renew their rivalry. Penn State leads the nation with a .376 attack percentage, while Ohio State outside attacker Shawn Sangery leads the nation with a 4.78 kills per game average. Sangery also has a nation-high 617 attack attempts and has at least 15 kills in eight of the Buckeyes last 10 matches. The Nittany Lions are on a 10-match winning streak and did not lose a single set during the entire month of February. This will be the second time this season that Penn State and Ohio State have played each other. The Nittany Lions swept the Buckeyes in January in Columbus, Ohio.
3. No. 5 BYU (12-4, 8-3 MPSF) vs. No. 10 Pepperdine (8-7, 6-6 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Online video, https://twitter.com/#!/byuvolleyball
What to know: BYU All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander’s return to the court was more than impressive Friday. Sander playing in his first match in almost a month because of a hand injury had a match-high 21 kills as BYU defeated Pepperdine in four games to open their two-match conference series. In addition, Sander had those offensive numbers despite his hand being what he described as 80 percent healed. Pepperdine outside attacker Maurice Torres had a team-high 20 kills in the loss and surpassed the 1,000 career kill milestone. Pepperdine with the loss, though, has now lost five of its last six MPSF matches.
4. Harvard (10-2, 4-2 EIVA) vs. Princeton (6-4, 5-2 EIVA)
Match vitals: 4 p.m. in Princeton, N.J.
Follow live: Live stats, Pay-per-view online video
What to know: Two of the biggest surprise teams of the year will play each for the chance to claim sole possession of second place in the EIVA. After Harvard and Princeton went a combined 12-32 last season, both teams are now in contention for spot in the four-team EIVA Tournament. Harvard defeated George Mason in five games Friday to move into third place in the conference. Princeton has won four of its last five matches and has a half-match lead on Harvard for second place. This match will also feature two of the top outside attakcers in the EIVA. Harvard outside attacker leads the conference and in the nation’s top five with a 4.14 kills per game average. In addition, Princeton outside attacker Cody Kessel is among the nation’s top 20 with a 3.55 kills per game average.
5. UC San Diego (3-14, 1-11 MPSF) vs. Pacific (5-12, 3-9 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7:30 p.m. in Stockton, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: If Pacific has any hopes of making the MPSF Tournament, this home match against last-place UC San Diego is a near must-win. Pacific begins today tied for 10th place in the MPSF and one-match behind Cal State Northridge for the final spot in the conference tournament. In addition, the Tigers are on a seven-match home losing streak, including a four-game loss to UC Irvine on Saturday. UC San Diego is on a 10-match MPSF losing streak. The Tritons also lost at home to the Tigers in three games two weeks ago.