Spring break is finally here and that means a big weekend of non-conference matches in college men’s volleyball.
No. 3 Penn State looks to rebound from its first loss in more than a month as plays No. 5 USC tonight in Los Angeles, while IPFW hopes to beat No. 10 Long Beach State and send a message that it belongs among the nationally ranked teams.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow tonight.
1. No. 3 Penn State (13-2, 6-0 EIVA) vs. No. 5 USC (11-4, 9-4 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, Pay-per-view online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: Thirty years after Penn State defeated USC in one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, the two teams will meet in a non-conference match. Penn State coach Mark Pavlik, who was a member of that 1982 Nittany Lions team, and his Nittany Lions will play a road match against the Trojans for the first time in program history. Penn State is the highest ranked non-West Coast team but lost to No. 9 Pepperdine on Thursday to snap its nation-best 11-match winning streak. USC is on a six-match winning streak, including five victories against nationally ranked teams. This match will also feature two of the top freshmen in the nation. USC setter Micah Christenson is fifth in the nation with an 11.08 assists per game average. In addition, Penn State middle attacker Aaron Russell is in the nation’s top 20 and leads the Nittany Lions with an 1.16 blocks per game average.
2. No. 6 BYU (13-4, 9-3 MPSF) vs. Pacific (6-12, 4-9 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: The campaign for BYU outside attacker Taylor Sander to win National Player of the Year continues as BYU opens a two-match home series against Pacific. Sander returned to the court last wekk following a month-long absence with a hand injury and had a team-high 34 combined kills in two victories against Pepperdine. Sander prior to his hand injury was leading the nation in kills per game average. Pacific defeated UC San Diego last week to snap a four-match MPSF losing streak. Pacific is also a half-match behind Cal State Northridge for final spot in the MPSF Tournament.
3. No. 10 Long Beach State (9-8, 5-7 MPSF) vs. IPFW (10-6, 2-2 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Long Beach, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
What to know: IPFW will travel to California attempting to achieve something its never done in its program history: beat Long Beach State at home. The Mastodons enter today on a three-match winning streak but are 3-18 all-time against the 49ers. Long Beach State has won four its last six matches, including a five-game win against UC Santa Barbara last week. For more on this match, check out this story from The News-Sentinel.
4. Loyola (10-9, 3-3 MIVA) vs. Cal State Northridge (7-10, 4-8 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Northridge, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: Loyola in the midst of a potential starting setter controversy will play Cal State Northridge to conclude its West Coast road trip. Coach Shane Davis midway through Loyola’s five-game loss to Cal Baptist on Wednesday benched starter Matt Mirick and moved outside attacker Joseph Smalzer to setter. Smalzer had 27 assists to help Loyola rally from a two-game deficit before losing the decisive fifth game. This will be the second time this season that Loyola and Cal State Nothridge have played each other. The Matadors swept the Ramblers in the seventh-place consolation match at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational in January.
5. Ball State (10-6, 2-3 MIVA) vs. Grand Canyon (11-8, 2-0 MIVA)
Match vitals: 6 p.m. in Phoenix, Ariz.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video
What to know: Grand Canyon players and coaches have felt throughout this season that they can be among the top four teams in the MIVA. The Antelopes now get a chance to prove it this weekend. Grand Canyon, which is the only remaining undefeated MIVA team in conference play, will open a two-match home series against Ball State. The Antelopes during their three years in the MIVA have never defeated any team besides Quincy in conference play, but they did force the Cardinals to five games last season. Ball State lost to Cal State Northridge in three games on Wednesday to snap its three match winning streak.