The biggest weekend of non-conference matches is being overshadowed by a matchup between the top two teams in the nation.
No. 1 UCLA will play host to No. 2 UC Irvine as the Bruins attempt to extend their first-place lead in the MPSF. In addition, No. 7 Lewis looks to rebound from its upset loss against Cal Baptist and closes the Active Ankle Tournament against No. 10 Long Beach State.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow this weekend.
1. No. 1 UCLA (17-2, 11-1 MPSF) vs. No. 2 UC Irvine (15-3, 11-3 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: There couldn’t be more intriguing storylines for this match between the top two teams in the nation. UC Irvine coach John Speraw will face UCLA with him being considered one of the leading candidates to replace Hall of Fame Bruins coach Al Scates, who will retire at the end of the season. This match could also have significant ramifications with the NCAA Tournament selection committee. Head-to-head record is among the seven pieces of criteria used by the committee to determine NCAA Tournament seeding and the lone at-large bid. More immediate, though, a UCLA victory could give the Bruins a commanding lead in the MPSF. UCLA has a one-and-half match lead over second-place UC Irvine with nine matches remaining in the MPSF regular season.
2. No. 7 Lewis (13-4, 3-1 MIVA) vs. No. 8 Long Beach State (10-8, 5-7 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Long Beach, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match Tweets
What to know: Long Beach State and Lewis will close out the Active Ankle Tournament in a rematch of one of the biggest non-conference upsets from last season. Lewis will travel to Long Beach State’s home tournament for the second consecutive year. The Flyers last season defeated the 49ers in five games. Lewis entered this weekend on an eight-match winning streak, but lost to Cal Baptist in five games Friday. Long Beach State has won five of its last seven matches, including a sweep against IPFW in its Active Ankle Tournament opener on Friday.
3. No. 5 USC (12-4, 9-4 MPSF) vs. No. 9 Pepperdine (9-8, 6-7 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Malibu, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video
What to know: USC and Pepperdine after beating No. 3 Penn State earlier this week will face each other in conference play. USC swept Penn State on Friday to extend its winning streak to a nation-best seven matches. The Trojans in the victory also held the Nittany Lions to a season-low .069 attack percentage. Pepperdine defeated Penn State in five games on Wednesday to snap a two-match losing streak. However, the Waves enter tonight having lost six of their last seven MPSF matches. This match will also feature two of the top freshmen setters in the nation. USC setter Micah Christenson and Pepperdine setter Matt West are both in the nation’s top five for assists per game average.
4. Ball State (10-8, 2-4 MIVA) vs. Grand Canyon (12-8, 3-0 MIVA)
Match vitals: 6 p.m. in Phoenix, Ariz.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video
What to know: Grand Canyon’s players and coaches have said all season long they are a top-four MIVA team. The Antelopes began to prove that Friday as it swept Ball State to open a two-match weekend series. The victory was the first time in Grand Canyon program history that it defeated a MIVA team besides Quincy. Grand Canyon also remains the only undefeated team left in MIVA play. Ball State with the loss stays in sixth place in the MIVA. This match is also a likely must-win for the Cardinals if they want to maintain their 12-year streak of hosting at least one match in the MIVA Tournament.
5. No. 6 BYU (14-4, 10-3 MPSF) vs. Pacific (6-13, 4-10 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: BYU and Pacific will conclude their two-match conference series after it took the Cougars less than 90 minutes to swept the Tigers in the opener Friday. BYU out-blocked Pacific 12-3 in the victory. In addition, middle attacker Futi Tavana had a match-high eight blocks and in the third game set the BYU rally scoring record for career blocks. Outside attacker Taylor Sander also led BYU with 11 kills — his third consecutive match with double-digit kills since returning from a hand injury. Pacific with this loss moves one-match behind eighth-place Cal State Northridge for the final berth to the MPSF Tournament.