The biggest weekend of the regular season will begin with several critical matches occurring across the nation.
No. 10 Ohio State will try to move back into the top three of the MIVA standings as it plays host to Loyola in a nationally televised match. In addition, out on the West Coast two top 10 teams face each other as No. 5 Stanford travels to No. 8 Pepperdine.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow tonight.
1. No. 10 Ohio State (14-8, 4-3 MIVA) vs. Loyola (16-10, 7-3 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7:05 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match Tweets
What to know: For the first time in recent history, a MIVA match will be nationally televised live. Ohio State will play host to Loyola in a conference match that will air on the Big Ten Network. Loyola has won four MIVA matches in the last 10 days to jump into second place in the conference standings. In addition, Loyola rallied from a two-game deficit to upset No. 6 Lewis on Tuesday — the Ramblers first victory against a top 10 ranked team this season. The Buckeyes enter this weekend having lost two of their last three matches since their bye week. Ohio State coming out of its bye week lost to Ball State — their first loss to the Cardinals in four years — and then split a two-match series against Quincy. The loss last weekend was the first time Quincy defeated Ohio State in its program history. The Loyola-Ohio State match will also feature two of the top opposites in the conference. Ohio State outside attacker Shawn Sangrey leads the nation with a 4.91 kills per game average, while Loyola outside attacker Joseph Smalzer is fifth in the MIVA with a 3.57 kills per game average and was named the AVCA National Player of the Week on Tuesday.
2. No. 5 Stanford (14-5, 11-4 MPSF) vs. No. 8 Pepperdine (12-10, 7-9 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Malibu, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video
What to know: Two of the top setters in the MPSF will face each other as Pepperdine plays host to Stanford. Stanford setter Evan Barry leads the MPSF with a 12.00 assists per game avrerage, while Pepperdine freshman setter Matt West is second in the conference with an 11.43 assists per game average. In addition, the match will end Stanford’s 23-day hiatus between matches. This is the longest layoff for a MPSF team this season. Stanford entered its bye weeks having lost three of its last five matches, including getting upset on its home court against Hawai’i. Pepperdine returns to MPSF play after sweeping George Mason last week in its non-conference finale.
3. No. 7 Penn State (16-3, 9-0 EIVA) vs. Princeton (7-7, 5-5 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Princeton, N.J.
Follow live: Pay-per-view online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: The EIVA top freshman will go up against the conference’s dynasty. Princeton and its freshman outside attacker Cody Kessel will play host to Penn State. Kessel leads all freshmen in the nation with a 3.91 kills per game average, including a season-high 31 kills in a five-game victory against Juniata last week. However, the first time Penn State and Princeton played this season Kessel was held to eight kills in a three-game loss. Penn State, the 13-time defending EIVA championships, has already clinched a berth to the four-team EIVA Tournament. In addition, the Nittany Lions are five wins away from their fourth consecutive undefeated season in conference play.
4. No. 9 Long Beach State (11-12, 6-10 MPSF) vs. Hawai’i (7-16, 4-14 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Pay-per-view online video
What to know: Hawai’i’s last gasp effort to make a run at a spot in the MPSF Tournament will be this weekend as it opens a two-match series against Long Beach State. With four matches remaining in its conference schedule, Hawai’i is in 11th place and three matches behind Long Beach State for the final berth in the eight-team conference tournament. In addition, Hawai’i is on a four match losing streak, including losing two matches to seventh-place Cal State Northridge last week. The Warriors have failed to qualify for the MPSF Tournament twice since joining the conference in 1994. Long Beach State travels to Hawai’i after upsetting No. 4 BYU in five games last week to split their two-match series. That victory also snapped a four-match losing streak for the 49ers and was their second MPSF victory in almost one month.
5. No. 4 BYU (19-5, 15-4 MPSF) vs. Cal State Northridge (10-14, 6-11 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: BYU will attempt to complete the two-match series sweep against Cal State Northridge after defeating the Matadors in three games Friday. BYU out-hit Cal State Northridge .423 to .044 in the opener, including a match-high .533 attack percentage during a 15-point opening game win. In addition, outside attacker Taylor Sander had a match-high 16 kills in the victory. This was the fourth time in the last five matches that Sander finished with at least 15 kills. Cal State Northridge outside attacker Julius Hoefer in the loss had a season-low four kills and a -.214 attack percentage.