The madness of April is upon us.
Five conference tournament matches will be played tonight as well as a defacto play-in match for the four-team EIVA Tournament starting next week. The four MPSF Tournament quarterfinal matches highlight postseason play today as five West Coast teams enter still with a chance to get the at-large bid the NCAA Tournament.
Check out all the conference tournament matches from around the nation to follow tonight.
No. 1 seed USC (22-4, 18-4 MPSF) vs. No. 8 seed Cal State Northridge (12-17, 8-14 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Online video, In-match Tweets
Season series: USC leads 2-0 (won in three games in January and April)
What to know: The Trojans are on a nation-best 17-match winning streak — their longest winning streak in more than 20 years — but the MPSF regular season championships will need three more victories to be assured a spot in the Final Four. USC clinched back-to-back conference regular season titles after sweeping Cal State Northridge on Saturday in its regular season-finale. In addition, outside attacker Tony Ciarelli was named the MPSF Player of the Year on Thursday after leading USC’s offense and being ranked in the nation’s top five with a 4.03 kills per game average. Cal State Northridge went 4-4 in its final eight matches to clinch the final spot in the conference tournament.
No. 2 seed Stanford (20-6, 17-5 MPSF) vs. No. 7 seed Pepperdine (14-14, 9-13 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Palo Alto, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
Season series: Stanford leads 2-0 (won in four games in Feburary and five games in March)
What to know: Twenty years after Stanford and Pepperdine played in the NCAA Tournament championship match the two teams will now meet in the first round of the MPSF Tournament. Stanford closed out its regular season on a five-match winning streak, including a sweep against then-No. 2 UCLA last weekend to clinch the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. The Cardinal also have at least a .350 attack percentage in four of their last five matches and are second in the nation with a .340 attack percentage. Pepperdine returns to the postseason following its one-year self-imposed postseason ban for NCAA rule violations. The Waves outside attacker Maurice Torres, who is fifth in the nation with a 4.03 kill games average, is expected to play in this postseason match after sitting out the regular-season finale with a leg injury.
No. 3 seed BYU (23-6, 17-5 MPSF) vs. No. 6 seed Long Beach State (15-14, 10-12 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match Tweets
Season series: Tied at 1-1 (BYU won in three games and Long Beach State won in five games in March)
What to know: BYU one year after suffering its biggest upset home postseason loss in program history will attempt to avoid another upset as it plays host to Long Beach State. The Cougars have a nation-best 3,252 home attendance average and are among the national leaders with a 13-3 home record this season. In addition, the last 10 years BYU has lost two postseason home matches, including last year’s quarterfinals match against UC Santa Barbara. The 49ers split a two-match home series against the Cougars in March and have a history of pulling off upsets in the MPSF Tournament. Long Beach State as the No. 6 seed last season upset the No. 3 seed Stanford to reach the MPSF Tournament semifinals.
No. 4 seed UC Irvine (21-5, 17-5 MPSF) vs. No. 5 seed UCLA (22-7, 16-6 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Irvine, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
Season series: UC Irvine leads 2-1 (UC Irvine won in four games in January and five games in March, UCLA won in three games in March)
What to know: The master coach will go up against one his most distinguished apprentice as Hall of Fame coach Al Scates and UCLA will travel to face coach John Speraw and UC Irvine. Scates, who will retire at the end of this season, is the winningest coach in the NCAA volleyball history and is attempting to win his 20th NCAA championship. Speraw has won two NCAA championships and is the perceived favorite to replace Scates — if Speraw decides at the end of the season to leave UC Irvine. This match will also be one of the first times in MPSF Tournament history that two teams with more than 20 wins will play each other in the quarterfinals.
No. 4 seed Grand Canyon (15-16, 5-7 MIVA) vs. No. 5 seed Ball State (12-11, 5-7 MIVA)
Match vitals: 6 p.m. in Phoenix, Ariz.
Season series: Tied at 1-1 (Grand Canyon won in three games and Ball State won in five games in March)
Follow live: Live stats, Online video
What to know: Sportsmanship does exist — even entering a postseason elimination match. Grand Canyon coach Jeremy Price agreed earlier this week to move up the start time of its quarterfinals match by one hour to accommodate a Ball State team that will travel across two time zones for this match. Grand Canyon — which was unanimously picked to finish the MIVA in last place in the preseason poll — is looking for its postseason win and is hosting its first conference tournament match in program history. This match also sets the MIVA record for the farthest any team had to travel for conference tournament match. Ball State because of the last-minute travel costs associated with this match will not be sending its entire team at this road match.
EIVA REGULAR SEASON
Princeton (12-9, 6-7 EIVA) vs. George Mason (12-15, 8-5 EIVA)
Match vitals: 4 p.m. in Fairfax, Va.
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: Princeton’s chances of making the four-team EIVA Tournament comes down to the final day of the regular season. Princeton enters today one-match behind St. Francis for the final spot in the conference tournament next week. The Tigers, which holds the tiebreaker over the Red Flashes, will have to win their match against the Patriots, and then hope first-place Penn State beats St. Francis later tonight. Princeton’s postseason hopes remain alive after rallying from a two-game deficit to defeat NJIT on Wednesday. Freshman outside attacker Cody Kessel had a match-high 22 kills in the victory. George Mason has already clinched the No. 3 seed for the conference tournament and will play the No. 2 Harvard in the semifinals next week.