Initial look at NCAA Tournament semifinals matches

After four months of regular season matches and conference tournaments, the men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament is here.

The NCAA announced the four-team tournament field and semifinals pairings Sunday afternoon. Here is an initial look and historical information you need to know heading into the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday at USC.


NCAA TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS

No. 1 seed UC Irvine (24-5, 17-5 MPSF) vs. No. 4 seed Penn State (23-5, 14-0 EIVA)
Match vitals:
6 p.m. Thursday in Los Angeles
Season series: First meeting between the two teams this year.
UC Irvine won the MPSF Tournament to receive the conference’s automatic bid. Penn State won the EIVA Tournament to receive the conference’s automatic bid.
Last NCAA championship: UC Irvine (2009); Penn State (2008)
Historical stats to know: UC Irvine has won the NCAA Tournament the last two times it reached the Final Four, including in 2009 when it was the No. 1 seed. Penn State last year lost in the NCAA Tournament semifinals, but the Nittany Lions have not lost back-to-back NCAA Tournament semifinal matches since the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

No. 2 seed USC (23-5, 18-4 MPSF) vs. No. 3 seed Lewis (26-6, 9-3 MIVA)
Match vitals:
8 p.m. Thursday in Los Angeles
Season series: First meeting between the two teams this year.
How they got here: USC received the at-large bid. Lewis won the MIVA Tournament to receive the conference’s automatic bid.
Last NCAA championship: USC (1990); Lewis (Never)
Historical stats to know: USC is the at-large bid in this year’s tournament — just like in 1990 when the Trojans won their last NCAA championship in program history. Lewis is making its first appearance back in the NCAA Tournament after receiving the men’s volleyball version of the NCAA death penalty in 2004 for using ineligible players.