NCAA Tournament men’s volleyball semifinal matches to follow tonight

It’s been four long months, but by the end of the night the NCAA Tournament championship match will be set.

The NCAA Tournament semifinals will take place tonight at the Galen Center as the No. 1 seed UC Irvine will try to avoid the upset against the No. 4 seed Penn State. In addition, the No. 2 seed USC will put its home court advantage to the test as it plays the No. 3 seed Lewis in the other semifinal.

Check out the NCAA Tournament semifinal matches to follow tonight.


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. in Los Angeles
Season series: First meeting between the two teams this year.
Last NCAA championship: UC Irvine (2009); Penn State (2008)
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, In-match Tweets (PSU), In-match Tweets (UCI)
What to know: The top two serving teams in the nation will square off against each other to open the NCAA Tournament semifinals. Penn State leads the nation with a 1.69 aces per game average, while UC Irvine leads the MPSF and is second in the nation with a 1.64 aces per game average. In addition, the Nittany Lions and Anteaters were the only two teams in the nation to have more than 150 aces this season. Both teams also had big serving performances in their conference tournaments. Penn State had nine aces — including three from freshman middle attacker Aaron Russell — in a four-game victory against George Mason in the EIVA Tournament championship match on Saturday. UC Irvine combined for 16 aces in its three MPSF Tournament matches, including eight aces in a five-game comeback victory against USC in the semifinals. This match will also feature four players who are in nation’s top 20 for aces. UC Irvine outside attacker Carson Clark was second in the nation with 53 aces, while outside attacker Jeremy Dejno added 35 aces. Penn State middle attacker Nick Turko is second in the EIVA and eighth in the nation with 45 aces and outside attacker Joe Sunder was second in Penn State with 29 aces.

No. 2 seed USC (23-5, 18-4 MPSF) vs. No. 3 seed Lewis (26-6, 9-3 MIVA)
Match vitals:
8 p.m. in Los Angeles
Season series: First meeting between the two teams this year.
Last NCAA championship: USC (1990); Lewis (Never)
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, In-match Tweets (USC), In-match Tweets (Lewis)
What to know: For the first time in college volleyball history, Lewis and USC will play each other in a NCAA Tournament match. Lewis rallied to defeat Ohio State in five games in the MIVA Tournament championship match on Saturday to reach its first NCAA Tournament in eight years. This is also the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since receiving the men’s volleyball version of the NCAA death penalty in 2004 for using ineligible players. The NCAA rule violations resulted in Lewis’ coach leaving the university and being replaced by Dan Friend, and the program — along with getting scholarship reductions and a two-year postseason ban — having to vacate its 2003 NCAA championship. USC received the at-large bid after losing in the MPSF Tournament semifinals. The Trojans entered that conference tournament match as the MPSF regular season championships and on an 18-match winning streak. USC is 6-0 all-time against MIVA teams in the NCAA Tournament, but this will be the first time since 1991 it will face a MIVA team in the tournament. The Trojans are also 13-1 all-time against non-West Coast teams in the NCAA Tournament with that one loss coming against Penn state 30 years ago.