It’s only the first Saturday of the regular season, but there is plenty of intrigue for volleyball fans with tonight’s matches.
No. 1 UC Irvine and No. 6 for the second straight year meet in the UC Santa Barbara Invitational championship match, but this time coach John Speraw is on the UCLA sidelines. In addition, No. 2 BYU looks to avoid an upset and remain perfect in the MPSF as it plays a home match against Hawai’i.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow tonight.
1. No. 1 UC Irvine (3-0, 0-0 MPSF) vs. No. 6 UCLA (2-0, 0-0 MPSF)
Match vitals: 6:30 p.m. in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Follow live: In-match Tweets
What to know: It didn’t take long for coach John Speraw’s old and new teams to meet — four days into the season and in the UC Santa Barbara Invitational championship match to top it off. Speraw after leading UC Irvine last season its third NCAA championship in six years opted to leave the school and become the new head coach at UCLA. The Bruins in their first matches under Speraw defeated UC Santa Barbara and UC San Digeo both in five games Friday to advance to the championship match of the non-conference tournament. UC Irvine, the defending tournament champions, swept Cal Baptist and No. 7 Long Beach State to reach the championship match. This is the second consecutive season that UC Irvine and UCLA have played each other in the UC Santa Barbara Invitational championship match. Outside attacker Jeremy Dejno last season in the four-game victory had a 16 kills and was named the tournament most valuable player.
2. No. 2 BYU (1-0, 1-0 MPSF) vs. Hawai’i (0-1, 0-1 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Live stats, In-game Tweets
What to know: BYU will look to complete the two-match series sweep after defeating Hawai’i in three games in its season opener Friday. BYU All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander had a match-high 14 kills and .542 attack percentage against Hawai’i. In addition, the Cougars out-hit the Warriors .388 to .101, including holding Hawai’i to a zero attack percentage in the final game. Penn State transfer outside attacker Jace Olsen led Hawai’i with 10 kills in the loss, but also finished with a negative attack percentage.
3. No. 7 Long Beach State (1-1, 0-0 MPSF) vs. UC San Diego (1-1, 0-0 MPSF)
Match vitals: 4 p.m. in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: UC San Diego is using the UC Santa Barbara Invitational to make a case for why preseason polls are irrelevant. After being almost unanimously picked in the preseason to finish the MPSF in last place, UC San Diego on its opening day defeated No. 5 Lewis and pushed No. 6 UCLA to five games before losing. The Tritons having split their Friday matches will now play the 49ers in the third-place match of the non-conference tournament. Long Beach State swept No. 10 Loyola in the opening round before losing to UC Irvine in the semifinals. Preseason All-American outside attacker Taylor Crabb against Loyola had a match-high 15 kills.
4. No. 3 Stanford (1-0, 0-0 MPSF) vs. George Mason (0-1, 0-0 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Palo Alto, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video
What to know: The Cardinal after beating a MIVA team in its season opener will now look to get a home victory against a EIVA school as it plays host to George Mason. Stanford in its season-opening victory against Grand Canyon on Friday had two players finish with double-digit kills. In addition, freshman setter James Shaw in his first collegiate match had a match-high 38 assists and helped guide the Cardinal offense to a .315 attack percentage. George Mason opened its season Friday with a three-game road loss to Pacific. Outside attacker Michael Kvidahl in the loss led the Patriots with 15 kills.
5. Ohio State (0-0, 0-0 MIVA) vs. St. Francis (0-0, 0-0 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio
Follow live: Pay-per-view Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: Life without All-American outside attacker Shawn Sangrey begins for Ohio State. The Buckeyes return a majority of starters after winning the 2012 MIVA regular season championship, but no returning player had at least 2.00 kills per game average last season. In addition, an Ohio State victory is needed for the MIVA to salvage something from the opening weekend after teams went a combined 0-5 in Friday’s matches. St. Francis opens the season on a four-match Midwest road trip. The Red Flashes were picked to finish in fifth place in the EIVA Preseason Coaches Poll.
BEST OF THE REST
Ball State (0-0, 0-0 MIVA) vs. Alumni
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Muncie, Ind.
Follow live: In-match Tweets
What to know: The alumni match ultimately is irrelevant — unless Hall of Fame coaches Mick Haley and Arnie Ball decide to suit up for the Alumni team. What is interesting is the match caps off a weekend celebration honoring the Cardinals for entering their 50th season as a varsity sport. Ball State in 1964 was one of the first colleges to make men’s volleyball varsity sport and that decision helped lead to the growth of the game in the Midwest.