Final Four matches past and future could be on display tonight.
No. 2 BYU versus Lewis highlights tonight’s schedule in what could be a preview to this year’s Final Four. However, not to be overlooked is a rematch of the last season’s NCAA championship match as UC Irvine plays host to USC.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow this weekend.
1. No. 2 BYU (2-0, 2-0 MPSF) vs. Lewis (0-3, 0-0 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: The top marquee non-conference match discussed during the preseason is here with the defending MIVA champions Lewis and BYU opening a two-match weekend series. BYU enters these matches after sweeping a two-match series against Hawai’i last week. In addition, BYU has not lost a non-conference match at Smith Fieldhouse in eight years. The hype around this Lewis-BYU series did lose some of its luster after the Flyers went 0-3 at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational last weekend to drop out of the top 10 of the national rankings. Despite the three losses, outside attacker Geoff Powell finished the tournament with a 4.08 kills per game average and earned MIVA Offensive Player of the Week honors. This non-conference series could also have implications at the end of the season during the selection process for the four-team NCAA Tournament. Among the criteria used by the selection committee to determine seeding and the lone at-large bid includes non-conference record, head-to-head record and record against teams under consideration for the NCAA Tournament.
2. No. 1 UC Irvine (5-0, 1-0 MPSF) vs. No. 6 USC (0-1, 0-1 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday in Irvine, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match Tweets
What to know: For the first time since meeting eight months ago in the NCAA championship match, UC Irvine and USC will play each other. The Anteaters opened the season on a five-match winning streak and are on a nation-best 11-match winning streak dating back to last season, including sweeping the Trojans to win the national title. In addition, UC Irvine last week won its second consecutive UC Santa Barbara Invitational, despite All-American outside attacker Kevin Tillie not having a single kill. Tillie returned to the court for UC Irvine’s conference victory against No. 4 Pepperdine on Tuesday and finished with eight kills in the sweep. USC lost its season opener to UC San Diego in three games Thursday. The Trojans in the loss had a .112 attack percentage and did not have a player finish the match with double-digit kills.
3. No. 8 Penn State (0-1, 0-0 EIVA) vs. Hawai’i (0-3, 0-2 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
What to know: One of the Warriors’ top outside attacker for the first time will face the team he left as Hawai’i plays host to Penn State in the Outrigger Invitational. Hawai’i outside attacker Jace Olsen transferred in the off-season to the Warriors after he spent two seasons with the Nittany Lions and earned All-EIVA honors as a freshman. The junior in his first three matches with Hawai’i has a 2.17 kills per game average, including 11 kills in Hawai’i’s tournament opener against Ohio State. Penn State enters the second day of the tournament after losing to UCLA in five games on Thursday. Penn State middle attacker Aaron Russell in the loss had a team-high 12 kills, while middle attacker Matt Seifert added nine kills and led Penn State with a .533 attack percentage.
4. No. 4 UCLA (4-1, 1-0 MPSF) vs. No. 10 Ohio State (2-0, 0-0 MIVA)
Match vitals: 4 p.m. Friday in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, In-match Tweets
What to know: Anyone want to go out on a limb and say this match will go five games. The Bruins’ first five matches this season have all gone to a decisive fifth game, including UCLA’s victory against Penn State on Thursday to open the Outrigger Invitational. UCLA outside attacker Robart Page in the tournament victory had a match-high 17 kills. This was also the third consecutive match that Page led the Bruins in kills. In addition, outside attacker Dane Worley had a season-high five aces against Penn State. Ohio State in its tournament opener defeated Hawai’i in five games and at one point had a .889 attack percentage late in the decisive fifth game. Outside attacker Andrew Lutz had a career-high 20 kills against Hawai’i. The victory also snapped Ohio State’s six match losing streak at the Outrigger Invitational dating back to 2009.
5. St. Francis (0-1, 0-0 EIVA) vs. IPFW (0-0, 0-0 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: IPFW looks to open its season with a home victory against St. Francis after they defeated the Red Flashes twice last season. This is the second of four matches for the Red Flashes against the MIVA to open their season. St. Francis lost in three games to Ohio State in its season opener last week. For more on this match, check out this story in today’s issue of The News-Sentinel.