The spotlight will be on the West Coast as two men’s volleyball matches will be nationally televised tonight.
No. 1 UC Irvine looks to snap its two-match losing streak as it travels to No. 3 BYU in match that will air on BYUtv. In addition, No. 2 Stanford and No. 7 USC will make history tonight — becoming the first two men’s volleyball teams to play on the Pac-12 Network.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow this Friday.
1. No. 1 UC Irvine (5-2, 1-2 MPSF) vs. No. 3 BYU (3-1, 2-0 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: The potential No. 1 versus No. 2 match-up that everyone dreamed about entering last weekend lost some of its pop as both teams are coming off recent losses. BYU last week blew a two-game lead against Lewis and lost in five games, but recovered the following night to sweep the Flyers to split the two-match series. UC Irvine enters this conference match on a two-match losing steak after losing to USC last week and then being upset on the road against Cal Baptist on Wednesday. This match will also feature two of the top outside attackers in the nation — and the two preseason front-runners for the AVCA National Player of the Year. BYU outside attacker Taylor Sander through the first four matches leads BYU and is among the MPSF leaders with a 3.87 kills per game average. In addition, outside attacker Kevin Tillie coming off of an injury had a season-high 15 kills in UC Irvine’s loss to Cal Baptist.
2. No. 2 Stanford (4-0, 1-0 MPSF) vs. No. 7 USC (1-1, 1-1 MPSF)
Match vitals: 6 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: For the first time in the television network’s history, a college men’s volleyball match will air live on the Pac-12 Network as USC plays host to Stanford. The Stanford-USC match will be the first of eight regular season men’s volleyball matches to air on the Pac-12 Network. Stanford enters this nationally televised match as the only undefeated team left in the MPSF. The Cardinal offense also has had more than a .300 attack percentage in all its matches this season. In addition, Stanford freshman setter James Shaw is among the MPSF leaders with a 10.86 assists per game average. USC is holding opponents to a .200 attack percentage and is second in the conference averaging 3.83 blocks per game. Trojans middle attacker Robert Feathers earned AVCA National Players of the Week honors after having six blocks and a match-high 12 kills in USC’s upset victory against UC Irvine last week.
3. No. 6 Penn State (2-1, 0-0 EIVA) vs. No. 10 Lewis (1-4, 0-0 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match Tweets
What to know: The early season title of Best Team East of the Mississippi River will be decided with the winner of this non-conference match. Penn State plays its home opener after going 2-1 at the Outrigger Invitational last week with its only loss being in five games against UCLA. Middle attacker Aaron Russell also earned All-Tournament honors after leading the Nittany Lions with a 3.23 kills per game average. Lewis last weekend ended a three-match losing streak to open the season as it split a two-match non-conference series against BYU. Outside attacker Geoff Powell in Lewis’ lone victory this season had a match-high 24 kills and a .767 attack percentage. The winner of this non-conference will also hold an advantage if both preseason conference favorites reach the Final Four. Among the selection committee’s criteria used to determine seeding for the NCAA Tournament includes head-to-head record.
4. No. 5 UCLA (5-3, 1-1 MPSF) vs. No. 8 UC Santa Barbara (3-2, 1-1 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
What to know: There is drama involving players on a Los Angeles team — and it’s not the Lakers. The Daily Bruin reported Wednesday that coach John Speraw informed several UCLA starters to not even attend its home MPSF match against Long Beach State earlier this week after the players made decisions the coach described as not “in the best interest of this program.” UCLA without its full lineup lost to Long Beach State in four games and has now lost back-to-back matches for the first time this season. This will be the second time that the Bruins and Gauchos have played each other this season. UCLA in its season opener rallied from a two-game deficit to defeat UC Santa Barbara in five games at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational. The Gauchos since that loss have won three of their last four matches. In addition, freshman setter Jonah Seif leads the MPSF with a 11.00 assists per game average.
5. No. 8 Cal State Northridge (2-1, 1-1 MPSF) vs. Grand Canyon (2-2, 0-0 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Northridge, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match Tweets
What to know: Grand Canyon will attempt to get its first victory in program history against a MPSF school as it travels to play Cal State Northridge. The Antelopes since joining the MIVA in 2010 are on a 10-match losing streak against MPSF teams — including a four-game loss against Stanford to open its season. Grand Canyon last weekend defeated NJIT and Sacred Heart to improve to .500. Middle attacker Ryan Mather leads the Antelopes with a 3.00 assists per game average and a .397 attack percentage. Cal State Northridge is on a two-match winning streak after losing to UCLA in its season opener last week. This will also be the first home non-conference match against a Division I-II team for Cal State Northridge since it lost to Harvard last year — one of the Matadors’ biggest upset losses in program history.