Top 5 men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight

Who needs the nation’s top ranked team in action to have compelling matches.

No. 1 BYU is on a bye this weekend but there are several intriguing matches, including Long Beach State trying to show its critics that it is a top-five team in the nation. In addition, out on the East Coast Penn State looks to extend its historic conference winning streak, while two undefeated teams collide in North Carolina.

Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow this tonight.


1. No. 3 UC Irvine (5-3, 2-3 MPSF) vs. No. 8 Long Beach State (5-2, 3-1 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Irvine, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match Tweets
What to know: Long Beach State is in second place in the MPSF but is looking to get a signature road victory against the defending-NCAA champions UC Irvine and prove it belongs among the conference’s elite. The 49ers are on a three-match winning streak, including sweeping a two-match home series against Hawai’i last weekend. Outside attacker Taylor Crabb was named the MPSF Player of the Week after having 54 combined kills in Long Beach State’s three matches during the winning streak. The junior is fifth in the MPSF with a 4.08 kills per game average. UC Irvine defeated Cal State Northridge in four games Wednesday to snap its three-match losing streak. Setter Daniel Stork in the victory started in place of senior Chris Austin for the second consecutive match. Austin, a 2012 NCAA All-Tournament Team selection, also did not play or travel with UC Irvine last weekend for its road match against BYU because of a previous commitment the setter made to coach a youth volleyball team in a qualifying tournament. Stork had 42 assists as the Anteaters had a .377 attack percentage in the victory against the Matadors.

2. No. 10 UC Santa Barbara (3-3, 1-2 MPSF) vs. Pacific (2-2, 1-2 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Stockton, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
What to know: Two of the top passers in the nation will face each other as Pacific plays host to UC Santa Barbara. Pacific libero Javier Caceres, a Preseason All-American selection, is fourth in the MPSF with a 2.47 digs per game average. In addition, Caceres helped hold USC to a season-low .180 attack percentage Sunday as the Tigers defeated the Trojans for the first time since 2007. UC Santa Barbara outside attacker Chad Kingi leads the MPSF averaging 2.77 digs per game. Kingi is also third on the Guachos with a 2.57 kills per game average. However, UC Santa Barbara after opening the season 3-1 enters this match on a two-match losing streak.

3. Ball State (3-0, 0-0 MIVA) vs. Mount Olive (4-0, 3-0 Conference Carolinas)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. Friday in Mount Olive, N.C.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: Two of the nation’s six remaining undefeated teams will go head-to-head in non-conference play as Mount Olive takes on Ball State. Ball State last week defeated Sacred Heart and NJIT to open its two-week, four-match East Coast road trip. Both the Cardinals starting middle attackers lead the MIVA in blocks. Matt Leske, who earned MIVA Defensive Player of the Week honors on Monday, is first in the conference with a 1.91 blocks per game average. In addition, middle attacker Kevin Owens leads the MIVA with a .393 attack percentage and is second in the conference averaging 1.55 blocks per game. Mount Olive has yet to lose a game in its four matches so far this season. The Trojans have won two of the last three Conference Carolinas championship and were the preseason favorites to win this year’s conference title. Mount Olive middle attacker Richard Hesse also leads the Conference Carolinas with a 1.17 blocks per game average.


4. No. 2 Pepperdine (3-1, 3-1 MPSF) vs. Hawai’i (1-6, 0-4 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
What to know: If Hawai’i this weekend is going to get its first conference victory, it will have to stop the top offense in the MPSF. Pepperdine leads the MPSF with a .369 attack percentage as it opens a two-match road conference series against Hawai’i on Friday. Waves setter Matt West is first in the MPSF with a 11.38 assists per game average, while outside attacker Maurice Torres leads Pepperdine and is fifth in the conference averaging 3.92 kills per game. Hawai’i is in last place in the conference after losing two road matches against Long Beach State last week. The Warriors in both losses failed to have more than a .200 attack percentage.

5. No. 6 Penn State (4-1, 0-0 EIVA) vs. Sacred Heart (0-3, 0-0 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match Tweets
What to know: The last time Penn State lost a conference match: “Semi-Pro” was the No. 1 movie in the nation and George W. Bush was the president. Penn State and its 58-match conference winning streak that started in 2008 will be on the line as it opens its EIVA season against Sacred Heart. The Nittany Lions are 4-0 all-time against the Pioneers, including two sweeps last season. In addition, Penn State in non-conference play Tuesday had a season-high .494 attack percentage as it swept Loyola for its fourth consecutive victory. Sacred Heart opens EIVA play after losing three non-conference matches to MIVA teams.

BEST OF THE REST
Cal State Northridge (3-2, 1-2 MPSF) vs. UC San Diego (3-4, 2-2 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in San Diego
Follow live: Live stats, Online video
What to know: UC San Diego will try to continue one of its best starts to conference play in program history as it plays host to Cal State Northridge. The Tritons have won two of their three home matches so far this season, while the Matadors have lost their only road match in the first month of the season.

Loyola (4-4, 0-0 MIVA) vs. George Mason (1-3, 0-0 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Chicago
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match Tweets
What to know: Loyola and George Mason will meet again less than one week after the Ramblers swept the Patriots in a non-conference match. Outside attacker Joseph Smalzer in that victory led the Ramblers with 13 kills, while George Mason outside attacker Andrew Dentler had a match-high 15 kills.