Conference tournament men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight

Four more tickets will be punched to Conference Championship Saturday by the end of the night.

The top-four nationally ranked teams will be on display in Provo, Utah, with both MPSF Tournament semifinal matches, including No. 2 UC Irvine playing No. 3 Long Beach State in match potentially critical to the NCAA Tournament at-large bid. In addition out in the East Coast, Penn State will look to continue its 15-year domination of the conference tournament as the EIVA Tournament begins tonight.

Check out the conference tournament matches from around the nation to follow tonight.


MPSF TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS

No. 1 seed BYU (23-4, 21-3 MPSF) vs. No. 4 seed UCLA (21-10, 16-8 MPSF)
Match vitals:
8 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match Tweets
Season series: Tied at 1-1 (BYU won in three games in February; UCLA won in three games in April)
Last MPSF Tournament title: BYU (2004); UCLA (2006)
What to know: It’s been five years since BYU or UCLA has played in the MPSF Tournament championship match. That streak will end tonight one way or another as the Cougars and Bruins play each other in the conference tournament semifinals. BYU enters the semifinals after surviving an upset scare and beating the No. 8 seed Hawai’i in five games Saturday. The Cougars are hosting their first conference tournament since winning it 2004, and BYU, according to the latest Off the Block projections, has already clinched the at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament even if it loses tonight. The Bruins face a must-win situation tonight as they need to win the conference tournament to get into the Final Four, which will take place at UCLA next week. UCLA during the weekend swept Pepperdine for one of its first postseason victories since winning the 2006 MPSF Tournament and NCAA championship.

No. 2 seed UC irvine (23-6, 18-6 MPSF) vs. No. 3 seed Long Beach State (23-7, 18-6 MPSF)
Match vitals:
5 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
Season series: UC Irvine leads 3-0 (won in three games in January, in five games in January and in four games in March)
Last MPSF Tournament title: UC Irvine (2012); Long Beach State (never)
What to know: Coach Alan Knipe eight months after almost guiding the U.S. Men’s National Team to a medal in the Olympics will now have to beat a team with the top international player in the college men’s volleyball for his 49ers to stay alive for a spot in the Final Four. With the NCAA Tournament at-large bid and a spot in the conference championship match on the line, Long Beach State and UC Irvine will play in the MPSF Tournament semifinals. UC Irvine outside attacker Kevin Tillie, a member of the France National Team, is in the nation’s top 10 with a 3.75 kills per game average and was named a First-Team All-American on Thursday. Tillie in his postseason college career has four matches with at lest 20 kills and since he joined Anteaters last season the team is undefeated in postseason play. Long Beach State outside attacker Taylor Crabb also earned First-Team All-American honors on Thursday after finishing in the nation’s top five with a 4.13 kills per game.


EIVA TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS

No. 1 seed Penn State (21-7, 13-1 EIVA) vs. No. 4 seed Princeton (13-9, 9-5 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7:30 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker, Pay-per-view online video, In-match Tweets
Season series: Penn State leads 2-0 (won in four games in February and four games in March)
Last EIVA Tournament title: Penn State (2012); Princeton (1998)
What to know: No one needs to remind coach Mark Pavlik about the last time Penn State lost in the EIVA Tournament. The future Hall of Fame coach can still vividly remember Penn State’s loss to Princeton in 1998 EIVA Tournament. Fifteen years later and with the Nittany Lions on a 35-match conference tournament winning streak, Penn State and Princeton will once again meet in the EIVA Tournament semifinals. The Nittany Lions enter this conference tournament after winning their 15th consecutive out-right EIVA regular season championship last weekend. Princeton is making its second straight appearance in the conference tournament, but has not defeated Penn State since that 1998 postseason match. This match will also feature two of the top outside attackers in the conference. Penn State outside attacker Aaron Russell earned Co-EIVA Player of the Year honors and was among the conference’s top five with a 3.70 kills per game average. Princeton outside attacker Pat Schwagler finished the regular season second in the EIVA averaging a 3.70 kills per game. In addition, Schwagler had 31 combined kills in Princeton’s two regular season losses to Penn State.

No. 2 seed George Mason (15-11, 11-3 EIVA) vs. No. 3 seed Harvard (17-8, 10-4 EIVA)
Match vitals:
5:30 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker, Pay-per-view online video, In-match Tweets
Season series: George Mason leads 2-0 (won in three games in March and four games in April)
Last EIVA Tournament title: George Mason (1988); Harvard (never)
What to know: For the second consecutive year, George Mason and Harvard will play each other in the EIVA Tournament semifinals. George Mason last season upset Harvard to reach the conference tournament championship match for the first time since 2008. In addition, the Patriots have lost to the Crimson once in the last 30 years, including two victories during the regular season. Harvard is making its second consecutive EIVA Tournament appearance and is looking to get its first postseason victory in program history. The Crimson enter the conference tournament having won five of their last six matches. Coach Brian Baise also said in an interview with Off the Block earlier this week that Harvard is playing its best volleyball of the season going into the postseason. For more on Harvard, check out the full interview with Baise.