The men’s volleyball conference tournament brackets are all set — now let the April Madness ensue.
The conference tournament quarterfinals matches begin this weekend in the MIVA and MPSF as teams battle to make the four-team NCAA Tournament field. UCLA and Pepperdine highlight tonight’s matches with both teams looking to end postseason droughts, while out in the Midwest, Ball State and IPFW renew an in-state rivalry but this time in the conference tournament.
Check out the conference tournament matches and top regular season matches from around the nation to follow tonight.
MPSF TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINALS
No. 1 seed BYU (22-4, 21-3 MPSF) vs. No. 8 seed Hawai’i (11-16, 10-14 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
Season series: BYU leads 2-0 (won in three games and four games in January)
Last MPSF Tournament title: BYU (2004); Hawai’i (never)
What to know: All the odds are in BYU’s favor to beat Hawai’i in conference tournament quarterfinals. The Cougars have won 12 of their last 14 matches against the Warriors and have not lost a home match in this series since 2003. In addition, a No. 1 seed has never lost to a No. 8 seed in the recent history of the MPSF Tournament. In addition, BYU enters the postseason after winning its first MPSF regular season title since 2004 and not losing a home conference match the entire season. The Cougars earlier this week also had six players earn all-conference honors, including outside attacker Taylor Sander who was named the MPSF Player of the Year. Hawai’i defeated UC San Diego twice last week to earned the last postseason berth on the final day of the regular season.
No. 2 seed UC Irvine (22-6, 18-6 MPSF) vs. No. 7 seed UC Santa Barbara (15-15, 11-13 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Irvine, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match Tweets
Season series: UC Irvine leads 2-0 ( won in three games in January and four games in February)
Last MPSF Tournament title: UC Irvine (2012); UC Santa Barbara (2011)
What to know: The defending-NCAA champions UC Irvine face a must-win match against UC Santa Barbara in the conference tournament quarterfinals if it wants to make the NCAA Tournament. The Anteaters begin postseason play as one of the front-runners to earn the lone at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if they can’t gain the conference’s automatic by winning the MPSF Tournament. However, UC Irvine will likely need to make a deep run in the conference tournament to maintain its chances of a possible at-large berth. The Anteaters are on a five-match winning streak, including a non-conference victory against Penn State last week in a potential Final Four preview. UC Santa Barbara is making its first postseason appearance since 2011. The Gauchos as a No. 7 seed that year went on an underdog run defeating three top-five nationally ranked teams to win the MPSF Tournament championship. This will also be the first postseason meeting between UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine in both programs’ histories.
No. 3 seed Long Beach State (22-7, 18-6 MPSF) vs. No. 6 Stanford (16-12, 12-12 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Long Beach, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
Season series: Long Beach State leads 2-0 (won in three games in February and five games in March)
Last MPSF Tournament title: Long Beach State (never); Stanford (2010)
What to know: Two years ago Long Beach State as a No. 6 seed upset Stanford in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals to crush the Cardinal’s hopes of making the NCAA Tournament. Now the roles are reserved as Stanford looks to pull the first-round upset and end Long Beach State’s chances at a Final Four berth. In addition, this match will feature two of the top outside attackers in the nation. Long Beach State outside attacker Taylor Crabb is third in the nation with a 4.15 kills per game average and is one of the perceived front-runners for the AVCA National Player of the Year. Stanford outside attacker Brian Cook is fourth in the nation averaging 3.99 kills per game. Both players have also led their team in kills in each of the two regular season meetings against each other.
No. 4 seed UCLA (20-10, 16-8 MPSF) vs. No. 5 seed Pepperdine (14-11, 13-11 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
Season series: UCLA leads 2-0 (win in three games in February and April)
Last MPSF Tournament title: UCLA (2006); Pepperdine (2005)
What to know: One thing is certain with the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals match between UCLA and Pepperdine: a postseason drought will come to an end. UCLA enters its home match having not won a postseason match since winning the 2006 NCAA championship, its longest drought in program history. In addition, Pepperdine as a result of vacated wins because NCAA violations has not won a postseason match since reaching the 2007 NCAA Tournament semifinals. This will also be the second match between the two teams in the last 10 days. Outside attacker Gonzalo Quiroga had a match-high 16 kills as UCLA swept Pepperdine last week to clinch the No. 4 seed and its first home postseason match in five years.
MIVA TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINALS
No. 3 seed Ball State (20-5, 9-5 MIVA) vs. No. 6 seed IPFW (13-12, 5-9 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7:30 p.m. in Muncie, Ind.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
Season series: Tied at 1-1 (IPFW won in four games in February; Ball State won in four games in March)
Last MIVA Tournament title: Ball State (2002); IPFW (2007)
What to know: An in-state rivalry that has been ranked as one of the top 10 sporting events in Indiana will be played out in the postseason as Ball State plays host IPFW. The Cardinals enter the conference tournament on a nation-best 12-match winning streak and moved into the top 10 of the national rankings for the first time since 2009 after upsetting Lewis and Loyola last week. In addition, Ball State coach Joel Walton said Thursday during a radio interview that his team has the capability to not only win the program’s first MIVA title since 2002 but compete well against any Final Four team. IPFW lost three of its last four conference matches to get the No. 6 seed. However, the lone victory was against the MIVA regular season champions Lewis on Saturday, and the Mastodons defeated the Cardinals on the road earlier this season. This will also be the fourth postseason meeting between the two in-state rivals since 1995.
No. 4 seed Ohio State (19-7, 9-5 MIVA) vs. No. 5 seed Grand Canyon (16-14, 7-7 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio
Follow live: Gametracker, Pay-per-view online video, In-match Tweets
Season series: Ohio State leads 2-0 (won in three games twice in March)
Last MIVA Tournament title: Ohio State (2011); Grand Canyon (never)
What to know: For the first time in conference history, Ohio State and Grand Canyon will meet in postseason. The Buckeyes are playing in their first quarterfinals match since 2006 — snapping a six-year streak of winning the MIVA regular season title and getting a bye to the semifinals. Ohio State libero Brennan Anderson ended the regular season leading the nation with a 3.12 digs per game average and was one of four Buckeyes to earn all-conference honors. Grand Canyon outside attacker Ben Ponnet also was an All-MIVA selection after being among the conference leaders with a 3.20 kills per game average. The Antelopes have never defeated the Buckeyes and have never won a postseason match in their five-year program history.
EIVA REGULAR SEASON MATCHES
Princeton (13-8, 9-4 EIVA) vs. George Mason (14-11, 10-3 EIVA)
Match vitals: 4 p.m. in Fairfax, Va.
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: The pairings for the EIVA Tournament semifinals will be decided based on the outcome of the Princeton and George Mason match to close out the regular season. The Patriots have already clinched at least the No. 3 seed but can secure the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament if it beats the Tigers. In addition, Princeton to avoid the No. 4 seed and having to play Penn State in the semifinals needs to beat George Mason in its regular-season finale.