Top 5 college men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight

Nothing says Valentine’s Day night like marquee college men’s volleyball matches involving top-10 nationally ranked teams.

A showdown between one of the nation’s top defensive teams and the defending National Player of the Year highlights the schedule as No. 8 UC Santa Barbara plays host to No. 5 Long Beach State. In addition, out in the Midwest two of this season’s surprise teams, Lindenwood and IPFW, will meet for a conference match.


Check out the top college men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight.

1. No. 5 Long Beach State (7-3, 6-3 MPSF) vs. No. 8 UC Santa Barbara (7-3, 6-3 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match tweets
What to know: The top defensive team in the conference will try to slow one of the top offensive players in the nation as Long Beach State travels to UC Santa Barbara. All-American outside attacker Taylor Crabb entered the week leading the nation with a 4.83 kills per game average. Crabb also had a match-high 27 kills as Long Beach State upset No. 2 UCLA on Wednesday to extend its winning streak to a conference-best four matches. UC Santa Barbara is leading the MPSF holding opponents to a .202 attack percentage. In addition, the team in its sweep against Cal State Northridge on Wednesday out-hit the Matadors .298 to .068. Middle attackers Jake Staahl and Ryan Thompson are also both in the MPSF’s top five in blocks per game average.

2. IPFW (5-2, 0-1 MIVA) vs. Lindenwood (8-2, 3-1 MIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in St. Charles, Mo.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
What to know: It’s a third of the way through the season and Lindenwood continues to be one of the biggest surprise teams in the nation. In its second year in the MIVA, Lindenwood is on a conference-best seven-match winning streak and in third place as it prepares to play host to IPFW. The Lions are second in the conference with a .338 attack percentage and outside attackers Collin Hackworth and Michael Adams are in the conference’s top five each averaging more than 3.25 kills per game. Similar to Lindenwood, IPFW has exceeded preseason expectations and has won three of its last four matches. IPFW setter Omar Rivera is also second in the MPSF with a 10.93 assists per game average and only trails Lindenwood setter Tim Schmidt for the conference lead in assists per game average.


3. No. 9 Hawai’i (8-4, 6-3 MPSF) vs. Cal Baptist (3-8, 2-7 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed, In-match tweets
What to know: Hawai’i and Cal Baptist will conclude their two-match conference series after the Rainbow Warriors defeated the Lancers in four games in the series opener Wednesday. Middle attacker Taylor Averill in the victory led all players with a career-high 12 blocks. Averill was also one of three Hawai’i players to finish with double-digit kills, including outside attacker Sinisa Zarkovic who had a team-high 12 kills. Hawai’i enters the series finale on a three-match winning streak and is tied for fourth place the MPSF. Cal Baptist has lost four of its last five conference matches. However, outside attacker Johannes Brink in the loss to Hawai’i had a match-high 14 kills.

4. No. 3 Pepperdine (6-2, 6-2 MPSF) vs. UC Irvine (8-7, 5-6 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Irvine, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
What to know: This week has the potential to be a turning point in UC Irvine’s conference season. UC Irvine sitting in ninth place in the MPSF will attempt to upset No. 3 Pepperdine one day after it defeated No. 6 USC in five games. The Anteaters have won two of their last three matches and a victory against the Waves would move the team within reach of eighth place — the final spot for a postseason berth in the MPSF. This will be Pepperdine’s first match since losing to UC Santa Barbara in five games last weekend. The Waves lead the nation with a 3.40 blocks per game average, including having 11.5 blocks in their four-game victory against the Anteaters in January. Outside attacker Josh Taylor also had a match-high 24 kills that last meeting against UC Irvine.

5. No. 10 Penn State (8-2, 1-0 EIVA) vs. NJIT (4-2, 0-1 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match tweets
What to know: The two players leading the EIVA in kills will go up against each as Penn State plays host to NJIT. Penn State outside attacker Aaron Russell, the 2013 EIVA Player of the Year, is leading the conference with a 4.03 kills per game average, while NJIT freshman outside attacker Jabarry Goodridge is in the EIVA averaging 3.37 kills per game. Goodridge also had a career-high 24 kills in NJIT’s conference-opening loss against Sacred Heart last weekend and was named an honorable mention for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week. Penn State is on a nation-best eight-match winning streak and has gone undefeated through the first seven matches of its season-long 11 match homestand. In addition, the Nittany Lions have not lost to the Highlanders in 15 years and during that stretch it has dropped two games to NJIT.