The college men’s volleyball spotlight is shining bright on the Midwest and East Coast tonight.
No. 1 Loyola will try to keep its perfect record intact as it plays host to IPFW — a team that has a history of beating Loyola on its homecourt. In addition, out on the East Coast first-place in the EIVA will be on the line as Penn State and Harvard play each other.
Check out the top five college men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight.
1. No. 1 Loyola (12-1, 5-0 MIVA) vs. IPFW (8-2, 3-1 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Chicago
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match tweets
What to know: IPFW won’t be intimidated traveling to the Gentile Arena for its match No. 1 Loyola. The Mastodons have beaten the Ramblers on their homecourt the last two season — and both victories occurred with IPFW as an unranked team. In addition, IPFW is on a five-match winning streak after upsetting Lewis in five games on Thursday to move into second place in the MIVA. Outside attacker Eddie Rivera in the home victory against the Flyers finished with a team-high 18 kills and 14 digs. The senior is also in the conference’s top 10 with both a 3.23 kills per game average and a 2.18 digs per game average. Loyola remained undefeated in conference play and on a conference-best 10-match winning streak following a four-game road victory against Ball State on Thursday. In addition, Loyola All-American outside attacker Joseph Smalzer leads the conference with 35 aces and has at least one ace in every match he has played so far this season.
2. Penn State (11-2, 4-0 EIVA) vs. Harvard (5-3, 4-3 EIVA)
Match vitals: 3 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match tweets
What to know: A budding conference rivalry will be renewed as Penn State plays host to Harvard in a battle for sole possession of first place in the EIVA. The Crimson last season snapped the Nittany Lions’ five-year, 60-match conference winning streak. However, Penn State recovered from the regular season loss and later that season defeated Harvard in the EIVA championship to win its 15th consecutive conference title. Both teams enter the weekend undefeated in conference play and have been the only two EIVA teams ranked in the AVCA coaches poll this season. Penn State is on a nation-best 11-match winning streak and has won the first 10 matches of its season-long 11-match homestand. In addition, outside attackers Aaron Russell entered the week leading the EIVA with 23 aces, while outside attacker Nick Goodell is tied for second in the conference with 17 aces. Harvard enters this weekend on a five-match winning streak, including a five-game win against its rival Princeton last week.
3. No. 8 USC (8-5, 7-5 MPSF) vs. No. 9 Hawai’i (9-5, 7-4 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, Radio feed, In-match tweets
What to know: USC will attempt to complete the series sweep after it defeated Hawai’i in the conference series opener. All-American setter Micah Christenson in the the four-game victory Thursday returned to the court after missing two matches with a back injury and guided the Trojans offense to out-hit the Rainbow Warriors .328 to .218. In addition, opposite Tanner Jansen had a match-high 20 kills, while outside attacker Lucas Yoder added 18 kills. A win for the Trojans would also move the team into a tie for fifth place in the MPSF. Hawai’i in the series opening loss was held below a .200 attack percentage for the first three games. Outside attacker Brook Sedore finished with a team-high 14 kills in the loss to USC.
4. Ball State (7-4, 3-1 MIVA) vs. Lewis (8-4, 1-2 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Romeoville, Ill.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
What to know: There should not be a shortage of blocks when Lewis plays host to Ball State in conference play. Both teams are among the MIVA leaders in blocks and have players in the conference’s top five for blocks. Lewis middle attacker Bobby Walsh is second in the MIVA with a 1.32 blocks per game average, while freshman middle attacker Jacob Schmiegelt is fifth averaging 1.03 blocks per game. In addition, Ball State All-American middle attacker Matt Leske leads the team and is third in the conference at 1.18 blocks per game. Both the Flyers and Cardinals also enter this match looking to rebound after losing their last conference match. Ball State had its six-match winning streak snapped with a four-game home loss to No. 1 Loyola and dropped into second place in the MIVA. In addition, Lewis on the road lost to IPFW in five games on Thursday and is now below a .500 winning percentage in conference play.
5. Springfield (12-6) vs. Concorida-Irvine (13-3)
Match vitals: 8 p.m. in Springfield, Mass.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video
What to know: The Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic title will be on the line as Springfield and Concordia-Irvine meet in the championship match. Concordia-Irvine, the defending NAIA champions, swept Princeton in the semifinals Friday to reach the title match of the annual non-conference tournament. Despite Princeton outside attacker Cody Kessel having a match-high 26 kills in the three-game match, Concordia-Irvine was able to complete the upset in part because of opposite Harrison Carroll having a team-high 11 kills. Springfield, the defending NCAA Division III champions, defeated UC Santa Cruz in four games in its semifinal match Friday. Outside attacker Ryan Malone in the victory finished with a match-high 17 kills and four aces. The Pride also now have opportunity to win their second Morgan Classic title in the last three years after never winning their home tournament for the first 24 years.