Top 5 college men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight

It’s the midway point of the regular season and there is a definitely postseason feel with several of tonight’s matches.

No. 2 BYU in the marquee match of the night will attempt to keep its slim first-place lead in the MPSF as it plays host to No. 7 USC. In addition, out on the East Coast the nation’s longest active winning streak will be tested as No. 10 Penn State travels to play Princeton in a conference match.


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

1. No. 2 BYU (10-3, 10-1 MPSF) vs. No. 7 USC (10-5, 9-5 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Provo, Utah.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
What to know: It’s not necessarily a passing of the torch, but the similarities between BYU senior outside attacker Taylor Sander and USC freshman outside attacker Lucas Yoder are hard to ignore as the two teams play each other. Sander after being named an All-American as a freshman and winning the 2011 National Newcomer of the Year is on the track to earn All-American honors for the fourth consecutive season. In his final college season, Sander is among the national leaders with a 4.46 kills per game average. Yoder through the first half of the regular season is sixth in the MPSF with a 3.81 kills per game average. In addition, the outside attacker has earned Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week honors three times and is among the leading contenders for Newcomer of the Year. Along with the individual match-ups, BYU begins its weekend homestand needing a victory to maintain at least its half-match lead against second-place UCLA for first place in the MPSF. The Trojans also need a victory to remain possible contention for an at-large to the NCAA Tournament. USC with 10 conference matches remaining is in fourth place in the MPSF and two-and-half matches behind BYU.

2. No. 3 UCLA (13-3, 10-2 MPSF) vs. Hawai’i (9-6, 7-5 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
What to know: If Hawai’i has any hope of remaining in the race for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament its upcoming two-match series against UCLA is a near must win. With 12 remaining regular season matches, the Rainbow Warriors are in seventh place in the MPSF and two-and-half matches out of first-place. In addition, Hawai’i is coming off of two road losses to USC last weekend as the Trojans had more than a .300 attack percentage in both matches. Middle attacker Taylor Averill, though, is second in the nation with a .485 attack percentage and eighth in the nation averaging 1.27 blocks per game. In addition, Hawai’i is 7-2 at home midway through the season but one of those losses came against UCLA at the Outrigger Invitational. The Bruins have won their last three matches and defeated Stanford in five games on the road Monday. Outside attacker Gonzalo Quiroga in that victory led UCLA with a season-high 21 kills. The All-American senior also enters this weekend with a conference-best 0.57 aces per game average.


3. No. 10 Penn State (12-2, 5-0 EIVA) vs. Princeton (3-6, 2-1 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Princeton, N.J.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match tweets
What to know: Princeton coach Sam Shweisky said in a recent interview with Off the Block that he has built the right culture within his program and developed the right type of players who are capable of beating Penn State. Shweisky and his team will now have its opportunity to upset the 15-time defending EIVA champions. Princeton despite being 1-5 in non-conference play so far this season jumped into third place in the EIVA after it swept Rutgers-Newark on Tuesday. Outside attacker Cody Kessel also had a season-high 26 kills and more than a .500 attack percentage in a three-game loss to Concorida-Irvine in the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic last weekend. Penn State enters the weekend on a nation-best 12-match winning streak and has swept its last six matches with its last game loss occurring Feb. 5. The Nittany Lions, though, just completed a season-long 11-match homestand and this will be their first road match since the opening weeks of the regular season. In addition, outside attacker Aaron Russell, the reigning EIVA Player of the Year, leads the conference and is among the national leaders with a 3.83 kills per game average.

4. No. 5 Long Beach State (9-4, 8-4 MPSF) vs. No. 8 Stanford (9-6, 6-6 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Long Beach, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match tweets
What to know: Two of the top offensive teams in the nation will go up against each other as Long Beach State plays host to Stanford. The two teams are among the conference and national leaders with both more than a .300 attack percentage on the season. In addition, Long Beach State outside attacker Taylor Crabb leads the nation with a 4.96 kills per game average and has at least 15 kills in seven of the 49ers’ last eight matches. Stanford is one of three teams with multiple players in the top 15 of the MPSF for kills. Opposite Steven Irvin is 10th in the conference with a 3.42 kills per game average, while outside attacker Brian Cook is in 12th averaging 3.32 kills per game. Stanford also set a rally-scoring era program record with a 21.5 blocks in a sweep against UC Santa Barbara last weekend.

5. No. 1 Loyola (14-1, 7-0 MIVA) vs. Lindenwood (12-4, 3-3 MIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in St. Charles, Mo.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
What to know: Loyola will attempt to move one step closer to becoming the first team in almost 20 years to go undefeated in the MIVA as it travels to play Lindenwood. The Ramblers midway through the regular season have a two-and-half match lead in the conference and one of two teams in the nation yet to lose a conference match this season. However, a team playing in a non-division conference format has not gone undefeated in MIVA play since IPFW in 1992. Loyola also entered the week with two players in the conference’s top five for kills per game average. All-American outside attacker Joseph Smalzer leads the Ramblers and is the third in the MIVA with a 3.54 blocks per game average, while outside attacker Thomas Jaeschke is fourth in the conference averaging 3.52 kills per game. Lindenwood is tied for fifth place in the MIVA but has lost its last two conference matches. Outside attacker Collin Hackworth is also leading the conference with a 3.83 kills per game average.