The second half of the college men’s volleyball season is here in full force tonight with numerous marquee matches that could significantly alter the conference standings.
No. 2 BYU and No. 3 Long Beach State will play each other in a showdown between two of the top teams and individual players in the nation. In addition, Stanford and Pepperdine both looking for a rebound victory will meet in a conference match.
Check out the top five college men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight.
1. No. 2 BYU (12-3, 12-1 MPSF) vs. No. 3 Long Beach State (11-4, 10-4 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Long Beach, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match tweets
What to know: BYU coach Chris McGown may be the only person in the nation to not hold his team with high regard in the rankings. The Cougars have a 2.5-match lead for first place in the MPSF and are on a conference-best six-winning streak entering their road match against the 49ers. That didn’t stop McGown, though, from ranking his team No. 5 on his coaches poll ballot this week. The No. 5 ranking was the lowest spot for BYU on any voter’s ballot this week and came after the team at home swept both No. 4 Pepperdine and No. 6 USC during the weekend. BYU outside attacker Taylor Sander in the two victories had a team-high 33 combined kills and moved into second place in BYU program history with 1,486 career kills. In addition, the three-time All-American is second in the nation midway through his senior season with a 4.57 kills per game. However, Long Beach State All-American outside attacker Taylor Crabb leads the nation with a 5.05 kills per game average. Crabb also has at least 20 kills in five matches so far this season, including a team-high 22 kills in a four-game road loss to BYU in January. In addition, the 49ers have won eight of their last nine matches and are undefeated through the first four matches of their eight-match homestand.
2. No. 4 Pepperdine (9-4, 9-4 MPSF) vs. No. 10 Stanford (10-7, 7-7 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Malibu, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, In-match tweets
What to know: Pepperdine will try reverse a recent historical trend as it plays host to Stanford. The Waves in the last five years have lost eight of their last 10 meetings against the Cardinal, including their most recent match last season. Pepperdine enters this conference match tied for third place in the MPSF following a road loss to BYU last week. That loss snapped a three-match winning steak and moved the Waves three-matches behind the first-place Cougars. Pepperdine and Stanford also each have two players in the conference’s top 15 for kills per game average. Pepperdine outside attacker Josh Taylor is third in the conference with a 4.20 kills per game average, while opposite Parker Kalmbach is in the top 10 averaging 3.86 kills per game. In addition, Stanford outside attackers Brian Cook and Steven Irvin are each averaging more than 3.40 kills per game.
3. Penn State (13-3, 6-1 EIVA) vs. Ohio State (7-8, 4-4 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Colubmus, Ohio
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match tweets
What to know: Penn State with a win can achieve a feat only done three other times in almost 20 years against its fellow Big Ten school. The Nittnay Lions already with two regular season victories against the Buckeyes will again play for the final time this year. If Penn State can win on the road, it would be the fourth time since 1996 that the Nittany Lions have completed a three-match series sweep against their non-conference rivals. All-conference outside attacker Nick Goodell led all players with a combined 33 kills in the two matches, including a match-high 20 kills in a four-game victory against the Buckeyes in February. Penn State also enters this non-conference match after losing to Princeton last week to snap its nation-best 12-match winning streak. Ohio State is on a two-match losing streak following a five-game road loss to IPFW on Wednesday. Despite the losses, middle attacker Driss Guessous leads the MIVA with a .454 attack percentage and has double-digit kills in the last three matches.
4, No. 8 Hawai’i (11-6, 9-5 MPSF) vs. No. 9 UC Irvine (11-8, 8-7 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
What to know: Two of the top middle attackers in the nation will go up against each other as Hawai’i plays host to UC Irvine in a two-match conference series. Hawai’i middle attacker Taylor Averill is second in the conference with a .491 attack percentage and is in the MPSF top 10 with a 1.22 blocks per game average. In addition, UC Irvine All-American middle attacker Collin Mehring is third in the MPSF with a .458 attack percentage and ninth in the conference with a 1.13 blocks per game. Mehring also had 10 kills against UC Santa Barbara last week to help the Anteaters get their fourth win in their last five matches. Hawai’i enters this conference series after upsetting then-No. 3 UCLA twice last week to jump to sixth place in the MPSF. In addition, outside attacker Brook Sedore was named the AVCA National Player of the Week after leading all players with 46 kills in the two victories against the Bruins.
5. Harvard (8-4, 6-1 EIVA) vs. George Mason (6-8, 2-4 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Fairfax, Va.
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: It’s the second half of the college men’s volleyball season and there is a chance that a team besides Penn State could be in sole possession of first in the EIVA. Harvard if it beats George Mason in its conference match tonight will break the first-place tie with Penn State and move a half-match ahead of the Nittany Lions. The Crimson are on a three-match winning streak and have won eight of their last nine matches, including sweeping the Patriots in February. George Mason is in fifth place in the EIVA and needs a victory to avoid dropping three matches behind St. Francis for the final spot in the EIVA Tournament. In addition, George Mason middle attacker Hunter Stevens leads the conference with both a .409 attack percentage and a 1.52 blocks per game average.