From rivalry matches to big non-conference and conference showdowns, this slate of matches features everything needed for a big night of college men’s volleyball.
No. 2 Long Beach State and Penn State will both look to improve its NCAA Tournament resume for the selection committee as they play each other in one of the biggest non-conference matches of the season. In addition, No. 7 Stanford will attempt to continue its second-half surge up the MPSF standings as it concludes its weekend series against No. 10 Hawai’i.
Check out the top five college men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight.
1. No. 2 Long Beach State (14-4, 12-4 MPSF) vs. Penn State (14-4, 6-1 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Long Beach, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match tweets
What to know: In what could be a potential preview of a NCAA Tournament match, Long Beach State will play Penn State to conclude its annual home non-conference tournament, the Active Ankle Challenge. The 49ers enter this weekend’s tournament on a conference-best seven-match winning streak and are attempting to finish undefeated during its season-long eight-match homestand. Long Beach State is also coming off of a five-game victory against Ohio State in its Active Ankle Tournament opener on Friday. All-American outside Taylor Crabb in the victory finished with a match-high 23 kills. In addition, the senior and 2013 AVCA National Player of the Year entered the weekend leading the nation with a 5.05 kills per game average. Penn State swept Cal State Northridge in its tournament opener on Friday. The Nittany Lions had three players finish with the double-digit kills in the non-conference victory, including outside attacker Nick Goodell who had a match-high 15 kills. Long Beach State during this match will also retire the No. 15 jersey of Brett Winslow. Winslow, a former U.S. Olympian and two-time All-American, is the second Long Beach State player to have his number retired.
2. No. 7 Stanford (13-7, 10-7 MPSF) vs. No. 10 Hawai’i (11-9, 9-8 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Palo Alto, Calif.
Follow live: Online video, In-match tweets
What to know: Stanford will attempt to bolster its playoff positioning and complete the weekend series sweep after beating Hawai’i in three games in the series opener Friday. Stanford in that victory held Hawai’i to less than a .100 attack percentage in two of the three game and out-hit the Rainbow Warriors .279 to .118. Setter James Shaw and middle attacker Conrad Kaminski also led all players with six blocks to help the Cardinal extend its winning streak to four matches. In addition, outside attacker Eric Mochalski finished with a match-high 10 digs and was one of three Stanford players to have double-digit kills. Hawai’i outside attacker Brook Sedore in the loss had a match-high 14 kills but was the only Rainbow Warrior to have more than five kills in the conference match. With its victory, Stanford moved into a tie for sixth place in the MPSF. In addition, Hawai’i dropped to ninth place and a half-match behind eighth-place No. 9 USC for the final berth to the MPSF Tournament.
3. No. 6 UCLA (14-7, 11-6 MPSF) vs. No. 9 USC (11-8, 10-8 MPSF)
Match vitals: 8 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, Radio feed, In-match tweets
What to know: The two cross-town rivals will play each other with both teams desperately needing a victory following recent losses. UCLA within a span of three weeks has dropped from second to fifth place in the MPSF and lost to No. 4 Pepperdine on Tuesday for its fourth loss in its last five matches. USC is in eighth place in the MPSF after losing three of its last four matches, including blowing a two-game lead in a five-game conference loss to No. 4 UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday. This will be the second between the two Los Angeles schools this season. All-American outside attacker Gonzalo Quiroga had a match-high 15 kills and a .625 attack percentage in a sweep against USC in February. However, USC freshman outside attacker Lucas Yoder has a team-high 51 combined kills in the last three matches and led all players with 20 kills in the loss to UC Santa Barbara.
4. Erskine (13-5, 9-1 CC) vs. Cal Baptist (4-14, 2-13 MPSF)
Match vitals: 4 p.m. in Riverside, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match tweets
What to know: For the first time in college men’s volleyball history, a MPSF team will play a Conference Carolinas team in a non-conference match. Erskine is the first Conference Carolinas school to travel to the West Coast and defeated Hope International on Friday to open its two-match road trip. The Fleet in the program’s second year of existence are in first place in the Conference Carolinas and two conference wins away from clinching a regular season title. Outside attacker Michael Michelau also started the weekend leading the conference and among the national leaders with a 4.25 kills per game average. Cal Baptist is on a four-match losing streak and in 10th place in the MPSF. However, Cal Baptist is 2-1 in non-conference play this season with victories against Princeton and St. Francis.
5. Lees-McRae (12-8, 4-4 CC) vs. Ball State (13-5, 5-2 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7:30 p.m. in Muncie, Ind.
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed, In-match tweets
What to know: For the first time since pulling off its biggest upset program history, Lees-McRae will once again play Ball State. Lees-McRae in the two teams’ only previous non-conference meeting upset Ball State in 2011 to become the first Conference Carolinas school to beat a team in the top half of the MIVA standings. If the Bobcats beat the Cardinals this time, though, it would an even more monumental upset. Ball State is on a six-match winning streak after beating its in-state rival IPFW in four games on Tuesday to remain in second place in the MIVA. In addition, middle attacker Matt Leske is in the nation’s top five with a 1.43 blocks per game average and a had a match-high eight blocks in the win against the Mastodons. Lees-McRae is on a three-match losing streak, including a three-game road loss to IPFW on Friday.