Conference tournament semifinal matches to follow tonight

Four matches tonight will go a long way to determine the NCAA Tournament field as the conference tournament resume in the MPSF and EIVA.

Pepperdine and Stanford in a match-up between two of the top-five ranked teams in the nation highlight the slate of conference tournament semifinal matches. In addition, out in the East Coast it will be an All-Ivy League battle in the EIVA Tournament semifinals as Princeton and Harvard play each other.

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

EIVA TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS


No. 1 seed Penn State (22-6, 13-1 EIVA) vs. No. 4 seed George Mason (14-13, 8-6 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7:30 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, In-match tweets
Season series: Penn State leads 2-0
Last EIVA Tournament title: Penn State (2013); George Mason (1988)
What to know: Outside attacker Aaron Russell days after being named the 2014 EIVA Player of the Year will now try to lead Penn State to a conference championship and a trip back to the NCAA Tournament. Russell finished the regular season leading the conference with a 3.95 kills per game average to earn player of the year honors for the second consecutive season. The junior also was a finalist for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Server of the Year as he had a conference-best 62 aces, including six combined aces in the Nittany Lions’ two regular season victories against the Patriots. George Mason won three of its final five regular season matches to clinch the final berth to the four-team EIVA Tournament. In addition, outside attacker Radoslav Popov was among the conference leaders with a 3.00 kills per game average and was named the EIVA Newcomer of the Year earlier in the week. George Mason, though, is on a 15-match losing streak against Penn State dating back to 2008 and has not defeated the Nittany Lions in the conference tournament since 1984.

No. 2 seed Harvard (15-7, 11-3 EIVA) vs. No. 3 seed Princeton (15-9, 10-4 EIVA)
Match vitals:
5 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, In-match tweets
Season series: Harvard leads 2-0
Last EIVA Tournament title: Harvard (never); Princeton (1998)
What to know: For the first time in the history of the EIVA Tournament, the two Ivy League schools will meet as Harvard plays Princeton in the conference tournament semifinals. The Crimson won both regular season matches in a decisive fifth game by a combined six points, but the two matches were near polar opposites of each other. Both teams in their first meeting had more than a .300 attack percentage, while in the second head-to-head match Princeton was held to a .163 attack percentage. Harvard enters the postseason having won five of its last six regular season matches to help it clinch the No. 2 seed. Setter Nick Bendell was also named to the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-American Team and was one of five Crimson players to earn All-EIVA honors. Princeton had four players selected to an all-conference team — including opposite Cody Kessel and outside attacker Pat Schwagler who both finished in the EIVA’s top five for kills per game average.


MPSF TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS

No. 1 seed BYU (19-8, 18-6 MPSF) vs. No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara (18-8, 16-8 MPSF)
Match vitals:
8 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
Season series: Tied at 1-1
Last MPSF Tournament title: BYU (2013); UC Santa Barbara (2011)
What to know: UC Santa Barbara isn’t going to be intimidated playing at of the toughest home courts in the nation. BYU entering its semifinal home match against UC Santa Barbara is 17-2 all-time at Smith Fieldhouse during the MPSF Tournament but both of those losses came against the Gauchos. In addition, UC Santa Barbara is one of the last two MPSF teams to defeat BYU at home as they rallied from a two-game deficit to upset the Cougars in 2012. The Gauchos enter the semifinals after defeating UCLA in five games in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals on Saturday. Outside attackers Evan Licht and Matt Hanley also each had more than 15 kills in the postseason victory. BYU rebounded from its regular-season ending four-match losing streak to sweep USC in the conference tournament quarterfinals. BYU outside attacker Taylor Sander last week also became the fourth player in the conference’s history to win multiple MPSF Player of the Year honors.

No. 2 seed Pepperdine (19-6, 18-6 MPSF) vs. No. 3 seed Stanford (21-7, 17-7 MPSF)
Match vitals:
5 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
Season series: Stanford leads 2-0
Last MPSF Tournament title: Pepperdine (2005); Stanford (2010)
What to know: The race for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament is a complete log-jam, but the winner of this Stanford and Pepperdine match will be the front-runner of one of the two bids. Both teams entered the conference tournament projected to make the NCAA Tournament, according to the latest Off the Block bracketolgoy. However, a win could help either team potentially earn a top-two seed in the NCAA Tournament and prevent it from dropping in the at-large race. Stanford is a on a conference-best 12 match winning streak and had a nation-best three players earn AVCA All-American honors on Thursday. Pepperdine reached the semifinals after rallying from a one-game deficit to beat Long Beach State in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.. The Waves also won that postseason match without opposite Parker Kalmbach, who missed the final weeks of the regular season with an injury but has resumed practicing with the team.