The long awaited expansion to the NCAA Tournament will finally be experienced tonight.
The inaugural NCAA Tournament play-in matches will begin with the No. 3 seed Stanford and its lengthy history of NCAA Tournament success playing the No. 6 seed Erskine in its first NCAA Tournament appearance. In addition, after Lewis getting a controversial at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament it will play Penn State in the other play-in match.
Check out the men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament play-in matches to follow tonight.
No. 3 seed Stanford (22-8, 17-7 MPSF) vs. No. 6 seed Erskine (21-6, 12-2 CC)
Match vitals: 6 p.m. in Chicago
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, In-matches tweets
Season series: First meeting between the two teams.
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: Stanford (2010); Erskine (never)
Last NCAA Tournament title: Stanford (2010); Erskine (never)
What to know: Stanford is the overwhelming favorite against Erskine, but don’t expect the Cardinal to overlook the Fleet. Erskine in the program’s second season and the first year that the Conference Carolinas received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament won the conference championship to reach the play-in match. The Fleet won 17 of their final 18 matches, including becoming the first Conference Carolinas school to beat a MPSF team as it upset Cal Baptist in March. Outside attacker Michael Michelau also earned All-American Honorable Mention honors after leading the Conference Carolinas with a 4.19 kills per game average. Stanford received the at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after having its conference-best 13-match winning streak snapped with a loss to BYU in the MPSF Tournament championship match on Saturday. In addition, All-American outside attacker Brian Cook led all players with 55 combined kills in the MPSF Tournament, including a match-high 17 kills in the three-game loss to BYU. The Cardinal also led the conference and was second in the nation with a .335 attack percentage. A Stanford victory against Erskine would also create a rematch of the MPSF Tournament championship match against BYU in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday.
No. 4 seed Lewis (23-7, 11-3 MIVA) vs. No. 5 seed Penn State (24-6, 13-1 EIVA)
Match vitals: 8 p.m. in Chicago
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, In-match tweets
Season series: Penn State won in four games in March
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: Lewis (2012); Penn State (2013)
Last NCAA Tournament title: Lewis (never); Penn State (2008)
What to know: Penn State coach Mark Pavlik described the last time his team played Lewis as a heavyweight fight — it was that competitive. Outside attacker Aaron Russell in that four-game road non-conference victory led the Nittany Lions with a match-high 22 kills and four aces. Russell, the 2014 EIVA Player of the Year, is among the national leaders with a 4.01 kills per game average. In addition, Russell was named a finalist for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Server of the Year after leading the conference with 67 aces, including five aces in its sweep against Princeton in the EIVA championship match. Lewis beat-out Pepperdine for the final at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. This was also the frist time a non-West Coast school to earn an at-large bid since IPFW in 1994. All-American opposite Geoff Powell also has at least 15 kills in six of his team’s last 10 matches. Among those matches includes Powell having a team-high 17 kills and a .567 in the regular season loss to Penn State.