The postseason is getting even closer and several matches tonight will go a long way to determine the conference tournament seeding.
No. 10 Hawai’i will try to pull off the upset and move a step closer to reaching the postseason as it plays host No. 2 BYU. In addition, Penn State and Harvard will meet with first place in the EIVA on the line.
Check out the top five college men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight.
1. No. 2 BYU (18-4, 18-2 MPSF) vs. No. 10 Hawai’i (13-10, 11-9 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed, In-match tweets
What to know: Hawai’i players and fans remember all too well how things ended the last time it played BYU. The Rainbow Warriors and Cougars will open their two-match conference series in the first meeting between the teams since the controversial ending of their postseason match last season. As the No. 8 seed in the 2013 MPSF Tournament quarterfinals, Hawai’i had seemed to fight off a match-point and force a fifth-game overtime against the No. 1 seed BYU. However, the Rainbow Warriors’ game-tying kill was overturned because of a back-row attack violation and the Cougars won the match en route to winning the MPSF Tournament. BYU now enters this conference series having already clinched the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage for the upcoming MPSF Tournament. Outside attacker Taylor Sander also had back-to-back matches last weekend with more than 20 kills and was named the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week. Hawai’i with four remaining regular season matches is in ninth place in the MPSF and a half-match behind No. 9 UCLA for the final berth to the MPSF Tournament.
2. Penn State (17-5, 8-1 EIVA) vs. Harvard (12-6, 8-2 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Cambridge, Mass.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match tweets
What to know: Coach Mark Pavlik has repeatedly said in recent weeks that outside attacker Aaron Russell is one of the top three outside attackers in the nation. Russell will now have an opportunity further back-up his coach’s comments and move Penn State a step closer to an EIVA regular season title as the team travels to Harvard. The all-conference junior enters the weekend leading the EIVA with both a 4.01 kills per game average and a 0.56 aces per game average. In addition, Russell has at least 15 kills in three of the Nittany Lions’ last four matches, including a match-high 16 kills in a sweep against George Mason on Saturday. Harvard is in second place and a half-match behind first-place Penn State in the EIVA standings. Middle attacker Caleb Zimmick also is among the conference and national leaders with a 1.11 blocks per game average. In addition, this will be the first meeting between the teams at Harvard since the Crimson upset the Nittany Lions last season. That road loss snapped Penn State’s 61-match conference winning streak dating back to 2008.
3. IPFW (17-6, 6-5 MIVA) vs. Ohio State (10-13, 6-6 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match tweets
What to know: IPFW has a chance to accomplish a feat it hasn’t achieved in seven years, but will need to get a road victory against Ohio State. With a win, the Mastodons can clinch at least the No. 4 seed for the MIVA Tournament and their first home postseason match since 2007. IPFW enters this road match on a two-match losing streak to drop into fourth place in the conference. However, it defeated Ohio State in five games earlier this season. The team also has not won a road match at Ohio State since upsetting the Buckeyes in the 2007 MIVA Tournament championship match. Ohio State won both of its home matches last week against Lindenwood and Quincy to jump into fifth place and a half-match behind IPFW for fourth place in the MIVA. In addition, Ohio State is attempting to avoid becoming the first Buckeyes team since 1961 to finish outside the top four in the MIVA standings.
4. Ball State (17-7, 6-4 MIVA) vs. Grand Canyon (13-14, 2-8 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Phoenix, Ariz.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
What to know: Ball State will try to recover from two of its most emotionally crushing loses of the season as it travels to play Grand Canyon. The Cardinals open this two-match conference series after blowing back-to-back two-game leads last week in five-game conference losses to No. 1 Loyola and Lewis. The two losses dropped Ball State into third place in the MIVA standings, but the team can still clinch a home match for MIVA Tournament quarterfinals if it wins two of its remaining four matches. Ball State middle attacker Matt Leske also enters this series leading the nation with a 1.58 blocks per game average, including have a career-high 12 blocks in the loss to Lewis. Grand Canyon is in seventh place in the MIVA but has won eight of its last 10 matches. In addition, outside attacker Ben Ponnet has a conference-best 4.09 kills per game average.
5. Limestone (15-11, 7-6 CC) vs. Lees-McRae (12-13, 4-7 CC)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Banner Elk, N.C.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video
What to know: It’s the final weekend of the Conference Carolinas regular season, and both Limestone and Lees-McRae have plenty on the line with this match. Lees-McRae has a half-match lead ahead of King for sixth place and the final spot Conference Carolinas Tournament and can clinch a postseason berth with a victory. In addition, Limestone is tied with Barton for fourth place and because of tiebreakers must beat Lees-McRae if it has any chance of getting the No. 4 seed and a home match for the conference tournament quarterfinals. This match will also feature two of the top outside attackers in the conference. Lees-McRae outside attacker Brady Markle is third in the conference with a 3.95 kills per game average, while Limestone outside attacker Eric Zaun is seventh in the conference averaging 3.46 kills per game average.